Issues of Fallbrook, CA and Neighboring Communities: H-N

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Helicopters Transferred To Miramar And Pendleton

See Move Against Relocating Choppers Here (MARCH) for a lot of information about the helicopters and flight patterns near Miramar Marine Corps Air Station. Unfortunately, little information about flight paths over Fallbrook is given there.

Several squadrons of CH-46 Sea Knight combat assault helicopters are being relocated from El Toro by 1999. This is the same type of helicopter that crashed into the Pacific on 5/10/97 during a training exercise from El Toro.

The aging twin-rotor CH-46 joined the Marine Corps in 1964 when 600 were bought for use in Vietnam. The Marines have 238 of them left. They will be replaced in a few years with the V-22 Osprey, a tilt-rotor aircraft still being tested.

The CH-46 normally carries a crew of four people, but can carry up to 24 passengers.

Source: NCT 5/13/97, B1, B4.

A lawsuit was filed by the coalition called Move Against Relocating Choppers Here (MARCH) to delay the $10 million helicopter-related construction at the Miramar Naval Air Station. A U.S. District Court Judge turned them down.

The helicopters are moving to Miramar and Pendleton next year as part of the federal base-closing process. The 112 helicopters will arrive during 1998 and 1999. Sources: NCT, 4/29/97, B5; NCT 6/13/97, B5.

A $10.6 million contract has been given to Soltek of San Diego to improve the air station at Camp Pendleton. It includes construction of maintenance facilities and associated infrastructure, removal of holding ponds, additions to aircraft hangar and office structures and new ground-support equipment. Source: SDUT 4/16/97, B2.

The helicopters are planned now to arrive at Miramar in September 1998. At that time, there will be 170,000 takeoffs and landings at Miramar of jets and helicopters. The Marines have now agreed to 8 changes in the way they fly their aircraft to lower noise. The ones that affect Fallbrook residents are:

The MARCH lawsuit is still moving toward trial, after the failure of four months of settlement talks.

Source: SDUT 5/20/98, B1, B5.

Housing Developments in Progress

Peppertree Homes on South Mission
Morrisey Homes by Camp Pendleton
Sycamore Ranch

Peppertree Homes on South Mission

The Peppertrees homes are in construction for Phase 1, immediately next to the southern portion of the Los Jilgueros Preserve. The Peppertree Homes project wraps around the Preserve, and will eventually build 265 upscale homes on 162 acres. Phase 1 will build 50 homes, with the first 10 homes and 2 model homes finished by October 1997. The Homes project existed long before the Preserve came into existence, being approved by county planning officials in 1978!

Fortunately, there will be a fence that will separate the Preserve from the homes. At issue still is whether the Homes project will grant an easement to the Conservancy to allow continued use of the current southern entrance to the Preserve. The Homes project hopes to contribute financially to the Conservancy after the homes begin to sell.

Source of Peppertree Homes information: Enterprise, 4/24/97, A3; NCT 5/13/97, B1, B4.

Sycamore Ranch

Sycamore Ranch is a planned development of ~300 total number of homes and possibly a new golf course on 485 acres on the west side of Gird Road just above SR76. The homes have been a long time a'coming.

The land was acquired for home development in the late 1970s. A 'tentative' map was approved by the County's Department of Planning and Land Use in 1977 as part of the Valle de Monserate Specific Plan. The project was amended in 1986. Both the map and a Major Use Permit for a golf course expired before development.

On 10/9/98, the Planning Commission approved a Major Use Permit for the golf course, and on 10/28/98 the Board of Supervisors returned an existing public road right-of-way to the project so that a golf course could be built.

However, it is curious that Presley Homes, the developer, will not promise a golf course will be built, but it says they intend to do so on 190-200 acres.

Grading finally began in early 1997. As of May 1999, 44 houses have closed escrow, 20 are under construction, and ~195 homes are planned to be built, starting ~6-8 every six months. Another 15-20 small homes may be part of the gold course. The lots are "typically" 3/4 acre, and the houses are "typically" four bedrooms.

Sources: Ent 7/31/97, A4; VN 5/6/99, 35.

