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Escondidans Nix Ballot Measure To Put New Homes On Golf Course

Special Feature Election Results

UPDATED: 12:45 a.m.: Measure H soundly defeated in Escondido

Measure H was defeated by a wide margin, following opposition from local politicians and neighbors who thought developing a golf course would reduce their quality of life.

That means developer Michael Schlesinger may not get his wish to put 430 homes on a defunct golf course. But he may still receive a large cash award from the courts as his lawsuit continues against the City of Escondido.

Original post:

Escondido residents voted Tuesday on whether to allow an out-of-town developer to build up to 430 homes on a defunct golf course that was once the centerpiece of a planned retirement community.

The developer behind Measure H, Michael Schlesinger, has had a rocky relationship with city officials and the community since he bought the Escondido Country Club in 2012 and promptly closed it down.

Background On Measure H

Schlesinger is suing the city, claiming it devalued his golf club property when it adopted a citizens initiative last year, changing the property zoning to open space. It was previously zoned for housing, though the golf course had operated on the land with a conditional use permit since the 1960s.

Schlesinger authored Measure H in an attempt to speed up resolution of the conflict. In addition to 430 single-family homes, the plan calls for an Olympic-sized pool, trails and open space for community use.

Golf Course Neighbors Oppose Measure

Residents of the country club neighborhood have launched an energetic campaign against the initiative. Many want the land to remain entirely, or mostly, open space.

Photo by Jill Replogle

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

Homeowners around the golf course say their property values have declined since Schlesinger fenced off the course and stopped watering the fairways two years ago. Ponds have dried up and many trees have died and had to be removed.

They also say Schlesinger tried to retaliate for their opposition to developing the land by filing encroachment lawsuits and dumping stinking chicken manure on the dying fairways.

They say the development contemplated in Measure H, called the Lakes Specific Plan, would bring in too much traffic, overcrowd schools and strain water resources.

Developer Counters Opponents

In the run up to the election, Schlesinger hired a team of experts to debunk those claims. He said his team has identified potential traffic snares and had plans to fix them.

He also said there’s no evidence to support the fear of overcrowded schools, and that a city report citing increased water use failed to account for all the water used by the golf course.

Where Mayoral Candidates Stand

Mayor Sam Abed has said he’ll let the citizens decide the fate of the former country club. His main challenger, Olga Diaz, is supporting Measure H.

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