It could be called the Washington Avenue shuffle. Three times now, Escondido has proposed building a large recycled water treatment plant on lots along Washington Avenue, first near its eastern terminus, the second time in the middle of the city, and now near the western end of the street. The first try was on city-owned land near where the street ends at El Norte Parkway, property surrounded on three sides by newer housing whose residents screamed bloody murder. That location was rejected by the City Council in 2016.
The new Escondido City Council majority flexed its muscle Wednesday by reversing a decision made two years ago to build a recycled water desalination plant in the middle of the city near businesses, a retirement complex, and homes. The Washington Avenue and Ash Street site was strongly opposed by residents and business owners in the area when the council voted in 2017 to build the $15 million plant there. The facility is badly needed to divert used water from being dumped into the ocean and to bring less expensive, higher-quality water to avocado farmers in the eastern and northern parts of the city.
The new majority on the Escondido City Council appears poised to rescind the former council’s 2017 decision to locate a $44 million recycled water plant in the middle of a residential area. “It’s the wrong location,” newly elected Mayor Paul “Mac” McNamara said Friday of the site in the center of the city at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Ash Street. ” I’m seriously considering moving it. It’s in the middle of a neighborhood. It’s not the right location. It never was. I totally get it. It might cost us a few more bucks, but in the long term, it’s better to have it where it needs to be.”