Escondido housing development plan to take year to complete

ESCONDIDO — Plans for the embattled Escondido Country Club are moving forward, as developer New Urban West announced an update Tuesday.

The project, which has been a sore spot for the city and residents for years, is prepared to begin environmental reviews, which New Urban West said would take about one year to complete.

The plan calls for 392 residences, a 46-acre open space system, including a 32-acre greenbelt with four miles of trails, six parks, including two dog parks, three residential villages, a new clubhouse with a pool, gym and tennis court and a restaurant.

“After gathering input from nearly a thousand residents over the past nine months, New Urban West has created a proposal that will revitalize the Escondido Country Club area, preserving over 40 percent of the property as permanent open space,” the company said in a statement. “The plan achieves a 70 percent increase in open space as compared to previous plans and will be 35 percent less dense than what is allowed by the current General Plan.”

New development and redevelopment of the land has been a contentious issue for many residents. However, New Urban West said its outreach has generated ideas and the current plans to address and meet those concerns.

Last year, the city settled with the previous developer, Michael Schlesinger of Stuck in the Rough, after a court ruling found the city violated an open space initiative. All told, the legal action, settlement and staff time cost the city at least $500,000, according to councilwoman Olga Diaz, who opposed the city’s action.

The Escondido Country Club Homeowners (ECCHO), lobbied the City Council to declare the course as open space.

ECCHO, meanwhile, is also vowing to continue the fight to maintain the site’s integrity.

“ECCHO has not seen New Urban West’s updated plan but have heard that they are proposing 392 dwelling units,” ECCHO President Mike Slater said. “ECCHO will fight against the proposed 392 dwelling units that New Urban West wants to build. ECCHO will work with our District No. 2 Councilman John Masson for a development that is compatible with the existing community not a massive housing project. ECCHO defeated proposition “H” for 420 homes in November 2014 and we will work to defeat this proposed massive housing project.”

Nevertheless, New Urban West’s most recent update said the company continues to meet with residents to discuss further details. New Urban West also created numerous advisory committees for residents and the first meeting takes place this month.

As for feedback, the development company said homes would range from 1,800-square feet to 2,700-square feet. Single-family residences will be two stories, while maintenance costs for the greenbelt will not be shouldered by existing residents.

“This is really the community’s plan,” New Urban West’s statement read. “We spent a great deal of time this year listening to residents who shared their ideas with us and their longing to turn the page and move forward.  We believe we have delivered on our promise to create a financially viable plan that preserves open space, expands recreational opportunities and enhances property values.

“We look forward to continuing our work with the growing number of residents who support the revitalization of their neighborhood.”

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