Battle over Avo Half Marathon goes public

The Fallbrook Community Planning Group (FCPG) voted to stay their decision on a special event permit for the Avocado Half Marathon and 5k run, which planners hope to host in Fallbrook on April 18, 2015. The decision was due to concerns by various agencies and local community groups in addition to traffic issues on residential streets.

This would be the second year for the Avocado Half Marathon, which has partnered with Homes for our Troops, a privately-funded, national, non-profit, 501 (c)(3) organization committed to helping veterans who have returned home with serious injuries by building a specially-adapted home for them.

Currently, the proposed racecourse is set on 13.27 miles. With beginning and ending activities at Live Oak Park, the official race route begins westbound on Winterhaven, north on South Mission Road, east on Stage Coach Lane, east on Reche Road and south on Gird Road.

Gird Road, Reche from Gird to Stage Coach Lane, and Stage Coach Lane from Reche Road to Mission Road, and Brooke Road and part of Winterhaven would be closed from 6:45 a.m. to approximately 10:45 a.m. on the day of the race. Some roads are expected to open by 8:15 a.m., with the majority of other roads being opened before the anticipated time.

In order to hold the marathon, organizers must be issued a special event permit by the San Diego Department of Public Work’s (DPW) traffic engineering and loss mitigation department, allowing for the road closures. The FCPG provides insight to the DPW regarding permits for local events.

Murali Pasumarthi, a manager from the Department of Public Works, attended the FCPG meeting to provide directions from the county board of supervisors for consideration.

Pasumarthi stated the county code requires that the special event be an event that benefits the community, and that no permit should be issued to a for-profit event.

“There are guidelines on how special event permits are to be processed,” said Pasumarthi. “Event coordinators are to solicit and receive input from homeowners, homeowners associations, and emergency responders to minimize event impact. We have asked the event organizers to present a proposal to get input and buy in from the community and to obtain support from law enforcement agencies ahead of their April event plan.”

Andrew Petterson, a senior partner of Seasick Sports Marketing Group, stated that the proposed date for the Avocado Half Marathon is the day before the Avocado Festival.

Vickie Knox, the founder of the Avocado Half Marathon, approached Seasick Marketing to help her get the race off the ground in 2014, and has continued to collaborate with the Del Mar company to help with organizational matters.

“When our company came in [for the 2014 run], we had four months of planning,” explained Petterson. “We have put on events nationwide, and had a few hundred signed up for the event, including two from outside the country, so we had enough to move forward without changing the date and canceling it. We knew notification for residents impacted by the course would be an issue; typically we would like to give multiple notification warnings in advance.”

Petterson stated that event organizers sent mail-out fliers with information regarding the event to residents who would be impacted by the race, but some fliers did not arrive to the residences until seven to 14 days before the race. Signs were also put up along impacted roads two weeks prior to the race to inform residents their streets would be closed off.

Because of the short notice last year, residents were unaware they would not be able to leave their homes, and called various agencies, including the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce, Supervisor Bill Horn’s office, and the Village News to voice their concerns.

“People were upset because they had to get to work, go to doctors appointments, and leave for swim matches,” said Petterson. “A lot of the calls were mostly people asking for notifications to go out further in advance, so they could plan for the event. We want to send out fliers a month before the event this year.”

Petterson said that of the roughly 2,400 homes that were impacted by the race, approximately eight percent of residents called to voice concerns or lodge complaints.

“We found that [about] half of the calls were people looking for more notification,” he explained. “That leaves less than four percent of residents who had complaints.”

“This year, we are a little over eight months from the proposed date, and we have put word out in hopes residents would come to meetings and ask questions they had as a whole from the event’s standpoint,” said Petterson.

The event has a significant, positive community impact, insisted Petterson, who said that various local companies, such as Jim’s Sign Shop, Jeremiah’s Ranch, Fallbrook Brewing and the U.S. Post Office, were able to benefit from $14,000 in purchases made by organizers. Petterson stated that Seasick Marketing did not generate a profit from the 2014 race, and had to pay for certain expenses out of pocket.

