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Cabins at Green Oak Ranch in Vista. A 110-acre parcel of the ranch is for sale and being pursued by nonprofit Solutions for Change as well as the County of San Diego. Courtesy Green Oak Ranch
Cabins at Green Oak Ranch in Vista. A 110-acre parcel of the ranch is for sale and being pursued by nonprofit Solutions for Change as well as the County of San Diego. Courtesy Green Oak Ranch
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Solutions for Change proposes Vista partnership for Green Oak Ranch

VISTA — Homelessness nonprofit Solutions for Change has proposed a partnership with the City of Vista regarding joint use of the Green Oak Ranch property in exchange for the city ceasing its own pursuit of the land. 

The proposal is the nonprofit’s latest step to try to secure its bid for the 110-acre property since they entered discussions with the owners of Green Oak Ranch last year.

The County of San Diego is also bidding on the property to develop a $280 million sober living and behavioral health facility, and the Vista City Council has also expressed interest in acquiring the land, announcing on May 28 that they would conduct an appraisal of the site

In a June 6 letter to city officials, Solutions for Change CEO Chris Megison requested that the city support the nonprofit’s proposal for Green Oak Ranch. In exchange, Solutions would lease 50 acres of land to the city, which could potentially purchase the land from the nonprofit in the future.

“Our proposal entails your support for Solutions for Change to acquire the ranch, with the provision of gifting approximately fifty acres to the City of Vista for various community purposes, such as ballfields, open space preservation, and parkland. This arrangement holds the potential for significant positive outcomes for the city, our neighbors, and the most vulnerable members of our community – families grappling with housing insecurity, child welfare issues, and serious health challenges,” Megison said in the letter. 

Megison emphasized Solutions’ “shared opposition” to the county’s plan with the city and its residents and said they want to safeguard against negative impacts from the planned “county-run mega homeless hub.” 

In comparison, Megison said, Solutions would use the ranch to expand its Solutions Academy for families experiencing homelessness, specifically for additional housing and workforce development training, while also maintaining crucial open space.

Vista Mayor John Franklin said the city will consider the proposal. 

“Solutions for Change is homegrown in Vista with a 25-year history. Solutions is different because they focus on recovery of the whole person and long-term independence. I am optimistic about early discussions between Solutions and the city exploring meaningful partnership opportunities,” Franklin said.

Around 110 acres of the 142-acre ranch were put up for sale almost a year after the passing of the land’s former owner, Arie de Jong, last April. The parcel currently houses a popular summer camp and retreat center, an RV park, and a residential men’s recovery program operated by Green Oak Ranch Ministries. 

When the land is sold, the ministry will lose 85% of its funding for the recovery and sober living program. However, it will continue to operate on another part of the ranch. 

Many residents living near Green Oak Ranch have expressed concerns about the county’s plan, particularly the idea of individuals undergoing treatment for behavioral health and addiction in a residential area.

County officials have emphasized that the proposed facility would offer long-term care and recovery resources that the county currently lacks, as well as substantial staffing and security.

While the Green Oak board has yet to choose a bidder for the land, Solutions for Change considers itself a frontrunner. Megison said both parties signed a letter of intent in February, and Solutions signed lease and purchase documents at the end of May for a negotiated long-term lease with an option to purchase the property. 

In the meantime, he hopes Vista leaders will support Solutions and accept their offer to lease 50 acres for $1 per year. 

“Really, its an attempt to do something collaborative with the city. They don’t have to buy it, and they’ll get free land. We think that’s a pretty compelling offering,” Megison said.

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