Morrisey Homes by Camp Pendleton

About 1,000 homes will be built "on the back road to Pendleton". The development is in the Bonsall School District, which means the students will attend FUHS.

Source: Ent 7/31/97, A4.


Another attempt at having Fallbrook become a city and thus control more of its own destiny is being made in 1998. Mary Boehlert is the chairwoman of the "Fallbrook Cityhood Study Group". Tom Cooper is the group's electronic communications chairman.

Unlike the ~3 previous attempts, the current one is hampered by a 1992 California State law called "Revenue Neutrality". This law essentially makes it impossible for communities to incorporate, since it requires them to compensate the county for past county expenditures and thus leaves them with no money. Fallbrook, along with 16 other California communities, is trying to get that law changed.

The law was passed to pacify county officials after the state raided county moneys to balance the state's budget in 1992. According to the law, a city must continue to give the same amount to the county as it did before incorporation, usually from property taxes, and the county must give the new city the amount of money it spent in the area for services prior to incorporation. The law creates an incentive for the county to cut services to a potential city in the year prior to incorporation.

In contrast, prior to the new law, counties had to provide services for one year after incorporation.

As a result, only two cities have incorporated from 1993 to 1998, whereas about five cities per year incorporated before 1992.

The latest previous attempt for the incorporation of Fallbrook failed in the June 2, 1981 election.

Sources: NCT 9/3/98, B1, B2; 11/8/98, B1, B7.


I am fond of thinking of Fallbrook as a typical small town in America in the 1950s. The qualities that cause that association are good people, a friendly atmosphere, a basic trust found among people and merchants, Fallbrook's rural atmosphere, and Fallbrook's lack of traffic and absence of major crime, gang, graffiti or drug problems. (I know, Fallbrook does have a few problems with such things, but they are extremely minor compared with the ills of big cities in America in the 1990s.)

I also am fond of thinking of Fallbrook as a pretty area, which it is. But I have finally had to admit that Fallbrook has a definite litter problem, which my rose-colored glasses had not allowed me to see until Karen Colterman wrote a column on trash that woke me up to the problem.

And then it hit me: litter was a fact of life in the 1950s! So I guess it goes with the territory.

However, just as America in the 1960s and 1970s realized that litter was becoming a major problem as the population density increased, Fallbrook must wake up to the same realization. When there were only 1,000 people in Fallbrook, they couldn't generate enough trash to cause much of a litter problem. Also, the culture itself generated less trash before modern packaging, "yard wastes", thick Sunday newspapers, etc. But with 40,000 people now, we need to take a more active role against litter.

The problem is definitely not just the downtown area problem discussed by Karen - litter is everywhere. I ride my bicycle through most of the Fallbrook area and beyond, and trash is in practically every neighborhood I ride through. Alta Vista Drive is dense with trash and I cannot figure out why people don't pick at least pick up the trash in front of their own house. The brook in Green Canyon from Winterhaven to South Mission is choked with trash, including discarded appliances along with the fast food trash. I was absolutely appalled when I walked along it for the first time. Along Olive Hill Road, there is half of a car battery leaking lead pollution, almost exactly analogous to the car battery that sat untouched for over a year at Fallbrook Street School. Along Camino Del Rey and Gopher Canyon Road in Bonsall, there is much discarded fast food trash. Where isn't there trash in Fallbrook?

There are at least two sources of trash in Fallbrook. First, there are certainly people who either don't think throwing things along the road is a problem, just like many Americans in the 1950s, or who do it deliberately as a minor form of vandalism. Second, a lot of trash somehow escapes during trash day. I know that the majority of trash I pick up on my property comes directly from this source, since it appears only after trash collection.

I speculate that a lot of people refuse to clean up trash because they think that whoever threw out the trash should do so. Even if it were true that someone deliberately littered, that attitude doesn't help make Fallbrook cleaner and prettier. And since I am certain that a lot of the trash is inadvertent, caused somehow by trash collection itself, this belief is wrong in many cases.

