Legal challenges, bankruptcy and disputes among the ranch’s nearly 1,000 owners have kept the 2,500-acre property in limbo. An offer by the Pala Band of Mission Indians to buy the property is no longer considered viable.
After nearly 10 years of fighting among the approximately 1,000 owners of the Warner Springs (Calif.) Ranch, the resort filed for bankruptcy in March, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. About 90% of the club’s work force was laid off when the club was closed by the homeowners association on January 2.
Now, a $20.5 million sale to the Pala Band of Mission Indians is no longer viable, even though the tribe is still interested in buying the resort.
Much drama has arisen over the 2,500-acre resort, which is owned by nearly 1,000 people whose memberships are practically worthless, since they cannot be sold. Still, members must pay monthly dues that started at $60 when the ranch’s ownership structure was devised and have risen to $400.
“I’ve never seen anything quite like the emotion and the drama that has accompanied this property,” said David Gee, President of the homeowners association. “It really is somewhat pathetic to see how much angst and emotion has surrounded this property.”
The club filed for bankruptcy to stop additional lawsuits from being filed and because no one could agree on the future of the ranch.
“What it is, is a long-running conspiracy to break up a community,” said “ranch owner” Bill Johnson.
The resort has struggled financially for 20 years and the occupancy rate for members and the general public has been approximately 30%.
In 2008, the Pala tribe offered $20.5 million for the resort, which was the tribe’s ancestral home until 1903. When the association agreed to the sale in 2009, title problems and legal challenges persisted.
The resort is famous for its natural hot springs and offers amenities such as a golf course, 250 casitas, tennis courts, equestrian center, airport, spa and two restaurants.
“The bottom line is, it’s time to convey ownership from our partnership to someone who has the financial resources and the skill set to make it work,” Gee said. “Pala has the financial resources.”