Council approves country club plan
Steve Puderski, November 16, 2017
After nearly five hours of presentations, resident
feedback, discussion amongst the City Council and an overflowing
audience, New Urban West, Inc.s proposal for the Escondido
Country Club was approved Nov. 15.
a close tally, the council voted 3-2 to move forward with
the plan calling for 380 homes, 48.7 acres of open space including
a massive green belt, a new clubhouse and four miles of trails.
Each home will also be 100 percent powered by solar energy.
are extremely grateful to the City Council for their vote
as well as to the hundreds of residents who shared our commitment
to restoring this community to the healthy and vibrant place
it once was, said Jonathan Frankel, project manager
for New Urban West. We now look forward to continuing
our work with the community, including the members of ECCHO
(Escondido Country Club Homeowners), as we revitalize this
Sam Abed and Councilman John Masson, who represents District
2 where the club is located, both voted against the project.
Masson, a civil engineer, said the project doesnt fit
the needs of the community and railed against the architecture
style and unmitigated traffic plans, among other issues.
also chided the project for its massive scale and hammered
about how no Escondido City Council had ever before voted
for a development project with an unmitigated traffic plan.
do not do this to a very well-established community,
Abed said. You dont bring together a community
where the developer gets everything and the residents get
constant theme throughout the evening was anger and disgust
from residents and the council toward the property owner,
Michael Schlesinger. He is infamous for dumping tons of chicken
manure and letting the property go to waste after a bitter
dispute with the city and residents along the golf course.
argued the city should not settle or be forced, blackmailed
even into this project with rumors and speculation a
much larger project of 600 to 800 homes could replace New
Urban Wests plan.
said the alternative plan of 158 was more in line with the
area and style of lot sizes currently on site.
think we can all go away winners at 158, he said. We
got one shot to get this right. I think we need to take the
time and energy to get it right.
Mike Morasco and Ed Gallo, along with Councilwoman Olga Diaz,
said the project is in line with city standards and would
be a benefit for those residents. All three cited the needs
for additional housing, amenities and traffic and road improvements.
Diaz said if the project wasnt approved, there is no
guarantee a smaller plan would be proposed, noting road improvements
and the amenities would most likely be scrapped.
is the best proposal we are going to have, Morasco said.
have to base the project on merit, Gallo added. There
is a critical need for housing.
and neighbors, meanwhile, discussed how they have been pitted
against one another. Two groups formed ECCHO and Renew
Our Country Club (ROCC) and nearly 70 residents spoke
during the meeting.
from ROCC detailed how the project will revitalize the neighborhood,
improve traffic and safety, remove blight and address the
concerns rested on scale, a lack of traffic improvements,
density, safety, pollution and flooding.
attorney Everett DeLano said his clients were disappointed
in the outcome. He noted the issue isnt over and a lawsuit
may be filed in the future. He said there are significant
discrepancies with the project and the General Plan.
think Councilman Masson had that exactly right. He hit the
nail on the head, DeLano said. It was an interesting
vote. You had Councilwoman Diaz who said she is sympathetic
to the community. Its disappointing. There is a compromise
years ago, the city lost a lawsuit brought against Schlesinger
when it declared the golf course open space. The settlement
allowed for the city to choose a new developer, which included
a clause the new developer would buy the property from Schlesinger
upon city approval of a new project.
have great respect for ECCHO and all theyve endured
over the years in their battle with the property owner. With
him now out of the picture forever, its time for the
community to heal and move forward together, Frankel