California Dreamin’ Lost In Lakeland Village

With unemployment hovering over 20 percent in “the Village,” local jobs are nearly non-existent, businesses are suffering, and the community is struggling against the realities of poverty: blight, crime, drugs and alcohol.

Statewide unemployment figures for June get released tomorrow by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the numbers won’t get much notice in Lakeland Village.

With unemployment hovering over 20 percent in “the Village,” local jobs are nearly non-existent, businesses are suffering, and the community is struggling against the realities of poverty: blight, crime, drugs and alcohol.

Seated outside at a shaded picnic table on a hot, dusty Wednesday afternoon at Lazey J’s Roadhouse on Grand Avenue in the Village, a group of weathered guys shoot the breeze over cold beers. Many of the men have jobs, but not 58-year-old Bruce Massard. The unemployed flooring installer has been out of work for four months.

“I make a little money doing odd jobs here and there, but not enough. I can do electrical, plumbing, flooring, computers … pretty much everything,” he said, explaining that to make ends meet he lives with his daughter and a roommate.

Inside Lazey J’s, the classic rock is loud, patrons play pool, and a quiet canine sits by the door. The neighborhood watering hole and the Circle K down the way are perhaps the busiest establishments along Lakeland Village’s dilapidated main drag that includes roadside attractions like doublewides and stray dogs.

Just a few hundred yards south of Lazey J’s is American Legion Post 200. Inside the dimly lit old building, a handful of vets sit around the bar.

Post member Shelly Mack, who says she served in the Army from 1986 to 1990, is underemployed. She works part-time and volunteers when she can at Post 200.

Mack doesn’t focus on her personal drama, and instead steers the conversation. She says the Post serves older, retired veterans, but there are some fresh from war, and many are unemployed.

“We have about eight or 10 who live around here and are looking for work and having a real hard time,” Mack said, noting that post traumatic stress disorder has afflicted some.

“Nobody wants to talk about it (PTSD) -- we do what we can,” she said of the Post’s assist efforts.

Mack’s "just keep going" attitude is common around Lakeland Village, but there’s also acceptance of being a have-not community. The men at Lazey J’s claim it’s been that way for as long as they can remember. People come here when they have no place left to go, the men say.

Ernie Sanchez sits behind his desk at on Grand Avenue. Wearing a grease-stained yellow T-shirt, he flips through neatly stacked paperwork while his son-in-law works out back in the garage.

The 61-year-old retired postal worker opened his modest business four years ago. He says friends in the local community make up his clientele, and he’s not getting rich. In a good month, he claims to net "maybe $600 or $700" after paying rent, utilities and business-related expenses on the shop.

“I get $125 from my (postal service) pension after paying for insurance. My wife works at Pala; we both chip in,” Sanchez explained.

He shrugged, “I have five grandchildren and one on the way. That’s why I keep doing this. Some money is better than none, right? What else would I do?”

Lakeland Village gets little love from residents or business owners in surrounding cities. Despite its historical significance as a one-time vacation destination for the rich and famous -- and its majestic setting between the Cleveland National Forest and Lake Elsinore in Southwest Riverside County -- Lakeland Village’s reputation for drugs, crime and a pervasive police presence is the brunt of many jokes today.

As Wednesday afternoon wears on, a petite, outgoing young woman named Lindsay Cox sits inside a small room at Lake Hills Community Church on Grand Avenue. She is one of nearly a dozen women gathered at a table for a 12-Step study program to “celebrate recovery.”

Cox explains she lives a few blocks away from the church with her boyfriend – both are out of work.

“I tried getting a job at the medical marijuana place next door,” she said, laughing at her circumstances. “They said I would have to start out working 40 hours for free, which I said I would do. But they never called me back!”

Several of the women chime in. Susan Flannery says her son has been looking for work since graduating from high school two years ago. Erica Posada shares that her three children were taken from her by Child Protective Services. In order to get them back, Posada claims she must have full-time work. Currently, she’s unemployed.

When asked if she has any job prospects, Posada just shakes her head.




