TELL ME ABOUT IT: There's a Doubting Thomas in Fallbrook

By Betty Johnston

Melvin D. Thomas is talking about Fallbrook, and many Fallbrook residents are talking about Melvin D. Thomas. He writes letters to the editor which are published in the North County Times even though he appears to feel that the paper holds positions he opposes.

Many marriages that have subsequently foundered have collapsed because one partner had a hidden agenda - to re-mold the other into his or her perfect mate. Is this a parallel situation? Thomas, an attorney whose practice is evidently located in Orange County, has had many suggestions to make about improvements he would like to see in Fallbrook, his new home town. Among things he doesn't like are Fallbrook Air Park, Main Street, and Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce.

It's possible that lack of accurate information has influenced his thinking. He has suggested that operation of an air park is not the optimum use for the 122 acres it occupies (of a 297-acre parcel). It may be that no one has told him that the hilltop the air park sits on belongs to San Diego County. The county owns it only because Fallbrook residents convinced the Navy to donate the land for establishment of a Fallbrook aircraft landing field According to the original agreement, it reverts to the Navy if not used for that purpose. There being no local government entity to which the Navy could deed the land, it was given to the county in trust for Fallbrook.

Although it is true that the possibilities to which 297 acres could be put are endless, the money to bring those possibilities to reality is not. Has anyone ever seen the county develop property in the Fallbrook area to benefit people interested in sports, fairs, plays, entertainment, antique autos or education?

With the exception of the local schools, privately-raised funds have created every facility Fallbrook has, including some already on those 297 acres. The air park and its environs are typical of resources funded by Fallbrook people for the benefit of Fallbrook people.

Thomas probably doesn't know much about Chambers of Commerce, either, since he has indicated to the recipient of some of his letters that taxpayers fund Fallbrook Chamber operations. In a way, of course, that could be true - but, if so, they are not local taxpayers, and probably not San Diego County taxpayers. The only money the local chamber gets from a county source is allocated by the board of supervisors from TOT funds - the Transient Occupancy Tax levied against hotel guests. That tax was instituted as a means of obtaining funds to increase tourism, one aim of the local chamber. Finally, Main Street. Fallbrook residents like their Main Street, whatever its problems. It has been praised by people from all over the U. S. Fallbrook's Main Street is the centerpiece of a community beloved of most of its residents, who do not react in a friendly manner to unfounded criticism.

Betty Johnston is a writer/columnist for the North County Times. She can be contacted by phone at (760) 728-5511 or (760) 451-5009; by e-mail at or

Reprinted by permission of the North County Times. Column published in North County Times, 18 November 1998, B1.

Go To:
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester | Betty Johnston
Last update: 27 January 1999.