Defined as a unified body of individuals such as:
Or, a group bound by
a : a social state or condition
b : joint ownership or participation
c : common character
d : common social activity
As the battle over development rights and plans for the abandoned Escondido Country Club property winds down, and we have the 380 unit The Villages design by New Urban West in place to guide the process of rebuilding, let's look at similar infill projects that have occurred around Southern California.
Oh, that's right, there aren't any!
That means that we are venturing into new territory. There has never been a redevelopment project of this proportion in the history of our county. Please don't misunderstand, there have been plenty of new home developments, many involving hundreds more homes than the 380 proposed under this Special Planning Amendment that the Escondido City Council just approved.
But those new home projects were not built in the backyard of 600 other, long settled homes. None of them invaded an existing community to build another dissimilar community within it.
By doing that, the new community effectively destroys the old one (see above definition of 'community'). Especially when the stated marketing plans of the new homes are to attract young families into what has been for the past five decades a retirement community of senior citizens.
So the conflict has always been about integration; not racial but cultural and generational. The resistance asks, "Do we have to destroy the integrity of the existing community in order to build more homes?"
New home projects in Escondido, like Andalucia (Harmony Grove) and Pradera and Heritage Collection (Rincon Middle School area) are not woven into existing 'communities'. They are, like most new home developments, built on a contiguous parcel. They establish a new community on a large undeveloped plot that may have other homes around it, but the new development does not incorporate older homes winding throughout the newer ones.
They are not imposing a totally different neighborhood context on an already well established older one.
So when I read commentary that those opposed to The Villages, are just stubborn people who want to impose their simplistic and selfish resistance on the greater 'community' I wonder just whose definition of community are they using?
The plans designed by New Urban West will effectively deconstruct the Escondido Country Club community and transform it into a divided, high density urban area, unlike the semi-rural, resort-like community it once was. It will reconfigure the neighborhood demographic, and establish income and age barriers that didn't exist prior to this land use battle. That is a tough pill to swallow if you have spent the better part of your retirement years building a common interest community that will no longer exist.
I would implore the leaders of the pro-Villages people to stop blaming the decaying condition of the community on us, since that has always been a strategic design of the property flipper. And please stop slandering our good intentions. We just wanted to protect something we cherished and wanted to pass on to the next generation of retirees.
Now that your ambitions have prevailed, maybe it would help to extend an olive branch, show a little empathy, and offer to sit down and work on some solutions together. You say you want to 'move forward', but your antagonistic social media comments and newspaper editorials sound like you are all too eager to leave a lot of us behind.
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.
Never bring a knife to a gunfight.
The Escondido Country Club Community of mostly retirees and seniors, who built their lifestyle around the iconic 18 hole golf course, swimming pool, clubhouse, restaurant and bar, were outgunned from the very beginning in the war to repurpose the 110 acres of prime North County real estate.
We were armed with a ton of passion, of motivation and community spirit, but compared to Michael Schlesinger's ruthless team of legal eagles, public relations agents and political mercenaries, we may as well have been armed with nail files.
Even with the huge disparity in weapons, our community effort managed to put up a good fight. All I ever expected to get out of this war was to force the owner to respect the character of the community, to replace the abandoned golf course community identity with something else we could relate to as a 'Club'. To integrate new residences into the resort style neighborhood in a way that preserved the quiet, retirement themed homes, so the next generation of baby boomers would be drawn to the area and seamlessly adopt our lifestyle. I see no reason the whole community needs to change demographics to survive, as the representatives for New Urban West declared.
As the blood dries, people are asking ECCHO leaders if they are going to sue.
In my opinion, the upside is too remote to justify more swings of our nail files. If there is a case to be made that laws were violated, or the environment is endangered, fine. But that is a war for another army.
You might also like:
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....