Escondido, CA

Stop the Madness

~ Guest Opinion

This just has to stop.

The residents and supporters of the Escondido Country Club Home Owner’s group (ECCHO) is threatening to file yet another lawsuit in their quixotic attempt to override the approval given to developer New Urban West by the City of Escondido to build 380 homes on the defunct golf course property. If they follow through on their threats, they will succeed only in ensuring that their neighbors who support this project, and the city as a whole, will suffer along with them as more months and years go by with nothing happening on the property.

You would think that, by now, they would have learned. When property owner Michael Schlesinger acquired … and subsequently closed … the golf course that was in bankruptcy, he determined that the zoning on the property would allow the construction of potentially as many as 600 homes. He approached the city with what seemed to be a reasonable proposal that he build 270. The outrage that followed from ECCHO, and their insistence that nothing be built on the site, prompted the City Council (in an election year) to make the very injudicious decision to declare the subject property “open space” in contravention to the city’s General Plan designation.

That decision prompted what any first-year law student or (practicing Realtor) would tell you would happen: namely, a lawsuit by the property owner seeking relief from a regulatory taking. And, after the city ended up stepping in and essentially bailed out the ECCHO folks by taking on the defense of their position, Escondido taxpayers eventually ended up footing a legal bill and cost of settlement well in excess of $500,000, when the judge hearing the case ruled in the property owner’s favor. Nice.

What did ECCHO get out of the settlement, you may ask? Well, they got a developer with a proven track record and plenty of goodwill in the city to take on the task of coming up with a plan that would hopefully result in a compromise that all could live with. Unfortunately, “compromise” would appear to be a word that in the minds of some ECCHO people means “my way, or the highway.” The controversy that has ensued now has pitted neighbor against neighbor, eroded longtime friendships, and unless this stops, threatens to continue the decline of property values relative to the overall economy for everyone who lives in that community … whether they are for the approved development, or not.

Filing a lawsuit is almost certain to bring a halt to New Urban West’s plans to purchase the property and, will very likely result in the next developer willing to take this on proposing … and getting … even higher densities. ECCHO recalcitrance has already succeeded in raising proposed densities from 270 homes to 380. Apparently, they will only be satisfied when they lose another round and the site is home to even more homes. What a brilliant strategy.

Stop the madness.

* * *

Kirk Effinger is a Realtor and Escondido resident. He was an opinion columnist for the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune for several years. He can be reached at:

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

4 responses to “Stop the Madness”

  1. Jerry Kaufman says:

    Excellent job of explaining what has taken place at Escondido Country Club.
    The three members of the City Council got it right and voted to approve the project that will allow many to see their property values increase by at least $100,000.
    Our son-in-law had to accept an offer on his house that was at least $150,000 less than other homes with his square footage.
    Great article Kirk.

  2. Richard komac says:

    Mike Slater and his cohorts have already cost us dearly, both financially and emotionally. I hope he doesn’t continue his insane ways

  3. Carolyn Brenner says:

    ECCHO: Please consider the revitalization of OUR NEIGHBORHOOD….we’ve ALL lost home value, we ALL look at a burned out building when we drive in to what was a beautiful entrance to an Escondido jewel…. and don’t think it can’t be worse….we understand that isn’t what you want; me either. We moved into our home BECAUSE of the location and GOLF COURSE…..WE are disappointed as well, but the writing’s on the wall. Even Mike Slater said a delay won’t change the fact that the land WILL BE DEVELOPED eventually. Let’s move forward with New Urban West. …a reasonable fix for a dilapidated area.

  4. KarenM says:

    the cost to homes has been tremendous. I mentioned this on the ECCHO group, and one guy says his house is worth 15k more than when he bought it in 2008 – based of course upon Redfin or Zillow specs… which are way off..

    But, let’s put a reality check on this, let’s say he was right, and that he would gain 15K in profit, on his house.. well that’s a crying SHAME!!! especially for a San Diego Market… That would only be a price increase based upon Inflation, not on Market value.

    In San Marcos, Literally across the street, homes with similar comps – age of house, size, and square footage are seeing tens of thousands to even 100k more increases than this neighborhood. Why? because of the uncertainty. The Chaos. The ravaging of the neighborhood. Let’s face it.. there isn’t any appeal to bring anyone here.,,

    We have seen homes in Emerald Hills baring similar comps literally sell for over 100k more than our neighborhood. these are homes that have no golf course, no special views.. just regular homes… but of course they do have a wonderful community association … maybe that is their draw and appeal?

    Many say they don’t like the way the houses are going to look.. Well, okay, then please feel free not to buy one. but, the fact is, today’s generation Are wanting those type of homes.. they like the feel, the lack of maintenance. The ability to be close to neighbors…

    The fact is, that ECCHO members keep forgetting is Your street will not change. Your house will not change… so why are they fighting us?

    They argue about the morning traffic. the fact is, Most of the ones complaining are retired and not partaking in the morning traffic. One woman who complained was home all day counting cars..

    Let’s be candid here.. brutally candid. The things that many are complaining about.. the Fees for the HOA, which won’t impact them.. The taxes due to home prices going up. won’t impact them. The golf course being gone.. well, that won’t impact them and hasn’t for about 5 years or more… so why are they complaining so much? What is their true fear? that they hold onto something that doesn’t exist anymore, at the loss of the value of their home and property?

    Hopefully they can find an answer and it won’t be at the expense of their own homes

    PS – Most of the people that support ECCHO are retired. On a limited income. It’s disingenuous of ECCHO to continually take advantage of these individuals’ vulnerability, angst, and depression by continually evoking false promises, misinformation, and false hope, so that they can promote their push in barring NUW from Developing. It makes one question the motivations continually.. Why? why? Why?

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