Above: Residents expressed fears over their property values decreasing if sober living homes were established in the Fire Mountain neighborhood, where homes often sell for close to or more than $1 million. Courtesy photo
OCEANSIDE — Residents of the Fire Mountain neighborhood are concerned about a few properties on Yucca Road that are rumored to become sober living homes.
Fire Mountain area residents attended a meeting on May 9 at a home in the neighborhood to voice their concerns about the properties. Councilman Ryan Keim also attended the meeting to assure residents that he and the city are taking their concerns seriously.
The properties in question are located at 2588 and 2592 Yucca Road and a third parcel with no structure that remains vacant. The city has only received two building permit applications for interior remodeling work of the two structures.
According to transaction history reports obtained through ParcelQuest, a vendor under contract with the San Diego County Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk, 2588 Yucca Road was purchased on March 20 for $500,000 and 2592 Yucca Road was purchased on March 19 for $850,000.
The reports listed the buyer as Evergreen Hebron LP, a company name used to purchase other properties in the North County area by retired anesthesiologist David Fischbach.
Fischbach owns four apartment buildings on the 1200 block of Oak Avenue in Carlsbad, which has been under fire from residents for years and houses Sober Living Today, L.L.C. Carlsbad residents recently banded together to form a petition urging Carlsbad City Council to delay the building permit for 1284 Pine Ave., another property Fischbach owns in Carlsbad.
Fischbach is also the CEO of Beachfront Only Vacation Rentals, which includes coastal vacation rentals in Carlsbad, Encinitas and Oceanside.
Keim told residents at the May 9 meeting that Code Enforcement issued a notice to inspect the property on April 17. Code Enforcement visited the properties on April 19, and a stop work orders were issued to the owner for both homes.
Code Enforcement Manager Kirk Mundt said Code Enforcement received a complaint about unpermitted work being done at 2588 Yucca Road, which is why staff was sent out to inspect the property.
Mundt said Code Enforcement observed new walls, dry wall and other work requiring permits had been started before the owner received the green light to do so.
Residents told Keim that work was still happening in the homes after the stop work orders were issued. Mundt clarified that stop work orders don’t mean all work in the home has to cease until further notice, only the work that requires permits. That means workers could still continue with tasks such as painting and installing flooring and cabinets.
After the stop work orders were issued, Mundt said Code Enforcement staff visited the properties almost daily to ensure no further unpermitted work was happening.
According to Shannon Vitale, a planner with the City of Oceanside, the city received a building permit application for interior remodel at 2588 Yucca Road consisting of adding walls to create new bedrooms on May 1.
That building received its permit on May 16, which means the stop work order no longer applies to that particular home.
The city received a building permit application for interior remodel that includes adding walls to create new bedrooms, converting a sunroom into a bedroom and adding sinks and showers on May 7.
The city’s building and planning divisions are still reviewing plans for this property, and a permit has not been issued yet.
Open code enforcement violations were issued for both 2588 and 2592. Mundt said the owner was penalized with an investigative fee that doubles the portion of the building permit and inspection fees.
Keim told residents that the city has limited information about what Fischbach plans to do with the properties, but has received word from residents concerned that the properties will be turned into sober living homes.
“These are rumors going around so far,” Keim said.
Mundt said building permit applications don’t ask for applicants to specify buildings’ uses, only the scope of the work that will be done to the home. Both building permit applications for 2588 and 2592 Yucca Road included work like converting a study to a bedrooms or adding dividers and new entryways to split a larger bedroom into two bedrooms.
Keim explained to residents that the city’s hands are somewhat tied when it comes to regulating sober living homes. Numerous state and federal laws protect people with addiction, who are also considered disabled by the federal Fair Housing Act.
Sober living homes are classified as single-family homes if six or fewer people reside there and cannot be regulated by the city. State laws and licensing requirements that regulate treatment and care facilities do not currently include sober living homes, which means the state does not keep a list of registered sober living homes nor does the state conduct inspections or perform any other licensing activities.
Residents expressed fears over their property values decreasing if sober living homes were established in the Fire Mountain neighborhood, where homes often sell for close to or more than $1 million. Others noted worries about sex offenders and rowdy neighbors living there as well.
“We can’t force good neighborly policy,” Keim said. “However, we can enforce zoning, building, safety issues.”
Samantha Nelson covers Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and the decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. She earned her journalism degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and has previously reported for The Athens Messenger in Athens, Ohio, and USA Today in McLean, Virginia. Follow her on Twitter: @samm1son