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The Vista City Council chambers were packed on Tuesday with residents opposed to the county’s planned sober living and behavioral health facility at Green Oak Ranch. Photo by Laura Place
The Vista City Council chambers were packed on Tuesday with residents opposed to the county’s planned sober living and behavioral health facility at Green Oak Ranch. Photo by Laura Place
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Vista to appraise Green Oak Ranch; residents decry county plan

VISTA — Neighbors of the Green Oak Ranch property in Vista are advocating for the city to purchase and preserve the land, which is also being pursued by the County of San Diego and homelessness nonprofit Solutions for Change. 

At a packed City Council meeting on Tuesday night, City Attorney Walter Chung announced that the council had agreed in closed session to move forward with an appraisal of the property. The announcement was met with cheers from those in attendance as the city publicly acknowledged interest in purchasing the land for the first time.

Nearly a dozen residents, many from the Shadowridge neighborhood adjacent to the ranch, spoke to the council on Tuesday to oppose the county’s plan for the Green Oak Ranch site. The plan involves a $280 million sober living and behavioral health facility intended to fill a critical mental health service gap in the region. 

Several residents shared concerns about the lack of communication from the county about the planned facility, and others claimed that the individuals receiving treatment would pose safety risks for children and families.

“While the intention behind this project is noble, it brings with it considerable concerns for our local community, concerns that we as residents have the right to voice and address within our City Council,” said Denisse Barragan, a resident and District 3 council candidate. “We cannot allow the county to decide on a project of this magnitude without our input and consent.”

Vista council members Corinna Contreras and Joe Green listen to public comment regarding the Green Oak Ranch property on Tuesday. Photo by Laura Place
Vista council members Corinna Contreras and Joe Green listen to public comment regarding the Green Oak Ranch property on Tuesday. Photo by Laura Place
Vista resident Tim Troncone, who lives near Green Oak Ranch, speaks in opposition to the county’s planned sober living and behavioral health facility at the ranch during the City Council’s Tuesday meeting. Photo by Laura Place
Vista resident Tim Troncone, who lives near Green Oak Ranch, speaks in opposition to the county’s planned sober living and behavioral health facility at the ranch during the City Council’s Tuesday meeting. Photo by Laura Place
Denisse Barragan, a Vista City Council District 3 candidate, speaks at the Tuesday council meeting in opposition to the county’s planned sober living and behavioral health facility at Green Oak Ranch. Photo by Laura Place
Denisse Barragan, a Vista City Council District 3 candidate, speaks at the Tuesday council meeting in opposition to the county’s planned sober living and behavioral health facility at Green Oak Ranch. Photo by Laura Place
The Vista City Council chambers were packed on Tuesday with residents opposed to the county’s planned sober living and behavioral health facility at Green Oak Ranch. Photo by Laura Place
The Vista City Council chambers were packed on Tuesday with residents opposed to the county’s planned sober living and behavioral health facility at Green Oak Ranch. Photo by Laura Place

The 110-acre portion of the property that is up for sale currently houses a summer camp and retreat center, an RV park, and a residential men’s recovery program operated by Green Oak Ranch Ministries.

Karen Allison said she and her family of five are among 30 low-income families living in the RV park. She emphasized that the county’s proposal would cause them to be displaced. Moving into the RV park brought her family out of homelessness eight years ago. 

“We find it unthinkable and unacceptable that we would all stand to be practically made homeless — in my family’s case, again — in an effort to provide homes for other homeless people. There’s a bitter irony there,” Allison said. 

While city officials have not shared details about their potential plans for Green Oak Ranch, residents said they would like to see it used to provide more sports opportunities for youth, particularly Vista Little League, or to serve as a training facility for the Vista Fire Department.

Stacey Sills of Vista Little League said they had to turn away around 50 kids this past year because of their limited space and capacity. 

“Our ball fields are at their limits. We’re maxed on the number of teams, practices, and games we can accommodate,” Sills said.

Others stated their support for the Green Oak Ranch Ministries’ current sober living program and pointed out that if the summer camp and retreat center close, the ministry will lose 85% of its funding for this program.

“Green Oak Ranch currently does it the right way,” said resident Tim Troncone. 

Meanwhile, Solutions for Change is also negotiating with ranch owners, with plans to expand their Solutions Academy programs with additional housing and workforce development training for homeless individuals and families.

Miles Himmel, a spokesperson for County Supervisor Jim Desmond, said the county has completed an initial appraisal of the land but will conduct a formal appraisal if the ranch owner agrees to negotiate.

The Coast News has contacted the real estate company managing the Green Oak Ranch sale for comment. 

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