“We had 165 students from Fallbrook High on hand to volunteer, and they received community service hours. Twelve students from Potter Jr. High also received credit,” said Petterson. “Moving forward to 2015, we have partnered with Homes for our Troops, and have worked on houses in the area.”

The Avocado Half Marathon agreed to donate one dollar from each $56 race registration fee to Homes for our Troops, and would feature a “donate” section on the website, where 100 percent of those specific donations would be given to the non-profit.

“Our runners get medals and shirts, so the percent that we are getting for this is minimal,” said Petterson. “If you look at what is being deducted for the event costs, we easily cut our money in half. The $5,000 is just a minimum that we want to raise.”

Several residents voiced their concerns against the race in its current form. One of the residents mentioned that she was a self-employed florist.

“It’s very likely I could lose a job from lack of information,” she said. “There are three adults in our home that all work on the weekends and deal with deadlines. [The race] does impact us financially as well, and it would be great to get as much notification as possible.”

According to Knox, there has been discussion about changing the track for the run, eliminating a part of Winterhaven, which contains approximately 80 homes.

“The roads are impacted either way on both sides,” said Knox. “That [proposed] route has not gone to the county. We did not have complaints from runners, and you want to put on an event that half marathon people come back to. One other thing we needed to look at is that we could not impact any side of Mission Road, which is a main vein in and out of town. Looking at that, there are not a whole lot of options.”

Pasumarthi stated that the route may be changed to address impacts made by the run.

“The county is willing to work with planning groups, as long as the community approves the event,” he said.

The Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce had several directors in attendance, some with strong opinions regarding the race organizers and coordination of the event.

“These people cared nothing about the community, or about the hundreds of people that were blocked off and couldn’t get out,” said Jon Frandell, president of the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce. “The schedule was crammed down our throats at the last minute. You didn’t care about coming to the chamber, and you didn’t care about the community. You wanted to come in, run it the day before the Avocado Festival, the biggest event in Fallbrook, and stretch volunteers and the CHP thin before the festival. You took some connection for personal gain. Ten dollars from each fee should go to cause. Your attitude and lack of cooperation is just wrong.”

“Notwithstanding all the value they brought here, it really doesn’t feel comfortable,” said Charley Wolk, a chamber board director. “This is a for-profit event, and is a marketing tool. There is a price to pay for those residents on the route who cannot go in and out of their homes. It violates county law, and I consider it un-American to wrangle Marines to stand guard. As a retired Marine, when I look at all this, my conclusion is we are not getting that much in its present format.”

There were also many in attendance who came in support of the run.

Tatyna Beath, who was responsible for coordinating Marine volunteers stated that she saw a large amount of the community who wanted an event that promoted health and fitness.

“We requested 100 volunteers from the Marines, and got close to 250,” said Beath. “Over 200 marines volunteered their time and had a blast. The majority of people I met in the community support family, health and community. I believe very strongly that this event does all those things. It has a positive impact not only on the community and runners, but also on the base, and for all those around us.”

Tom Harrington of the FCPG stated that the Avocado Half Marathon has four basic issues.

“The first is the monetary issue of the event,” he said. “Community benefit is more than the dollar that exchanges hands. The race enhances the community with a whole different group of people, and that is worthwhile.”

Harrington stated that it was a requirement to bring experts from Del Mar to facilitate this event, as Seasick Marketing filled the void for Knox and her race plans.

“This is a springboard event, and a good opportunity to make the Avocado Festival a better event,” said Harrington. “Fallbrook needs to be a part of this.”

Harrington made a motion to approve the permit.

However, not all of the FCPG board agreed.

“If the motion is for having the run on the specified date, then I am opposed,” said Jack Wood. “It is an atrocity to not consider other dates. As a volunteer with the Sheriff Dept.’s Senior Volunteer Patrol, I know what traffic conditions in town are like when we have a severe void of roads to get out of this community. We have limited amount of avenues to get out of this community.”

“I support the event, but not the time,” said Wood to the organizers. “I figure by your adamant statement that you will not consider an alternate route.”

Bill McCarthy also stated that he could not support the proposal as it stood.

