Peregrine flight

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Crummy neighbors

I don't know if it is really copacetic to share this kind of dirty laundry but what the hey - when have I ever held anything back? And it's not like I don't believe everything I wrote. Here goes:

Judy Mitchell
Mission Resource Conservation District
1588 South Mission Road
Suite 100
Fallbrook, California 92028

Dear Ms. Mitchell,

We spoke yesterday about my concerns regarding the San Diego County building located at 130 Alvarado in Fallbrook. To reiterate, I own a building directly to the west of this building at 113 N. Main and have concerns about what is slowly becoming a deplorable and unsightly situation with this building which is now under your purview. I should reiterate that I don't want to overstate things, it is not terrible at this point but I think it does look awful and could become very bad if allowed to continue to deteriorate.

Apparently you have turned the water off on the landscaping and the once lush shrubs and grass are now dying. Weeds are popping up and it is becoming a blight. You informed me that you had architectural plans submitted to rectify the situation and I appreciate that. However I know how slowly these things move, with county approval, plan check and execution and ask that you maintain the grounds in an adequate way for at least the near term until your plans are closer to fruition.

It is unfair to both your neighbors and the people of Fallbrook for you to allow the grounds to deteriorate and it sets a bad example for a quasi governmental organization to have such an apparent disregard for the downtown area. You informed me that the water was shut off because someone had taken the liberty to steal water to wash cars in your parking lot. I appreciate that and I also appreciate your limited budget.  Perhaps there is a way to turn the valve back on and keep a lock of some kind on the unit or patrol the abandoned building occasionally? Even a landscape demo would send a signal that there are plans ahead for a revitalization, or perhaps a small sign. Vagrants have taken to living in the shrubbery and I think that something needs to be done.

I want to thank you for your attention to this matter.


Robert Sommers
Blue Heron Gallery
113 N. Main Ave.
Fallbrook, CA 92028


Dear Robert Sommers:

I am the President of the Board of Directors of Mission Resource Conservation District (MRCD).
We are touched by your warm welcome to your new next door neighbor.
Thank you for your letter of concern this morning about our new building.

I suggest that you go outside and walk around the building again.
We have been steadily working to improve the safety and public look of the building.
We welcome your input into our future design for the building and landscape.
I was just there this week and I do not think we are talking about the same property.

It is not slowly becoming a deplorable and un-sightly building. I have photographs of what it looked like when we took over and just recently, I would say yes, you are overstating this situation. Your judgement that it looks awful is quite concerning to us, but that said it will soon become a construction site and the look and feel will be gritty and have that under construction look. 

Please take notice of the fact that we have cleaned up almost all the trash left around the building when we took ownership. It seems that new trash shows up every week. We have steadily pushed back the cover that less fortunate members of our community used to find a safe place to sleep at night.

We are currently paying our team to paint out the graffiti that we are gifted with by young community artists on a weekly basis. We have had a tree service cut down the unsafe and overgrown juniper trees on the east side of the building and had an update to the trimming on the two large liquid amber trees on the south side of the building.

In case you were not aware, we are in a water crisis and for a conservation agency the maintenance of a lawn was a not an option. Since we are over 90% grant funded, we are seeking grants to install a new educational landscape around our building showing limited water use xeriscape methods with different approaches.

The building committee is considering the cost of a 5 foot construction fence all the way around our property that would have black-out fabric to prevent any view of the landscape and building under construction. We welcome your offer to support us by contributing the cost of the fence. We will need to have it up for at least the year of our planned construction and landscape process.

The next step of the construction process will require us to tear out the whole grass system and the landscape shrubs that have provided cover for our less fortunate community members. The process will require that we dig up the whole landscape to install an updated irrigation system.

When our construction process is completed we will have fenced our whole back parking lot and installed security gates and lighting to protect our investment and vehicles.

We are currently in the selection process of an Architect to guide the rebuilding that is required. 

We have not allowed the grounds to deteriorate. We have cleaned them up and steadily improved the look of the site.  We are removing the old landscape and have turned off the water to save water for our community and to make the demolition more cost effective. 

