Escondido, CA

Does Schlesinger deserve a yes vote?


I don’t often reference other publications, but I have to agree with the U-T editorial of last week (“Poway Measure A vote a referendum on obnoxiousness”) that criticized developer Michael Schlesinger’s rude behavior over the years. Although it was in reference to the StoneRidge development he wants to build in Poway, where he has, true to form, resorted to trying to persuade the voters to approve of a golf-course development.

I’m not going to comment on that proposed development, except to note that the U-T editorial board criticized Schlesinger for his general boorishness in dealing with the public and referenced his dealings with the city of Escondido and residents of the Escondido Country Club area. The city council will be voting next Wednesday on Schlesinger’s proposal through New Urban West Inc.

Schlesinger, who bought the Escondido Country Club property at fire sale prices at an auction and then has insisted for four years that he has a right to make millions of dollars in profits off the sale, really qualifies as one of the most annoying developers in recent memory.

Not that there is anything wrong with being a good capitalist and trying to persuade the city to allow as large a development as possible. That’s business.

But really, Schlesinger has really taken the cake in his dealings with the residents of the Country Club area.

Those residents certainly brought some of that rude behavior on themselves when they at first insisted that they would only accept a functioning golf course from Schlesinger, whether it made a profit or not. They have also exhibited their own version of rude behavior, although when rude is put up against rude, the developer clearly is the winner.

But as both sides upped the ante Schlesinger three years ago threw all decency to the winds—quite literally—by dumping a truckload of chicken manure on the golf course.  He later claimed—and virtually no one believed—that it was accidental. He dodged the punishment that he richly deserved for that tactic with a mere $100,000 fine. He then failed miserably to persuade the voters to support his 430-unit development proposal.

That he is currently represented by the highly reputable, top quality developer New Urban West Inc.—which has proposed a development of 380 units, only 50 fewer than what Schlesinger proposed when he tried to shove Prop. H down the throats of the voters in 2013 only complicates the issue.  NUWI no doubt drew up the development plan independent of Schlesinger’s input—as his agreement with the city stipulates—but it seems likely that Schlesinger told NUWI how much he is willing to settle for, and left them to meet those goals.

It seems to me the city council should turn down the 380-unit proposal, and force Schlesinger to accept something a bit more modest. He will still make millions of dollars. But the city is not required to fill his pockets to the extent he feels entitled.

Does Michael Schlesinger deserve a yes vote from the city council next Wednesday?  Karma would strongly suggest no.

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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