“Our job is to look at the impact on the community, not just making runners happy,” said McCarthy. “We need to look at the impact on the community overall, and determine if it’s worthwhile. You’re not talking about blocking off side streets, but main roads through town. I can’t support the motion as it stands now, especially with the small amount of money that is being generated. Good ideas are being raised, but need changes.”

Anne Burdick also stated that as the motion stood, she could not support the event as it was scheduled. In addition, Burdick wanted to hear from the Sheriff’s Department and North County Fire, both of which had representatives at the meeting, but due to the overwhelming amount of public comment had to leave before they could speak.

“I don’t think we can act responsibly without comment from emergency personnel, who have be in charge that day,” said Burdick. “They might say it was a great idea, but they didn’t have a chance to comment.”

Four FCPG board members voted to approve the motion, but it was denied.

Eileen Delaney made a motion to continue the board’s decision for a month so that organizers could meet with safety personnel and the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce.

“We all want this to happen,” she said. “One month isn’t going to affect [the race] one way or the other.”

Pasumarthi concurred, stating that if more time would be needed in order to have stakeholders work together, the department would work with organizers to schedule and process the permit on time.

According to Jackie Heyneman, Parks and Recreation chair, there would be no impact on Live Oak Park, where the race would have events at the beginning and end.

“We anticipated a parking issue, but that did not transpire because [race coordinators] arranged for shuttles to the park. With that thought in mind, a motion was made to recommend approval from the park’s perspective.”

Eileen Delaney stated that $5,000 in donations to the non-profit Homes for Our Troops was not sufficient, given that the run organizers anticipate 1,700 to 2,500 runners.

“The registration fee is below average, so my suggestion is that you raise that to give more to the non-profit,” she said. “How can I make a decision on an event that’s only benefiting the non-profit by a dollar per person? I know you have expenses, but I would be more inclined to support it if more was going to the organization.”

In addition, Delaney strongly recommended that organizers move the date for the run.

“Consider an alternate weekend, because we are a small community, and that will impact our volunteers,” said Delaney. “The fire department, sheriff’s deputies and volunteers are the same ones volunteering for the Avocado Festival, and we are a small community, so it will impact us.”

Petterson stated that there are a significant amount of marathons within the 80-mile radius on other dates, which would take away from opportunities for runners to come to the Fallbrook run.

“The Avocado Half Marathon is in its infant stages, and if we can’t get anyone to run, the non-profit doesn’t make a dollar; it doesn’t make anything,” he said.

The motion was carried, but Jim Russell, FCPG president, warned the organizers that it was important to be open to possible event changes.

“You seem to be intransigent, opposed to any kind of changes whatsoever,” he said. “If that’s not the case, you will not waste our time and you may win.”

42 Responses to "Battle over Avo Half Marathon goes public"

  1. Cathy   August 28, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    This shouldn’t be a "battle". The event organizers have always wanted to work WITH the community and be open to improving/changing the race to accommodate as many as possible and inconvenience as few as possible. Those of us in favor are not uncaring or arrogant. We simply see the value of this race and the unequivocal good it did this year. Bringing young and old together, teaching the younger generation what "community" is in a healthy way and showing people what a great town Fallbrook is – how can that possibly be bad?? Please can we work together in a spirit of unity for just a few hours on just one Saturday morning out of the entire year?

  2. S. Forrest   August 28, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    I was not real thrilled being imprisoned in my own home for the duration of the Avocado Half Marathon. Supposedly the event was to benefit a local charity, so I went along with it. I have volunteered many goods and services to worthy charities, and I know such organizations are legally required to maintain a certain ratio of expenses to donation. For this event, $55.00 goes to the promoter/expenses and a mere $1.00 is for the charity. Are you kidding? The many volunteers donating their time and services are also being cheated by the promoters of this event.

  3. John   August 29, 2014 at 10:05 am

    They should pledge all of the net proceeds to the local charity before they are given a permit. One dollar per entry is a joke.

  4. Ken   August 29, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    S. Forrest there were volunteers to let you out of your driveway, also the charity that your talking about was happy with there donations. the Avocado Half Marathon is good for are community it brings new people to are small town to see what Fallbrook has to offer. And John the race has to pay for the permits and the CHP to watch traffic and one dollar is a lot when you promote the event the people will come.

