What’s Next? Golf Course, Mitigation Land Banking, High-density Development, Garbage Dump?

Fallbrook Golf Course’s back nine before the water was turned back on in July. Photo: Ken Seals, June 30, 2016.


The San Diego Union Tribune‘s Tod Leonard, Bob Pickard and J. Harry Jones, the Reader‘s Ken Leighton, along with Tom Ferrall at our local Village News, must be as tired as the neighbors are, what with all the mixed messages coming out of Fallbrook Golf Course!

These reporters have done a stellar job covering the saga of our local golf course and we thank them!

On June 3, we learned that owner Jack Lamberson had “acceptable offers” for the course. This was followed by conflicting reports, both on Thursday June 30, that the course was closed “due to change in management” but would reopen under new ownership on Friday.

Then there were articles about a sale to be finalized the week of July 7th. Shortly after we were introduced to the “new owner” who told the world he was hiring and kept local contractors busy writing up quotes for pump work, enlarging and lining ponds and more. Just a few details at the lawyer’s office and the sale would be finalized; all would be joy and light, we were told.

But this week it all crumbled as we learned that the current owners had not verified the buyer’s source of funds, did not have a signed purchase agreement or even a deposit. Mr. Lamberson accused the potential buyer of trespassing, called the sheriff’s office and padlocked the doors.

Jack Lamberson took out his drill and bolted this padlock to the front doors of the golf course on July 26, 2016. Good luck to the woodworker who has to restore this beautiful old wood door one day!

Mr. Lamberson is behind on the mortgage and swears he’s not going to spend another dime on the property. He’s open to selling to anyone willing to pay his price (far above market) and will consider any offer, even a deal with buyers wanting to locate a garbage dump in Gird Valley!

Of course Mr. Lamberson can sell to anyone he wants for whatever they HOPE they can do on the property for whatever price he can fetch. Good luck to him with that.

But we do have zoning laws and use regulations so people can’t just do whatever they want in our lovely neighborhood. This is especially important for large tracts of land that anchor whole communities.

So far this year, suggested uses have included a golf course (9 holes or 18), a restaurant/bakery and bar, nighttime golfing (think light pollution), a wedding venue, a vineyard with wine tasting, mitigation land banking (think San Luis Rey Downs Golf Course), residential development, senior housing, 5-story condos, casitas along the fairways, a runway for private planes, a mini-mall, commercial development, a used car lot, a cell phone tower site, marijuana farming (it is zoned Ag) and now a garbage dump. What’s next? Fracking?

We all have a front row seat for this foreclosure. Mr. Lamberson bought the course with 100% borrowed money and neglected to secure an independent appraisal. He overpaid and the bankers let him. These big money mistakes were followed by little ones, ill-conceived ideas, fumbles that quickly turned into folly. Sooner or later the piper has to be paid and now losses are being taken on the property.

In June, First National Denver sold $2.7 million in liens, due 2021, to DDay Capital, LLC, managed by attorney Ronald Richards. Richards negotiated the Notes down, possibly at a steep discount. Mr. Lamberson can attempt to negotiate his way out or make good on his mortgage payments. Otherwise he will have to pay off $2.7 million or forfeit the property.

In the next few weeks, it appears we will exit the Jack Lamberson era and enter the Ronald Richards era. Or maybe a garbage dump operator will swoop in and buy the place. Or Donald Trump will come in and try to raise the height limit to 5 stories and build a runway. I kid you not, Trump’s people think big and actually asked if this was an option!

Seriously folks, we enter into community covenants for just this reason, to avoid these sorts of battles and conflicts, so we can make long-term decisions without worrying about neighborhoods being ruined by whatever whim catches someone’s fancy.

This property is zoned Agricultural with special use permits for golf, open space and recreation. Its traditional uses include socializing at the bar and restaurant, the joys of live music, weddings and other celebrations. We do not take lightly anyone coming in and attempting to make changes that conflict with these uses.

Yes, it really is a place where everyone knows your name! Photo: Teresa Platt, July 9, 2016.

So buyer BEWARE! You are warned, purchase at your own risk. GOLF, OPEN SPACE, RECREATION are the commitments you have from the community of Fallbrook and in the San Diego County General Plan. Stay within the traditional parameters for this property’s use and you will be welcomed with open arms! Deviate at your peril.

Be assured that if a new owners treats this property with respect, the community will rally to support them since only by making a profit will this property succeed!


The Steering Committee


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Just a few years ago, Fallbrook Golf Course was a Southern California gem. With your help, it can be again! SaveFallbrookGolfCourse.com Photo: Teresa Platt, View from the second green, July 30, 2013.