The following is an approximate timeline of the Specific Plan and Prop FF process, provided by the developer, which culminates in a ballot measure in the November 2020 election. The GVCA is awaiting completion of all reports and studies prior to assessing the merit of this project and taking a position.
A real estate investment group, led by local resident and businessman Kevin McNamara, recently has acquired an option to purchase the shuttered StoneRidge Country Club property and has put forth a conceptual land use plan for community input. To better understand the proposed plan and how it would impact and/or benefit local residents and the greater Poway community, the GVCA contacted Mr. McNamara with a series of pointed questions. The following is the verbatim Q&A.*
PLEASE NOTE: The GVCA does not endorse or oppose any proposal at this time. We are providing this information to the community to keep you informed and to encourage your constructive input and comments. Any change in land use from the current OS-R zoning of this property will require a public vote known as Prop FF.
Q & A WITH KEVIN MCNAMARA, AUGUST 2018
As a preface to our comments, I want to stress that this is just our first draft of a plan. We are continuing to try and improve it. For example, the access to houses off of Cloudcroft Ct was an oversight and is currently being adjusted. The homes will be accessed internally from the beer garden area. We are looking for input from the community and encourage you to send us your comments, ideas, or criticisms to YourPoway@gmail.com. I answer all the emails.
Why did you decide to pursue development at SRCC at this time and so soon after the previous ballot measure failed? Stoneridge has become an uninhabitable building, often vandalized, surrounded by a deteriorating vacant lot. The trees are dying and the future condition of the land is hopeless unless something is done. It is a fenced in property with no connectivity to any other open space or natural habitat that will never be a functional property for Poway residents unless we do something. I’d like Poway to determine its own fate. I feel that I have a singular resume to get something of quality accomplished and I enjoy challenges. After the election I felt the opportunity was there if a local person pursued a true vision that is reflective of Poway.
What experience do you have in this type of development? We’ve assembled a team of long time land and entitlement experts; including local Poway architect Roger Basinger. We will also retain an agricultural expert as part of the team as we are looking at this project as an “Agrihood”. I was Planning Board Chair in Penasquitos for a number of years in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and we were responsible for negotiating a large number of development agreements in the City and County. These included the 12,000 acre Future Urbanizing Area, 4S Ranch, SR 56, and the Black Mountain Open Space Park. I learned quite a bit and feel that we were quite effective and represented the community well. I started in real estate in 1974 so I’ve been around for a while.
Why do you think the community would support rezoning the property to something other than the current Open Space-Recreational (OS-R)? Poway voters are smart. If the property was to retain the OS-R designation under the current ownership, it would sit fallow and no enhancements or beautification could be anticipated onsite. Under our proposal a Specific Plan would, very unambiguously, land plan the property with a variety of wonderful amenities for use by all Poway residents. If a high quality project with community appropriate density and product type with public amenities and permanent open space goes through the entire planning process, which has never been done prior to a Prop FF vote, why wouldn’t there be strong support? If the project is approved, Poway residents will once again have full use of the property.
How many and what types of housing units will be proposed? We are planning approximately 162 homes to help serve empty nesters, young families, and residents that want to be part of an agrihood development. We are also proposing an approximate 100 ft. buffer between existing homes and any new development. Our concept is unique and will be a wonderful addition to Poway We are still in the early stages but we are looking at farm-style single family detached and twin homes to help stay in character with the surrounding community.
What commercial and/or public uses will be proposed? The proposed project is full of amenities for all Poway residents. There will be thoughtfully designed community gathering spots. The proposed design includes several ponds, pocket parks, community gardens, all connected through a series of trails. A proposed four acre Swim and Racquet Club as well as a beer, wine, and coffee garden. We are working on including potential vineyards, hops, and/or flower growing operations. As well as a traditional country barn built as a community center and a new clubhouse to highlight Poway character. In addition to all of this we are proposing a Butterfly Vivarium which brings a unique quiet beauty to the project. All of this will be processed under a Specific Plan which will prevent deviations from whatever City Council approves - that includes preventing any increase to density or intensity of use.