  5. Mom of lots   August 29, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    ^ and…the "battle" continues (case in point)

  6. Dawn   August 30, 2014 at 7:54 am

    The event organizers are simply a bunch of self centered egotists. They have NEVER wanted to work with the people who actually live in the impacted neighborhoods. They want what they want and expect that the residents will just give into their demands. Well guess what, WE LIVE here and have a few rights too!

  7. simple solution   August 30, 2014 at 8:32 am

    Why don’t they arrange to use the high school’s track for the day? There’s even off street parking galore down there. Why the need to needlessly disrupt other people’s lives? If that isn’t good enough for them let them take it to some other town.

  8. Resident   August 30, 2014 at 9:26 am

    Question: What’s a two word synonym for self entitled arrogance?
    Answer: Seaside Marketing

    The people trying to foist this thing on us, now for a second year in a row, aren’t interested in listening to us.

  9. JLS   August 30, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Hope our elected officials are listening. Please don’t give them this special permit

  10. George M   August 30, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    One dollar? Thats all these organizers are contributing? What a fraud. I bet most of us would gladly pay $5.00 if the organizers would cancel this thing and agree to leave us alone.

  11. Tony   August 30, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    Boy, come on listen to yourselves! Stop being so petty about the small inconvenience of time you may have to endure for such short period. Think about the positive message of health, family,fun and community you will pass on to others. Believe me, our community need something positive like this. I wish our road association on via del robles had not said no. I was thrilled we were considered. Its a beautiful event for all of Fallbrook. Also give the people credit for putting this event on. They are forward thinkers!

  12. Curious   August 30, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    Is it SEASIDE marketing or SEASICK Marketing? VN has it published as “SEASICK” Geesh….

    VN Staff: It is Seasick Marketing.

  13. Me   August 30, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Take it somewhere else. Nothing like a bunch of self-important dweebs running around the streets.

  14. Don't believe the lies   August 30, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    Ken, you are 100% wrong! Residents were NOT allowed into or out of their driveways for the entire duration of the event. Residents such as myself, were told to just "deal with it" & when I complained I was bullied by Mrs Knox and her supporters. An event that is supposed to be meant to be good for the community shouldn’t tear the community apart!!! Don’t believe the lies!!

  15. Seriously??   August 30, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    This is so incredibly sad!! Do we want to be known as the town who has one of the lowest school districts, the hospital ER that closed, the one that couldn’t keep businesses going, the one who has the highest teen pregnancy rate in SD county, and the one who wouldn’t support a half marathon when almost every community, town and city does around the USA???? Come on!!! Half marathons shut down down major freeways, roads, and residential streets every single weekend across the nation and their people support because they realize that the benefit far out ways the inconvenience. Seriously folks…our town is going backwards and needs a positive event like this to bring the right type of influence to this town. It is long overdue!! You can’t run a successful half marathon around a high school track or along the 395. Be gracious, be kind and for goodness sakes think about the future of this struggling community. There are over 60,000 in this community and approximately 1400 are impacted that now have 9 months to plan ahead for a few hours of road closure. If the road was being paved or constructed would you whine this much?? That can take days and cause just as much if not more inconvenience. The charity involved is thrilled to be getting donations that are coming in almost daily from the website donation page. $1 is just what is taken out of the registrations, but there is additional donations that are optional and people are giving outside of their registration. It will be easily over $5,000 to Homes for Our Troops this year and if you continue to protest and have the race cancel…guess what…???? They will get NOTHING!!!! That extra $$ for the home going in our community is a lot and they are grateful unlike you people who would rather not support this. I’m ashamed and embarrassed of this town!!!

  16. @14   August 31, 2014 at 4:05 am

    I agree. Last year my elderly inlaws were prevented from reaching our house and we were prohibited from driving down to pick them up until well after this thing ended. This situation went on for hours.

  17. Stacey   August 31, 2014 at 6:53 am

    @Tony. The company putting on this event is a private for profit company. Their motivation is to make money and pay themselves their salaries. The measly 1 dollar they will be giving to charity is just a cynical ploy to try to get around the County’s requirements that street closures not be given to for-profit events. This is not about the public good and much more about private gain

  18. Fallbrook Gal   August 31, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Will someone be reimbursing me for our landscaping these inconsiderate out of towners trashed last year?

