The Neighbor Hood Hijacker: The Heroic Effort to Stop the Plundering of Our Community
My book follows the nearly five year long war that has wreaked havoc on home values, community stability and the legacy of the fifty year-old country club oriented neighborhood.
The Escondido Country Club community was a desirable resort-like address recently turned upside down by a nexus of social forces.
The book ties some of the unnecessary neighborhood conflict to the same national, cultural and generational divisions dominating the headlines across America, and pays tribute to the collective effort of a community to save itself from a ruthless property developer who wants to plunder the community for purely personal financial gain.
Here is an excerpt from the book:
"When the Escondido Country Club was sold, the new owner called a community meeting. While many of us who were not current members stood outside, I noticed a TV news truck pulling up into the parking lot. I decided to approach the reporter as soon as he got out.
"What do you know about this?" I asked him.
"Not much. Do you want to tell me about it?"
He told his cameraman to move in, and said, "Go for it. Look into the camera, and tell me what you think."
I said I was a longtime member who had left the club due to continuing deteriorating conditions, increasing prices and fees, and a general lack of communications between members and the ownership. The New Owner, who had closed escrow in December, was apparently threatening to close the course and turn it into a housing tract. That was something I knew the community would not accept without putting up a fight. The Country Club was so endemic to the community, and had provided so many years of important and memorable services beyond golf, the idea of using the property to develop new homes would wreck the identity and character of the neighborhood. And since so many of the locals homes fronted the course, they would stand to suffer serious economic damages were the course to go away.
He asked me if I was mad. I said yes, because I did not believe the owner's reasoning about the viability of the golf business. It was like a restaurant, if you don't update the menu, invest in the facilities, and provide good service, people will go somewhere else. They don't stop eating, they simply choose to spend their money at a business that cares about them. This business was run into the ground by owners who didn't know what they were doing, or at least had ulterior motives, because their business practices chased members away.
I theorized the new owner wanted to use that as a pretense to 'save' the community by flipping the property to home builders at an outrageous markup. He bought the property cheap, and if he is able to get the approvals, it would suddenly be worth many times what he paid for it."
That was in February, 2012. As of October, 2018, the situation is still in litigation, and the community is still in distress.