You can change many things about the house, but you can't do much about the kind of neighborhood it brings with it. There might be an airport nearby, or a chicken ranch. I have even recommended prospective buyers sleep in their car overnight near the house they are interested in. You don't want to find out too late that the neighbors five dogs bark all night.
My point is, every neighborhood has an identity. Ideally, you look for one that fits your lifestyle. A place you can call home, make new friends, walk your kids and your dog through, a place that feels safe and offers a sense of community. For me and many of my neighbors, that place is the Country Club area of Northwest Escondido.
I moved here in 1984. I have enjoyed every minute of it. Though my home backs up to interstate 15, and though the traffic noise has increased exponentially since 1984, I knew when I bought my house that I was trading a spectacular view for a little traffic noise. I went in with my eyes open.
For many of my neighbors, they wanted to live next to the Escondido Country Club. It offered a quiet, serene landscape and a strong sense of community. Many joined the Club to find new friends, to partake in recreation, and other community events.
There may not be any other neighborhood in the Escondido area that is so closely knit.
Then the Great Recession came along. The fabric of our close-knit neighborhood began to fray. In 2007 American Golf Corporation, who had successfully managed the Club for many years, made a corporate decision to downsize and consolidate. They sold the course to a group of investors, who later admitted they had no prior experience running a golf operation. After a couple of years of destructive, ill advised management decisions, membership deteriorated.
The Great Recession drove home values down dramatically, pushed older members out of the workforce, and put many others under pressure to double or triple their workloads to stay employed. Leisure time was eroded, and the Club suffered dramatic financial loses. The new owners walked away from their loan, creating a huge vacuum.
Real estate speculators feed on these scenarios. That, in and of itself, doesn't make them bad guys. But just like a doctor, there is a way to make a patient understand their diagnosis, and to properly take their medicine. You don't just say, "Sorry, your gonna die!" But that is precisely what the new owner did. And that was the first time he introduced himself to the community.
Then, his bedside manner got worse! Besides letting all of the grass and trees die, he started suing people. Then, he attacked the Escondido City Council and the City Manager, depicting them as greedy and incompetent. Recently, he hired someone to dump truckloads of fresh chicken manure on areas of the golf course just to make life miserable for homeowners he felt were too active in the movement to stop his project.
Our neighborhood, in our view, is under assault. The very heart of the community, the reason most of us moved here, has been declared dead by a LA speculator who wants to turn the abandoned, and now fallow golf course property into a high-density, zero-lot-line, patio-home housing tract.
And one more interesting aspect: our 'doctor' has no experience. He has never built a housing tract in his life!
Escondido residents who don't live in our neighborhood have no idea how harmful this turn of events has been. They have their lives to lead, their personal challenges with job losses, increases in the cost of living, raising their families. The past few years have been tough on all of us. Many of my neighbors have lost their nest egg, as they have been forced to sell their homes at drastically reduced prices due to the uncertainty of the outcome of this battle.
So the people who are most affected by the potential destruction of our neighborhood have banded together to fight off the proposed project, and to get the message out to our fellow Escondido citizens.
We may sound like a bunch of spoiled, rich, retired golfaholics who are complaining because our private playground is being converted to much needed housing.That is what the LA speculator wants you to believe, and with his millions to spend on public relations experts and advertising, he has managed to characterize us as just that.
Please, think about that for just a minute. If that were true, do you really think we would spend a minute of our precious, self serving time fighting a public relations war with a billionaire? If we were busy playing golf and counting our investment income, why would we want to be bothered?
We have no public relations experts, little or no budget, just our own volunteered time to tell our side of the story. We are trying to keep this part of Escondido from succumbing to urban sprawl; to leave a great place to live to our children and their children. What motivates our community is Pride. We love our town, just like you love yours.
Will the ultimate result of this battle end up another golf course, or just a vacant ghostly reminder of days gone by? That remains to be seen, but those of us who live here know one thing for sure: Cramming a massive amount of mobile home sized patio homes onto what was narrow fairways that snaked through clusters of attractive, proudly maintained existing homes will not improve our little corner of Paradise. It will destroy it.
Please join us in our battle to keep Escondido the quaint, serene, semi-rural little piece of paradise it has always been. Help us keep our town the kind of place that drew us here in the first place.