Gird Valley residents address FCPG, stating “We need to save Fallbrook Golf Course and the Gird Valley”
Last updated 2/18/2016 at Noon
Gird Valley residents made sure members of the Fallbrook Community Planning Group (FCPG) heard their opinion regarding any potential change to their neighborhood at the panel's Feb. 15 meeting held at Live Oak Elementary School.
During the meeting's Public Comment period, Teresa Platt told FCPG members, "We need to save Fallbrook Golf Course and the Gird Valley."
Approximately 160 residents of the picturesque area filled the meeting room in a show of solidarity to demonstrate their opposition to any change of use regarding the 18-hole golf course, although there are no current proposals before the FCPG for its review.
FCPG chairman Jim Russell clarified for the crowd, "We understand most of you are here to find out what may or may not be going on at the golf course, however, right now there is no project being [officially] considered ; there is no action for us to take at this time."
The property has been owned and operated by Fallbrook Golf Course Inc. since 2012. Jack Lamberson, the corporate comptroller and chairman of the board, told this newspaper he has lost $250,000 per year since purchasing the property and had invested $1.6 million in improvements into it.
Recently, word leaked out that the company had put the back nine holes (36 to 42 acres) of the course in escrow with what is believed to be a conservation company, possibly to be established as a mitigation bank.
In a previous interview with the Village News, Lamberson claimed, "People do not have the complete and accurate information. People are just blowing smoke and making exaggerated claims."
However, Lamberson has been less than forthcoming about who the buyer is of the back nine parcel, and what that individual or company plans to do with it.
Lamberson has claimed that he intends to convert the remainder of the course to a nine-hole format, retaining the front nine and clubhouse facility, or selling it to an individual or company who will do that.
In what could be perceived as an aggressive reply to neighboring property owners, upon hearing their complaints about his plans, Lamberson said, "If the golfers don't support [the plan], that could lead to a sale to a developer or land mitigator."
In the climate of uncertainty, residents around the course have organized themselves and appear to be prepared to wage a fight against anything they see as potentially detrimental to the appeal of the Gird Valley, their lifestyle, and property values.
Worry is prevalent that the course will go the same route as San Luis Rey and become a weed-filled landscape as investors work a multi-year path to potentially develop a mitigation bank. The prospect of using the land to build more homes also has low appeal to neighbors.
Speakers also repeatedly criticized Lamberson's operation of the facility.
"I have watched in frustration as the current owner abuses this course," said Sue Thorne, whose home overlooks the second green.
"[The facility] has one great layout, but it is totally mismanaged," said Ed Erzen. "The current owner has just run it into the ground. The place is an absolute morgue and has gone from 44 employees when [Lamberson] bought it, to nine today."
The majority of speakers suggested that what was needed was a new owner/operator that could restore the facility to a more acceptable state.
"What we need is a new, engaged owner who can successfully operate it under the same use permit that was issued in the 1960s," Platt said.
Several residents added their concerns to Platt's and plead with the planning group not to approve any use change for the property in the future.
"I urge [members of the FCPG] to oppose any [future] land use change for this property," said Dolly Harty.
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