With the NO vote outcome of the Measure A/StoneRidge special election, many important questions remain and new ones will arise – all of which MUST be addressed by the property owner and the City as the fate of this 117-acre property moves forward.
It was disheartening to see this ballot measure become a highly divisive issue among neighbors and fellow Powegians during the campaign. Many are vehemently opposed to any rezoning/redevelopment of this property while others are supportive a portion of the property being developed. We encourage everyone to come together as one to ensure that Poway is, and always will be, a desirable place to live.
The GVCA will advocate hard with City staff, City Council, and the property owner on behalf of GVCA members and Poway residents for property use that will have the least impact and most benefit for our community.
How did we get here?
In 2013, No Stone Left Unturned, LLC (NSLU), purchased the property out of bankruptcy. In June 2015, owner Michael Schlesinger, listed the property for sale. There were reportedly several offers made, but none accepted. Since the spring of 2016, the owner began exploring ways to redevelop the property, including having the City operate it as a municipal course.
Poway Open Space, Inc. (POS), a group comprised mainly of StoneRidge men’s golf members, formed in 2016 and began discussions with Michael Schlesinger’s PR firm, Roni Hicks, to maintain a pro course by allowing some housing development. POS led the initiative effort and filed the documents to be placed on a special ballot which has been paid for by NSLU.
Measure A asked voters to for approval to change the land use zoning of 77 acres of the StoneRidge property to allow for no more than 180 residential condominium units for residents over the age of 55 to be built on no more than 25 acres. On November 7, 2017, in a city wide vote, Measure A did not pass by a wide margin and StoneRidge closed the next day.
Top Community Concern
Can the property be developed with high-density, multi-family and single family affordable housing using State of California affordable housing mandates? This is a debated topic without a clear cut answer at this time. An overarching consideration is that State of California lawmakers are passing legislation to address the state's housing shortage (15 signed into law by Governor Brown in September 2017), including the recently passed SB 35 (see Fact Sheet and SB35 Bill Text). These laws do not necessarily allow the State carte blanche control and the property must meet certain qualifications to qualify. However, it's likely the state will continue to hand down mandates to cities dictating how many units they need to build to meet their share of regional demand, and state lawmakers will continue to propose and pass new legislation to compel cities to meet those requirements.
The Green Valley Civic Association (“GVCA”), as a community civic organization, writes this assessment to accurately represent the facts in an unbiased manner. The GVCA’s role is/has been to serve as a neutral conduit of vital of information to our members and north Poway residents on this issue. We continue to strive to provide complete and accurate information and how it might impact the community in the long term. Since fall of 2015, we have had information-gathering meetings with the property owner, representatives of his PR firm Roni Hicks, Poway Open Space LLC, members of the StoneRidge men’s golf group, and Swim & Tennis Club, as well as Poway City Council Members and Staff. We continue to keep a line of communication open with all groups in order to provide accurate and timely information to our members and north Poway residents.
Answers to community Questions
- Can the property be developed with high-density, multi-family and single family affordable housing using State of California affordable housing mandates? This is a debated topic without a clear cut answer at this time. An overarching consideration is that State of California lawmakers are passing legislation to address the state's housing shortage (15 signed into law by Governor Brown in September 2017), including the recently passed SB 35 (seeFact Sheet and SB35 Bill Text). These laws do not necessarily allow the State carte blanche control and the property must meet certain qualifications to qualify. However, it's likely the state will continue to hand down mandates to cities dictating how many units they need to build to meet their share of regional demand, and state lawmakers will continue to propose and pass new legislation to compel cities to meet those requirements.
- Can the owner bring petition another Prop FF measure to rezone the property for housing redevelopment in the future? Yes. However, the petitioner must wait two election cycles before doing so.
Who is the property owner? Michael Schlesinger is the principal of No Stone Left Unturned, LLC, which owns the StoneRidge Country Club in Poway and other properties in California (operating under other business names). Here are three links from primary news sources to articles on the owner and these properties:
Voice of San Diego - Sept 20, 2017 http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/news/north-county-report-one-developer-two-big-housing-battles/
East Bay Times - Sep 23, 2016 http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2016/09/23/san-ramon-golf-course-neighbors-to-fight-plan-to-shutter-course/
San Diego Union-Tribune - Aug 2, 2017 http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/communities/north-county/sd-no-extension-escondido-20170801-story.html
- Why can’t the City or another public entity just take over StoneRidge? Some have suggested that the City require the owner to keep it a golf course, turn the property into a vineyard, public hiking and riding trails, community garden, or have the City take over the land and make it open space. SRCC is privately owned land and the owner has the right to operate or not operate the golf course and use the land as the ownership determines as long as the use complies with the City’s municipal codes.
- Why doesn't the City purchase the property operate it as a municipal golf course? According to an article published in the San Diego Union-Tribune on May 4, 2016, “In early 2015, the city commissioned a study to see if it might make sense for Poway to buy the property and operate a municipal golf course. The study was redacted to omit most monetary figures and projections, but the conclusion wasn’t encouraging. It stated that golf courses all over North County are struggling, in part because there are too many and the market is saturated. There are also fewer golfers and little indication that demand will return to past levels.”
- Why can’t the property be bought by another owner who is willing to operate it as a golf course or as another allowed use? The property owner is not interested in selling and cannot be legally compelled to do so.
- What about the current HOA CC&R requirement to operate the StoneRidge golf course? A Declaration of Restrictions for “Valle Verde Country Club Estates” now known as StoneRidge Country Club, requires the land to be used as a golf course until June 15, 2020. If the owner discontinues the use of the land as a golf course prior to June 2020, the owner may be exposing himself to liability. The CC&Rs are a private agreement and not enforced by the City. After June 2020, the use is limited to what is allowed under the City of Poway’s Open Space Recreation zoning and enforced by the City.
- What other uses are allowed in Open Space-Recreation (OS-R) zoning? According to the City’s Municipal Code, the OS-R zone only allows two uses by right. These are lawn bowling and par or running courses. However, the Municipal Code also provides that several other uses may be considered in OS-R zones through the discretionary approval process for conditional use permits and minor conditional use permits. Both require a public hearing and approval by the City Council. Conditional uses include: baseball fields, churches, non-motorized bicycle courses, public park, rodeo area, skateboard park, soccer park, and golf course & clubhouse.
- Now the the golf course is closed, what are the City Code requirements to maintain the land? The land will need to be maintained in accordance with the City’s Defensible Space, Vegetation Management and Waste Accumulations regulations (Chapter 8.76) which states that the property owner has clearing responsibility limited to 100 feet away from his or her building or structure or to the property line, whichever is less, and limited to their land. If the property is found to be a public health safety threat by the accumulation of waste material that is left out in the open, such as rubbish, crates, cartons, metal and glass containers, and vehicle bodies and parts. This also provides for the abatement of accumulated waste material that has been determined to be a public nuisance.
- Was the GVCA involved in negotiating the development plan and/or the initiative process? No. The GVCA’s role is/has been to serve as an independent conduit of vital information to our members and north Poway residents on this issue. We continue to strive to provide complete and accurate information on the initiative and how it might impact the community in the long term so voters can make an informed decision at the ballot. None of our board members live in the StoneRidge community nor are members of Poway Open Space, Inc.