By Miriam Raftery
July 31, 2021 (Borrego Springs) – The Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau is leading efforts to oppose the state’s plan to place a sexually violent predator in the community. A townhall meeting August 4 at 3 p.m. is planned at Anza Country Club, along with other actions.
The California Department of State Hospitals has proposed supervised release and placement of Merle Wade Wakefield, 64, at 1575 Yacqui Road in the de Anza Golf Estates community in Borrego Springs. Wakefield has been convicted of multiple sexual assaults against children and is classified as a sexually violent predator, a diagnosis that means he is believed to be likely to reoffend.
According to an email sent by the Chamber to its members, the property is owned by Chaplin Charles Talcott of Core Civic, which operates the Otay Mesa detention center. Talcott reportedly bought the property as an investment in late 2020 and listed it as a rental for several months, but recently opted to rent the home to Liberty Healthcare/CONREP, which receives $344,000 a year per violent offender and pays landlords higher than market rental rates to place violent sexual predators.
A judge previously rejected a home near Mt. Helix as unsuitable to house Wakefield or other predators, since it was in a neighborhood with many children, among other factors.
A hearing on Wakefield’s proposed placement is set for September 13 at 9 a.m. at the Superior Court downtown. Public comments can be submitted until August 11 to the SAFE Task Force, a regional law enforcement group that will compile the comments and submit them to the court as well as to the Department of State Hospitals.
The Chamber along with community leaders has taken the following actions towards opposition:
- Met with Borrego Springs Sheriff Painter to discuss legal avenues of successful opposition.
- Communicated with Supervisor Jim Desmond
- Contacted Patrick Meehan of the Borrego Sun
- Notified the community regarding action that can be taken.
- Contacted Richard Freye a co-leader in the successful opposition against placement of this offender in Mount Helix.
- Worked with Rams Hill to mobile efforts with residents.
Townhall meeting: A townhall meeting will be held at de Anza Desert country Club’s clubhouse on Wednesday August 4th, 2021 at 3:00 p.m. Complimentary food & beverage will be provided. The address is 509 Catarina Drive., Borrego Springs.
The Chamber offers these tips for comments to the SAFE Task Force:
Key Points for comments:
- Presence of Children and Grandchildren at de Anza especially on holidays
- de Anza used as a park by the residents and the community
- de Anza is an international dark sky community and very dark at night
- Impact on the historic club, neighborhood and Borrego Springs economy
- Lack of services such as law enforcement, mental health etc.
- Suggestions for alternate locations.
Comments may be submitted via email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 858- 495-3619. Comments may also be mailed to: SVP Release/SAFE Task Force, 9425 Chesapeake Drive, San Diego, CA 92123. The Chamber suggests sending copies to email@example.com and GM@deanzacountryclub.com on your emails.
Hearing September 13th , 2021 at 9 a.m. – Placement Hearing at San Diego Superior Court Department 2204, 1100 Union Street, San Diego, CA 92101
1575 Yaqui rd. Borrego Springs, CA 92004
Chaplin Charles Talcott