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A surprise real estate maneuver could have allowed the largest influx of vacationers to crowd into a one-bedroom time-share in Boca Raton beachgoing history.
For the past eight years, a real estate dispute that slipped through the bureaucratic cracks left Palm Beach County taxpayers the unknowing owners of a one-week stake in a Boca Raton beachside time-share.
"We didn't even know about it. Somehow it slipped through," said Ross Hering, county director of property and real estate management. "The quickest, easiest way out of it was to convey it back to the association."
One of the owners at La Boca Casa, just across the street from South Beach Park, in 2002 became disgruntled with the condominium management company and filed a deed giving his yearly one-week stay in Unit 19 to Palm Beach County.
The ownership change slipped past officials at the county clerk's office and went unnoticed for years. Last spring, representatives for La Boca Casa trying to recoup unpaid condominium assessments for Unit 19 discovered that the delinquent owner owing more than $4,000 happened to be Palm Beach County.
Instead of holding onto the newfound public property, the County Commission last week quietly agreed to sign over ownership of the one-week time-share to the La Boca Casa owners association.
The market value of the time-share was about $2,500, well below what was owed in overdue assessments, Hering said.
Unit 19 at La Boca Casa overlooks the pool and hot tub at the small, two-story condominium complex on A1A, just north of Palmetto Park Road.
Keeping the time share would not have offered Palm Beach County taxpayers much time to use it, as the deed gave the county annual access to Unit 19 for one week during early February.
Giving each of the county's more than 600,000 property taxpayers a turn would have allowed them less than one second each year to enjoy the one-bedroom unit or hit the pool.
Opening the time-share up to all 1.3 million county residents would have cut those mini-vacations to about half a second each.
The more than 900 owners of one-week allotments at La Boca Casa come from across the country and as far away as South America, association president Joseph Heidrich said.
"We have an address on A1A one week a year," said Heidrich, who also lives in Boca Raton. "It's a great location."
Owners of the one-week time-shares are charged about $600 a year to help pay for condominium operations, said Richard Schwartz of the management company that operates La Boca Casa.
"Sometimes it's hard to resell. Sometimes they stop paying their fees," Schwartz said. "On occasion we will have an owner who prepares a deed without the resort's OK."
The former time-share owner, John Golick of Durham, N.C., said Wednesday that he was surprised it took the county and the La Boca Casa association so long to find about the deed he filed in 2002.
Golick said rising association fees prompted him to get rid of the time-share that he used to offer as a rental. Golick said he tried to give the tim- share to the association, but was turned down. He said an attorney advised him to deed the time-share to a government agency.
"It no longer had any value. It was a shame," said Golick. "I thought the county would transfer it over to the association."
The county through the years has found itself the owner of rundown houses or unwanted strips of land, but Hering said this was the first time-share signed over to the county that he could remember.
"Sometimes people do it rather than go through the tax foreclosure process," Hering said. "Who knows what causes people to do strange things like this. It's kind of weird."