SAN DIEGO — Clearly defined trails lead up into the hills North of Highway 52 out of Mission Trails Regional Park. Sure, it seems like you can legally hike and bike up here. However, recently, two new fences went up, blocking two popular paths and signs are posted warning that you're on private property. For those who used the paths for years, the signs are confusing.
"What sign is right? What sign is wrong?," Alan Comstock said shrugging his shoulders. The Santee resident has been playing in this back-country area for more than 50 years. "Don't go here. Don't go there. It's a big mess right now."
Like most hikers and bikers, Alan doesn't understand how an area that's been open for decades can suddenly be shut off to the public.
"Actually, they really should not have been on there for many years," says Jack Zarour. "All the literature that the city of San Diego has says there are no authorized trails north of Highway 52."
Zarour is the man behind the fences, but before you get mad at him, hear him out. Jack says his family has given people permission for years to cross their property. His says he's been thanked by having a cross on the land dedicated to his deceased brother, a veteran, vandalized.
"I've had it desecrated several times," siad Zarour. Graffiti. "Wrapped with garbage and painted red and all kinds of things."
Zarour's family and several others bought land here in the East Elliott area in the early 80's, with the idea of turning it into a major housing development, but the city never approved the plan. Eventually, Jack's dad agreed to sell his land to the city of San Diego, but after years of negotiations, the city backed out of the deal.
"[It] broke his heart," Jack said. "He died a few weeks later."
Zarour says he has blocked access to a popular Mission Trails path because it runs through his property and due to inaction from the City of San Diego. Zarour claims the city wants to annex his land to expand the park.
“They wanted me to donate the land to the city for the park," said Zarour.
"I said, ‘are you kidding me? You killed my father and now you want me to give you the land, too?’”
Frustrating Jack even further, the City of San Diego has refused to provide him with any vehicle access to his property. The only road is through Mission Trails Park, which he needs a permit to use, and they will not give him the permit. Utility trucks, however, can use the road.
For Jack, enough is enough and so he has fenced off the property.
News 8 left multiple messages with city officials, but they have not responded to a request for comment.