Did anyone really believe that the Stoneridge Country Club was exempt from the rapacious eye of Michael Schlesinger? Even though he was told by the Poway planning department early in 2013
'don't even think about building homes there!'
Schlesinger is a real estate developer, not a golf course operator. He makes his living acquiring distressed properties, adding value, and repositioning or reselling them. So when he cornered three golf course properties in 2012 he had no aspirations to save any of them.
He quickly unloaded St. Mark (then known as Lake San Marcos Country Club), because there was zero chance of converting it into a housing development. He then moved quickly to convert Escondido Country Club, and we all know how that has morphed into a community disaster, but potentially a financial bonanza for him. But he was thwarted by the City of Poway who strongly denied him any wiggle room, so his strategy has been to nurse the membership along, cover his costs as best as possible, and wait.
But that was then, and four years later, he's back before the City of Poway.
After making some half-hearted showcase efforts to rebuild the membership and infrastructure at Stoneridge, he is now telling Poway officials "this membership course and it's clubhouse amenities are no longer viable operations…" He is robo-polling the locals to see what their level of resistance would be to 'redeveloping' the property.
Using nearly the same script of how golf in San Diego is a threatened industry, Mr. Schlesinger is hoping to once again turn a sow ear into a silk purse…
Having witnessed our battle, Stoneridge homeowners are skeptical and concerned. They should be, because he hasn't used his most powerful weapon yet, and that is to simply shut down the course and 'let it rot' until the pain overwhelms the voters and they capitulate to his strong arm tactics.
Maybe, with a little luck, a golf course operator will form an alliance with the City and the homeowners and buy him out. Unfortunately, he has the upper hand and so the price will be high. But look how much sweat equity the wreckage of the Escondido Country Club has cost our community, and we are still nowhere near the end of that unnatural disaster.