The idea is to demonstrate that another approach will provide the amenities and quality of life the community wants and needs without up-zoning the property to a much higher density allowance. The ECCHO plan fits within the current Escondido General Plan density conditions (R1-7) and delivers lots of open space, walking and biking trails, community services and most importantly, it doesn't require a major facelift of the existing terrain and character of the neighborhood.
Of course the 158 unit plan would ultimately have to be approved by the city council, and the property owner would have to dramatically reduce the price he is currently asking (which we can only speculate is upwards of $150K per 3200 square foot lot), but we can hope.
The owner is trying to hit the Mega Jackpot by flipping land he paid a mere $2.3M for back in 2012. Imagine, paying just $2.3M for 110 acres of relatively flat land in favorable North San Diego County, adjacent to two major freeways and just 20 minutes from downtown San Diego!
That deal may go down as the Great Escondido Terrain Robbery of 2012! Right now, in 2017, land is king in beautiful North County!
The owner has plenty of margin to negotiate, but will he? If he were to settle for 158 lots at just under $100K per lot, in an area that is already fully developed, that is still a massive ROI, because he doesn't have to fund fire stations, schools and shopping centers typically required for brand new home developments in undeveloped areas. The golf course property is an infill parcel. It is in the middle of an otherwise built out, settled community. It is a builders dream!
But with a price tag like $80M (or possibly even more) on the table, builders like New Urban West know they must upsize the zoning in order to make the project pencil out. Why else would anyone want to put high-density, Monopoly-Board sized houses in an area zoned for 7000 square foot residential homes? The vastly inflated asking price set by the owner explains the 392 unit plan currently before the Escondido Planning Commission.
If the City Council rejects 'The Villages Plan', the owner will have to reevaluate his asking price. That is why ECHHO has developed an alternative plan: Just to highlight what the community has been asking for, and how 158 units more realistically fits the existing character of our settled community.
Look across town at the three projects near Rincon Middle School (by Shea, Lennar and K&B Homes). They all conform to the Escondido General Plan density conditions. They are not infill projects, but they seam to fit and enhance the area. They did not require General Plan amendments and massive community legal battles to be approved.
The Escondido Country Club Conceptual Master Plan for 158 units that has been submitted to the Escondido Planning Commission has many interesting features. I think three things are striking:
- One, the number of existing trees that will be saved is admirable. Plus, many new fall-color trees, flowering and large shade trees that have been designed into the plan are just what the doctor ordered! These simple yet distinct environmental elements are what make our community unique, peaceful and elegant.
- Two, the diversity and integration of 8' wide walking trails and public biking trails that tie the neighborhood together and promote activity throughout the community. This would effectively replace the golf element without the overall cost of landscape maintenance.
- And finally, the understated integration of the housing element with the existing homes, landscape contours and view corridors. This plan effectively modernizes the existing neighborhood without making the older neighborhoods obsolete, while protecting the privacy of the current homeowners.
NUW has submitted a plan to make our community a 'New Urban' neighborhood. The dramatic 200% increase in density, the reworking of the terrain ( their plan calls for literally thousands of truck loads of new dirt being brought in to mitigate flood plains and change existing elevations), and the vertical architectural styling required to accommodate two-story, family oriented housing on mobile home-sized lots, is inconsistent with the single story, ranch-style homes that have been here since the sixties and seventies.
The ECCHO plan, by providing wide areas of open space and protecting the privacy of those who live adjacent to the old golf course with an abundance of native vegetation, stream beds and water features, honors and continues the semi-rural feel of our community,
I would venture to say that if this alternative plan had been submitted by the owner in 2015, we would be in the beginning stages of production right now!
Please visit the ECCHO website (www.escondidohomeowners.org) to sign the petition that demands the City Council reject 'The Villages" plan for 392 homes! We need your voice to be heard and counted!