Liz Swain 4:24 p.m., May 24
Warner Springs Ranch Ousts Board, Possibly Opening Way for Pala Band to Buy Back Ancestral Homeland
Members of North County's financially-troubled Warner Springs Ranch have successfully ousted the board by a vote ratio of more than 4 to 3. A new board has been elected. For some time, there has been a feud among the 1,000 owners. One group, mostly located far away, wanted to sell the ranch outright and recoup at least part of their original investment. Another group, mainly living nearby, preferred that the ranch -- featuring a hot spring, horse stables and golf course -- be purchased by a timeshare operation so they could continue using it regularly. One possible purchaser is the Pala Band of Mission Indians, who lived there for many generations and were tossed out by the U.S. government more than a century ago. "The Pala Band of Mission Indians is clearly the best and most logical buyer of the ranch," says Patrick Roche, a former board member. The band has expressed interest in a purchase of its ancestral homeland. Richard Bye, the new president of Warner, says, "The prior board was actively marketing the ranch, and we still have others that are being considered, including [Pala]. Other than this, I have no comments."