SAN DIEGO —
A recently-built fence has clearly divided more than just a popular path north of Mission Trails Park.
On Tuesday, News 8 brought you this story about a man who blocked a popular hiking and mountain biking trail that ran through his property and it struck a nerve, especially on social media.
People spoke out both in support and criticism of the property owner's decision.
After News 8 first told you Jack Zarour's story Tuesday, hundreds of comments came in on Facebook both for and against the man who says he's cutting off access to hikers and bikers, because, he says, the city continues to cut off vehicle access to his own property.
Daral Mazzarella is a land use attorney who is very familiar with the area north of Highway 52.
“Camp Elliott is a unique and problematic area,” said Mazzarella. “It's fragmented, it's owned by a lot of people, many small parcels, with no common ownership.”
The area is zoned to allow Zarour to build a structure on his property and generally speaking, the law says he has a right to access his land.
“The law tries to make property accessible and usable and of some value and this particular property has been rendered useless essentially to this private owner,” said Mazaarella.
Zarour isn't asking for a special road, just access to an easement that's already there. However, the city has refused to grant him the necessary permit to use it.
Zarour believes the city is playing hardball with him because they want to take his land through eminent domain for pennies on the dollar and to annex his property, along with other private land in the area - to expand Mission Trails Park. Attorney Mazzarella thinks Zarour has a winnable lawsuit in the making.
“By manipulating access in this way, it essentially says your property isn't worth much if we have to buy it from you under eminent domain process,” said Mazzarella. “The sale price would be very low and it's an artificial low price created by the government's refusal to give him access.”
News 8 reached out to the city for their side of the story. As of Wednesday evening, no one had responded.