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Politics

Poway To Vote On Fate Of Defunct Country Club

Broken windows, trash and grafitti cover much of the building at the abandoned StoneRidge Country Club in Poway, Oct. 14, 2020.
Jacob Aere
Broken windows, trash and grafitti cover much of the building at the abandoned StoneRidge Country Club in Poway, Oct. 14, 2020.

Poway voters will be asked to decide the fate of the defunct StoneRidge Country Club with Measure P this November.

StoneRidge used to offer a golf course and plush country club building, but now the property mostly features overgrown plants, shattered windows and graffitied walls.

Poway To Vote On Fate Of Defunct Country Club
Listen to this story by Jacob Aere.

“Right now it looks like trash, and I’m ashamed of it, to be honest,” said Susan Pratt, a homeowner in the Stoneridge neighborhood. “The current state is a fire hazard, and it makes me very fearful, especially during this October time.”

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Measure P would put a maximum of 160 homes on the property, in a development called "The Farm." It will also include a minimum of 70.4 acres of permanent open space.

The ballot measure asks Poway residents to approve The Farm in the Poway Specific Plan. This plan was adopted by the Poway City Council in June, but a public vote is required to approve the development as it will change the zoning code for the property.

This isn’t the first time Poway voters have been asked to approve housing here. In 2017, they rejected Measure A, which called for more homes.

But The Farm’s Erin McKinley said there is a proper plan in place this time.

“Measure P is very different in that it has unanimous approval and support from City Council. It has an associated specific plan, an environmental impact report and a tentative map that are completely approved and in stone, so people know what they’re voting for with Measure P,” McKinley said.

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But unanimous support from the city council doesn’t mean unanimous support from residents.

Chris Prine of Preserve Poway said the second proposal to build on the property is a worse concept for locals than the first attempt.

“It's a worse deal for everyone who lives here. Many more cars, much more noise — we just feel it's not good for us,” Prine said.

And most of The Farm’s designated open space is not really usable, according to Prine.

“All the open space is in parts that is useless from a recreation point of view, very steep hills,” he said.

StoneRidge is currently owned by Michael Schlesinger, who shut the course down after Measure A failed. If Measure P passes, McKinley and her partners will exercise an option to buy the property from him.

Schlesinger is known for using strong arm tactics to aid his business. In 2014, he closed his golf course at the Escondido Country Club, and had tons of chicken manure dumped onto the property after voters there rejected a proposed housing development on the land.

Prine says the closure and decline of Stoneridge is a similar pressure tactic.

“If it is a fire hazard, the city of Poway needs to clean it up. But they’re using this as a campaign issue,” he said. “It’s sort of like, ‘Vote for this measure, or you’re in fire danger.’ And to me it feels like blackmail. Maybe that's a strong word.”

In 2017, Schlesinger and the Escondido City Council came to an agreement for a reduced number of homes at that property.

Now the deserted country club in Poway faces a similar situation. But the development team said it’s an opportunity for residents.

“This is their opportunity to keep it local. If it fails, then it will go back to being controlled by Michael Schlesinger,” McKinley said.

Proposed amenities for The Farm include parks, trails, gardens, event space, a cafe and butterfly vivarium, a community classroom, and a fitness club with courts and a swimming pool.

The developer said The Farm’s offerings would be available to all Poway residents.

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Corrected: July 15, 2024 at 5:01 AM PDT
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to clarify what will happen with ownership of StoneRidge if Measure P passes.