Vacation home rental vandalized, neighbors fed up

A vacation rental in Solano County is blowing up on social media after guests were hit with threatening vandalism during their stay.

It happened on Oct. 9, in the Green Valley Highlands area of unincorporated Fairfield.

"This is violence. It's abhorrent and we would never want to see anything like this in our neighborhood," said Cliff Neal, who lives in the cul-de-sac where the incident happened.

One of Neal 's home security cameras captured images of the vandal, who appears to be a slender young man in a hoodie.

With no vehicle seen, he darts down the property's driveway about 1:15 a.m. and emerges 16 minutes later.

An extended family on vacation woke to find tires slashed on their rental van.

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The garage was covered with spray-paint messages.

"This is your final warning. The tribe has spoken. Leave this place or else!" were the words scrawled across one door.

On the other: "You have no idea who lives on this mountain. Do not underestimate our people." 

Neal and other neighbors, although locked in a feud with the homeowner, expressed shock and denounced the threats.

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He and others tried to console those in the 11-member group, who describe the incident as a "scary encounter" on social media.

"They were very upset, and rightfully so, when it became a nightmare vacation," said Neal, "and VRBO and the owners operating this place illegally set them up and they should be held accountable - both of them."

Monday evening, different vehicles were parked in the driveway.

Neighbors said they were new guests, arriving unaware of the rental's disputed status or the recent intrusion.

Renting for $1,200 a night, travelers get seven bedrooms and proximity to wine country.

But six months ago, Solano County Supervisors denied a permit, and in July an abatement order was issued.

Even so, visitors keep coming.  

"This isn't the type of neighborhood for that," said neighbor Bill Fell, a 30-year resident.

"Most of the people who live here are over 70 years old and it's a nice quiet neighborhood, always has been."

Frustrated neighbors note Solano County has only one code-enforcement officer.

"We've got to get the county to enforce the rules they've set or there are no rules," said Neal.

"If you don't enforce them, they don't really exist and that's what these owners just keep doing it."

Neighboring Napa County has strict rules governing short-term rentals, but Solano has not caught up.

Critics of the rental are concerned about safety.

"We've been evacuated twice in the last four years, this is a high fire area," said Fell, :and the people who come here and rent have no idea of that at all."

Sheriff's deputies have made repeated visits.

"Five times since April after 10 p.m. because of loud music and the noise," Fell said. 

Now the department is investigating the vandalism, in which the suspect tried to hide by spray-painting some -but not all - of the security cameras he spotted.

Not knowing his identity or the credibility of the threats, neighbors hope the sheriff remains vigilant.

"We actually asked the Sheriff's department to please come by and inform the next renters," said Neal. "Because we don't know if there's a nut case walking around and they could unknowingly walk into another risk situation."

After the Texas tourist posted her story on a Facebook travel page, VRBO eventually refunded the group's fees, although they never relocated them.

She advises travelers to independently research addresses before booking reservations, to make sure the history is clean.

Neighbors say the homeowner bought the house two years ago, and claimed it would be his forever home.

Instead he renovated it as a vacation rental, and continues to live in Arizona.