We are currently designing a sign for the property that will inform the public of our plans.
Vagrants were living in the shrubbery when we took over the building, no evidence has been found of there use of the site as an outdoor bedroom for the last 6 months.

We will add your concerns to our list of projects for the property and endeavor to do an even better job of being a good neighbor.

Thank you for your letter of concern!!!
We will take action to make sure that our site is a good neighbor...
Thank you for your time,

Scott A. Murray
President Board of Directors
Mission Resource Conservation District

Really Scott? Touched by my warm welcome for a new neighbor? I am touched by your lack of regard for the block and village. I have lived here for 36 years, my gallery has been open for 19. I have seen what the building looked like when the last tenants left, the shrubs were green and healthy. The grass was regularly weeded. Look at the pictures I took not five minutes ago. The tallest weed was only about 40" tall, not nearly as bad as the old MacDonalds but you are certainly on your way.

You say that you can not be blamed for allowing the location to deteriorate, any sane and rational person would come to that exact conclusion, unless of course you would like to blame something like entropy itself. If you were not a governmental entity you would have probably already been cited for failure to maintain. And this ire is not all mine, I have been contacted by several other property owners who are subjected to your apparent lack of concern and they feel the very same way. We obviously have two different perspectives. You feel good about the way things look, I have made my feelings clear. I'm all for tearing out the lawn. Most of us have done that at home. But we move quickly to an alternative, preferably a xeriscape one, so as not to look like a festering sore.


Robert Sommers
Blue Heron Gallery

I shudder to think of the irony. An outfit whose charter and expertise is teaching people how to properly maintain their yard, well no need to pontificate, you get it...And then the guy hits me up for a donation. I'll throw him five bucks if it will help. I'm telling you the place looked fine six months ago when the Health and Human Services people left, you can't shut the water off for a year and walk away. Or at least get out the weed eater once in a while, I can turn it on for you and show you how to work it. But you are the victim here, I forgot...Don't take responsibility for a place if you aren't willing to maintain things, even at the most minimal sense of the word.

postscript - some anonymous person sent me a copy of the RFP. Not a word about landscaping...


Anonymous said...

I am so glad you posted and shows how you struck such a responsive chord that ironically clearly delineates their true nature. .

Anonymous said...

Just got finished reading all of these. I walk S* by there a few times a week, and always wonder what the hell is going on with that place. Like with the Mc Donald's building, I appreciate what you are doing, and hope your actions make a difference. In the case of Mc Donald's, it made a difference, if only for a while.

Anyway, as a shamefully passive observer, I appreciate what you are doing. When I left N* to return to Fallbrook, it's because in my heart this is now home. Very proud to live in a community that has a Robert Sommers.


Anonymous said...

Well stated. Let me know how it progresses. Grateful you care about our community!

Anonymous said...

Good !!
However I do not believe it is car washing !!
I spoke with caretaker of prop .,
More like theft of water


Anonymous said...

Nice letter... to the point, but fair.


Anonymous said...


I thought you have legit concerns and good observations..... I am not around all the time to have noticed what you must see everyday....

Scott sound like a true government employee... who is paid either by the tax payers....or, by others and still looks for "grants" or contributions from other sources..... These people should try actually building something or a real business that makes a positive contribution to the economic scene instead of just planning to live off of it like a barnacle on the back of a whale.

keep it up.....


Anonymous said...

Good job Robert. Don't take any shit.


Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

Me? I'm looking forward...to the chainlink fence around their parking lot. There's the perfect look - and attitude - for the "Friendly Village."

Blue Heron said...

Well that is a good point. If they restrict the traffic flow we may have to file a prescriptive right lawsuit. There are many times the alley is blocked and it is the only way to our property! That is how our property has been accessed since I moved here.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Scott could've easily just walked across the street and introduced himself and spoken with you to allay your concerns. What a prick! Max

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the old Robert I know and love. Concerned neighbor. Scotts response was similarly sarcastic. Great Sunday morning read

Anonymous said...

The strelitzia deserved better.