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Latest Rams Hill Water Boondoggle

Digger - 6 November 2012

According to an article in the Borrego Sun (10/11/2012) Rams Hill residents complained to the Borrego Water district board that their property values have "dived" because of a withered golf course at the once-again-bankrupt development and predict apocalypse if they are not bailed out. A developer wants to rehabilitate the course but claims he can't afford the water bill even if he pays nothing for half the irrigation water required. Both parties expect the BWD to act as a white knight.

Rams Hill has been a rolling calamity on its way to happen since it was a gleam in Robert DiGiorgio's eye. The project was approved only after a long, bitter fight that was won not on its merits, but by the developer's influence, guile, and sheer tenacity. It was sold to gullible locals as a super-charged engine of economic development for the community and finally received county approval only on condition that recycled water be used to irrigate the golf course. It never lived up to the grossly exaggerated sales pitch and the promise to use reclaimed water was empty from the gitgo.

Rams Hill's history is one of multiple bankruptcies, forced sales, and foreclosures despite paying for only 15% of water used for irrigation. That it survived this long is validation of "The Greater Fool Theory" of investing. The development was never a going concern and will certainly never become one if it must pay the true value of all the water it uses. On the other hand, if Rams Hill and other pumpers in the valley do not pony up Borrego is truly a "dying town" and every property owner in the valley will take a bath - or not. Either way, the result will stink.

Several times in Rams Hill's checkered past BWD has acted precipitously to sponsor bond issues for the development's benefit despite its repeated failures to produce the promised economic utopia or anything remotely like it, and then found itself in a dicey situation when an owner defaulted. The Borrego Water District, as Director Lyle Brecht acknowledges, is not an economic development agency. It should stop acting like one, cleave to its narrowly defined mission of providing a sustainable potable water supply, eschew the siren songs of special interests seeking only their own selfish ends, and let the chips fall where they may.

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