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Judge Sides With Developer In Fight Over Escondido Golf Course

The legal battle over a now defunct golf course in Escondido continues, even after the voters defeated an initiative to allow it to be developed.

Photo by Alison St John

The unwatered Escondido Country Club Golf Course sits next to green gardens, Aug. 7, 2014.

UPDATE: 3:30 p.m. Nov. 14: Judge Sticks With Ruling That Went Against Escondido

A Vista Superior Court judge rejected Friday the city of Escondido's attempt to get dismissed most of a lawsuit brought by a developer who wants to build homes on the former Escondido Country Club golf course.

The next hearing on the lawsuit is set for February. Read more about the dispute below.

Original post:

The legal battle over a now defunct golf course in Escondido continues, even after the voters this month defeated an initiative to allow it to be developed.

Beverly Hills-based developer Michael Schlesinger, who wants to build 430 homes on what was once the Escondido Country Club, sponsored the initiative, Measure H.

At a hearing in Vista Superior Court Friday afternoon, the city of Escondido will ask a judge to dismiss much of the developer's case. But in a tentative ruling released Thursday, Judge Earl Maas turned down most of the city's arguments.

Schlesinger claims the city has effectively "taken" the value of his property by declaring it permanent open space last year after he had bought the golf course and then closed it. The developer posted ads in the paper before the election, saying his suit would bankrupt the city.

Much is at stake. The city of San Diego, for example, is still battling a suit filed almost 30 years ago by developer Roque de la Fuente. That suit was for damages of almost $100 million, and after several appeals it may yet go back to trial in 2016.

Escondido wants the judge to dismiss much of Schlesinger's lawsuit, to give the parties time to negotiate. The hearing is at 1:30 p.m. Friday in the Vista Superior Court.

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