  19. why not?   August 31, 2014 at 8:57 am

    After going to the planning meeting and listening to the whole debate of to have this or not, I am going to push for the stopping of the Avocado Festival. My properties get blocked in from outside people, I can’t access stores that I would normally go to on a Sunday, I am always picking up trash at my properties on Monday. As people said, it is un-american to infringe upon my rights as a property owner and I have never gotten a letter 6 months in advance telling me the date of the avocado Festival, I think those paid promotes are "bullying" me into HAVING to deal with the festival. I figure I might as well get on the band wagon and start complaining about all the things that bug me. Maybe Hot Summer Nights should go away? By the way, I hate running and I am affected by the marathon.

  20. Mr. Triathlon   August 31, 2014 at 9:05 am

    "Seasick" Marketing. What an appropriate name for this outfit! lol

    On a serious note: Please find a different venue for your event. We’re not interested. Thanks!

  21. Seriously??   August 31, 2014 at 9:24 am

    I am Seriously?? the real one…I did not make comment #16

  22. I oppose   August 31, 2014 at 9:32 am

    Now they’re saying on their official website that this thing will be held on May 16th. Is that now the date? Who picked that date? When did it change from April 18th? I’m a resident, why wasn’t I notified so that I could state my opinion? As if my opinion will ever matter one iota to the folks pushing for this.

  23. Seriously??   August 31, 2014 at 9:47 am



    NOTE TO SERIOUSLY?? – We cannot approve your in-depth comments about the organization and finance of this event without you listing your [real] name and position you hold in this. Your information could be true or it may not be true, but you will have to put your name to it. Thank you, D. Ramsey, Village News.

  24. To Seriously   August 31, 2014 at 9:55 am

    You don’t see a difference between closure of a public road for maintenance and the closure of a public road for a private function? It’s a public road not someone’s private playground. Unless closed for maintenance or emergency the public should have the right to use it for its intended purpose ie accessing our homes.

  25. from Winterwarm   August 31, 2014 at 10:33 am

    It appears that the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce is onto their little game. When the voices of our local business community question the validity of the organizers claim that this is good for local business, there must be something wrong.

    Thank you Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce for sticking up for us residents!

  26. Star   August 31, 2014 at 11:45 am

    I object to being held hostage in my own house. I vote NO!

  27. Patrick   August 31, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    @George M. Homes for our Troops is looking forward to your donation.

  28. Seriously?? the real one   August 31, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    I also didn’t make comment #23.

    Frankly I tend to agree with the residents who are impacted by this marathon. It isn’t that I don’t approve of marathons, I do, however the organizers of this event are rather rude. Seasick Marketing?? Who came up with that idea…. they need a new "marketing director".

  29. Al   August 31, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    I hope the Village News publishes the names of every elected official who votes for this thing so that I can vote against them next election!

    ***VILLAGE NEWS COMMENTS: Al – The decision regarding whether or not this event is permitted to take place will occur at the County of San Diego level. The local Fallbrook Community Planning Group is strictly an advisory committee that can express an opinion but not give the final decision. However, you can attend the final meeting on this locally and see which elected members are in favor of it as well as those against it. But the bottom line is that this will go a step above and be determined in San Diego. That is not to say that certain elected officials (like county supervisors) can’t sway it one way or another, but I’m afraid direct accountability will be very difficult to determine when the “yes” or “no” is issued. We will do our best to report on it as accurately as possible. Thank you, Debbie Ramsey, editor.

  30. Local Resident and Homeowner   August 31, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    re: #15. Seriously?? writes “There are over 60,000 in this community and approximately 1400 are impacted”

    Perhaps you might like to recheck your facts. According to the last census from 2010 Fallbrook has 30,534 residents.,_California

    The article above says that 2400 homes were affected. Where do you get your figure of 1400 homes? Even if we took your lower figure of 1400 homes and assumed that each home contained 2.82 residents (which is the average for San Diego County) That means that 3,948 people will be affected or in other words we will be closing down access to some 13% of Fallbrook.

