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By: Matt Finley

Barona Oaks Raceway Facing Opposition From Nearby Residents
Residents of Newer Rural Community Angry Over Older Off-Road Track

Barona Oaks Motocross Track Located on the Barona Indian Reservation, Established in 1973
Barona Oaks Motocross Track Located on the Barona Indian Reservation, Established in 1973

The owners of about 100 homes in rural San Diego County are upset about an off-road track located on an Indian reservation near their homes. Several residents of the San Diego Country Estates, a homeowner's association in the small town of Ramona, have called for Barona Oaks Raceway off-road track to be moved away from their homes to eliminate noise and dust that comes from the track.

In a recent board meeting of the SDCE, several members of the association voiced complaints about the noise and dust created by the track. One member, who refused to be identified because they feared for their safety, provided fliers and a web site,, as representative of the 75-100 households who are opposed to the long existing track.

The homeowners claim that, while the track was there before they bought their houses; it was used mostly for "mini-bikes" and only occasionally. They said it did not seem to be a problem at the time. Now they say there are events held every weekend and possibly every day. There is a campground there with fire rings and a loud public address system. Larger-sized motocross bikes and ATVs (quads) are ridden there on a regular basis.

The homeowners also claim that the exhaust is polluting their backyards and causes a serious health risk. One resident said she fears for the health of her two young children, and says, "The first focus should be on health issues." The residents say that their houses have been devalued because of the nearby track.

One resident of the community who is a private investigator and retired sheriff's deputy urged the SDCE HOA board to pursue a disturbing the peace violation enforcement, citing Penal Code 415 which calls for jail time and fines for disturbing the peace.

Houses in the San Diego Country Estates built right next to Barona Oaks Raceway
Houses in the San Diego Country Estates built right next to Barona Oaks Raceway

Residents of the San Diego Country Estates have requested a meeting with San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, which will be held on August 3, 2007 in Jacob's El Cajon office. Jacob promised to have representatives from the Air Pollution Control District, Codes Department, Department of Environmental Health, Noise Control, and members of the Barona tribe present at the meeting.

There were a handful of riders from Ramona and other nearby communities present at the meeting to speak out in favor of the off-road track, stating that the track has been there much longer than the homes, and that the homeowners should have been notified of the existence of the off-road track before they bought the homes.

Supporters of Barona Oaks Raceway also point out the fact that their small, out of the way racetrack is one of the few places available anywhere in San Diego County to race off road. The track represents mostly young riders and racers who would otherwise not be involved in any type of group sports like baseball, football, and basketball.

View from Barona Oaks Raceway up the hill towards the Drag Strip
View from Barona Oaks Raceway up the hill towards the Drag Strip

Legal council for the Indian tribe said that the allegations of a health risk are old and have been brought up before. Art Bunce said that back in November of 2006 the tribe invited the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to test the track for excessive amounts of pollution or exhaust which would cause health risks to nearby residents. All results came back negative.

The Barona Indians also point out that they, as a sovereign nation, are only bound to tribal and federal law. Any state or local regulations would not be binding on the Indian tribe. That is not to say that the Barona tribe is going to ignore the residents of the San Diego Country Estates.

One of the SDCE residents has some advice for other residents who are upset about the noise and dust from the racetrack; he suggests that the homeowners fund the moving of the racetrack mile up the road to where an already existing drag-strip and off-road racetrack exist, and noise and dust are blocked from the residents of the SDCE by the mountains.

Surprisingly, this may not be such a bad alternative for homeowners affected by the racetrack. The cost for litigation, environmental impact testing and everything else involved with this type of situation, especially with an entity that is not bound to local regulations, could be extremely high. If you compare that to an estimated $500 to $1,000 per household to move the existing track to a more acceptable location may not be such a bad idea. After all, if the value of the homes really has gone down because of the racetrack, it very likely went down more than the $1,000 it would cost to move it.

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