Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Poway, don't be fooled!

Very insightful article opposing Measure A in the Union Tribune.   Article by Brian Edmonston, a long-time Poway resident.

For those who do not have an on-line account for the UT, here is the full text of the article:

Don’t be fooled Poway.  Measure A proponents are using scare tactics and misleading marketing materials to rush you into passing a poorly drafted and poorly thought out zoning change to StoneRidge Golf Course.  Vote No on Measure A because the measure is all give-away and no give-back for Poway and its residents.

Let’s look at the facts.

Measure A proponents have threatened that if Measure A fails StoneRidge will turn into Escondido Country Club, which is being developed into at least two-hundred homes.  This is false. 

Escondido Country Club was already zoned residential when purchased by the developer. StoneRidge, on the other hand, is zoned “open space recreational” (OS-R). StoneRidge has been zoned OS-R for decades.  The owner of StoneRidge cannot build a single home the property -- not now, not next year and not even after 2020.

The OS-R zoning gives Poway much more control over StoneRidge.  We should use this control to more carefully consider what, if any, changes are necessary for it to be utilized by Poway.

Measure A proponents have also promised to provide a shortened golf facility (without a driving range) and a new clubhouse and restaurant if Measure A passes.  These promises are illusory.  These promises are not part of Measure A -- just read it. There is nothing about a golf course or a clubhouse in the measure.

Anyone telling you otherwise is referring to a side agreement that is not part of Measure A.  This side agreement was negotiated by a few golfers against a highly litigious Beverly Hills developer who does these deals all the time.

Which side do you think got the better bargain?

This flimsy three-page agreement has massive legal holes in it.  It cannot be enforced by the city of Poway or its residents.  The private company that signed it is a small limited liability corporation that has neither the wherewithal or financial resources to enforce the agreement, assuming it would even try.  The company also appears to be beholden to the developer who has financed the entire campaign behind Measure A.

So, there is no guarantee that these improvements will be built.   Nor is there anything to prevent the owner from closing the golf facilities five, seven or ten years after the one hundred and eighty condos have been completed.

If the refurbished course is closed Poway will be back in the same situation, except we will have lost twenty-five acres of land, a full-length golf course, practice range, tennis courts and swimming pool. Poway will also have one hundred and eighty condominiums already built and the entire southern two-thirds of the course will be zoned residential condominium.

In other words, Poway will have been fleeced by this aggressive developer who used a few panicked golfers to sell us a false bill of goods.

Measure A proponents also claim that Poway property values will go down if Measure A fails.  There is no evidence to back this up and one could easily argue the opposite, as one-hundred and eighty high density condos will certainly have a negative impact on the value of the houses near StoneRidge.

If we are going to fix StoneRidge (assuming it needs fixing) we should fix it correctly, permanently and in a legally binding fashion.  The final agreement has to be properly negotiated and put on the ballot in a way that holds the developer accountable.

Poway should also consider less drastic options for StoneRidge.  Such options include use as a park, public golf course or recreational facility via eminent domain or to rezone the property single-family residential, which is more in line with traditional Poway development.

Poway voters have already rejected less radical zoning changes such as a two hundred-room hotel on Maderas Golf Course.  A two hundred-room hotel is less than one-third of the size of the one hundred and eighty condominiums authorized by Measure A.

So, I urge you to vote NO on A.  Don’t let this out of town developer and a few country club golfers bully Poway into bypassing the normal development process. Don’t be fooled by unenforceable promises of a new golf course or clubhouse.  These things are not in Measure A.  Measure A does nothing but destroy open space and give away control of this useful piece of property.  

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Opponents to Measure A speak at Poway City Council

At the Poway City Council meeting on October 7th, both Ann Kana and Dee Fleischman spoke out against Measure A.  Dee raised issues concerning the financial viability of the No Stone Left Unturned LLC based on the recent issues the company had in paying its water and electric bills. In addition, she raised concerns with a section of the ballot initiative that states that if the measure passes, the city must amend its general plan to match the ballot initiative if any changes made since the filing of the ballot initiative are in conflict with the measure.

Ann Kana raised concerns with the enforceability of the side agreement between Poway Open Space LLC and No Stone Left Unturned LLC.  Ann's speech is provided below: 

Hello Mr. Mayor, Council members, city staff and Poway residents…
My name is Ann Kana and I’m here to ask you to vote “NO” on Measure A.

I live on Stoneridge Golf Course and am very familiar with both sides of the measure.  I would like you to vote “NO” on A because it doesn’t protect Poway’s Open Space, it actually gives away valuable development rights to a known litigious developer.   
There are two main elements that the supporters are relying on – the measure itself and a side agreement between two LLCs (Poway Open Space and No Stone Left Unturned). 

Measure A, if passed would rezone the southern portion of the golf course (approximately 77 acres of the total 117 acres) to residential condominium and allow for the building of up to 180 condos on up to 25 acres.  This is the only thing that the City of Poway can hold Mr. Schlesinger accountable for. 
There is a private side agreement with Mr. Schlesinger that contains provisions for building a community recreation center, filing of a deed restriction on the remaining land, and golf course improvements.  None of these is guaranteed, and not enforceable by the city.  The agreement was negotiated by a small group of golfers (the Poway Open Space, LLC) who says we need to “trust” Mr. Schlesinger to live up to these commitments.  However, he has proven that he is very adept at legal maneuverings to avoid fulfilling his legal obligations.  His LLC which owned the Silverstone golf course in Las Vegas sold the property to another newly formed Schlesinger LLC which then declared bankruptcy to avoid re-opening of the golf course.  And don’t forget his handling of the Escondido Country Club!  How much is Poway Open Space willing to spend on legal fees if needed to hold Mr. Schlesinger accountable? 

By itself, Measure A is a bad deal, because it gives away very valuable development rights with no other committed benefit to the City.  Poway has a collaborative planning process and a history of managed growth that takes into account:
air pollution
noise pollution
demographic changes
public safety and access to city services
special housing needs
and many other factors.   

Let’s not make a deal with such a litigious developer without proper planning along with stronger legal assurances that he will deliver on his commitments.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Do NOT change the zoning on Stoneridge! If so, the property could be subject to SB 35!

Last Friday, Governor Jerry Brown signed 15 bills aimed towards improving affordable housing in California.  One of the 15 bills, Senate Bill 35, works to increase low-income housing in cities that are not meeting state-mandated housing requirements.  Cities will be required to fast-track projects involving affordable housing, making it difficult to delay these projects whether or not the projects have approval from the communities involved.  The bill also allows for housing projects with at least 11% low-income housing to increase the density of the project by 35%.  

If Measure A does NOT pass and the zoning of the StoneRidge Country Club land does not change, no housing will be allowed on the land.  If Measure A does pass, Poway will be opening its doors to potential high density housing with people and families of any age (a far cry from the 180 ondominiums for only those 55 years and older).  If providing a percentage of affordable housing, the proposed StoneRidge Country Club housing plan of 180 condominiums could quickly change to 243 condominiums (an increase of 35%) with the Poway residents being unable to refuse.  The only way to ensure that Poway will not be overrun with high density housing is to vote NO on Measure A!