Will a golf course, tennis courts, pool and/or clubhouse be part of the proposed plan? If not, why not? We are planning a new Swim & Racquet Club with a clubhouse which would be available with a membership or fee to the public. We are looking at 5 new lighted tennis courts, 4 new paddle tennis courts, and 2 swimming pools with one being a 25 yard 4 lane pool lap pool and the other a family pool. There will not be a golf course. The CUP that Stoneridge operated under was automatically terminated six months after the gates were closed. Golf is not financeable or profitable anymore. We’ve talked with four different golf consultants and the unanimous opinion is that there is no chance for success.
How would the proposed development be similar to the "Agritopia" development in Gilbert, AZ? We are planning several community gardens, private gardens, a huge picnic area, as well as some professional agriculture cultivation. It will be a great place for empty nesters or young families to live. Agritopia is a great project. It is a model of how an agrihood can work. We are trying to enhance that model with additional amenities available to all Poway Residents.
How will Poway residents benefit from rezoning the property to the proposed development? There will be absolute certainty on what will happen. The property will be enhanced and not left fallow. The City Council will, hopefully, work with us to approve the project and then the voters will have their say. There will be no empty promises. The project will be set in stone per Council Approvals and the associated Specific Plan, so voters will know exactly what they are voting to approve. The proposed amenities in addition to, the neighborhood Beer, Wine, Coffee Garden and available memberships to the Swim & Tennis Club will include several ponds, a 4+ acre butterfly farm, a potential greenhouse area for the garden clubs, a possible 1.5 acre permanent home for the Poway 4H, open space and agricultural areas that will be dedicated as permanent open space, hiking and biking, horse trails, the barn as a community center and all of this available to the public.
How will you gather and incorporate input on the development concept? We have had a few neighborhood meetings so far. We’ve postponed quite a few more until we get the housing defined so we have at least a more refined project to discuss. We’ll try and have as many neighborhood meetings throughout the city as possible. Anybody who wants to meet with us can just email us at YourPoway@gmail.com and we’ll schedule something. After we submit our plans to the city then the city will host a number of public workshops. This campaign will be as grass roots as it gets.
Regardless of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) results, how would you mitigate impact on schools, water/sewer usage, traffic, noise, etc.? I can’t answer this yet. We will study the impacts and any mitigation that is appropriate through the design of the project.
What would property owner Michael Schlesinger's involvement be in the development? Mr. Schlesinger does not have any involvement in this project, publicly or behind the scenes. I’ve never met him, talked to him, or sent or received an email from him. The option was negotiated for me by a broker. Mr. Schlesinger will only regain control of the property if the Poway residents vote no on this project.
Will a specific plan be presented to the City of Poway for approval prior to the measure going to a rezoning vote? Yes. The entire process will be public.
Will you collect signatures to qualify for a ballot measure or directly seek council approval? We plan on the City Council, if they approve the project, putting this on the ballot. If we decide to get signatures they will only be a sign of support not collected by paid gatherers. My partners and I may come knocking at your door to keep communication open and rally support.
If the measure is approved, what assurances will the public have that more development will not be requested in the future? The project will be processed under a specific plan which is the mechanism used to prevent any increase in density or intensity. This means that the project the City Council approves, will be the project that the City residents vote on, and will not be subject to any change through a future Prop FF vote.
When do you expect this to go to the ballot for a public vote? November 2020.
Will affordable housing be part of the project? No
Neighbors tired of seeing junk accumulated in the front yard of a home on Valle Verde Road across from the Valle Verde Park for many years may finally see it cleaned up. City Council will consider at Tuesday night's council meeting a motion to declare it a "public nuisance" and order the property owner to clean up the mess. If not cleaned up, the City will do it and place a lien on the owner's property. (Read an excerpt of agenda item 3.5 here)
The GVCA supports the City's initiative to get this property cleaned up. Show your support by letting City Council know by speaking at Tuesday's 7pm council meeting or by emailing council members regarding agenda item 3.5.
