By Will Fritz
Associate Editor 

Fallbrook Revitalization Committee has second-ever meeting


Last updated 9/27/2019 at 6:14pm

Fallbrook leaders and community members met Tuesday, Sept. 17, at the Fallbrook Public Utility District building for a meeting of the Fallbrook Revitalization Committee – the second meeting since the committee was established earlier this year.

The committee, which consists of subcommittees that focus on more specialized issues, was spearheaded by San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond, whose 5th District covers Fallbrook and most of the rest of North County.

The board of supervisors voted unanimously in March to authorize the committee in Fallbrook, along with similar ones in Valley Center and Borrego Springs.

Other revitalization committees are active in Alpine, Lakeside, Ramona, Spring Valley and rural East County.

Topics discussed included potential improvements to the downtown area and Main Avenue, housing, homelessness and transportation infrastructure.

Eileen Delaney, chair of the infrastructure subcommittee, said plans to turn the parking lot adjacent to the library into a town center area for special events have been put on hold for now. Staff is currently working to separate property interests.

Plans are also in the work for traffic calming measures along Main Avenue, she said.

“We’ve investigated plans for infrastructure improvements including diagonal parking. What we’ve discovered is that we really don’t have enough room for diagonal parking,” Delaney said.

Instead, the infrastructure subcommittee would like to build what are called bulbouts – basically curb extensions.

“Basically what it is is it gives the perception of narrowing the streets down though means of planting trees or (adding) concrete – we want to make it as aesthetically pleasing as possible,” Delaney said. “And that slows traffic down, it gives them the feeling that they need to slow it down.”

Those plans have gone to the Fallbrook Community Planning Group as an informational item, and are set to eventually be voted on by the planning group.

“Our process is when our committees come up with an idea we then go to the planning group to get their approval, and then from there, it goes on to the county staff,” Delaney said.

The infrastructure subcommittee has also talked with Palomar College officials, she said, who plan to request county funds for a bus route between central Fallbrook and the college’s North County campus east of Interstate 15.

“Apparently there are quite a number of students that have no means of transportation and so they can’t attend classes, and so this would actually help them quite a bit,” Delaney said. Desmond said Palomar has made such a request to the county, and the plan is in the works.

Kim Murphy, chair of the housing subcommittee, said members of that group looked at housing problems including regulations that make it difficult to build accessory dwelling units like granny flats and undeveloped lots in the area.

The housing subcommittee, Murphy said, would like to streamline the permitting process and look into changing zoning in downtown Fallbrook to allow more multi-family units.

“In Minneapolis and the state of Oregon, they’re actually eliminating single-family residences. Now that’s not appropriate for Fallbrook, it’s not appropriate for San Diego County,” Murphy said. “However, there are ways to create more housing and we need to look at those things, and one of the ways within the village, and we have some of it, is multi-use zoning … Where you have people living above with businesses below.”

Murphy also said the group would like to look at ways to enhance the downtown area and create a historic district.

Lila MacDonald, chair of the public safety subcommittee, said homelessness subcommittee members were reviewing Orange County’s homeless program. It would give San Diego County the authority to remove homeless people from the street if beds are available at places that serve the homeless.

Responding to concerns from residents about homelessness in Fallbrook, Deputy District Attorney Kate Flaherty, community partnership prosecutor for the North County region, said the DA’s office and law enforcement are doing everything they can, but in many cases their hands are tied.

“I can tell you that as a deputy district attorney for 25 years, my boss, Summer Stephan, is very mindful and very aware of this problem, and she is trying to do what she can to address it directly, but you have to remember what we do is prosecute people,” Flaherty said. “And it is not politically correct at this point in time for us to do anything that criminalizes homelessness per se.”

She said one option would be to prosecute people who are addicted to drugs, since many do live on the street, but since the passage of Proposition 47 in 2014 made the possession of most drugs a minor misdemeanor, the justice system for drug crimes has become “a revolving door at best.”

“Nobody wants to see Fallbrook or anyplace in San Diego County turn into Seattle, and that’s what decriminalization – complete decriminalization – has done, of small amounts of drugs,” Flaherty said. “All of us would like to see heroin go back to being a felony but I don’t see that happening now – it’s not realistic.”

The revitalization committee and its associated subcommittees don’t have the power to enact any of their ideas themselves – however, the recommendations will get heard by the board of supervisors.

Anyone interested in joining one of the subcommittees or hearing about the difference they can make in their neighborhood can email [email protected]

Will Fritz can be reached by email at [email protected]


Reader Comments


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2019