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Background on why an Easement and Covenance was used for Deer Park Ridge

a process of 3 years lead us to this agreement

Several years ago when MJM began to bulldoze housing pads at the top of the valley, a group of Deer Park volunteers investigated the situation and found that the land owner intended to sell the property for development. We learned that the land consisted of two large parcels with a total size of 220 acres and was appraised at a price of $3.5 million.

The Deer Park volunteers contacted local environmental groups such as the Escondido Creek Conservancy to see what could be done to protect the land. A biological survey of the property was commissioned and it was found that the land to the east of the ridge (visible from Deer Park) is mostly chaparral. Chaparral is a threatened habitat that is important to protect but is not as high a priority as the more scarce Coastal Sage areas in the county. Therefore, it was not a high enough priority area to gain access to government and non-government funding for land protection. It became clear that if the valley that Deer Park shares was to be protected then it would have to be up to those of us that value the tranquility and natural surroundings of Deer Park. It also had to be accomplished within the tenets of our practice—no land use disputes with neighbors. Working in harmony with all involved was foundational to our effort.

A four-fold sangha team was formed including highly experienced land use attorneys, fund raisers, realtors, and project managers. Over the course of the project, team members included Brother Phap Dung, Brother Phap Ho, Dennis Howard, Ron Forster, Elizabeth Hospodarsky, Duke Yen, Arthur Davis, Laura Hunter, Frank Chimienti and Alicen Wong. From this team a strategy evolved to protect the land, negotiate with the land owner and communicate with supporters.

The purchase of the entire 220 acres was not financially feasible and the possibility of subdividing the land to allow purchase of only the view shed was not legally feasible and not of interest to the seller. It was thought that the seller would be willing to grant an easement on the property to prevent any building within the portion of the land visible from Deer Park. This 120 acre area was zoned for one house per 20 acres or a total of 6 estate homes. The area was also being considered by the county to be re-zoned to allow up to one house per four acres or a total of 30 homes.

For a negotiated price of $450,000 the land owner agreed to forgo development on this area as long as he could retain the mitigation credit for protecting the land. This met the interests of Deer Park without the burden of owning and maintaining the land. Through negotiation we were also able to have the easement for the emergency access road, Deer Park access to the trails and residents’ acceptance of Deer Park’s sounding of the bell included in the agreement.

Through individuals and sanghas across the country, more than $250,000 was raised in donations and an additional $200,000 was provided in the form of long-term no interest loans from practitioners.

The agreement was finalized, signed and recorded on March 2, 2012.

If you would like to see a copy of the agreement or if you have any questions feel free to contact Ron Forster at ronforstersd@gmail.com.

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Read a Summery of Easement and Convenance Agreement, click here!