Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

The Mill closed permanently last week after repeated visits from the County

Tiffany Garcia and her business partner sold a furniture rental business in Carlsbad and they decided to move to Fallbrook. After she moved to Fallbrook, she spotted the old building which was an eyesore on the corner of Brandon and East Mission.

She said, "When I stumbled across this property it was abandoned and had been taken over by homeless and druggies. It had been taken over by heroin addicts. There weren't any of the new floors and walls that are here now. There were needles everywhere and probably 10 mattresses thrown around where people were sleeping."

She said, "The county had no problem turning a blind eye when the property was a drug filled homeless encampment, but as soon as a small business moves in, they essentially make it impossible to get anything accomplished unless you have deep pockets and jump through every one of their ridiculous hoops. It took us two months to clean and cost $15 to $20,000 to haul away the trash and green waste because of the neglect.

"I had on my rose colored glasses. All I could see were the beams and the barn and the structure, I could see what it could look like if it was fixed up, but the way it works in a small town is that the county isn't going to come visit you unless someone complains and unfortunately in a small town such as Fallbrook, there are people who drive around and do just that for no reason or no purpose whatsoever. Maybe they don't like to see change or maybe it's a neighbor who's disgruntled. But for whatever reason we got a call from the county early on and once they get a call, they come out, and once they've come out, you can't get them off your back and that's when we started encountering a lot of problems."

She added, "When I saw [the rundown property] I immediately fell in love and I decided I was going to do whatever was needed to get this property. And we did. We tracked down the owner and signed a lease to own and had grandiose plans of doing a co-op business idea that included having a brewery, coffee shop, pizzeria, and retail. Our dream was to create a family friendly establishment in Fallbrook where families could eat, have a drink and hang out with friends. We really felt like there was a need for it in the community.

"So, very quickly after we started doing renovations to the property, revived it back from the poor state it was in and immediately we were getting shut down by the County for things right and left and unfortunately we've been in an ongoing battle with the county for the past four years and depending on which case worker (inspector) gets assigned to our property at the moment, they say one thing and we try to abide by their rules and do what they say and then someone else gets assigned our case and they come up with a whole different set of things.

"We've just had a really rough time getting everything buttoned up here to the point where we are actually going to be selling the property. We put our heart and soul into it and our goal is just to have a voice because we feel like no one is really advocating for small business owners in Fallbrook specifically. I was probably naive thinking that it would be easier to operate a business in an unincorporated town but it's actually harder. I would hope there would be some reform and change so there would be an easier path for business owners here because we have not had an easy time at all."

Garcia said, "I think at this point our only option is to sell and our original dream for this property is just not possible. I think now the County has a lot of permits ordered that we would have to get to turn this space into what it needs to be and we don't have the deep pockets. We fought as hard as we could and unfortunately we don't have any fight in us any longer and we're hoping to find a buyer who sees the potential for this property, who loves this property as much as we do and they can create something for the community."

When asked if the lack of permits was disclosed in her real estate paperwork, Garcia said it was not.

Elsa Mickelsen said, "We viewed it as a 'collective backyard' for many of us, to quote an old tv show 'a place where everybody knew your name.' It was an easy casual social outlet where you could go and enjoy a sunny afternoon with friends. One of these friends is a senior citizen who has lost her only social outlet within easy walking distance, and now has nothing but her bleak apartment. This closing will be the toughest on her, as she has nowhere else she can get to on her own. I worry about her the most, declining health without that daily walk.

"All of her friends she made at The Mill will be reaching out to her for activities and outings, but that won't replace the independence she had with her daily Mill visits.

"It's a shame, the town is a little shy of casual patio space. We will all miss The Mill."

A frequent customer, Ashleigh Varela, said, "We are extremely saddened the mill is closing. We have so many memories spent there. We had our engagement party there and a lot of after school hangouts!

Of The Mill, Robert Schoen said, "It was a great place to relax, have some good food, good beer, good company, good conversation. I got to experience a lot of local musicians I never knew. The outdoor environment was pleasant, as well as the indoor. I made some new friends that helped me through a rough time. The staff working the bar and the kitchen were always so kind and friendly. A family friendly place to bring your kids, and animals made it even better. I felt safe and welcomed at the Mill. I had a lot of great times, and met a lot of great people. It was a second home to me filled with some caring loving people that accepted me. I got to see the Friendly Village of Fallbrook come to life."


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