MLS July 21, 2011 at 08:33 PM
I'm a trailer park resident in Lakeland Village and I agree that we have no representation to improve our town. It's like nobody wants to touch it with a 10 foot pole. One day I took pictures of all the 13 marijuana dispensaries on Grand, Corydon and Mission Trail...sent them to the city of Lake Elsinore and Bob Buster, with an email asking them "why" these are popping up all over our town. The mayor ProTem of the city wrote me back saying that the town of Lakeland Village was not in her jurisdiction and to write Bob Buster. I wrote Bob Buster and never heard back from him. He doesn't care. Lake Elsinore doesn't care. Seems we really don't have anyone who dares to represent us. I would be glad to go to a Lakeland Village community meeting and express my concerns and offer to help, but I don't know of any. This once-beautiful place is a huge eyesore and embarrisment that I would love to try and correct.
Pickles July 21, 2011 at 09:04 PM
Ya they need to revamp it. It could be a cute lake side town, Instead its a crap hole.
Diana July 21, 2011 at 10:07 PM
LAKELAND VILLAGE/WILDOMAR PROJECT AREA COMMITEE...MEETINGS HELD AT THE MISSION TRAIL LIBRARY 34303 MISSION TRAIL WILDOMAR, CA ON WEDNESDAYS AT 7PM....not sure if they are every month or every other month. The Riverside County representative for this PAC meeting is Brenda Salas her email address is Brendasalas@rivcoeda.org. I attended these meetings and those in attendance do not care about anything other then horse trails as I posted, however perhaps if more people attend the meetings or drop Brenda a line or call her maybe we could get some answers or improvements, I have tried on many occasions without much results, I have her on my email and report things all the time, some times she answers and most times not.
MLS July 21, 2011 at 10:29 PM
Brenda represents the County of Riverside, but who represents the city of Lakeland Village???
Diana July 21, 2011 at 10:33 PM
George Cambero, Harold Burgess, JoAnn McCracken, Kami Sabetzadeh, Richard Heil, Richard Estes, Barbara Dye, are the committee representing Lakeland Village and Wildomar!!
MLS July 21, 2011 at 11:58 PM
Wow! Now that we have names, how come we don't know more about them? In all my years here, I've never heard thier names. Thanks for your help Diana....now, will they introduce themselves to the community? Who are they? What is the name of the committee? How were they elected to this committee? What are they trying to do for the community? Why do they not put thier names "out there" for us to contact? It's a shame that an article about the blight in LV comes out like this for others to read, but none of them have commented on it.
toni July 22, 2011 at 03:01 AM
I'm with ya Terry!!!!!! Obviously these dispenceries have a supply and demand as well as Lazy J's. Why don't these poor guys start growing? Just do something. Clean the town up. Even pan handlers work for their money. If ya got extra cash for the bar ...your not that poor.
toni July 22, 2011 at 03:23 AM
Hey.... but if you need herb... there are 6 new dispenceries on Grand lol!!!!!!
toni July 22, 2011 at 03:34 AM
12 dispenceries? My bad!!!!
Diana July 22, 2011 at 03:37 AM
FYI MLS: there are two pot dispensaries operating within the City of Lake Elsinore, they are both located on Grand where the sweep meets Riverside Dr. just before the Ortega HWY, one is located in a blue building with arches and the other where a place that fixes cracks in windshields is located...BTW both of these were brought to the attention of Melissa Melendez several weeks ago.
Diana July 22, 2011 at 03:40 AM
I found this information out by hounding the County with complaints and was contacted by Brenda to be on their committee, after attending the meetings and several conversations with her it was clear to me that she did not want to hear my concerns regarding the town and was more interested in satisfying the residents with a horse trail?????????? Hey how much money can it cost the County to throw up some split rail fencing for a horse trail?
George Cambero July 22, 2011 at 05:58 AM
All, I hear your frustrations and do agree with you about the problems in Lakeland Village, I had been in the aerea for about 45 years of those 35 years worked for LEUSD and Elsinore VMWD. I'M one of the Directors of the Wildomar - Lakeland Village project area committe the one who advise the County to built Perret Park, More than once the Committe has talked about the Grand av improvements and was told that Caltrans was planning on converting it to a 4 lane road. please try to attend the pac meeting and voice your oppinion we do listen to the people.. and Im very passionate for my community. I can go on and on
MLS July 22, 2011 at 10:47 AM
