The Great Wall of Borrego


In an oped piece (Borrego Sun Viewpoint, 10/7/04) Rolly Johnson says he  is “just a little worried about what [he sees] happening in our little town.”  He attributes Borrego’s troubles to a “struggle for power and over management” of the community and lists a number of issues that “all seem to be very real problems.”  He suggests that these may not be so “sophisticated and complex” as they appear, but stem instead from “a simple lack of common sense and over inflated egos.”


He asks “is the existing aquifer being depleted?”  His answer suggests the overdraft is attributable to the recent drought.  It ignores completely the established fact that groundwater levels have been dropping more than two ft./yr. for over a quarter century, rain or shine.  It is a gross over simplification of a really “sophisticated and complex” problem.


He deems the Community Association and its bylaws “old and obsolete” and asserts that “the county of San Diego already has enough rules and regulations to keep us all in check forever.”  The problem is all these rules and regulations ignore the most serious difficulties confronting Borrego.  At the same time, Johnson regretfully acknowledges that “development is going to happen.”  Given that, getting rid of the Community Association amounted to throwing the baby out with the bath water.  At the time it was voted out, a rewrite correcting the inadequacies and excesses of the bylaws was well underway.


Currently there is an attempt to invalidate the Association’s CC&Rs as well.  If successful, property owners will be left to the tender mercies of county bureaucrats to protect their interests.  Anyone who has tried to get a Code Enforcement Officer from the county out to Borrego knows full well how much protection that offers.  Our town grows like Topsy, and we are left defenseless against those who would turn Borrego into “just another ratty little desert town” as one concerned, long-time resident put it at a recent Sponsor Group meeting.


County codes do not address the aesthetic issues of land use, residential construction, landscaping, etc., that so vex many Borregans.  The community now lacks a meaningful plan for land use, local design guidelines and a design review board to implement them.  As a result, and among other things, unadorned, low-end manufactured homes are sprouting like toadstools in areas where they are welcome as the proverbial skunk at a picnic; and there is nothing to be done for it.


The Borrego Springs Community Sponsor Group has a limited mandate to monitor land use and development in the valley.  It has been doing yeoman’s work for years without a full compliment of members.  In part this is attributable to the glacial slowness with which the County Board approves new members.  In much larger part, however, the problem is recruitment and retention; i.e., lack of interest.


Finally, Johnson is apparently disturbed that “tourism is happening” and expresses some vague concerns about the State Park.  These are closely integrated issues, since much of our tourism is dependent on the state park and vice versa.  They are not, however, “very real problems,” but tremendous assets and the core of a sustainable future for Borrego.


In sum, Borrego’s problems are not just “the result of a struggle for power and over management.”  Attempts, such as Johnson’s, to trivialize them are not helpful.  They really are serious, “sophisticated and complex.”  Unfortunately, they are not regarded as such and are simply blown off in yet another manifestation of the Great Wall of Impenetrable Indifference separating Borrego from reality.


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