by Margaret Liles
There were around thirty members of the Escondido Country Club homeowners Organization (ECCHO) at tonight’s City Council Meeting. Several were sitting directly behind me. They were not optimistic. Olga Diaz’s name was mentioned as someone they would never vote for, because she had been a turncoat to their cause. After tonight’s announcement by City Attorney Jeff Epp, ECCHO has extended their wrath to “ABED, DIAZ, AND MORASCO THREW US UNDER THE BUS! Only Masson and Gallo stood up for us, and we vote for the politicians that stand with us!” – ECCHO News
Epp basically said:
The Escondido City Council has reached an agreement under which Stuck in the Rough (SITR) will dismiss its litigation pertaining to the former Escondido Country Club property.
Under the agreement, a prior court ruling which invalidated an Open Space Initiative for the property will remain in place and the City will not appeal that ruling. SITR will withdraw its 2015 application for 270 homes, with fees to be either credited or reimbursed. While SITR retains ownership of the property, another developer will act as the lead representative on any future development application for the former Country Club property and to accept proposals for development from the surrounding community. SITR has presently identified three potential developers for the property. The City will process any application in accordance with CEQA, the Planning and Zoning Law, the Subdivision Map Act, and any other applicable laws. Each side will bear their own costs and attorney fees.
A copy of the agreement will be placed online on Thursday, October 8 and
can be found here.
J. Harry Jones has already written a good summation of the agreement. He was given a fact sheet that the public has to wait until tomorrow to receive.
Basically the City has agreed to do what Mayor Sam Abed has been suggesting for months. The City will entertain proposals from another developer, not Schlesinger, for a residential development—not a golf course. It was fun to watch Abed try to appeal to the ECCHO folks. He was with them in the past, was still with them, and would continue to be with them he tried, unsuccessfully, to assure them. His priority was the city of Escondido, which was not separate from the Country Club, and to protect the best interest of the city was to protect the interest to everyone in the city, including the Country Club residents. He had been unable to discuss the settlement before, because he had to follow the law about closed sessions. Now, everything would be public. The city wouldn’t have to deal with Schlesinger, but someone else. They would not accept the 270 home proposal. Nothing would be off the table, and he would like ECCHO to have a seat at the table, now the city could move forward with many options. The Council he affirmed, had kept their promises. Councilman John Masson (whose district includes the Country Club) said it was not the outcome he had wanted. But “something really nice might happen.”
One ECCHO member asked what would happen with the eyesore of the chain link fence around the old golf course. Abed responded that everything takes time, but it would be a public process from then on. By that time, most of the ECCHO members had left. They were not happy.
So I wonder, will they think any better of Olga Diaz who recognized the reality of the no-win situation between the City and Schlesinger, and tried her best to reduce the financial damage to the city? Will they now understand that Abed’s main interest from the start was his campaign for Mayor, and tried to make them feel that he was on their side, while all the time calculating his political situation. No, I think they will continue with their pipe dream of a new golf course, at whatever expense to Escondido it takes. Meanwhile the City will “process any application”. Bet any such application will include over 250 homes, and no golf course.
Margaret Liles is a resident of Escondido. She is the past President of Zero Population Growth, San Diego Chapter, and Past President of the Escondido Chamber of Citizens, and is currently on the Boards of the League of Women Voters North County San Diego, and the Escondido Democratic Club.