Retirement community sues to stop water treatment plant
David Ross, April 19, 2017
retirement community, the Springs of Escondido, located on
Washington Avenue, is taking the city of Escondido to court
to stop it from building a Micro-Filtration Reverse Osmosis
water treatment plant across the street.
11, the city council approved by a vote of 4-1 (Diaz voting
no) a conditional use permit for the citys utility department
to build the Hale Avenue Resource Recovery Facility (HARRF),
a reverse osmosis treatment facility on vacant city property
at Ash Street & Washington Avenue.
is vacant city land that was the site of the old Escondido
Mutual Water Company operations yard for many years. Where
the 7-11 market is now was the district office. The property
has a creek running behind it.
building site is about 300 feet from the Springs of Escondido
Senior Living Facility.
January council meeting was an angry one with audience members
shouting old lives matter. Some council members
took umbrage at accusations that they cared less about the
retirees quality of life than they had about the Chaparral
Glen neighborhood, a high-end community, where the plant was
first proposed only to be relocated after protests from
residents persuaded the council that it was a bad location.
lawsuit was filed about a month later. The lawyer for Springs
of Escondido, Everett L. DeLano III, is a well-known local
attorney who sometimes takes on legal battles involving environmental
issues. He has represented the Escondido Conservancy in the
to DeLano the lawsuit centers on two fundamental issues:
of the issues is that the project simply doesnt fit
there, DeLano told The Times-Advocate. Nobody
that I know of doesnt support recycled water. Its
not whether we should have such plants. Its simply doesnt
fit in this neighborhood. Its a combination of transition
zone from residential to higher density residential to commercial
invites anyone who wants to understand the lawsuit to visit
the site. If you look at it you can see it doesnt
fit, he said. DeLano quotes city council members when
the same issue came before them, but for Chaparral Glen. The
mayor and council was quoted in another context saying, It
doesnt fit. I cant see how those same city
leaders say it fits here.
second fundamental issue, said DeLano, is that the city violated
the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by filing
a negative declaration, i.e. saying that the plant would have
no significant environmental impact on the area.
not just in terms of not looking good, said DeLano.
Its not consistent with the general plan. In doing
this they ignored the Environmental Impact. It is a project
that has several environmental impacts. Such as potential
use of toxic chemicals, construction impact on the Springs
and residents, noise impacts that we raised that they just
kind of ignored.
believes that if a private developer had tried a similar project
and claimed it didnt require an EIR it wouldnt
have passed muster. I dont think that a private
developer would have gotten away with doing a negative dec,
he said. But in this case the fox was guarding the henhouse,
so they didnt do one and give those issues full consideration.
trial date for has not yet been set. DeLano said it is not
unusual for such cases to take a year to get to a judge.
the city appears to have stopped work on the project until
the litigation is resolved.