Representatives from Fallbrook non-profits involved in beautifying and maintaining Fallbrook’s public areas met with the County of San Diego’s Parks and Recreation Department to discuss the possibility of creating a taxpayer-funded landscape maintenance district for Fallbrook.
The meeting was held at the Fallbrook Public Utility District’s community room on March 17. Various members of the Fallbrook community were also in attendance at the meeting. Brian Albright, the director of Parks and Recreation for the county conducted the workshop, and Eugene “Skip” Shank of EFS Engineering, Inc. provided details on cost and potential projects, answering questions, and assessing community interest in the idea.
“Our job isn’t to tell you what to do with the district, but how to get one started and explain the potential benefits,” said Albright, who explained that regular parks are funded by the general park fund. Unincorporated areas like Fallbrook are able to create County Service Areas to maintain their parks through an annual fee that equates to approximately $35 per home.
Interest in a Landscape Maintenance District was generated because the county could take over many local projects such as improvements to Jackie Heyneman Park, funding for other existing parks and new recreational facilities in the community – such as a skateboard park, improvements along East Mission and South Mission roads, and improvements to downtown Fallbrook.
Other improvements would include repairing sidewalks, hardscape improvements, care of the landscape medians by Fallbrook High School, making signage in Fallbrook more uniform and cohesive, giving the community the ability to purchase land for parks, trails and pathways, and providing the necessary tax base for these projects.
“We have heard from the groups that they would like us to do more for the area’s park and recreational area,” said Albright. “We are here to see how to design the district to make it work. Our team would work to collaborate with you to provide information needed.”
Currently upkeep of Fallbrook’s landscape maintenance falls solely on the volunteer organizations in Fallbrook. Those organizations must find and secure funding, either in the form of donations or by applying for grants. FPUD board members have also expressed interest in the idea.
“We rely totally on the county for funding and although the county has been generous in funding capital projects, they are prohibited from contributing funds to maintain those projects,” Don McDougal, FPUD board member, said in a previous press release. “Therefore, local community members are responsible for fundraising to maintain the community.”
If there is enough interest, the county will conduct studies which would eventually be submitted to the Board of Supervisors for a vote. If approved, it would go to the ballot for voters to decide. It was also stated at the meeting that the special district would not take over any tasks that are currently being overseen by a public agency.
According to Shank, the primary step would be to identify projects that would be incorporated into a 1972 Act Landscaping and Lighting District.
“Anything that would be considered would be added to allow for a full scope of the project,” said Shank. “Once a list of facilities is created, we analyze and prepare the service area study and select the suitable fund option.”
Shank also explained that a land maintenance district would need a stable fee for funds. One option could be a community facilities district which would require a two-thirds supermajority vote to be approved. Mello Roos are also an option for funding.
Community members and nonprofit representatives agreed to begin preparing a list of potential projects and Fallbrook areas that would be included in the special district, and will post in the newspaper about upcoming meetings once the list of potential projects has been created.