This week we have seen all of the news outlets feature a story on the Escondido Country Club property rights battle.
Most focused their attention on the plight of Paul DeLaurentis who has had to deal with a terminal desease of the lungs while the War on Escondido has been going on in his backyard. The fumes from the childish attempt to intimidate the ECCHO Board members with a load of putrid chicken manure literally chased him out of his home. His testimony was heartbreaking and extremely personal. Good news copy for tabloid TV, but pretty shallow with respect to the bigger issue of the eventual outcome of the battle over the future of the community.
As a response, the LA based real estate speculator, who wants to make a killing redeveloping the golf course, had his spokeperson make lame excuses about how the still moist chicken waste was missused and that the incident was mitigated almost immediately by the man that ordered it to be dumped in the first place.
One thing we know about this guy from LA is he is quick to pivot.
He has wrecked the neighborhood and then suggests his Lakes Specific Plan would end the 'blight' that he caused. He says the 'manure incident' was simply a mistaken effort to fertilize dead grass that he killed.
The news media, as usual, fails to ask pertinent questions so the average news watcher would think this is all just a petty conflict between a few disgruntled golf course frontage property owners and a genuine, well intentioned neighborhood builder who will save the community from the unfortunate demise of an outdated and untenable golf course. A golf course that had, the new owner says, become a sad and obsolete symbol of an another era.
Let's not forget the media also misses the angle that the golf course's previous owner, (also a developer who may well have had similar redevelopment plans) had systematically run the operation into the ground.
As for the news media... has as anyone ever asked owner Michael Schlesinger about his prior successes as a residential community builder?
Can he point to another example of a golf course redevlopment in the middle of a settled community anywhere in California? What makes him an expert on community renewal? What does he know about running golf courses and the financial viability of a country club operation? What does he know about the history and evolution of the City of Escondido? Did he involve anyone from the community in formulating his plans?
Maybe I missed something, but I don't remember hearing ANY of these questions asked of the man who wants to come into our town and completely remake it.
It seems only logical for a local news organization, who is supposed to be the watchdog of major economic events that affect huge numbers of citizens in a community, to look into the bigger picture of the who, what, where and when of the players involved.
The LA based real estate speculator who has managed to get his 'Specific Plan' legislation on the November ballot that would essentially give him carte blanche to reap an eight-figure payday from his highly speculative and strategic purchase of the mismanaged Escondido Country Club property in 2011. His initiative would overrule the legislation that by unanimous vote was passed by the Escondido City Council that declared the golf course property to be protected open space, based on their interpretation of the original intent of the City permits for the construction of the course back in 1963.
Maybe sometime before the election, some one in the media will actually ask pertinent questions about this man, why he thinks the people of Escondido should trust him with such a high impact facelift of the iconic Northwest Corner of Escondido.
After all, if you were about to have you face rearranged, wouldn't you want to check out the credentials of your surgeon?