For the quick take home message: I encourage you, my loyal readers, to
Vote NO on Prop A
For some detail:
Overview:A developer recently purchased the Stoneridge Country Club and wants to eventually install ~180 high density condominiums on the ~117 acre property. The property, most of which is currently zoned for, and preserved as, Open Space Recreation (OS-R), has a golf course, tennis courts, and other amenities typical of a country club. Proposition FF requires voter approval of the City of Poway's residents for any higher density development of any parcel of land with a density lower than Rural Residential 1 (RR1). This means that this property requires voter approval to rezone it from OS-R to Residential Condominium (RC).
The developer has said that he intends to only develop a portion of this land and will leave the rest as "permanent" open space. To that end, the developer formed a shell limited liability corporation (LLC) to sign a contract with a group of residents promising such a thing upon completion of the 180 units. Since the vote is for the entirety of the property, and any such signed agreement would not take place until the end of the 180 units, the developer could build on the entire property until they got to 180 units on part of the property. Since the legal agreement is between the developer's shell cooperation and residents, but not with the City of Poway, it will be up to those residents, not the City, to enforce the agreement. You will note in the Voter pamphlet, there is not mention by the City Attorney of this agreement. A curious and telling omission. Since the LLC that signed the agreement has no assets, there is no recourse for the residents, even if they prevail.
Here's a link to a video review of the land use agreement by a land use lawyer.
Essentially, this is an effort to turn this property into a replica of the many high density developments we see in the Carmel Mountain and Mira Mesa regions.
The developer has a history of scorched earth tactics to get his way. Most recently in Escondido, where he spread chicken manure on his property (another golf course) as a form of chemical warfare against local residents who opposed his plans to replace the course with high density housing. He also prevailed in a lawsuit against the City of Escondido when their City Council tried to intervene on behalf of the affected residents. Note that he did win in this case, and is in the process of a massive housing development on the entirety of that golf course.
Don't let this developer's assholery get in your way of Voting NO on Prop A.
This developer hired a decently effective political consulting company, which Astroturfed a set of supporters for this measure, hired paid signature gatherers, and got enough signatures to get his issue put forth in a special election. This initiative was sold to the public in several forms ranging from preserving open space to helping education. In the end, all it really does is use local government to sacrifice the quality of life of the residents of Poway, to increase the returns on his private investment.
The various political tactics that these consultants have used in different parts of the City are a textbook example of how to partition a population into demographic units and spin the issue in every which way other than the truth. (This, BTW, is something Poway will need to get used to with the introduction of District Voting for the City Council.)
The focus in Central Poway has been on school tax revenue. In some parts of the southern areas of Poway the focus has been on perceived class divide and schadenfreude. The issue in North Poway has mostly been centered around downplaying the traffic impact. Younger and middle aged groups get flyers about romantic options in the current restaurant establishments. etc.
More information about this measure can be found at ProtectPoway.com
If Proposition A passes, it provides a clear cut blueprint for unscrupulous outside developers to successfully employ divide and conquer tactics and heavily develop the City of Poway. Poway is a jewel in the State of California, waiting to be exploited through higher density housing. The only thing holding that back is Prop FF. Lets vote to keep it that way.