Thank you George for stepping up to the plate and announcing yourself to the community. If you could be so kind as to tell us when the next PAC meeting is, I will try to go...as I hope many of you who have voiced thier comments here, will also. My biggest complaint was that nobody took notice of the 13 pot dispensaries on Grand, Corydon and Mission Trail. Everyone I wrote and sent the pictures to just shrugged it off saying its not thier problem...or...didn't respond to my email at all. Either someone high-up in the gov is getting some sort of benefit for putting blindfolds on about these dispensaries, or somebody is getting blackmailed by not doing anything about them. I hate politics, but this issue is in all of our backyards, next to our schools, and easily accessable to any 18 year old who can pay the "so-called" Dr. who writes him a Rx for medical marijuana. You should smell the pot on the morning RCTD busses in the mornings when these kids get on the busses for school! Parents...do you care??? If so...attend these PAC meetings so we can get help for Lakeland Village.
MLS July 22, 2011 at 10:53 AM
FYI...Melissa Melendez already knows about them, as I sent pictures of 13 of these places to Lake Elsinore City gov, as well as to Bob Buster several months ago. Yes...about 4 months ago. I see that some have closed down in LV, but its probably due to lack of sales rather than anything like "city gov". As I said, LE washed thier hands of it, and Bob Buster never replied back to me.
Betty Woody July 22, 2011 at 05:39 PM
One of my husbands' friends owned a business along Grand and code enforcment ran him out of business by fining him for features that were part of the business and had been there since the 1920's. That and having stuff stolen from his business. It's like a ghost town along Grand since code enforcement went on the rampage.
MLS July 22, 2011 at 07:13 PM
I found out some info on these PAC meetings. We missed the one for July already, but I challenge each one of you who has written here to try to attend. For the sake of our Lakeland Village community, and the sake of our children, we MUST try to attend!!! Lakeland Village-Wildomar RDA PAC Meeting Lakeland Village - Wildomar RDA PAC Meets 3rd Wednesday of the month at the Mission Trail Library at 7:00 p.m. Time: 7:00 pm http://www.rivcoeda.org/ Location Mission Trail Library 34303 Mission Trail Wildomar, CA 92595
Barbara Dye July 22, 2011 at 10:18 PM
To Diana and MLS. My name is Barbara Dye and I have been the president of the Lakeland Village Neighborhood Association for 12 years. Where have you been, during the last 12 years. There has been signs along Grand Ave with info on when and where the meetings are and also a contact number. I am also on the PAC with George Cambero. I guess forgot to tell you about me. Thats ok. We meet on the 3rd Thursday every month at the American Legion at 7pm. Our next meeting will be September 15th. I hope to see you there. We have a monthy newsletter. I was very much involved with the reopening and the rehab of Perret Park. I was very much a part of the side walks to the north and south of Lakeland Village school. I am also involved in getting the improvements of Grand Ave. on the mountain and Lake side graded so that student and people have a place to walk instead of the street. I was also involved in putting in the crosswalk at Blackwell so that people can safely cross Grand Ave. to go to Perret Park. If you have any question or need more info please call me at 951-678-0256 and please leave a message I will call you back.
Diana July 22, 2011 at 11:06 PM
I am so pleased to see those that are members of PAC come forward and provide invitations and correspondence to others on Patch. I did attend your meeting Barbara and have to say that was not met with a very warm welcome by others in attendance and therefore never returned. I have a business in Lakeland Village, I travel Grand Ave daily to get to my business and attended to find out just why Grand Ave remains as it does, my concerns were posted earlier. While I can appreciate the efforts thus far that you have accomplished there are so many others that need immediate attention as mentioned in these postings. I will attend your meeting in August and because of Patch i'm sure others will as well. Thank you Patch for this great site for all of us that have been in the dark for so many years of whats going on in our community and other surrounding areas..GREAT JOB!!!!!!!!
Neighbor July 23, 2011 at 01:50 AM
