Village News Reporter
Douglas Gastelum is the newest member of the Rainbow Community Planning Group.
Gastelum was seated on the planning group Nov. 18. He replaced Bill Crocker in Seat No. 10 for the term which expires on Jan. 2, 2023. Gastelum can run for re-election next year for a full four-year term.
“I’ve been really impressed with the commitment on display by the planning group members,” Gastelum said.
“I think we’re going to have a good man in that position,” said planning group chair Paul Georgantas.
“He’s a long-time resident of Rainbow and he has a very good legal background,” Georgantas said. “I was very grateful to see that he stepped up and volunteered for that position.”
Gastelum has actually been in Rainbow for the past 4 1/2 years but is a San Diego County native. He spent his childhood living in National City, the North Park area of San Diego, and the Casa de Oro area of Spring Valley. After he graduated from Monte Vista High School he left San Diego County to attend the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana.
“I got my first engineering job and realized I hated it,” Gastelum said.
He then built homes in Oklahoma City before returning to college at Northwest Christian College in Eugene, Oregon. He attended graduate school at Vanderbilt University in Nashville before returning to California and eventually obtained his law degree from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles before becoming a member of the bar.
He obtained some knowledge of rural communities during his time away from California. “I was basically the maintenance department in Central Oklahoma Christian Camp,” Gastelum said.
That camp is located near Guthrie but not within the Guthrie city limits.
His rural experience also includes visiting his maternal grandparents in northwest Iowa. “We went out there to be with them regularly,” Gastelum said.
During Gastelum’s time in Oregon he worked on a sheep farm. “Now we have sheep here on our ranch in Rainbow,” he said.
The Gastelum property also has goats, rabbits, chickens, agave, cacti, and dragon fruit.
The internet brought Gastelum to Rainbow. “We were looking for houses,” he said.
He moved to Rainbow from Long Beach and had been looking for homes in the Long Beach area. “Somehow I opened up the tool to make the map bigger than I had before and saw listings in San Diego County that were what we were looking for but much less expensive and included some land,” he said. “It seemed to me that this is a real possibility.”
As an attorney Gastelum represents commercial policy holders who are in disputes with insurance companies. His law office was about three blocks from his previous home. “I didn’t go there that often,” he said.
The ability to work from his home most of the time allows him to live in Rainbow. What was once the Rainbow Property Owners Association is now called Association for the Rainbow Community. Gastelum became active in ARC and met Georgantas and planning group member Martin Kurland there.
Gastelum learned about the planning group from information Georgantas and Kurland provided at ARC meetings. “They would always make reports of what they were doing,” Gastelum said.
When Crocker resigned from the planning group Gastelum sought the vacancy. “I realized that we need to be more aware of what’s going on,” he said. “That would be a way to be aware of what’s going on.”
At the Sept. 15 planning group meeting all eight members participating voted to recommend Gastelum for the vacant seat. Community planning group members are elected for four-year terms, but the San Diego County Board of Supervisors must make the appointments to fill any vacancies. A 5-0 Board of Supervisors vote Oct. 5 approved Gastelum’s appointment.
“We look forward to working with him in the community,” Georgantas said.
Gastelum noted that the activities of the planning group members include research and interaction with community members as well as meetings. “That has been very educational about the community, the community of Rainbow, and just how committed people are about doing good for the community,” he said.
“I want to learn to be as good a citizen as my fellow members have always been,” Gastelum said. “I hope this group can help us anticipate issues before they become emergencies and help preserve our rural way of life.”