Wednesday, July 10, 2013
When Mary and Jim Ahler bought their home near the Escondido Country Club golf course about 25 years ago, they made a tradeoff. Homes close to all that green open space were on smaller lots and had less outdoor space of their own.
A group of Escondido homeowners has submitted to the city clerk a petition they say will preserve green space by preventing development on land that, until this spring, was a golf course.
So, when the country club closed this spring and the landowning company Stuck in the Rough proposed building 450 houses on the 110 acres, the Ahlers and other members of the Escondido Country Club Homeowners organization were upset.
“If houses are developed here, it changes the character of the neighborhood," Ahler said. "This is a really special neighborhood. There’s no graffiti, people’s houses are well tended, it’s quiet. It’s been that way for years and years. It’s not a wealthy area, but it’s a really special area.”
The petitioners argue homes can’t be built on the land. They’d like to see it reopen as a golf course.
Erica Holloway, a spokesperson for Stuck in the Rough, said the land is zoned for up to 605 single-family homes.
Stuck in the Rough estimates the course needs $2 million in upgrades to be competitive and revenues weren't covering expenses, including the $600,000 annual water bill. Holloway said a revised development plan would build 300 homes and turn half of the now private land into public open space.
“As a golf course, no one could walk on it," Holloway said. "With only 135 people actually able to access the property, it seemed like an incredible waste of resources. At this point, we could move forward with a plan that allows the entire city to use 50 acres of parkland.”
The City Council could adopt the homeowners’ petition or put it to a public vote. Stuck in the Rough has filed suit against the petitioners and the city to block any changes.