The solution for the rest of America in the 1960s and 1970s was for organized groups to get the trash picked up initially, and campaigns begun to change the trash mentality to keep those areas clean. We've made a great start in Bonsall in the last year or two with the San Luis Rey River clean-up, and along the Santa Margarita River with its cleanup. Now we just have to work on cleaning up between the two rivers.

But we don't have to wait for some other group to come in and solve our trash problem in our own neighborhood. There are a number of ways to solve this problem:

Mushroom Farm in Bonsall

A 16 acre mushroom farm began operation in 1983 from a former strawberry field at 1923 Dentro De Lomas. The original San Luis Rey Mushroom Farm had seven rooms, each with 8,000 square feet of growing area, and generated few complaints from the neighbors. In 1993 the farm was sold and, oddly enough, became the Rainbow Valley Mushroom Farm.

The new owners expanded the operation by 12 rooms, each with 4,000 square feet of growing area, and the complaints began, apparently due to the increased outdoor composting of manure used as the growing medium for the mushrooms, as well as the runoff of the "compost tea". A "foul odor" emanating from the compost bothered ~50 residents, depending on which way the wind is blowing. The odor must be pretty strong, since those complaining about the odor do not live very close to the farm. Anyone who has put manure on their yard in the fall, or lives close enough to a neighbor who has done so, can sympathize with the residents. The neighbors also suffer increased numbers of flies. Complaints to the county led to the facility being cited for the runoff that ended up in the San Luis Rey River. The "compost tea" was then recycled at the farm, increasing odors. Those owners ceased operations in Fall 1997.

In September, 1999, the operation was sold again, this time to Rakhra Groups Inc., which operates seven other mushroom farms in the U.S. and Canada. (Rakhra is based either in Denver (NCT) or Oregon (VN)!) The new owners seemed to have a firm commitment toward becoming better neighbors and to have the expertise to do so. Their president, Clark Smith, is a Director of the American Mushroom Institute and chairman of the 15th North American Mushroom Conference to be held in 2/01. The company met with neighbors at a San Diego County community meeting on 11/22/99, and as requested by the County, have issued a 232 page report stating changes they have made and plan to make to the facilities and procedures to decrease the odor.

The new owners hired an experienced (25 years) on-site manager, Ralph Horio. Ralph spent nine years as manager of Mountain Meadow Mushrooms Farm in Escondido, where he implemented changes that resolved similar complaints among the neighbors there. Changes made already are to mix materials earlier to reduce odors and kill fly larvae, converting to a "just-in-time" delivery of manure, removing 1600 cubic yards of spent mushroom growing medium, eliminating "highly odorous" chicken manure, and operating only from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The ultimate solution is to move the composting operation indoors, but Rakhra Groups said it could not afford the $750,000 - $1 million that it would cost to do so. San Diego County was assisting them in obtaining financing for the remodel, which would take eight months.

The farm produced 25,000 pounds of white mushrooms per week in February 2000, which will double in April, equal to the farm's capacity, after 10 more workers are hired.

In July 2000, the San Diego Regional Water Quality Board ordered the farm to abate the odor nuisance and to improve its water-holding system to prevent pollution of the stream by October 1, 2000. At the time, the farm said that it had a $900,000 contract with Panbo Systems from Holland to install equipment for indoor composting within a year, but couldn't meet that 10/1/00 deadline. The farm hence appealed the abatement order to the State Water Quality Control Board.

The farm failed to meet the abatement order by 10/1/00, before its appeal was heard, and was fined $500 per day. On 11/8/00 the fine was increased retroactively to $2500 per day after the Board heard testimony from neighbors. By 11/21/00, the farm ceased all outdoor composting, and will either buy finished compost or cease operations after January 2001, when the last mushrooms are harvested from current plantings.

Source: personal visit in ~1996, NCT 2/2/00, A1, A6; VN 2/10/00, 5, 30; NCT 2/23/00, B5; NCT 9/14/00; NCT 10/10/00; NCT 11/4/00; SDUT 11/23/00, NI1, 3; and previous newspaper articles.

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Copyright © 1997-2000 by Tom Chester.
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Last update: 28 December 2000.