Yesterday's Escondido Country Club clubhouse fire was all over the local news, but for all the wrong reasons.
The larger backstory is that an unnatural catastrophe occurred at the Escondido Country Club in 2012 when it was purchased by a Beverly Hills property flipper.
It may as well have burned to the ground the day he put up the rent-a-fence. The effect on the neighborhood was no different than if the entire facility had been torched by napalm.
Yesterday's fire was reignited embers from a wildfire that started in 2012.
The truth is, that is when the owner turned the golf course into a tinder box of dead trees and weeds, just waiting to explode, as a strategic move to pressure the local residents to accede to his development plans.
Last night's news stories focused on the irony of the timing, just days after the City Council approved a plan to construct 380 new homes in the middle of the settled community. They wondered if the fire had been deliberately set, as though it would somehow make any difference to the future of the community. They never contemplated how fortunate we all were that the Santa Ana winds just happened to be still that early morning, or the whole community would have been threatened, again...
Instead, they revisited the legal history and the recent approval of a high density housing tract. But they failed to explore the devastation that the community has already suffered for the past five years. The loss of property value and community character, since the fairways and recreational facilities were purposely left to die.
They missed the larger story about how the evolution of the property value could go from near nothing, in 2011, to somewhere north of $100M in just five years.
They were looking at the campfire, and missed the forest fire.
Since the property was acquired through foreclosure in 2012, the mainstream media viewed the conflict as a property rights issue. They presented the situation as 'old vs new' and an economic issue brought about by the decline in interest in golf by the digital generation. They completely missed the damages that the property speculator caused to the peace and tranquility of the greater community, and how government malfeasance along with a critical shortage of new home construction, could cause such a perfect 'firestorm.'
So yesterday's fire revealed another truth: The Escondido Fire Department and the news media got to the scene about five years too late.