ECCHO representatives speak before the Escondido City Council on behalf of the hundreds of members who attended the Wednesday night meeting to support an impartial study on the proposed country club development. Photo by Rachel Stine
ECCHO representatives speak before the Escondido City Council on behalf of the hundreds of members who attended the Wednesday night meeting to support an impartial study on the proposed country club development. Photo by Rachel Stine
Featured Rancho Santa Fe

Country Club development to be placed on ballot

ESCONDIDO — When the Escondido City Council unanimously approved an initiative to keep the Escondido Country Club and Golf Course as open space and a golf course in August, they thought the matter was closed.

But a new petition has forced city council to put the country club owner’s proposal to build over 400 homes and a community center on the property to the voters on the November ballot.

Hundreds of residents attended Wednesday night’s city council meetings to show their opposition to the development and support of the original open space and golf course initiative.

Developer Michael Schlesinger’s company, Stuck in the Rough, LLC, bought the country club in 2012. The country club was closed on April 1, 2013, and shortly after Schlesinger announced his plan to replace the club and golf course with homes.

Residents of the nearby country club rallied together as the Escondido County Club Homeowners Organization to oppose the development and petitioned the city to keep the land as a golf course and open space. That led to city council approving their petition initiative in August.

But Schlesinger fought back with a petition of his own, with the initiative to build 430 homes and a community center complete with a pool and tennis courts. The petition garnered over 11,000 signatures, almost 9,000 of which were verified by the San Diego County Registrar of Voters.

The proposal came before city council on Wednesday night.

Because enough signatures in support of the petition were gathered, the city was required by California Election Code to place the development proposal on this November’s ballot.

City Council did have the option of ordering a report on the facts surrounding the initiative and proposed development before the initiative is put to voters.

Schlesinger did not attend, but several of his business associates spoke on the proposal’s behalf. They lauded the development proposal for bringing jobs and millions of dollars in economic benefits to the city of Escondido.

Former state senator Dennis Hollingsworth pointed to the ongoing multi-million dollar litigation Stuck in the Rough, LLC, filed against the city last year. He said that sending the country club matter to the voters is more favorable than continuing with the lawsuit.

A handful of ECCHO representatives spoke on behalf of the hundreds of members that attended the meeting to advocate for the study.

The speakers acknowledged that the home development proposal had to be put on the ballot by law, but asked that the study of the proposal be completed. They expressed hope that an impartial report by city staff would clarify matters including how such a development would impact surrounding traffic, schools, and infrastructure.

“We’ve heard an awful lot of claims. Those claims need to be tested,” said Ken Lounsbery, an attorney for the local residents.

The City Council unanimously voted in favor of obtaining such a report.

The report will be presented to city council at its July 23 meeting, at which time the initiative will be formally placed on the ballot.

“Now we are sending an initiative to the voters,” Mayor Sam Abed said. “It’s not about a few dollars or revenue to the city. This is about the interests of the country club community. Period.”



John Brock June 27, 2014 at 9:17 pm

Sam Abed is a total hypocrite Politics as usual catering to NIMBYS Why didn’t he order a 30 day study before HE hastily approved the initiative in support of open space last year? Luckily for people who care about property rights like me it’s fair to conclude his days in politics and maybe as a resident of Escondido are numbered. This is a warning shot to the Republican Party to vet its candidates with more care

Rick Elkin July 1, 2014 at 10:39 am

Aren’t you self righteous? ‘Hypocrite’…’NYMBY’s’….
‘people who care…like me’. What about the property rights of those who invested in homes and were never told the golf course was still zoned for homes? If that happened today, it would violate disclosure laws (which didn’t exist then).

‘Hypocritical’ compassion for ‘property rights’ and open hostility to the ‘Republican Party’ is not very becoming. What was Olga thinking?

John Brock July 3, 2014 at 8:34 pm

U are clearly ignorant. Have u ever heard of the expression “caveat emptor”? The property had ALWAYS been zoned R 17 and was verified by then city attorney MR KEN LOUNSBERRY back in 1971. Know your facts before speaking out of turn. I can assure you this kangaroo city council did NO work before hastily passing this so called open space initiative last year. At best they will lose a BIG takings claim and if they don’t get behind this initiative, I pity their political careers. I for one will support those who support basic property rights whether democratic or Republican Party

Barbara Calabrese August 13, 2014 at 2:03 pm

430 home is too many. I have looked at the Plat Map and the amenities will not be conducive to the “ALL” the residents of Escondido. Total scam! Stuck in The rough is trying to pull a fast one over on everyone. “BUT” this is too much acreage to make more “Open Space” that the City of Escondido has to maintain and doesn’t really need.
Someone needs to find a middle ground on this that will not financially burden “ALL” the homeowners in Escondido and the City of Escondido. I thought my idea of making the area Plaza de Escondido with the Charger Stadium right in the middle of commercial, residential, entertainment, resturants and open space was a great idea BUT THEN my idea is just a LITTLE self serving.

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