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Neighbors Vow Fight to Retain Open Space

Oceanside CA- A small neighborhood group is being formed, at the last-minute, in an effort to retain open space near their Oceanside homes. The group has a meeting scheduled for Sunday, 10:00AM at the corner of Aspen Street and Los Arbolitios to meet with Mayor, Jim Wood and Deputy Mayor, Esther C. Sanchez to discuss what is happening with the property.

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Springtime rain turns puddles into playgrounds for dogs in the open space(file photo)

The open space, approximately 21 acres of land near Pala Rd and Los Arbolitos Boulevard, has been a popular meeting place for dog owners, BMX and mountain bike riders who take advantage of the dirt trails and open space near the San Luis Rey River Bike Trail.

Peggy Reilly, a resident who has lived in her home for over 25 years, fears the city may be violating the spirit of the Brown Act. “I get notices, those little postcards from the city, for things that are happening all around the city.” said Reilly ” We have not received any information about what is happening in our own backyard.” Jan Grass, who also lives near the property in question, said the only reason we knew about this at all was because of an article posted on OsideNews [Link].

The Brown Act was passed in 1953 and was to guarantee the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies. A guide to the Brown Act can be found here [Link]. Closed sessions may be held for property negotiations, “Only to discuss, with an agency’s identified bargaining agent, price or payment terms. The parcel, negotiators and the prospective seller or purchaser must be on the agenda. (54956.8) Final price and payment terms must be disclosed when the actual lease or contract is discussed for approval. (54957.1(a)) ”

Reilly said the City Council voted to rezone the property, back in the early ’90s, to open space, and were going plant and maintain trees for a year. “Well they planted the trees in the river bed but never followed through on the rezoning” Peggy said.

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Grass sprouts after the spring rains turning the dirt lot into a lush grassland until summer. (file photo)

The neighborhood and surrounding area is void of parks and open space with the exception of the 4 acre Fireside Park on Fireside Drive. The other alternative is the Louise Foussat Elementary School but gate access to the school has not been available for several months. “I see people over in the open space all day long” said Jan Grass “Not just walking their dogs but exercising and just enjoying the wildlife.” “I don’t even own dogs but you get the feeling of living in the country when you walk out there” continued Grass. A man jogging in the open space, who wished not to be identified, said “I cant run up there”, pointing to the San Luis Rey Bike Trail above him, “my knees can’t take the hard pavement and these dirt trails are perfect.”

Besides people and their pets, the area is frequented by coyotes, cranes, toads, lizards, red tail hawks and other birds. Despite the City’s yearly fire mitigation, grass begins to sprout days after after a springtime rain along with wild squash and other wildflowers.

Reilly and Grass said they have had only days to prepare for their meeting and will be going door to door passing out flyers. “Nobody knows that this is going to be developed” said Peggy “We are going to get the word out and get people involved.” Jan said “It doesn’t just effect us. Groups of people drive here from other parts of the city, meet up and take their dogs for a walk.” continued Grass, “There is no place left to go.”

The outdoor meeting with Mayor, Jim Wood and Deputy Mayor, Esther C. Sanchez is set for Sunday, February 10th at 10:00AM on the corner of Aspen Street and Los Arbilitos. Everyone is welcome to attend.