Vista is alive with the sound of NIMBY, a popular tune with those who suddenly find themselves confronted by a civic necessity that also represents one of life’s unpleasantries--a trash dump, a major roadway, an airport.
The latest Not In My Back Yard refrain is over a surplus fire station that Faith & Love Ministries wants to convert into a soup kitchen and homeless shelter.
Businesses and home owners in the neighborhood raised the ruckus upon learning that the Vista Fire Protection District sold the surplus facility to the nonprofit group for $242,500, after soliciting bids for just 30 days. Better offers were certainly available, they argued, if the fire protection district had followed standard procedure and accepted bids for 60 days.
Even assuming that the fire station is worth another $50,000 or so, it is clear that the opposition’s arguments are a legal artifice, a polite way of singing the NIMBY song.
To the contrary, the concept of selling a facility for a slightly lower price to a cash-poor, nonprofit group is sound public policy--especially when that organization’s aim is to bolster the social service network that serves people largely ignored by the rest of us.
Such controversy is not new to North County, where advocates for the homeless from Escondido to Vista have had difficulty siting social service facilities. In this case, the fire station’s mixed-use neighborhood of commercial and industrial buildings and apartments seems to be an appropriate setting for Faith & Love’s mission. The city of Vista, which owns a majority interest in the fire station, may intervene in an attempt to block the sale. That would be unfortunate.
However this situation is resolved, the losing party is likely to sue. That could mean no soup kitchen, no revenue from the sale, and lots of hefty legal bills for everyone involved. If that happens, Vista will surely change its tune and start singing the blues.