The Riehl World: A Bressi Ranch Fairy Tale

by Richard J. Riehl on February 27, 2009

There didn’t seem to be much more to say about Carlsbad’s Bressi Ranch NIMBYs and their attempt to keep developmentally disabled persons from moving into a group home in their neighborhood. But then I read the letter to the editor last week that suggested that, regardless of their legal rights, the new neighbors would be foolish to move into a community where they were not wanted. Sound familiar? That’s the same argument that was once used to discourage persons of the wrong race, ethnicity or religion from moving in next door.

Last year County Supervisor Bill Horn defended himself against accusations that he’d engaged in a quid pro quo deal with developers. With imaginations like that, he scoffed, his critics should write novels. Since a novel wouldn’t fit in this space, I wrote him a fairy tale instead.

This time it was the unhappy campers of Bressi Ranch that reawakened the bard in me.

Once upon a time, in The Land of Troubled Assets, the NIMBYs were nervous in their village by the sea. Having recently immigrated to the edge of the village, they had found homes where they could live among those who looked alike, acted alike and thought alike.
The NIMBYs had settled comfortably into their gray world in The Rolling Hills of Carrillo, where once only coyotes and gnatcatchers roamed. The builders of a cluster of castles there dubbed the spot Bestest Ranch, distinguishing it from the other horse-free ranches in the Land of Troubled Assets.

Neither a moat nor a gate kept Bestest Ranch safe from intruders. But the prices of the castles, beginning at 1 million balls of golf, kept away the undesirables who didn’t look, act and think like NIMBYs.

One day, to their dismay, the NIMBYs heard of a plot launched by a local group of Do-gooders, who had persuaded village elders to help them collect enough balls of golf to buy a castle in Bestest Ranch that would house as many as six villagers who needed protection to help them survive in a gray world.

The NIMBYs were outraged. Why hadn’t they been warned of the invasion of their cozy gray world? Would these newcomers who didn’t look, act and think like them harm the children? They gathered their verbal spears and torches and marched on a meeting of the village elders. The eldest of the elders, Sir Bud The Wise and Lady Anne of the Cool Chin, listened politely to the rabble rousers, as did the other Knights of the Long table. When they ruled unanimously in favor of the Do-gooders, the NIMBYs retreated to the street to plan their next move.

As if on cue, rain made its rare appearance in the skies above the village by the sea, followed by a magnificent rainbow over Bestest Ranch. The best of the Bestest Ranch ranchers took that as a sign the new residents would bring color to their gray world and vowed to help the NIMBYs learn to live happily ever after with their new neighbors.

Richard J. Riehl writes from Carlsbad. Contact him at

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

To_be_a_consumer_or_a_citizen March 4, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Thanks for recognizing City Council for doing the right thing and for revealing the bullying in this shameful situation.

To quote a recent candidate for local office: “People may doubt what you say but they always believe what you do.” Kids will discount the lectures and bumper stickers about tolerance and equality to the extent that our actions portray or betray those values.

Prescient April 15, 2009 at 8:26 pm

This is the first of many (perhaps hundreds or thousands) of such group homes that will appear around the country.

Funny thing about a home with 4-6 bedrooms and 4-6 bathrooms. It makes a great rooming house. There simply aren’t enough “single families” to fill all these monsters. Enter group homes, “shared living” for seniors, and hyper extended immigrant families.

Coming soon to a McMansion near you.

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