The owner of StoneRidge has contracted with a tree company to dig up, remove and sell trees located on the former golf course. The GVCA has discussed the situation with City representatives and have been told that the owner is permitted to remove trees without a permit as long as they are not listed as a City of Poway "Heritage Tree" or native trees such as Canyon Live Oak, Coast Live Oak, Englemann Oak, and California Sycamore. The City is monitoring the situation and if any trees require a permit the City's approval will be required. We also have been told by council members that there is no movement at this time to revise the municipal code on trees in direct response to current activity at this specific property.
FROM THE CITY MANAGER
The City has received several inquiries regarding the planned removal of trees at Stoneridge Country Club, as well as requests for the City to take action to address the removal. The Poway Municipal Code Chapter 12.32 addresses tree removal on private property. Since Stoneridge Country Club is private property, the owner is permitted to remove trees without a permit so long as they are not native trees or heritage trees. Essentially, native trees are oaks and sycamores. To the City’s knowledge, the trees in question are eucalyptus and pine. City staff has made the property owner and the nursery aware of the restrictions around native trees.
If the trees were located in a public right-of-way, then a tree removal permit would be required. Again, it is the City’s understanding that the trees in question are not in the public right-of-way.
The property is zoned OS-R (not commercial) and the property is vacant, without an active operation of any kind. Therefore, a tree removal permit is not required under section 12.32.150.
Following the November 2017 election, the property owner terminated water service to the property. Therefore, the trees are not being watered and the City cannot compel the property owner to irrigate the property.
Last November, Poway voters rejected a measure sponsored by property owner/developer Sunroad Enterprises that would change the land use at Maderas Golf Club to allow for a 240-room hotel. The measure failed by a margin of 680 votes (51.46 - 48.54%). The GVCA took a position against this measure due to a lack of information, transparency and outreach to the community prior to being placed on the ballot. Regardless of how you voted on this issue, we thank you for taking the time to learn about the measure and how it could impact the area.
If the developer decides to bring forward a measure again, we strongly urge Sunroad to develop a land use plan/map and engage the community early in the process so that voters have a clear and complete understanding of what the proposed development would entail.
Whenever something is labeled a “no brainer” it should set alarm bells off in your head. The prospect of a 240-room hotel complex at Maderas Golf Club off of Espola Road is ringing like a 5-alarm fire drill. But the developer of this proposed project, Sunroad Enterprises, is tone deaf. They failed to garner input from the community before slipping the ballot measure request onto City Council’s agenda just under the deadline for it to appear on the November ballot.
No vetting by the community or council. No plan presented. (Drawings were later rendered in haste to tempt residents with eye candy.) Very few residents even knew the proposal was being brought before council.
The desperate flood of Yes on W postcards residents have received leading up to the election are disingenuous and transparently misleading. Emblazoned with buzzwords like “guarantee“…”good neighbor” …“quality of life” …”funding for parks, libraries and paramedics” … these campaign promises are empty and patronizing to Poway residents.
Some may like the idea of new tax revenue brought into the City on someone else’s shoulders (via a Transient Occupancy Tax paid by hotel guests). But where is this magical $1.5 million the developer keeps touting coming from? What is the formula? Is it based on near-complete occupancy of a 240-room resort? It should be noted that the sprawling Rancho Bernardo Inn is 287 rooms. Neither Sunroad nor the community has any say in how tax revenue, which would go into the general fund, would be spent.
If Measure W passes, the die is cast. The land would be approved for a hotel development up to 240-rooms for the current and future owner of the property. Critical decisions on location, square footage, height and more would be in the hands of city staff with approval by three members of a future city council.
Skirting an updated Environmental Impact Report?
Council approved putting Measure W on the ballot based on a 26-year-old Environmental Impact Report. Key factors such as density, traffic, water, and fire safety have changed significantly since the 1980 report. The developer will do whatever it can to limit the extent of any new EIR that would be required by the city.
Sunroad is a developer with storied and questionable business practices, including having to remove the top two floors of an overbuilt office building near Montgomery Field and a pay-to-play scheme with the City of San Diego.
GVCA has your best interests
The GVCA has been a watchdog for the quality of life in Poway since 1960. We keep an eye on issues such as water rates, inappropriate variances, fiscal responsibility, as well as support of local youth activities and events.
Vote NO on W
We know Poway residents are smarter than the developer gives us credit for. Demand honesty, more information and transparency at the ballot by voting NO on W.
