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The Borrego Ranch Resort & Spa and the clubhouse at the adjoining Montesoro Golf & Social Club in Borrego Springs have closed down as of today (Jan. 8), confirmed spokesperson Sasha Itzikman. As reported on these blogs earlier, the two operations warned they would close November 30 if they couldn't find an investor. That date was extended to Dec. 15 and then to Jan. 8 when the axe fell. The Borrego Ranch is the former Casa del Zorro that for decades was owned by Copley Press. Montesoro is the former Rams Hill, which has already been through two bankruptcies. Both entities had warned the states that there would be layoffs -- 64 at the ranch and 31 at Montesoro.

Montesoro includes a number of homes whose residents are still living there. The golf course is still open, according to spokesperson Sasha Itzikman, but the clubhouse is closed.

In December, Montesoro defaulted on $9.2 million of water and sewer bonds. According to Judy Meier of the Borrego Sun, 87 percent of that sum went into default. There are rumors that the local water district could wind up owning Montesoro, but Rich Williamson, head of the district, says that he is waiting for information from bond counsel to determine what happens next. "We are sending letters to property owners [at Montesoro] that we are intending to foreclose on to give an opportunity for them to make good," says Williamson. He has not heard about any possibility of bankruptcy of Montesoro's owner, he says. There has been talk that Borrego is critically short of water, but Williamson says that, unlike Southern California cities to the west (including San Diego), Borrego has 50 to 100 years of supply left at an aquifer. The water district is negotiating with users (such as agricultural entities) to get them to cut down on usage.

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Don Bauder Jan. 8, 2010 @ 10:32 a.m.

NOTE: Judy Meier of the Borrego Sun says that 87% of the December payment is in default, not 87% of the bond principal, as I said. My error. Best, Don Bauder


SurfPuppy619 Jan. 8, 2010 @ 11:36 a.m.

Alan X Reay, top Hotel Broker, with more info;

Calif. hotel foreclosures quadruple January 8th, 2010,

California hotels are getting hammered by the recession and the changing buying habits of the newly thrifty guests who do come to visit.

A new report from Atlas Hospitality in Costa Mesa shows that since the start of 2009, the number of California hotels taken back by lenders through foreclosure rose 313% to 62. The number of hotels in financial default on their loans grew 479% to 307.



Don Bauder Jan. 8, 2010 @ 11:52 a.m.

Response to post #2: This is not surprising. Give the information to the convention center task force. It needs some other hard data to ignore. Best, Don Bauder


ExDiegan Jan. 11, 2010 @ 2:11 p.m.

Given the tough market and the decision by Borrego Ranch Resort & Spa to ban minors, this sad ending seemed inevitable.

Is there not one former Copley investment that didn't result in massive layoffs, a precipitous drop in value and a fire sale (assuming such happens in Borrego Springs)?


Don Bauder Jan. 11, 2010 @ 9:46 p.m.

Response to post #4: You have a point there. (David Copley, when recuperating from his heart transplant at the former Casa del Zorro, promised one employee he would never sell.) The company got a good price for the Ohio and Illinois papers, but the buyer, GateHouse, is in big trouble and there were layoffs and worries about fringe benefit among employees who passed from Copley to GateHouse. Now there will be big layoffs at the former Casa. And staff of the U-T has been cut about in half. Best, Don Bauder


Ken Harrison Jan. 11, 2010 @ 11:01 p.m.

Hey Don, Aren't you glad you got off the ship before it began to take on water and sink? Who knew that being let go from the UT would lead your careeer to the Reader, where I assume you aren't restricted by let's-build-a-stadium-for-the-sake-of-jobs editors?


Don Bauder Jan. 12, 2010 @ 8:15 p.m.

Response to post #6: Believe it or not, I was not fired by the U-T. They were delighted to see me go, of course, but didn't fire me, although there were plenty of people above me, such as Herb Klein, and some in the top management in La Jolla, who wanted to see me given the boot. My kind of anti-establishment journalism simply did not fit the U-T model. I had one thing going for me: readership. Even their own readership surveys and panels told them that. We had bought land for our retirement home in 1999, and the builders began constructing it in 2002. I kept it secret and left in March of 2003. They had no idea I was leaving. Best, Don Bauder


Ken Harrison Jan. 13, 2010 @ 8:57 a.m.

What a way to go - on your own terms. My sister and brother in law both worked at the UT for 37 years each. She called me the day it was announced you left and that was the rumor at the time. My apologies, just assumed with whole stadium issue. The one that I was glad to see go was Steve Kelly. He was a jerk personally, but great cartoonist. I used to work with Michael Kingsman before he went to UT, but he served his 20 and got out too. It a different biz now as you've posted many times. Funny thing, I personally met, shook hands, and had a small conversation with Helen Copley on two occasions, and my sis & bro-in-law never did. I always held that over their heads.


rlarson Jan. 15, 2010 @ 11:12 a.m.

I think Mr. Williamson is a con man. Where did he get that 50-100 years' worth of water in our aquifer? Just pulled it out of the air. Or if it is the result of some independent study, the ratepayers haven't been informed of it. The way the farms and golf courses here in Borrego are guzzling our water, 5-10 years would be a likelier guess.


Don Bauder Jan. 15, 2010 @ 1:05 p.m.

Response to post #8: Yes, there was a rumor that I had been fired, for obvious reasons. One is that I had opposed the Chargers and Padres scams. A bunch of people in top management had been gunning for me even before that. A second reason is that I had sent a note to the editor, Karin Winner, that I might be retiring in March of 2003. I wasn't sure because we had a kinky escrow on our Mt. Helix house and didn't know if it would go through. Winner did not even acknowledge receiving the note until ten days later. By that time, the escrow barriers had cleared. I had no qualms about giving less than the usual two weeks notice -- maybe it was ten days or so. Then the U-T, when announcing my retirement, stated I had "abruptly" retired. It was completely disingenuous, given my note that had been ignored for ten days. That "abruptly" word helped fuel the fire that I had been canned. Best, Don Bauder


Don Bauder Jan. 15, 2010 @ 1:07 p.m.

Response to post #9: Williamson is new on the job. I was surprised at that number, too. I doubt there are many towns or cities in California that can make such a claim. There are definitely rumors around Borrego that there is a water problem. Best, Don Bauder


digger Jan. 18, 2010 @ 11:37 a.m.

rlarson is right about Williamson. He is not new to the job; he has been in it for two years. Making it appear that groundwater in the Borrego basin will last as long as 100 years is simply an attempt to lull residents into a false sense of security and reduce their demands that he do something about the long standing overdraft of our aquifer, which he has steadfastly failed and refused to do.

There is a study of our groundwater situation underway by the California Dept. of Water Resources and the U.S. Geological Survey. Results thus far indicate that we may have approximately 35 years of water left at present rates of pumping. Farmers and golf courses in the valley have been mining the aquifer for over 60 years; and for sixty years the residents of the valley have been and continue to be in denial.

For more information on how this unique resource has been and continues to be mismanaged your readers might want to go to borregowaterunderground.org



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