Country Club lawsuit settled; construction at former golf course
could begin by fall
J. Harry Jones, July 3, 2019
between homeowner’s group and development company New Urban
West should clear the way for 380 homes
six long years of controversy and community divisiveness,
the battle over the development of the former Escondido Country
Club land is over.
a statement issued jointly Wednesday by a homeowners
group and development company New Urban West, the two sides
announced they had reached a settlement that should clear
the way for construction of 380 homes on the 109 acres of
the former golf course in northwest Escondido.
Urban West will pay the Escondido Country Club Homeowners
Organization (ECCHO) a bit more than $763,000 as part of the
agreement, a figure that represents the amount of money opponents
have spent on lawyers, consultants and experts over the years
while battling development plans, ECCHO attorney Everett DeLano
2017, a split Escondido City Council approved New Urban Wests
The Villages project, but ECCHO filed a lawsuit
challenging the approval on numerous grounds.
comprised of homeowners who live near the golf course, have
been fighting development plans since 2013.
November, a Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the city
and dismissed the legal case, but ECCHO filed an appeal that
threatened to delay construction for a year or longer depending
on future judgments.
Urban West then said it was open to settlement negotiations
that could include reimbursing ECCHO all the money it had
spent in the past half-decade.
settlement does not include a reduction in the number of homes
that were approved for the acreage. The development company
has said for several years that 380 homes were the least that
could be built if the project were to be economically sound.
are pleased to have reached an agreement with ECCHO that makes
the organization and its members financially whole, ends all
litigation, and allows the long-awaited revitalization of
the Escondido Country Club to proceed, New Urban West
said in the statement.
for everyone, this long saga is now over. The blight will
soon be cleared, property values will benefit, and the people
of this community can begin to heal and come together.
ECCHO in the statement: Over the past six years, our
community has endured great pain, stress and uncertainty.
Today, that all ends.
spokesman for the citys planning department Wednesday
said work on the development plans has been proceeding at
City Hall this year and though there are still some steps
to be taken, he guessed construction could begin as early
as the fall.
future of the property has been hotly debated ever since the
Country Club land was purchased in late 2012 by Michael Schlesinger,
a Beverly Hills land speculator who shuttered the club and
golf course a few months later, saying it was financially
series of court challenges, a public vote, a well-publicized
chicken manure incident, and other things ensued as residents
of the area protested development plans.
sued the city, saying the City Councils move in 2013
declaring the property could only be used for recreation or
open space, violated his property rights. A judge agreed and
the city then settled that suit.
then chose New Urban West to pursue development permits and
agreed to sell them the land only after all permissions to
build had been obtained, and only after all litigation had
part of the settlement announced Wednesday, ECCHO said it
won several concessions from the developer aside from the
said New Urban West has committed to provide residents in
the existing area access to parks and trails in the new neighborhood
at no cost to them, and that the company will fully mitigate
all traffic impacts caused by the project, including the widening
of El Norte Parkway and the installation of two traffic signals
at key intersections on Country Club Lane.
said that New Urban West has also agreed to assign a community
liaison to handle concerns regarding construction issues.
has been a very difficult time in the history of our beloved
community, ECCHO said in the joint news release. However,
with these major concessions from the developer, we know our
neighborhood can move forward with the confidence that our
community will be protected and remain the jewel of Escondido.