Beverly Hills Developer Michael Schlesinger of Stuck in the Rough LLC has reached an agreement with the San Diego Air Pollution Control Board to pay $100,000 for dumping an estimated five tons of chicken manure on the Old Escondido Country Club golf course without admitting to any wrongdoing. That’s a big more than a dropping in the bucket.
More than a year ago, in April of 2014 Schlesinger dumped chicken manure on the golf course as part of his dispute with the residents of that property— a dispute that came to a head last November when the residents of Escondido voted down Prop. H; his attempt to change the zoning of the area to allow his generously zoned (430 unit) development to proceed.
Although his plans for development have been somewhat curtailed, they still are alive thanks to a judge who ruled in February that the city cannot legally completely take away Schlesinger’s rights to build on his property. That would violate the U.S. Constitution’s “takings” clause. He’ll get some new houses, although the city doesn’t have to give him the wherewithal to feather his nest as much as he would like.
However, the Schlesinger’s smelly stunt with poultry poop did earn him a bit more than a slap on the beak from the APCD’s Director Robert Kard. And it has created something of a stink all over the U.S. with the AP carrying stories nationwide, no doubt making the developer wish for a news brownout.
Kard and Schlesinger have been going back and forth on the issue for well over a year. The APCD at one point threatened to fine the developer for poisoning the air. The smell did cause some residents distress, including a man who was already ill from cancer treatments. The odor took about a month to dissipate.
While agreeing to pay the fine, Schesinger has still not admitted that he put excrement on the golf course. His lawyer insists that it is “soil enhancer.” According to the Los Angeles Times, which quoted attorney Ronald Richards: “My client vigorously disputes this. We want to be good neighbors and move forward. That is the only reason we agreed to the donation.”
On May 6 of this year Schlesinger submitted a community plan to the City for an upscale neighborhood of 270 single-family homes designed by Rancho Santa Fe-based land planner, engineer and architect Ali Shapouri.
Meanwhile, residents of the ECC area are egging on the city, demanding that it continue to fight to keep the land in open space, despite a court order to the contrary. They are represented by Escondido Country Club & Community Homeowners Organization (ECCHO).