Town hall meeting: Does Fallbrook want the County's help funding local projects?

More than 50 local activists, business owners and residents attended a town hall meeting with the County of San Diego’s Parks and Recreation Department on March 17, designed to provide the community with information on what it would take to create a taxpayer-funded Landscape Maintenance District for Fallbrook. There was nearly unanimous support for the idea at the meeting, conducted in FPUD’s community room.

It was a County of San Diego meeting, not an FPUD board meeting. Due to the overwhelmingly positive response, more town hall meetings will be held in the future.

County staff conducted the workshop, providing details on cost and potential projects, answering questions, and assessing community interest in the idea.

If a Landscape Maintenance District is developed, that means 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 park on Gird Road, improvements along E. Mission and S. Mission roads, maintaining the hiking trails along the Santa Margarita River, and improvements to downtown Fallbrook. Other potential projects are being brainstormed.

Currently this type of activity 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.

“Fallbrook is unincorporated and does not have a sales tax base for generating revenue for local maintenances projects; all taxes go to the state and county,” said Don McDougal, owner of The Grand Tradition Estate and Gardens, and an FPUD board member.

McDougal and the other FPUD board members are supportive of 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,” he said. “Therefore, local community members are responsible for fundraising to maintain the community.”

FPUD simply provided a place for the county to have the meeting. County staff explained the procedural steps and assessed community interest at the meeting. If there continues to be 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.