ENCINITAS — The house and its owner that caused controversy in a usually quiet area of the city is once again in the spotlight. Suzy Brown, 45, lost the 15-bedroom, 17-bathroom mansion to foreclosure in February after failing to pay the mortgage for nearly a year. She was charged with one count of felony vandalism and one count of felony grand theft on Nov. 9.
Brown is scheduled to be arraigned Dec. 1 according to the District Attorney’s office.
Brown moved out of the controversial 16,000-square-foot Olivenhain home on March 22. A few days later, a representative for Chevy Chase Bank, which owns the home, reported missing fixtures including doors, windows, appliances and toilets. The report estimates the value at $250,000 although it was later determined that the missing expensive fixtures, many of them antiques from Egypt and Antiqua, were worth $1 million.
Brown cooperated with investigators and returned some of the missing property according to the Encinitas Sheriff’s Department.
Dubbed the “monster house” by neighbors because of its size in the upscale rural area, the house failed to sell at an auction despite the discounted opening bid of $2.3 million. The property, set on 1.24 acres, is estimated to be worth upward of $13 million.
Brown said in an interview with another news agency after the fixtures were discovered missing that she was not surprised by the theft.
Brown blamed the neighbors with whom she had a contentious relationship for running her out of town. Since construction on the house began in 2004, Brown has faced opposition to her plans for creating a drug and alcohol rehabilitation and “spiritual healing” center in a residential zoned area. State law prohibits more than six occupants in such a residential treatment facility.
Brown, a retired electrical engineer, subsequently began hosting retreats and weddings on the property, even advertising the services on various Web sites. Neighbors complained that she was operating a commercial enterprise without the proper permits.
Brown complained in a previous interview that without a revenue stream from the house, she would not be able to pay the mortgage. She publicly threatened to take the sophisticated computer system she claims to have designed that controlled the irrigation, lighting, heating and cooling systems in the home with her.
Cynthia Perth, a former resident in the area, said she had little sympathy for Brown. “She knew she was breaking the law when she was operating a business out of the house,” she said. “For her to now blame neighbors for a theft that she might have actually committed and have an ‘I told you so’ attitude is so arrogant.”