Just before the election that defeated Michael Schlesinger's Proposition H initiative to create a Special Planning Area to build up to 430 homes on the old Escondido Country Club golf course property, he said to me, "If I had built a buffer zone into my design, I probably would have been successful." He knew he was going to lose.
I think he was going to lose anyway. I think the Escondido community will not willingly accept hundreds of single family homes in any configuration. Especially zero lot line, two story boxes that in no way reflect the semi-rural, resort-like ambience that has been created over the past fifty years.
Remember the debates we had with Schlesinger, where we consistently maintained that our community wanted an emphasis on open space? In the latest plan from New Urban West, the buffer zone occupies roughly 30 acres. In Schlesinger's Prop H plan, he claimed open space occupied 27 acres.
In discussions with ECCHO and local homeowners, which I give much credit to NUW for holding, a common request was for creative use of the property that would not be houses. Things like gardens, lakes, dog parks, outdoor recreational fields, vineyards, agricultural reserves or boutique health spas.
I have always thought a vital solution is to allow for senior extended care facilities that occupy a relatively small footprint (which could also provide a large measure of greenbelt) and would be occupied by people who do little or no driving. The market for this service is underserved. In some cases, there are two year waiting lists. The aging boomer demographic is growing exponentially, and the demand far exceeds the supply. This is a creative way to bring in residents who would have little impact on traffic, water and other resources.
I don't see any of these ideas in the latest NUW proposal.
Instead, NUW comes back with a very similar plan to Schlesinger's. Better maybe, but not by much. Where is the open space? Where is the diversity and the creativity? I like the architecture, but beyond that, if I had to give up community pools and tennis courts for more tree stands, lakes, and indigenous open space, I personally would prefer that.
This tells me that NUW is contemplating paying way too much for a piece of property that was acquired by Schlesinger for under $5M. That means, after subtracting out the 30 acres of open space, and adding in a reasonable margin for STIR, that NUW is paying roughly $100K per lot! The math to make the property yield a profit, as presented to our community, just doesn't add up.
Unless of course, you figure Schlesinger is walking away with a seven figure profit.
The compressed overall density, established when the golf course received a Special Use Permit so it could be placed in the middle of a residential area, has already been filled. Any new homes exceeds what was originally established as the maximum. Now that the Mayor lifted residential zoning restrictions by abandoning any appeal of Judge Maas' unbelievably unprecedented zoning gift to Schlesinger, our only recourse is to lobby for looser density and more open space.
That is precisely what the community should continue to do.
What Happened to Our Community?
The story of how a quiet corner of paradise has devolved into
To review the timelines of this ongoing saga, just <click> on any Month below....
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