Be sure to read our arguments against Measure W in your voter guide.
When the idea of allowing a 240-room hotel development at Maderas Golf Club (Measure “W” on the November ballot) first surfaced in the public arena this summer, it elicited a variety of reactions from residents: curiosity, excitement, skepticism, opposition. Before taking a position on this potential land use change and major development, the GVCA board did its homework.
Upon learning that a land use request and ballot measure would go before a vote of City Council on July 19th, the GVCA had a mere two weeks to research the facts. In that time, we:
- Obtained public records from the City Clerk’s office related to the land use request, including the Original Specific Plan, the Amended Specific Plan, and a recent traffic study
- Conducted an email poll to gauge support or opposition of the proposal
- Met with a representative from Sunroad Enterprises, the property owner and developer
- Contacted City Council members
PROCEED WITH CAUTION
What we learned (and didn’t learn) left us with more questions than answers. Because the GVCA had serious concerns about the size of the development (akin to the 287-room Rancho Bernardo Inn), the potential impact (traffic, fire safety, water usage, noise, visual), and the hasty process by which the measure was brought to Council, with little to no information or input from the community, we cautioned Council against approving the applicant’s request.
WHERE WAS THE VETTING?
With the exception of Councilman Dave Grosch, City Council approved the proposal without questioning the 26-year-old Environmental Impact Report, the appropriateness of a 240-room resort, the validity of a promised $1.5 mil in hotel tax revenue, or preliminary support from the community,
A development of this magnitude and potential impact, demands proper vetting by the City Staff and City Council on behalf of the residents of Poway before reaching the ballot, not a rubber stamp of a vague and open-ended ballot measure which simply states:
Do you approve Specific Plan Amendment 16- 002 as adopted by the Poway City Council to amend the Old Coach Golf Estates Specific Plan, to allow development of a hotel with up to 240 rooms on the existing Maderas Golf Course site located at 17750 Old Coach Road?
Voters need a clearer understanding of what it is they are voting on and the impact their decision could have. It should be noted that a hotel was not approved in the Original Specific Plan due to community concerns.
KEY DECISIONS OUT OF VOTERS HANDS
Without additional parameters on the land use (i.e. height limit, square footage, etc.) spelled out on the ballot, these key decisions will be left up to approval by a future City Council if the measure passes. The promise of community workshops cannot ease serious concerns about the recent disconnect in communication between Staff, Council and the community on major projects and developments.
LETS GET IT RIGHT
The GVCA is fully supportive of a thriving economic environment in Poway. We are active members of the Poway Chamber of Commerce and its Board of Directors, and proud supporters of Poway OnStage performances at the Poway Performing Arts Center. In order for a major hotel development in Poway to be a win-win for everyone involved, we need to get it right BEFORE it reaches the ballot. Measures such as this require more information, honesty and transparency. Voters should demand it by voting NO on W.
At the July 19, 2016 City Council meeting, council members laid the groundwork for a large hotel development at Maderas Golf Club, voting 4-1 to approve a request by the club owner to modify their specific plan to include a 240-room hotel (Councilman Grosch opposed), and approved the measure that will be placed on the November election ballot. The application was brought to the City with short notice in order to meet the deadline to appear on the election ballot.
Council also approved an addendum to the 1990 Environmental Impact Report (EIR) stating that there is no new information of substantial importance which would result in new significant or substantially increased adverse impacts as a result of the development of a 240-room hotel.
The GVCA asked Council to reduce the number of rooms and include basic project parameters (i.e, square footage, size and mass) in the language of the ballot measure. Our request was denied with a unanimous vote. Neighbors also addressed Council with concerns about relying on a 26-year-old EIR, increased noise, lack of wildfire escape routes, and traffic/safety issues resulting from a 240-room hotel in this otherwise quiet rural setting.
The GVCA recognizes the economic importance to the City which is expecting to receive $1.5 million per year of hotel tax revenue from this development and the desire to keep Maderas as one of the top golf courses in the country. However, we are disappointed that Council chose not to include additional project information about the location, size and scale of the development in the ballot measure so that voters have a better understanding of what they are being asked to consider at the November 8th election.