How can Escondido City Councilmember Olga Diaz reconcile her seemingly contradictory positions on new residential developments in Escondido? She has been the nemesis of the Escondido Country Club community that is fighting Beverly Hills property speculator Michael Schlesinger's attempt to place nearly 400 new homes on the abandoned fairways of the former golf course. In August 2013, she supported keeping the land 'Open Space' by voting with the entire council to unanimously adopt the Citizens Open Space Initiative that designated the golf land as permanent open space.
In August 2015 when a judge vacated the CPRI initiative as an "unconstitutional" taking of the zoning allowance, she switched her position and has consistently supported the owners proposals to redevelop the grounds. She was one of the three council members, none of whom represent the community, to vote for approval of "The Villages" project last November.
She recently reiterated her opposition to Concordia Development's proposal called "Safari Highlands", saying the density would be 'inappropriate.' Concordia would build 550 luxury residences on 400 acres of a near 1000 acre property.The land would have to be annexed to Escondido, and much new infrastructure would be required of the builder.
Yet she thinks inserting 400 new homes into a long settled, mostly retirement oriented neighborhood of the Escondido Country Club community, would be 'appropriate'. Go figure...
The planned new communities proposed by New Urban West at the now dead or dying green belt, would dramatically increase pressure on the existing community service providers, fire, police, schools and water supplies. It would subject the community to years of dust and noise disturbance from construction, and destroy the view corridors purposely designed into the golf course layout and housing configurations. It would rob the existing golf course homes of millions in equity, effectively transferring it to the pockets of the new neighbor.
And then there is the traffic issue...
The Safari Highlands project, on the other hand is just east of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The builder claims it would fill a need for new semi-rural family homes. It would have to provide improved streets and bring new services to an otherwise undeveloped area. It would also put new demands on roads that were built decades ago for mostly agricultural needs. I do not suggest whether it is, or is not, appropriate for the area. But the difference between the two projects are enormous.
The New Urban West 400 unit project is imposing a whole new lifestyle, a different demographic and architectural style, on a community that was one of the most desirable places to live in the area. It is proposing to do a facelift on a patient that doesn't need one.
If you see Olga, challenge her reasoning. She is against new homes in undeveloped areas, but good with the idea of wrecking existing communities with new high-density tract homes at the expense of the current residents.
Whose side is she on?
She will probably say we need to move on, to modernize the area and bring it into the 21st century. I wonder, would she make the same rationalization if the project involved putting a new freeway through an established immigrant community?