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Stuck in the Rough Wins Legal Ruling Over ECCHO
SITR, who plans to build a new housing community, The Lakes of Escondido, has warned city leaders that refusing to do an economic and legal study before voting on the adoption of the ECCHO petition would put the city in financial jeopardy. The Council chose to ignore the warnings, relying instead on negligent counsel from the Escondido City Attorney, Jeff Epp, and voted to adopt the initiative without further study 5-0.
“Our intention has never been to put the city in this position, however, the City Council was more interested in pacifying ECCHO activists than doing the right thing for Escondido taxpayers and property rights,” said The Lakes of Escondido owner Michael Schlesinger. “Numerous property rights and taxpayers groups also warned the council, but they ignored them.”
“We have tried to work constructively with ECCHO and the city, but have been repeatedly rebuffed,” continued Schlesinger. “There is no compromise with ECCHO. They have made it pretty clear that they want to keep the bankrupt Country Club as their private park, in spite of the fact that it’s been in bankruptcy three times and its membership had dwindled to 130 members. They’ve offered no solutions and have been unwilling to compromise in any way.
“At the end of the day, the City Council is responsible for this by refusing to make the politically difficult, but correct decision, to respect the historical zoning of the property and considering the fiscal impact of a takings claim against the city. A takings claim will bankrupt the city and that is something we can all agree is the wrong outcome.”
Judge Maas’s ruling means ECCHO is responsible for all of their legal fees for the meritless suit and signals that SITR’s lawsuit to strike down the initiative is “…both legally sufficient and supported by prima facie showing of facts to sustain a favorable judgment.”
SITR hopes to find a compromise with the City of Escondido to avoid the inevitable takings judgment and proceed with The Lake of Escondido community.