The Fallbrook Community Planning Group will advise the County of San Diego to deny California Highlands’ request for a major use permit that would allow up to 16 patients – or “guests” – to be treated for their drug and alcohol problems in a single family residence in Fallbrook.
The two-story, 6,300-square foot residence located at 3875 Peony Drive in an upscale neighborhood in southeast Fallbrook is already housing six patients. Group care homes that treat six or less guests don’t have to apply for permits under California laws relating to residential recovery facilities.
Residents of the neighborhood, already dismayed that the rehab facility was able to open recently without any challenges, came out in force at the
Sept. 18 meeting of the Fallbrook Community Planning Group to voice their opposition to the granting of a major use permit.
The meeting began with Charles Heincy speaking on behalf of California Highlands, the addiction treatment business that is leasing the home from owners Nancy and Thomas Rabuchin. During his presentation to the planning group, Heincy worked to downplay any potential negative impacts the increase in patients would have on the neighborhood.
Heincy said traffic would increase minimally on Peony – a private road serviced off Wilt Road at the northwest end and Citrus Drive at the southeast end – since patients would not have their vehicles (they would be shuttled to the residence) and that staff members would park onsite within the confines of the property behind secured gates.
Heincy also offered that there would be no signage on the street and that landscaping obstructs the view of the residence.
“I’m trying to show that the house is consistent with the community – that the house cannot be visible from anyplace unless you stopped and really took a look at it,” said Heincy.
Jack Wood, chair of the planning group’s land use committee, reported the committee made a site tour of the property Sept. 12 and determined that the location, size, design and operating characteristics were wrong for the neighborhood.
“This is a high-end residential neighborhood and this facility will have an imminent harmful effect on the neighborhood,” said Wood. “This property is located on a private road and is maintained by a residential maintenance agreement. It cannot accommodate large delivery trucks and the increased traffic.”
Wood also cited safety concerns.
“This is not a lockdown facility and the residents who are dependent on drugs and alcohol can and will be able to roam the neighborhood, putting all at risk for unlawful activities,” said Wood, who didn’t hide his distaste for the situation.
“The idea of this residence being converted to a recovery/rehabilitation facility is rather atrocious in my mind,” said Wood. “I am very, very discouraged and distressed at the fact that we have to come together at this point.”
Neighborhood residents then explained their opposition through an impressive PowerPoint presentation.
Steve Fox, who lives .2 miles from the home, said that patients overdose in rehab facilities and paramedics are often called for other medical emergencies, which puts an extra burden on fire departments. Fox added that patients also stand outside the homes for smoke breaks.
Linda Davis owns a home on Citrus Drive in addition to a sober living facility in Temecula wine country that is leased by Southern California Addiction Center. She showed pictures comparing her 10-acre property in Temecula to the 2.26 acre Peony property. She stressed the Temecula property is far removed from adjacent neighbors and the streets are easily accessible for emergency vehicles.
“The Fallbrook facility is not secure, private or secluded,” said Davis, who added that the rehab facility California Highlands operates in Banning is “much more suited to this business than Peony Drive.”
“I am a proponent for detox, rehab and sober living facilities, but this the wrong location, even for six patients,” said Davis. “Narrow streets, lack of seclusion, private roads and a family-oriented neighborhood is not an acceptable location, especially for a 16-patient business endeavor. This is affecting my way of life.”
Julia Van Loon, who lives “right down the street from the drug rehab,” is a real estate broker and spoke about property values.
“Having a drug rehab in the neighborhood adversely affects our property values,” said Van Loon. “According to the American Real Estate Society, property values will go down anywhere from eight to 17 percent. It is my opinion that these drug rehab facilities belong on large parcels of land where they do not impact our small residential areas. Let’s save our beautiful town of Fallbrook.”
Enrique Mar voiced concern over pedestrian safety.
“The risk factors created by the escalation of commercial deliveries and non-resident drivers unfamiliar with our private roads, generated by a business entity located in a non-business location, is an unacceptable and avoidable risk,” said Mar.
Other concerns included wear and tear on the roads from increased traffic and heavy delivery vehicles, the ability of the septic system at the home to handle 16 residents, and fire safety.
“Addicts are often addicted to cigarettes, and those cigarette butts are going to be thrown on the road because there are no sidewalks,” said Wilt Road resident John Watson. “A lit butt on dry vegetation can easily set off a fire. That’s a big hazard.”
At the conclusion of the thorough presentation and a few more comments from the audience, planning group members seemed to be on board.
“I don’t know how we solve this problem (with drugs and alcohol), but I think I can say one thing – we don’t solve it by wrecking a neighborhood that’s upscale and designed that way to be peaceful and quiet for our residents here in Fallbrook,” said planning group member Lee De Meo. “I will vote no to approve this project.”
Wood soon made an emphatic motion to deny the major use permit and the motion passed unanimously.