New Book Follows the Foundations of the El Dorado Hill Community

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Carl Kowall shares an inside look at political, social and economic planning required to build a 10,000-acre neighborhood

Carl Kowall has the notable distinction of being one of the first eight residents of El Dorado Hills, and one of the men who helped create what is today one of the Sacramento Region’s most thriving communities—one that almost never came to be.

“My wife and I were one of the first four families who volunteered to set up a mobile home park so we could establish residency and get approval to form a water district and bring water to the community,” Kowall says. “It was pretty rustic; my other car really was a horse, but it gave us the start we needed to make the idea of El Dorado Hills come to life.”

In his new book, “The Story of El Dorado Hills,” Kowall guides readers through the vision of Allan Lindsey, Carl’s boss, mentor and friend. It was Allan who first saw an opportunity to build a “modern community for a modern time” on 10,000 acres of rolling, grassy hills just east of Sacramento.

It was no simple process; even buying the land took a lot of legwork and a little subterfuge—and that was the easy part. Water rights had to be obtained, the first development plan was rejected, and when the first shovel hit the earth, the area’s geology presented such a huge obstacle that the developers created a new way to dig water and sewer lines. Then, when everything was finally up and running in 1967, the bottom fell out of the local real estate market, and the project’s financial partners pulled out. After developing more than 2000 homes, two schools, a park and a grocery market, everything in El Dorado Hills stopped, and the land was idle for a few years.

For Allan and Carl, that was the end of the story, but that was certainly not the end of the story of El Dorado Hills. Allan’s vision was carried on by other developers who saw and shared that vision. Today their work is recognized as some of the best master-planned development in the nation and El Dorado Hills is a city unto itself, with a population of 46,000 people living in 16,000 homes.

The story of El Dorado Hills is about much more than a real estate development; it’s the story of a man with an enormous imagination, matched only by his courage and kindness, and how sometimes the most important part of seeing a vision come to life is being willing to let go and let others carry it forward.

“Allan Lindsey had the vision for El Dorado Hills, the community of today is his legacy, and it’s a vision that can still help guide the future,” Kowall says. “The story of what he created there deserves its place in history, and I was honored to be a part of it.”

“The Story of El Dorado Hills”
By Carl Kowall
ISBN: 978197360015 (hardcover) 9781973600008 (softcover) 9781512799996 (ebook)
Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Westbow Press

About the author

Carl Kowall was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1930 and first moved to Sacramento in 1949, after graduating from high school. As the Korean War heated up he joined the Coast Guard, where he served for three years on a destroyer escort in the Atlantic. Upon being honorably discharged as petty officer first class, he returned to Sacramento to attend college on the GI Bill and, after a brief stint back in Pennsylvania, returned to Sacramento yet a third time and made it his permanent home. He continued college at Sacramento State University while working part time as a mechanical engineer in a plant that manufactured school furniture.

In 1958, he joined Allan Lindsey’s team as an employee of Moss & Moss Real Estate and later became a project Manager with Allan’s El Dorado Hills Corporation. For the next ten years, Carl and Allan, along with a first-class team of legal, construction, entitlement and development experts literally began to build El Dorado Hills from nothing.

Carl still works today as an independent commercial real estate broker with offices in downtown Sacramento. He and his wife Lorie have been married for 55 years. And counting.

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