ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) — It was once a thriving resort hidden in the hills in unincorporated Escondido, but early on Tuesday morning, the Bellafonte Resort was the scene of an eviction.
San Diego County sheriff's deputies were captured on video banging down doors at the property on Tuesday. The department said people were given a 72-hour notice to vacate and everybody had to be out by Monday.
However, on Tuesday morning, sheriff’s officials said 20 people were still inside. Everyone cooperated and was removed with their belongings, and no one was arrested. Six dogs and two cats were taken by county animal services.
Tom Adametz, the HOA president for the Circle R Ranch, a community down the hill from the resort, said neighbors are fed up and say the property went downhill during the pandemic.
"We've seen drug activity, we've heard of dog fighting up there, we've heard of squatting up there," explained Adametz.
ABC 10News has covered the Bellafonte Resort multiple times. The first time was back in 2019, when neighbors claimed the owner had a criminal history of fraud and may have converted the former hotel into a drug treatment center.
Then, in 2021, Team 10 discovered there was a new owner and the county had condemned the property as unsafe to occupy. Records back then showed almost 150 calls for service to the sheriff's department from 2020 to 2021.
On Tuesday, security on site referred ABC 10News to attorney Red Griswold, who said the court put him in charge of the property two weeks ago.
Griswold explained he does not represent the property owner and said he's moved quickly to remove the occupants and put in 24-hour security.
He added that he's working on a long-term plan to solve the nuisance at the property.