FAQ: Can course become residential or mitigation bank land under CWA?

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: We are regularly asked, can this course become residential or commercial development land or mitigation bank land under the Clean Water Act? What can it be?

The short answer is NO because there are several key factors at play.

THE BASICS: The historical zoning is Agricultural with special use permits for operation. The Fallbrook Golf Course consists of 116 acres made up of 9 tax assessors’ parcels but it is only 2 legal parcels. Six of the 9 tax assessors’ parcels hold Special Use Permits allowing use as “Recreational-Vacant Land” and three parcels as “Golf Course.” Any change in use can trigger the necessity of acquiring a new permit, a zoning change and/or subdividing the property in compliance with the Subdivision Map Act.

RESIDENTIAL OR COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT: It is very difficult to change Agricultural Zoning to high density residential or commercial zoning. Even if rezoning to Residential could be accomplished, the San Diego General Plan restricts development to 4, 8 or 16 acres per house, depending on slope. Add in setbacks for riparian and flood plan areas, roads, utilities and the various easements that exist on the property and this project is quickly rendered financially unviable. Because the golf course is located in a flood plan in low density, semi-rural Fallbrook, increasing building density or height limits requires changing the San Diego County General Plan, an onerous process with no guarantee of success.

There are far better properties available for development for far less money in North San Diego County.

MITIGATION BANKING: For mitigation bankers seeking limited acreage on the back nine near the semi-dry creek for developing into fenced-off mitigation bank land (under the Clean Water Act) purposes, the property must be subdivided first and its zoning and use changed from Open Space/Recreational to a fenced, closed property. Without community support, this change is highly unlikely to receive County approval since both the County Plan and the Fallbrook Community Plan both contain language protecting Open Space/Recreational land. Additionally, in its current form, the Subdivision Map Act requires any buyer to acquire the entire back nine parcel which also includes the parking lot and restaurant/bar. Add in that the location is not prime for mitigation banking purposes because there is little above-ground water in the area. Therefore, this purchase does not pencil out for a mitigation banker who is interested in wetlands to offset loss of wetlands in other parts of the County.

Again, there are far better properties available for mitigation banking for far less money in North San Diego County. However, this is an area that a new owner might explore since mitigation land banking has been done in conjunction with working golf/recreational/agricultural properties. Budget 5 years for paperwork, another 5 for enhancement before seeing non-repeating income from the sale of mitigation land banking credits.

In summary, due to restrictions in San Diego County General Plan, the Subdivision Map Act, and simple economics, golf or agricultural use is a great future for the property. Add in wedding venue, combined with a restaurant, bar and a new owner would have a viable business model. Adding conservation easements to the property will generate tax benefits to the owners while delivering a wonderful gift to the community.

For the right buyer, this is an amazing opportunity to buy!

CONSERVATION EASEMENTS/CONVENANTS DELIVER ADDITIONAL BENEFITS TO THE COMMUNITY AND A NEW OWNER:  Conservation easements/covenants are commitments to forego certain potentially valuable development rights in return for tax benefits to the owner. This additional layer of assurance to the community means that the property will never be developed. See this link on conservation easements/covenants. We are also happy to connect you to experts in this area. Just ask! Thank you!


Meanwhile, when evaluating the potential earning capacity of Fallbrook Golf Course as a golf course, it’s worth noting the AVERAGE HOUSEHOLD INCOME in the area. These, of course, are an indicator of disposable incomes:

FALLBROOK: Average household income: $86,220. (For more info.)

GIRD VALLEY: Average household income: $151,575. (For more info.)

BONSALL: Average household income: $113,910. (For more info.)


Lamberson Still Seeking Buyer for Fallbrook Golf Course

Fallbrook’s fairways haven’t been watered since April 2015 and it shows. Photo back nine: Ken Seals, April 29, 2016 .

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP SAVE FALLBROOK GOLF COURSE: Follow this link to recent press coverage in the Village News and submit your comments online ASAP!

The May 6 article, “Lamberson still seeking buyer for Fallbrook Golf Course”, reveals that there is much interest among buyers in purchasing and restoring the course.

The Village News‘ Tom Ferrall reports that Harold Vaubel (HGM Golf Enterprises) of Tucson, Arizona is attempting to negotiate a purchase.

Additionally, Anil Yadav, owner of the nearby Pala Mesa Resort, held an exploratory meeting about adding Fallbrook Golf Course to his golf portfolio which includes The Bridges Golf Club in San Ramon and Eagle Ridge in Gilroy.

According to the Village News, Mr. Yadav said, “If it financially made sense we would do it, but we’re not sure where we’re going to go yet. …The community is very active and that’s what [piqued] our interest.”

Mr. Yadav plans course restoration for Fallbrook Golf Course but he also offers years of restaurant experience, a valuable asset in this challenging time for golf operations. The Village News described Mr. Yadav as “a very successful entrepreneur who went from being a fry cook at Jack in the Box to owning more than 300 restaurants and employing more than 8,000 people”. Impressive indeed – an American success story!

June marks Mr. Lamberson’s fourth anniversary as the course’s owner and he’s been trying to sell it for most of that time, as a FSBO (For Sale By Owner).

Due to San Diego County land use restrictions, attempts to sell portions of the property to wetlands mitigation bankers or residential developers failed. More recent plans to erect a cell tower on the golf course appear to be equally ill-conceived.

While we wait for Fallbrook Golf Course to change ownership and be restored to the fabulous venue it once was, we would like to thank the North County Fire Protection District for its prompt response to complaints about debris, weeds and fire hazards. We look forward to seeing the neglected course cleaned up and greened up before the height of fire season.

With few golfers and limited hours of operation, we also ask that neighbors watch vigilantly for any illegal activities on the course such as loitering after hours, vagrancy, vandalism or any Public Nuisance (Sheriff’s Fallbrook substation: 760-451-3100, 911 for emergencies).

Let’s hope we don’t have any problems this summer. Let’s hope a new owner will soon be sprucing up the course! Let’s hope we’ll all be back at the bar and restaurant celebrating life’s events, birdies, bogeys and holes in one, tournaments and Junior Golf! What fun!! We can hardly wait!


The Steering Committee


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Recent press coverage in the Village News

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP SAVE FALLBROOK GOLF COURSE: Follow this link to recent press coverage in the Village News and submit your comments online ASAP! The article by Tom Ferrall, “Lamberson still seeking buyer for Fallbrook Golf Course”, includes information on two buyers who are interested in purchasing the course and restoring it.  We are wishing them the best in their worthy endeavors to Save Fallbrook Golf Course!

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