201 North Broadway
Escondido, CA 92025
Attention: Brian Gustafson,
Code Enforcement Manager January 6, 2014
Dear Mr. Gustafson,
It is clear that the deteriorating conditions of the abandoned former Escondido Country Club property in Northwest Escondido are raising major concerns to local property and business owners.
Although the status of the property is in limbo due to legal challenges, the owners should not escape responsibility for properly maintaining the property, to provide a safe and visually attractive environment that does not negatively affect the neighborhood’s ambience and real estate property values. No matter what the owner thinks about the adaptation of the Green Belt Initiative, it is currently the law.
Summarizing your own Code Enforcement Guidelines, here are some of the most obvious violations you should force the owner to address:
It is unlawful for any responsible person to use, allow, or maintain on such property, walls, fences, patios, driveways, or walkways which are cracked, broken, defective, deteriorated or in disrepair;
It is unlawful for any responsible person to use, allow, or maintain on such property, a swimming pool, pond or other body of water which is abandoned, unattended, unfiltered or not otherwise maintained, resulting in the water becoming polluted. For the purpose of this subsection, polluted water means water contained in a swimming pool, pond or other body of water, which includes but is not limited to bacterial growth, including algae, remains of insects, remains of deceased animals, reptiles, rubbish, refuse, debris, papers, and any other foreign matter or material which because of its nature or location constitutes an unhealthy, unsafe or unsightly condition;
It is unlawful for any responsible person to use, allow or maintain on such property any of the following: Weeds, dead, diseased, decayed, unsightly, overgrown or hazardous vegetation; Barren patches of dirt, holes and ruts on any landscaped area in public view; Deteriorated or unsightly landscape elements including natural features such as rock and stone; and structural features, including fountains, reflecting pools, art works, screens, walls, fences and benches.
Though the new owner stated that he would prefer to fence off the property and let it turn to dirt if he were not allowed to build houses on it, he must be aware that that would be illegal. Maybe he needs to be reminded that the City has an interest in the preservation of green belt and the authority to force him to at least keep the property healthy.
You have the authority to take action to reverse these ugly, dangerous and completely unnecessary violations.
“Enforcement of this article may be accomplished by the building official, or a designee of the building official, to include a contractor retained pursuant to the provisions of this code, in any manner authorized by law. The procedures set forth in this article shall not be exclusive, and shall not in any manner limit or restrict the city from enforcing other city ordinances or abating public nuisances in any other manner provided by law.”
(Ord. No. 85-44, § 1, 7-10-85; Ord. No. 96-29, § 1, 9-4-96).
You may need to develop a report to submit to the Council. This should be initiated immediately, as the conditions will surely worsen when the area receives rainfall. This should be done in conjunction with an official notification to the owner that you are moving forward with legal action, unless or until the issues are properly addressed and resolved.
According to Enforcement Guidelines, if your report determines that the deteriorating conditions present a public nuisance, than the owner could ultimately be held accountable for the cost to abate the nuisance.
Time is of the essence as hundreds of trees, landscape vegetation and important protective ground cover, are all rapidly drying out and dying. Weeds are taking over and the abandoned ponds are breeding grounds for dangerous insects, algae and fungus.
It is unrealistic to think that a large tract of land that was diligently maintained by groundskeepers for nearly fifty years can now be completely ignored without serious economic and environmental impact.
Mr. Gustafson, it is your duty to protect Escondido City residents from land owners who, for whatever reason, fail to maintain their property so as to negatively affect other nearby owners and the overall appearance and reputation of the City of Escondido.
Please act expeditiously!