Usually when looking to get approval for a large development, a developer or property owner might work with a community – or at least have the pretense of doing so. That is not the case in Escondido and Poway, where the owner of a pair of golf courses says he could force worse alternatives if his projects aren’t approved.
Michael Schlesinger owns the Escondido Country Club and the Stoneridge Country Club in Poway, and wants to develop the site in Escondido with nearly 400 homes, and rezone a portion of the course in Poway for 180 condos.
The Union-Tribune reports this week that ahead of a City Council vote on the Escondido project, Schlesinger says if the Council doesn’t approve his project, he might use the state’s density bonus law to get around the city’s restrictions and build as many as 800 homes on the site.
The density bonus law allows developers to exceed some local restrictions on development – like density, height or parking requirements – to an extent, if they set aside a certain amount of units for affordable housing, and if the land is already zoned for residential use. It’s been a sore subject in areas like Encinitas, where the city has fought multiple lawsuits over its interpretation of the state’s regulations.
Escondido Country Club covers about 115 acres, according to the city’s parcel maps, and is zoned for 7,000 square-foot lots – the equivalent of about six units per acre.
The site has had a messy history since Schlesinger purchased it. Originally he proposed 600 units, but a citizen’s initiative – with the City Council’s approval – got the land reclassified as open space. Schlesinger then dumped tons of chicken poop on the fairway, causing a foul fowl odor that lasted a month.