The answer to why things are the way they are in LV is simple, it is an unincorporated area. The only way this town will ever be overhauled is to push for incorporation, "cityhood" if you will. This proccess will increase taxes which will A) weed out some of the bad element due to higher property and sales tax and collect funds for the rehab projects. As much as I am a fan of nice roads, sidewalks, turn signals and crosswalks I feel residents of a RURAL community are not out of line requesting horse trails, after all they would be maintaining them via the newly collected tax money, I find it almost pompus someone would scoff at that request. I further have no problem with marijuana despensaries as long as A) they are not operating in a RESIDENTIALLY zoned area, are operating under state and county law and are paying taxes, I think we have far bigger "fish" to fry then then a legally operating business, going after them is no different then the code enforcement agents going after the above mentioned bars because they host events for "motorcycle clubs", perspective people, perspective. For the record I don't own a horse, I'm not a criminal, I don't smoke pot or hang out at the local bars. For what its worth, A tax paying employed homeowner of LV.
Bridgette Moore July 23, 2011 at 07:20 AM
I attended the July RDA meeting and they are meeting every other month now. The next meeting will be Wed, Sept 21st. If you are interested in becoming a committee member, they are accepting applications until Sept 7th.
George Cambero July 23, 2011 at 03:56 PM
oops FYI Barbara Dye is by far more involved in LV than me why because I live in Wildomar, She has been president of the LV Neighborhood Association for long time, She is also President of LV Trails and recently re-lected to the RDA Pac one of the newest projects she's involved an upgrade to Perret Park for over $ 300,000 Dolars for complettion date of January 2012. I work very closely with Barbara in many issues involving Wildomar Lakeland Village and lake Elsinore. and last I urge to get involve to send a meesagge to the right people one of them is First District Supervisor Bob Buster
Diana July 25, 2011 at 05:02 PM
Neighbor: I live in a unincorporated area of LE and it is considered rural, unlike LV we have curb and gutter and our neighborhood prides themselves on landscaped yards in spite that we are rural. We have curb and gutter, we have paved roads, and street lights to go along with a rural environment. What goes on in LV is inexcusable and no need for anyone to have to go into "cityhood" to be able to have roads that are clearly lined, street lights and so on. Riverside County has the money for the repairs of Grand Ave, the streets in LV to be upgraded and paved, they choose not to spend the money and in my opinion appease these folks with horse trails, way less money spent I would think. Just because it is a rural area does not mean it has to be a pit. As for medical marijuana dispensaries, these businesses do not operate legally, or we have a great deal of sick 20 year olds in our area, they open in dumpy old buildings that have been vacant for years, they put out tacky green signage with huge pot leaf banners. They just add more distaste and tacky surroundings to the LV area.
MLS July 25, 2011 at 08:06 PM
Barbara and George...thank you for introducing yourselves and inviting us to the PAC meetings. Are thier just the two of you in this committee? Barbara...to answer your question, "Where have you been the last 12 years"???? First of all, that question sounds loud and clear of presumptions that I have never cared enough about LV to go to a meeting. Who are YOU to presume anything? I will tell you that I have never seen a "sign or invitation" about these meetings or read any articles about these meetings. That doesn't mean I am ignorant...it means that your efforts to involve the community have hugely failed. The "average" LV resident knows absolutely nothing about PAC. Secondly, I believe the "average" LV resident doesn't give a damn about your LV horse trails. The avg resident cares thier families, the schools, thier jobs, all-over community safety, illegal activities, homelessness and blight. Time to take your horse-blinders off and look at what is happening on Grand Ave! No offense, and I'm sure your heart is entirely focused on those horse trails...but lets do something better for the whole community...not just horse owners. After all, there are more car owners, home owners and renters in this town than horses. So, is this PAC meeting in August or Sept??? Seems there is miscommunication about this also.
Diana July 25, 2011 at 08:39 PM
Well sail MLS, there needs to be a focus other then horse trails. In attending the PAC meeting I found the group of people were very unwelcoming, my friend and I tried to find seating, every time we tried to sit someone would say that this seat is taken, over and over again. When we did find seating the lady behind us purposely got up and down through the meeting slamming into our chairs every time, we were not wanted there. Apparently those in attendance have a little click going on and control the meeting for what they want so be prepared when you do attend. I was in awe that these people in attendance were actually arguing among each other over who was going to get which horse trail. Although LV is rural there are so many things that need immediate attention and this meeting is the direct link to Riverside County, we did not get a chance to share are concerns we were intimidated and shut down from the beginning, good luck!!!!!!!!!
