At the ECCHO Community Meeting last Tuesday night, the emphasis was on our determination to stop New Urban West's "The Villages" plan from being approved by the Planning Commission and rubber stamped by the City Council. It has to have their approval because it is asking for an amendment to the General Plan, which currently shows the old golf course property zoned as R1-7 ( or seven residential units per one acre).
The latest New Urban West plan, 'The Villages' wants to double that density restriction, ostensibly to provide more 'open space' and to make the project cost effective. But that is just a smoke screen for increasing the owner's Golden Circle Payday.Builders are hamstrung by what they pay for the raw land.
This point is important because the Great Unknown is what will NUW be paying per lot? That is the defining element that dictates what it will take to make the project pencil out. Currently, NUW is testing the waters because they do not have an agreement to purchase the land, unless or until, they can get some sort of plan approved and then come to terms with Schlesinger on the price.
We can only guess what the Beverly Hills Flipper wants for his Golden Circle investment opportunity. When NUW says it will take 392 units to make it work, it tips Schlesingers hand: he wants about $50-80K per lot!
That would 'pencil out ' to nearly $30M return on his $2.3M investment.
Good, if you can get it!
But bad for us, because it forces the builder to squeeze too many homes onto too small of space. It also requires the houses to have zero lot lines, meaning 5 foot setbacks along the sides and 20' set backs on the front or back, depending on which end the garage faces, which will be right on the street.
This whole plan is inconsistent with the existing neighborhood, and it attracts the wrong demographic for our retirement oriented community.
It would divide the community up into three 'Villages' with walls and fences protecting the 'Open Spaces' from public access. The majority of what's left will be managed by HOA's which will not allow access for anyone that doesn't live in the specific community associated dwellings.
ECCHO speakers, President Mike Slater and Community Coordinator Pat Hunter conveyed these issues to a restless and mostly impatient audience. They have watched their home equity evaporate for the past four years and are incensed that so little progress has been made.
So we have to remind ourselves that all of the blight, the delays,and the uncertainty has been purposely hoisted on us as a tool to break down our resistance to the outright plundering of our treasure by the neighbor hood hijacker.
When I spoke to the audience of nearly 300, I wanted to make two points:
First, we all know there is a massive, Schlesinger funded Public Relations Campaign
designed to demoralize us. The website 'Vision For Escondido Country Club' is fake news. It should be named, 'Visions of Dollar Signs at Escondido Country Club!' It is a professionally managed media campaign designed to move the needle on public acceptance of 392 homes. Plain and simple.
But even with all of the money being spent, Stuck-in-the-Rough is not winning the PR battle!
LET ME TELL YOU HOW I KNOW THIS...
I remodel kitchens for a living. The company I represent is located here in Escondido. I go out everyday and give kitchen remodeling estimates to people all over San Diego County, north, south, east and west.
When I mention our business is in Escondido, the subject of the Country Club comes up quite often. When it does, people say:
"That situation is just awful!"
"I feel terrible for the people who live there!"
"I have driven by and I can't believe what has happened there!"
Though they may know few of the details, their perception is that
A GREAT INJUSTICE HAS OCCURRED. They have seen the dead fairways, the ugly fencing, and the boarded up clubhouse on TV.
AND THEY REMEMBER THE DISGUSTING CHICKEN MANURE STUNT!
Second, when you see the pro-builder media hype just remember that we are not alone.
Resistance to legal bullying by developers is happening all over San Diego, and all around our country.
In land use conflicts in Del Mar, in Carlsbad, in Santee, in Valley Center and San Marcos, aggressive developers have encountered strong resistance. In those cases, and in golf course repurposing battles all over the country, citizens resistance groups are prevailing!
I believe if we voted on Proposition H tommorrow, we would win again by a similar margin! And I think our City Council knows that!
When people question why we are resisting plans to build high density housing where the golf course was, I explain it this way…
As a kitchen remodeler, I coach people about how to achieve a good result. I tell them that a new kitchen, should look and feel like it was always there. It needs to reflect and enhance the architectural heritage of the home and the community. You don't want the new kitchen to look so different, or so contemporary, that it makes the rest of the house look outdated.
The same principles should apply to remodeling an entire neighborhood..
Our entirely self-funded citizens group just wants a good remodel, based on what's best for the future of the community.
- We have righteous motives! The other side is money motivated.
- We have the majority of the Council on our side.
- We want the new community to be as appealing as the old one!
- We are not selfish! We are working for the next generation.
- We are not NIMBYs! Our goals are to enhance our backyard, not isolate it.
WE ARE FAMILY!
This community is the house we built!
All we want is to have some say about how our house is going to be remodeled!
So stay strong, stay focused and stick together! Keep a positive attitude!
Together, we can make our community great again!