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Escondido Councilwoman Now Supports Initiative To Develop Golf Course

Photo by Jill Replogle

The former Escondido Country Club golf course has turned brown since its developer stopped watering it, Aug. 20, 2014.

Escondido City Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Olga Diaz says she supports a ballot measure to let a developer build homes on a former golf course. The position is an about-face for the Democrat, and a surprising break with her fellow council members, who voted last year to keep the area open space.

"Normally, I'm the person that sides with residents on issues," Diaz said. "So this is a little complicated because I see what is essentially a compromise project."

Residents living near the former Escondido Country Club penned a citizens initiative last year to have the 110-acre property reserved as open space. It won unanimous approval from the Escondido City Council. Shortly afterward, the property owner, Los Angeles-based Michael Schlesinger, sued the city.

Diaz said the city has already spent close to $300,000 defending itself against the lawsuit.

“All taxpayers in the city are funding that legal fight,” Diaz said, adding that the only ones who stand to benefit from the legal battle are the residents living around the former golf club.

“It’s never going to be a golf course again. And we may never see an offer this good again. So as a voter, I’ll be supporting the initiative,” Diaz said, referring to Measure H, the initiative to develop the golf course.

The plan includes 430 residential units, nearly 30 acres of open space, a community center, pool and tennis courts. The area is currently abandoned, and the golf greens are brown since the developer stopped watering them.

Diaz’s opponent, Mayor Sam Abed, said at a July 23 City Council meeting that he didn't support the developer's initiative.

Escondido voters will cast their ballots on Measure H on Nov. 4.

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