Ponderosa Estates

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History of HOA

Ponderosa Estates was established in the mid 1960’s by the Bonanza Development Company. The neighborhood consisted of 3 ½ miles of packed gravel roads, 329 lots surrounding a centralized lagoon and park area.

The neighborhood was very rural and primitive in those days, deer were frequently seen in front yards, and even cougars were occasionally sighted. Grocery shopping meant driving to Auburn or Enumclaw. Major purchases usually required a trip to Tacoma or Seattle, normally an all day adventure.

Lots in Ponderosa Estates could be purchased for around 2,500 dollars in those days. Terms were $100 down, and $25 per month. When you bought, you became an automatic member of the Ponderosa Maintenance Company, and were responsible for the roads and common areas.

The maintenance company was rocked with scandal in those early years. Large guys would come around door to door once a month, usually on Saturday mornings, and tell owners that they were collecting dues for maintenance. People felt like they were being strong armed, and would maybe get a little gravel dumped in their potholes for the money they had to pay. They also said that it seemed like the collection guys were all driving new trucks.

One day, a fire occurred in the neighborhood, and the fire truck pulled up to the nearest hydrant, hooked up their hose to it, and took off down the road towards the fire. Instead of the hose unraveling behind the truck, the hydrant pulled right out of the ground. It hadn’t even been hooked up to the city water! Neighbors all watched it burn down; the fire department couldn’t do much without water.

After that happened, the homeowners all banded together and decided they weren’t going to be bullied into paying any more dues, and they ran the crooks out. They rented equipment and hooked up the fire hydrants the right way. At that time, the saying in the neighborhood was, “In Ponderosa, we take care of ourselves.”


The independent attitude continued into the 1990’s. At that time, the roads were in extremely bad shape. School buses and the US mail were both threatening to end service unless the roads were improved. The potholes were huge. People often lost mufflers, scraped bumpers, and occasionally even windshields would pop out from the bumps in the roads. If a house caught on fire towards the back of the neighborhood, it was a gamble that the fire truck could make it to the fire before it burned down.

In 1992, Road Improvement District 1 was formed. The intent was to bring the roads up to county standards, and then deed them to the county. Pierce County said the idea was fine, but they did not want to try to deal with 329 different homeowners, they wanted an HOA to deal with. At that time, Ponderosa Estates Homeowners Association was formed.

Even though all lot owners would be required to pay for the roads, the PEHOA decided not to force membership on the “old timers”, because many of them still harbored resentment toward the “maintenance company” from years earlier. We started out with less than 100 “voluntary” members. However, every time a property is sold, the new owner becomes a member of the PEHOA. We are now well over 200 members, and more are added each year. The owners are bound by our codes, covenants, and restrictions (CC&R’s), our by-laws, and are required to pay annual dues. Every dollar of dues paid goes toward improving the livability of our neighborhood.

Our roads are owned and maintained by Pierce County. It cost an excess of 3 ½ million dollars to bring our roads up to county standards, an average of nearly $11,000 per lot. That included engineering storm sewers, 2 retention ponds, and even re-grading some hills that were too steep to meet county standards.

Most everyone will agree that it was worth it. Once the roads were done, and the new blacktop was cooling off, a change in attitude was apparent throughout the neighborhood. Yards were cleaned up, houses suddenly looked nicer. Kids were able to play basketball, or ride bikes, or skateboard. Work parties were formed to clean up the overgrown, underused park. The front entrance sign got a fresh coat of paint. Pride in our neighborhood had returned!

The continuing goal of the Homeowners Association is to make Ponderosa Estates a neighborhood we can be proud of. We are always looking for input and suggestions on how to improve our neighborhood. Contact any board member for more information on how you can participate.