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The bankrupt Escondido Country Club property's new owners, Stuck in the Rough (a West Hollywood-based company), filed a lawsuit against the Escondido Country Club Homeowners Organization (ECCHO) and the City of Escondido on June 27.

The lawsuit follows a recent announcement by the homeowners’ association that their petition drive to stop development of the golf course was coming to a successful completion. There are three “causes of action” in the lawsuit:

  1. Stuck in the Rough states that the initiative is not legal and requests the City of Escondido not certify the signatures or take any action to approve or place the initiative on the ballot.
  2. Requests that the Superior Court of California (where the petition was filed) declare that the petition is illegal and that no election should take place with regard to it.
  3. Requests that the court declare that if the initiative is adopted, the City of Escondido will owe Stuck in the Rough “just compensation for the taking of the property.” Stuck in the Rough also asked for court costs to be paid for their legal action.

In a statement, Jerry Swadley, president the homeowners’ association, wrote, “This lawsuit is just the latest in a long string of actions by SITR designed to intimidate ECCHO into submission. SITR’s PR team works hard to maintain a public image of being reasonable and cooperative, but behind the scenes it is trying to bully and financially drain ECCHO.

“SITR says it wants a project that is sensitive to the community and that will improve our neighborhood, but the only project it has ever shown us or the City consisted of 450 houses on postage stamp lots.

“It says it wants to work amicably, but in the last two months it has threatened to sue us four times. It says it is interested in a compromise, but it has filed CC&R’s on the property prohibiting any use except houses.

“It says it is reasonable, but is has told us and the City that if it doesn’t get what it wants, it will fence the property and let it deteriorate for 10 years.

“It is a shame that SITR is wasting taxpayers’ money by suing the city, but at least the truth will finally come out and the City Council will have a chance to defend Escondido.”

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Comments

SurfPuppy619 June 28, 2013 @ 8:44 p.m.

OK, I am siding with the golf course owners, if the HOA does not want the property developed then they should buy the land at market price. Problem solved. Does the HOA want to stop ALL development??? Or just high density????

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Michael Mullenniex June 29, 2013 @ 4:15 p.m.

Interesting points. An offshoot of the HOA has offered to purchase the property but was rebuffed. SITR seems determined to build homes in spite of a very high level of resistance from the surrounding community.

My understanding is that when the condos that were build around some areas of the course in the 70's, the developers used the open space of the country club to offset the higher than code density of the condos. They were allowed to build condos with the understanding the country club will remain open space. Now new developers want to build on the designated open space.

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SurfPuppy619 June 29, 2013 @ 4:41 p.m.

If the land was intended to be open space/park/whatever, and was used to offset higher density on another project then they cannot ask to rezone it now, or at a later date, for any other use and the market price is whatever it will fetch on the open market for the open space it is zoned for

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Michael Mullenniex June 29, 2013 @ 4:55 p.m.

Agreed. All this was done in the late 60's. Houses were built in the early 70's. Part of the fight seems to be legality and timing of the zoning ordinances and the language of the most updated General Plan.

The language of the general plan doesn't seem to address the green space issue, but according to Olga Diaz, the council assumed the country club area was already built out and developed, so no attention was paid to updating the plan for the CC area.

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Visduh June 29, 2013 @ 11:39 a.m.

The market price for that property is whatever it can command for whatever use to which it will be put. As with most of these developments, the permits were granted based on a golf course, not a bunch of high density housing. The market price is impossible to determine with usual appraisal tools because there is little or no precedent for such land in the area, hence nothing with which to compare the golf course property.

The comments made by Mr. Swadley are correct. SITR makes noises as if it wants to put a deal together that makes everyone happy, yet is using a lawsuit to intimidate ECCHO and the city. At least now the owner has pushed the city onto the same side of the fence as the HOA. Mayor "Mealy Mouth" Abed and various members of the council were talking from both sides of their mouths and trying to keep the city out of it. Well. now the city is in it, like it or not.

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Michael Mullenniex June 29, 2013 @ 4:30 p.m.

Yes, this will be interesting. More than one city council member has said they would like to do something but since SITR hasn't applied for planning permission or permits, the council couldn't do anything. Well, now's their chance!

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FatCatSegat June 29, 2013 @ 11:59 a.m.

Come to a compromise people! The HOA had no problem when the course was still beautiful with manicured greens and daily watered fairways. The golf course was losing over $30,000.00 a month. What were they supposed to do? Now the entire course is an eyesore, property values are plummeting, and we can't seem to get along. There are options aren't there? How 'bout fewer homes being built, and the HOA buying and maintaining a nine holer? What would the market think about that? Otherwise, in my humble and uneducated opinion, get ready for a fight because that suit has got legs.

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Michael Mullenniex June 29, 2013 @ 4:06 p.m.

The property owners said they were losing $30K per month, but they didn't try. They even refused new memberships and easy ways to reduce the negative cash flow problem. That was a very transparent fig leaf used to close the course and say the only thing left to them was to develop. Really!

In a part of the "facts" section of SITR's lawsuit, they said that the golf course was not an economic investment as a golf course and that they forced the club into BK for the purpose of building homes on the property.

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