Food for fines at the library, city budget surplus, golf club property stink continues

Former Escondido Country Club golf course site continues to cause controversy.

Escondido Public Library’s Holiday Food for Fines Program Begins

Maybe you’re not quite like Jerry Seinfeld who faced 20 years of library fines for not having returned Tropic of Cancer to the New York Public Library. However, you got this overdue book fine and got to make good….So?

If it’s less than $20, you can dismiss the fine and maybe do some good by way of food. Yes, the first harbinger of the holiday season is nearly upon us, overdue book lovers. Escondido Public Library’s annual Holiday Food for Fines Program runs Monday, Nov. 30 through Thursday, Dec. 31.

Those transgressing library return rule may clear up to $20 in fines off their account by contributing food benefitting Interfaith Community Services in Escondido which distributes the food to families in need throughout the North County area.

Food for fines

Food for fines

Non-perishable, nutritious, pre-packaged items such as canned goods, pasta, sauces, and peanut butter credit up to $1 worth of fines per item. (Non-nutritious, perishable, expired, or damaged items cannot be accepted.)

“This event is a wonderful way for Library patrons not only to clear some of their fines, but to also give back to their community by helping those in need,” Escondido Library customer services supervisor Linda Weber said.

“Last year we collected more than 90 crates of food weighing an estimated 2,340 pounds. We hope to top that this year,” Weber said.

Food may only be used to clear fines, and may not be used to clear fees associated with lost or damaged books and materials, or city attorney fees.

Course, you don’t have to owe library fines to bring in food for the program. The library is happy to accept any donations whether or not they are fine-related and welcomes donations from patrons who bring in food just to help those in need.

For further information, contact Linda Weber at (760) 839-4613. Escondido Public Library is located at 239 South Kalmia Street in Escondido. The website is at

Whatever you do, don’t tell Seinfeld library investigations officer Lt. Bookman about the deal. He’s old school.

Reidy Creek Golf Course is a great Par-3 course, but a drain on city of Escondido coffers.

Reidy Creek Golf Course is a great Par-3 course, but a drain on city of Escondido coffers.

 City of Escondido shows budget surplus

Escondido officials were doing the budget surplus end zone dance this week. Finance Director Sheryl Bennett said the city showed a nearly $26,000 budget surplus in fiscal year 2014-15 that ended June 30.

This means the city budget is just about where it was before the Great 2007 Recession hit, according to officials.

The FY 2015 budget nearly reached 2008 levels as well. It was just over $80 million. The FY 2008 budget was $83 million.

Sales and property taxes have rebounded while the city wastewater fund showed a 4 percent increase. Meanwhile, city expenditures dropped $2.3 million in the last fiscal year, officials said.

Somewhat surprisingly, city leaders were quoted as saying the local economy, despite all financial indicators, wasn’t so hot. Mayor Sam Abed was quoted saying the economy was “bad despite what you hear,” while City Councilman Ed Gallo referred to a recent business website’s assertion that the city of San Diego was was the worst place for wealth creation in the nation.

The report to which Gallo referred at personal finance website based that lack of wealth creation assertion on a formula considering housing prices, income after taxes, average debt, employment and access to education. It addressed the city of San Diego and not Escondido specifically.

A major drag on the city economy appeared to be Reidy Creek Golf Course. The cit owns it while JC Resorts operates it. Officials said the course lost $131,000 in FY 2015. This necessitated draining the money from city coffers.

Hopefully, city officials like playing golf because the course has  lost money every year since 2010, the total coming to around $240,000.

Former Escondido Country Club golf course stink continues despite court settlement

Speaking of golf courses…

One would think the recent San Diego Superior Court settlement over development question at the former Escondido Country Club golf course property would be the end of the dispute that has simmered since a developer bought the club in 2012 and shut it down a few months later.

One would be wrong.

A group of homeowners from around the 110-acre golf course site were meeting Tuesday night to continue their dispute with the appropriately named Stuck in the Rough (SITR) development corporation that bought the place with intentions to turn it into a 430-home development. Mike Schlesinger, the controversial developer, later said the number of homes would be reduced to 270.

The Escondido Country Club Homeowners Organization, said it will not accept any settlement that involved SITR. They want another developer to assume the homebuilding project.

Coincidentally, that’s what the court settlement struck between SITR and city of Escondido specified. The new agreement said the company would withdraw its latest 2015 application for 270 homes on the property in return for dropping a lawsuit against Escondido over the property’s zoning.

SITR agreed “to withdraw its land plan application for the property in order to clear the way for a highly reputable home builder who will be announced soon to re-submit a plan at a later date.,” according to its publicist Dick Daniels.

While emphasizing that homeowners didn’t oppose any development, Mike Slater, president of the Escondido Country Club Homeowners Organization, said “”After two and a half years of bullying and intimidation and insults — like the five tons of chicken manure dumped on the property — people have no trust” in Schlesinger, adding, “We would welcome another developer who has no ties to Stuck in the Rough.”

Lest we forget, This dispute reached olfactory proportions last year when property neighbors claimed Stuck in the Rough dumped an estimated 5 tons of chicken manure on several abandoned fairways in apparent retaliation against them for opposing development plans.

Company officials said they simply were fertilizing the grass to keep it from dying. The San Diego County Air Pollution Control Board fined SITR and former course operator, Touchstone Golf, $100,000. The fine was paid with SITR calling it a donation and nor admitting any liability.

A measure sponsored by Schlesinger on the November 2014 ballot was defeated 61% to 39%. Outspent by more than 10 to 1, the measure’s opponents called Schlesinger a “Beverly Hills bully” and stressed the chicken manure incident.