    Why are we allowing 13% of this community to be shut down at the pleasure of this one group? This is highly inappropriate.

    ***VILLAGE NEWS CLARIFICATION: Hi Local Resident and Homeowner – Just to clarify – Fallbrook’s real population is just a tad under 50,000 these days. Wikipedia is remarkably incorrect on many facts. Just clarifying the number – not arguing your point. Thank you. D. Ramsey, editor.

  31. Miffed   August 31, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    I and my husband give to a ton of charities but we do so willingly. We’ve never been forced to participate in someone else’s philanthropic priorities…..that is until now.

  32. Local   August 31, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    I just looked at the statistic cited in #30. The Wiki article gives the US Census Bureau from 2010 as the reference source. I think that’s pretty authoritative. Where do you get your info, Debbie?

    If the population increased from 30,534 residents in 2010 (per the US Census Bureau) to over 50,000 today in 2014 that would be quite an increase. Are you saying that Fallbrook’s population grew by something like 66% over the last 4 years?


  33. $%^&#!!!!   August 31, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    Oh for Pete’s sake!! We’ve just committed ourselves to hosting a bridal shower starting that morning. The wedding is the following weekend. All other days around this date are already scheduled solid. This is a complicated deal logistically as part of our (soon to be extended) family lives in several states, Canada and 3 different European countries. Our son (the bride’s brother) is stationed in Japan. We’ve been planning this event around everyone’s schedule so that our entire extended family could attend. Now this is being thrown into the mix? We never knew about this road closure affair on the 18th and now see somebody else has posted a link that shows a different date. Outrageous!!

    btw-thanks to the local

  34. $%^&#!!!!   August 31, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    btw-I also wanted to say thanks to the local paper for covering this. We never would have known otherwise.

  35. Sue   August 31, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    I’m really upset with these promoters. Even though I don’t live in the closure area when I find out who their sponsors are, I’ll never buy anything from them again. That’s a promise.

  36. ABC   September 1, 2014 at 3:48 am

    Who knew that I had to seek permission from Seasick Marketing and Vicki Knox as to when I get to leave or come home? To heck with this!

  37. my view   September 1, 2014 at 5:30 am

    To why not comment 19. If the Avo Festival causes you to have to rent a helicopter in order to access your property, then get back to us.

    PS I’m one of those merchants on Main and I’ve chosen to locate my business in a commercial strip. We merchants downtown like the Avo Festival because it brings in customers and $$$. But this isn’t a commercial zone where this run is taking place. It’s a residential area. The residents are being used by this group and don’t receive any benefit. In fact what I’m hearing from them is it’s a detriment for them. Why force it on them? This is just not right.

    As was said up above and I’d like to repeat thank you chamber of commerce for thinking about our entire community. So glad to be a part.

  38. intreating   September 1, 2014 at 8:40 am

    Funny how no one talks about the Avocado Festivel closing down streets and impacting business. It is a for-profit that runs that show also. I personally would like to see the avo festival go away, it impacts both my properties in town, leaves trash on my properties and my driveways are always blocked or full with out of town people. But hey, it’s one day a year, I do arrange around it, annoying, yes. At least the marathon is only 4 hours. Tough to be Americans anymore!

  39. Fallbrook High '84   September 1, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Is there a map posted somewhere showing the area covered? Last year we weren’t allowed to leave either. I’m wondering has the course changed any from last year? I thought this was a one shot deal the first time. So sorry they’re doing it again.

  40. Pam   September 1, 2014 at 11:01 am

    This is our home and neighborhood. These people are completely disrespectful.

  41. Race Facts   September 1, 2014 at 11:21 am

    To “Race Facts” – As I stated before in one of your earlier posts, if you are going to state “facts” about the organization and financials of this event, you must list your REAL first and last name. We can’t approve statements like this without qualifying it as being a credible source. Thank you, Debbie Ramsey, Editor.

  42. Pro Festival. Anti Marathon   September 1, 2014 at 11:36 am

    @intreating. Not true. A for-profit company does not run the Avocado Festival. You need to check your facts before posting because you really don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.


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