Too close to Rancho Santa Fe

West end of Artesian Road where Crosby Estate meets greater Rancho Santa Fe.

Depending on who is telling the story, Darryl L. Hronek is either building storage for the business on his property or being harassed by a vindictive neighbor who is using the county’s code enforcement unit to get at him while he builds a tennis court.

“The neighbor gets the other neighbors whipped up and tells them who to call and what to say,” Hronek said. “We moved out in the country so we could get away from the weirdos.”

In June, neighbors began calling the county’s department of Planning and Development Services’ code enforcers to report problems.

Hronek, they said, was building a warehouse on his Artesian Road property, located just east of Rancho Santa Fe and west of Black Mountain Ranch in the unincorporated community. They complained about Fed Ex semitrailer trucks backing up to the property from the two-lane road to pick up and drop off loads of stuff, and about construction that seemed to be underway, according to county documents.

Neighbors also complained that Hronek is running a business that involved multiple employees, a half dozen FedEx stops daily, and quite a bit of commercial traffic — in an area that’s not zoned for that activity.

Hronek’s website, MedAuction.com, shows a multitude of used medical equipment, including dermatology lasers that appear to have been photographed in a yard with stamped concrete beneath and a blue sky full of puffy clouds behind them. On the website and apparently among neighbors, Hronek uses his middle name as his surname: Darryl Louis.

Hronek, meanwhile, sent neighbors an email describing what he was building as an RV garage where he intended to store cars that he has collected. He urged his neighbors to not join in “the campaign by the terrorist next door” and invited them to come by and meet his wife and three children — two sons and an infant daughter.

Scene of the...crime?

Scene of the…crime?

Records show that multiple neighbors called in complaints, which Hronek said resulted from an email campaign started by one neighbor. He produced a copy of the email.

Attempts to reach the neighbors whom Hronek blames for the complaints by phone and email went without a response. The county does not release the names of code enforcement complainants.

County records indicate that inspectors went to the property on June 15 and found that “the owner was operating a business out of his home and storing medical supplies in a detached garage and two pod containers,” county spokesman Gig Conaughton said.

The inspector issued an administrative warning, but at the same time told Hronek that businesses are allowed if they are “entirely within a building containing a residential use or an attached garage.”

“Code enforcement also talked to the owner about the possibility of coming into compliance with county regulations by successfully applying for a minor use permit for a “cottage industry,” Conaughton said. He noted that such a permit would require a reduction in the level of commercial activity — for example, fewer employees.

Hronek admits that he is running a business but says the construction on his property isn’t for the business.

“We spent a ton of money on this home for the privacy and to have our kids grow up away from the influence of the city,” he said. “We were depressed over this systematic, vitriolic campaign by our terrorist neighbor.”

Hronek produced a letter of support from a neighbor who wrote “I urge you to ….stop persecuting this young family. They are within their rights to live in their new home peacefully and run a business on their property as we all are.”

The letter notes that other neighbors are running businesses from their properties and says the complaint-driven enforcement is “shameful.”

Former North County Times writer Marty Graham is a reporter with more than a decade of experience in online, print and video media. She earned a masters degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and has worked as a reporter in Chicago, New York, Washington D.C., the San Francisco Bay area and Silicon Valley; Los Angeles; and many other great places.

She won the Associated Press Public Service award at the Peninsula Times Tribune in Palo Alto, California and has been recognized for her work by the Society of Professional Journalists, the San Diego Press Club and other groups.

For more from the indefatigable Graham, visit https://martygraham-writer.com.

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