George Cambero July 26, 2011 at 01:30 AM
Diana. The next Pack meeting is schedule for August 2011, Informational only for open seats with the pac for people who live in Wildomar or LV and want to become members.....The Next Pac meetingi is September 21, 2011 at 7:00PM at the Mission Trail Library in Wildomar....im more than happy to comment in regards to who has the right to be there: Everybody please when U go to the meeting please introduce yourselves to Barbara or Me.. Last comment LV is a Riverside County unincorporated community. Bob Buster is your Riverside county supervisor / Kevin Jeffries State of California Assemby man lives right in the hearth of LV. Sphere of Influence along Grand avenue Lakeside is under the City Of Lake Elsinore.....We all know the situation we've within Lakeland Village high crimes and more than I can say here. However we all need to let our leaders know that LV is in need of outside asisstance to create jobs jobs jobs....
Diana July 26, 2011 at 10:48 PM
Thank you George, although I do not live in LV I do however have a business there that has been here since the early 90's. I attended the meeting from a invitation from Brenda from the County of Riverside. I have contacted Bob Buster on many occasions along with Kevin Jefferies and neither of them respond to anything other then Kevin did say that he was the one that got the center "race track passing lane" down Grand Ave, other then that they do not care. Suppose to be a Grand Ave beautification project in the County plans from years ago, which included the widening of Grand with an island in the middle which I have questioned with no response. FYI The City of Lake Elsinore claims that they have nothing to do with this side of the Lake and I have heard that from many Council members.
George Cambero July 27, 2011 at 07:08 AM
OK, Lets start fresh I - will suggest to call for a town hall meeting will be a first to LV. 2nd Work with Barbara to create a committe and come up with ideas as to what U all want in LV. call the school district and ask to use their school facility for the meeting, for Liability purposes you might to want ask the County to schedule the use of the school facility @ LV middle school. then invite Bob Buster as your main speaker... As for the Grand ave beautification The Pac was involved in the planning and stopped because of the Grand av, expansion to 4 lanes by Caltrans however I don't anything happening anytime soon.... in regards to the City of Lake elsinore they could do more their city does have all of the new housing tarcks along Grand ave, they can correct me if im wrong. if thats true than they're just as responsible as the County..
Diana July 27, 2011 at 04:10 PM
Great idea George, I will be there just let me know when and where. Might I suggest that when this event is to take place you make sure that the public is aware with posters, fliers, and media coverage prior to the event so that everyone can attend, also an evening or Saturday date would allow those that are employed to be sure to attend. Together we can make things happen and turn this town around.
MLS July 27, 2011 at 08:51 PM
I am one of the odd ones who absolutely HAS to work those odd swing/graveyard hours and weekends (Pechanga), but if I am unable to attend the meetings I will send my written concerns with a neighbor or relative who will go in my place. I would suggest, like Diana, that this meeting be published and promoted by using this venue (Wildomar/Lake Elsinore Patch), as well as the Valley News (also a free periodical to the community). The point is...get this announcement to the community where they will know about it! I for one, am going to try to get as many people as possible to come! And if you could answer this question please? Who funds this PAC meeting? Do the members themselves have to "pay money" to become a member? or does the County of Riverside pay for it? Does the (above mentioned) committee volunteer its time or do they get paid? One more comment if I may...about Perret Park. As much money and planning as has been devoted to the park, do you realize that it is overrun by drug dealers and buyers? Not a safe park for your children or mine to play in. Just ask anyone on Grand where to buy drugs. Other than the local dispensaries, they will tell you "Perret Park". Even though it is pretty, it is also very secluded, dark, and off the main drag...perfect for illicet activities.
Freedom Luchador February 05, 2012 at 05:23 PM
The reason why lakeland village is suffering is cause we keep electing Repukkkes... Vote Democrat and you will se improvement!


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »