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Poway Voters Face A Choice: Yes Or No For Homes On Golf Course

Some of the fairways at the StoneRidge Golf Course in Poway are have turned b...

Photo by Alison St John

Above: Some of the fairways at the StoneRidge Golf Course in Poway are have turned brown and some golfers fear there could be more to come if the course's owner does not get approval to build some condos, Oct. 10, 2017.

Few people will be going to the polls on Tuesday, Election Day. But an issue before Poway voters is the hottest topic in North County: land use and housing development.

Poway’s Measure A would allow a developer to redesign the StoneRidge golf course as a full 18-hole course, including 180 luxury condos for seniors.

Right now, the golf course is zoned as open space, and unless Poway voters approve a change, it will stay that way.

The campaign for Measure A has spent over half a million dollars, much of it contributed by Michael Schlesinger of Western Golf Properties, the owner of the golf course. He has contributed $150,000 in the past two weeks alone. The campaign has sent out more than half a dozen flyers to targeted voters and paid campaign walkers to knock on doors.

Schlesinger is the same investor who bought the Escondido Country Club in 2012 and shut it down. The fairways there are now an eyesore, and after long drawn out, expensive political and legal battles, the Escondido City Council is scheduled to vote next week on whether to permit 380 new homes to be built on the land.

Opponents of Measure A in Poway have relied mostly on social media. Poway has one of the highest levels of homeownership in San Diego County: nearly three-quarters of residents own their homes. And resistance to new, denser housing is strong.

In fact, regional planners say Poway needs more than 1,000 new homes to meet demand by 2020, but since 2010, the city has permitted fewer than 200 homes.

If Measure A fails, Schlesinger could do what he did at the Escondido Country Club: close the golf course and let the fairways turn brown.

Voter turnout is expected to be low — less than 50 percent of the city’s 30,000 registered voters — but interest in Measure A has grown rapidly in the days leading up to the election.

Michael Vu, San Diego’s Registrar of Voters, said more than 7,000 Poway residents have already sent in their mail-in ballots and those votes will be tallied and released when the polls close at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Few people are going to the polls on Tuesday, Election Day, but an issue before Poway voters is the hottest topic in North County: land use and housing development.

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