Although residents of Escondido’s country club area are still fearful new housing will forever change the feel of their semi-rural community, there was a glimmer of hope on November 30 when members of the Escondido Country Club & Community Homeowners Organization (ECCHO) met with New Urban West Inc., a possible developer that is committed to working with residents.
“We liked what we heard from them,” said Mike Slater, president of ECCHO. “We wish we were dealing with them instead of Michael Schlesinger and Stuck in the Rough, because there’s total distrust of Schlesinger and Stuck in the Rough.”
Schlesinger is the current owner of the country club property, which he bought with the intention of converting the country club’s golf course into a 430-unit housing project.
A Schlesinger-backed ballot measure, Proposition H, failed in November 2014. Since that time his Stuck in the Rough business is seeking to build 270 single family homes on the course.
In September, Schlesinger paid the San Diego Air Pollution Control District a $100,000 fine for dumping five tons of chicken manure in April 2014, without admitting to any wrongdoing.
New Urban West is the latest developer looking into building at ECC.
“If they’re not the ones that do the development we’re hoping that the other developers come forward and meet with us as well to work with the community,” Slater said.
Escondido country club area resident Rick Elkin, who writes the blog War on Escondido, waronescondido.weebly.com, is angry with the city government for making a deal with Schlesinger.
“[Schlesinger] pretty much intimidated the city into rolling over because they were being threatened with these millions of dollars of lawsuits and long delays and challenges with the property being abandoned and all these things, and so the city capitulated.”
The city settled with Schlesinger and Stuck in the Rough on Sept. 23 after a court had restored the project’s zoning in March.
As a result, Elkin is not optimistic about the future. “Now we’re in a position where we’ve lost all our leverage,” he said, referring to the surprise deal made between Schlesinger and the city of Escondido. “And now we have to deal with a new builder.”
A representative for Michael Schlesinger declined to be interviewed for this article.