Concern Over Property Values : Landowners Howl Over 'Scream Therapy' Course

Associated Press

Course participants are not the only ones howling about a self-improvement program in which students swing from ropes and yell as loudly they can.

The program has sparked complaints from nearby property owners who fear that the value of their land will drop because of the course.

Leonard Scholl is one of 10 property owners of Los Ventos Serreno Este, in northern San Diego County, who are complaining about the course, run by Carol Ann Washburn. She owns two acres of property in the residentially zoned area.

"I do not care what people do about jumping out of trees. That's OK with me," Scholl said. "If you've got enough guts to jump out of a tree, it might give you courage to tell your boss where to go. I've been through many of these (confidence-booster) courses in my younger days."

'Misplaced' Course

Scholl lives in Encinitas and is not directly affected by the noise of the screaming participants. But he said he owns 15 acres near the course and is concerned about the increased trespassing caused by the public exposure of the area by the ropes course.

He said a commercial ropes course on a privately maintained dirt road in an area developed for residential use is simply "a square peg into a round hole--it's misplaced."

Washburn, who opened the course without obtaining a use permit, could not be reached for comment.

Jerry Hermanson, deputy director of the San Diego County Planning Department, said the neighbors object to the "blood-curdling screams" that are part of the confidence-building program.

Participants scream as they swing on ropes from the trees.

Scholl said deeds to the property in the area contain covenants, conditions and restrictions that Washburn agreed to when she purchased the property. Among the conditions was that there would be no commercial use of the property.

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