These costs don't include the money it would take to upgrade the roads to county or city standards in the event residents later decide to take down their gate and reopen the community to the public. There is also the matter of liability. The community can be sued for problems involving its roads.
Residents, once they've begun to understand all the hidden costs, sometimes become angry when they find that--for all their money--the gates don't work. Gate malfunctions are so widespread that Trea Sparrow, vice president of Irvine-based Mercury Management--which manages 250 Southland homeowners' associations--said she could not think of one that has not had problems.
"They are just a big headache," said Sparrow.
Given the drawbacks, there is rarely unanimity among residents inside a community on whether or not to have gates.
In Laguna Niguel's Rolling Hills, about 85% of the residents voted in favor of gates, said Bob Botts, former president of the homeowners' association there. And in Irvine's Turtle Rock community, residents responding to a 1988 homeowners' association survey were divided 140 for and 31 against the prospect of gating.
While the Turtle Rock proponents argue for more privacy, opponents there insist that a gate would be a nuisance appealing only to status.