Sunday, August 2, 2015

Downtown vibrancy update

A driver in the wee hours this Saturday morning was so drunk that he stopped his car in the middle of the freeway with no lights on. 10 News:
A suspected drunk driver was killed when he stopped his car on Interstate 5 in Encinitas Sunday Saturday.

The driver, a 27-year-old man, came to a stop without lights about 3:10 a.m. in the right lane of the I-5 north just south of Leucadia Boulevard, the California Highway Patrol said.

He opened his door and was immediately struck from behind by another vehicle traveling about 50 miles per hour, the CHP said.
Purely coincidentally, we're sure, he happened to be driving away from the downtown Encinitas bar district shortly after the bars closed.

UPDATE: [CHP Officer Chris] Parent said that, before the crash, several people had reported the Acura driver as possibly drunk.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Encinitas sued by ACLU for possible un-Constitutional free speech violation

Encinitas City Council and management have a long history of having difficulty understanding the First Amendment. In 2011, former City Manager Gus Vina, with former Council Member Jerome Stocks approval, illegally ordered a purge of images of late Council Member Maggie Houlihan from the DEMA's Arts Alive banners. The move was, as any first-year law student could tell you, a blatant violation of the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech. One wonders where our high-priced city attorney Glenn Sabine was during the decision-making process and in the ensuing months before the city finally backed down the following April.

Then in 2014 the Council had to re-write its ill-conceived 2012 sign ordinance, which illegally censored political speech yet again.

Now that replacement sign ordinance is itself un-Constitutional, according to the local chapter of the ACLU. Union-Trib:
The local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the city of Encinitas, arguing a municipal limit on yard signs violates the public’s right to free speech.

Encinitas’ sign ordinance — which restricts people from posting more than two temporary signs, except during election seasons — tramples on “the hallowed right of homeowners to speak out to their communities and neighbors,” according to the lawsuit.

“There’s no justification for this arbitrary and draconian cap,” said David Loy, legal director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.

The suit seeks to have the two-sign cap and any efforts to enforce it declared unconstitutional. It also seeks the recovery of attorneys’ fees and “such other relief as the court deems proper.”
This one is a closer call, because the new ordinance is content-neutral and courts have often allowed cities to regulate size and placement of signs so long as they don't censor based on content. Perhaps the novel issue is whether people can be restricted to expressing only two opinions at a time.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Olivenhain drug house severely damaged in fire

From an Olivenhain tipster:
- Fire trucks heard late last night
- Plumes of smoke still visible this morning
- RSF and Encinitas fire trucks on the scene
- News vans on the scene
- Appears to be the Olivenhain drug house from earlier EU coverage
Here's 10 News on the story.  10 News confirms it is 1507 Rancho Encinitas, the subject of the December SWAT raid.  As we reported in January, the owners had recently lost a mortgage-related lawsuit against Chase Bank, and were trying to sell the house.

Congratulations to the neighbors of Rancho Encinitas Drive! It looks like your long neighborhood nightmare is finally over.

UPDATE: Body found inside.

UPDATE 7/31/15: The victim was a 23-year-old woman.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Bike wars!

As we get into the lazy days of summer and the city council is doing no harm on its annual break, our eyes turn to regional happenings.

From the town of Pacific Beach (also known to San Diego tipplers as Baja Encinitas, we're told), Pacific Beach businesses push back against bike-sharing service:
A battle is brewing in Pacific Beach over who controls the local bike rental market.

"We're a small neighborhood shop," said Surf Monkey Bike shop owner Jake Russell.

"I'm going to lose rentals because of it," Russell added when asked about the new DecoBike bike-sharing stations popping up around PB.

Bike-sharing allows a customer to rent a bike from one location and return it to another.

"We want DecoBike to pack up and go back to the East Coast," Russell exclaimed.

Russell said the ride-sharing service will directly cut into his business and dozens of others who rent bikes. In some locations, parking spots will be lost when new stations open.
DecoBike is a company that started bike-share in Miami and has expanded to San Diego in partnership with the city of San Diego. Their locations are primarily around downtown San Diego for urban commuters, but the expansion into Pacific Beach puts them right in the tourist market.

In some ways, this is like Uber vs. the taxi cartels: entrenched incumbents complaining about disruptive innovation. But in important ways, it differs. Where Uber is a pure market innovator and the taxi cartels are a government-created oligopoly, in the PB case the bike shops are the free-market operators and the disruptor is coming in with government support in the form of unprecedented rights to hundreds of bike rack locations on public property (and who knows what other financial support from the city, SANDAG, et. al.).

Aside from the PB brouhaha, though, bike-share is a rapidly growing concept around the world.

Is it time for bike-share in Encinitas? Up to now, most of our bicyclists are the spandex-clad multi-color weekend Lance Armstrongs. We don't have the hotel zone or the flat east-west routes or the bike path around the bay for tourists that PB has. Would tourists, commuters, or shoppers use shared bikes to go over the ridge to or from El Camino Real? Is there enough demand for bike shares to work up and down the coast to Solana Beach and Carlsbad, or within Encinitas from Leucadia to Cardiff?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Logan Jenkins on Encinitas' new "proactive" code enforcement fiasco

Last year, at staff's request, the City Council changed the rules for code enforcement, so that code enforcement officers would not just respond to public complaints, but would go out "proactively" looking for reasons to issue citations to residents and businesses.

This led directly to last week's news of repeated harassment of the Kraken.

Jenkins:
In a wild roller-coaster ride, bar owner Ron Crilley canceled all concerts following a spate of Encinitas noise citations that reportedly were not based on citizen complaints. (The nearest residences are hundreds of yards from the bar.)

The citations stem from a weird regulation that no sound at all should be emitted from a bar with an entertainment license. (Does that mean that no doors should open because, God forbid, music from a jukebox might spring out? Can windows not be open? Are we talking about bars or bordellos?)

[...]

Go ahead, Encinitas. Enforce noise standards, but put the onus on responsible, reasonable citizens, not drive-by inspectors under orders to keep the absolute peace and quiet.
Time to re-think those new "proactive" enforcement powers the council gave to Planning Director Jeff Murphy and his staff?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Kraken cancels live music after noise citations

Union-Trib:
Since 1976, The Kraken has offered live music nearly every night of the week. But the Cardiff bar's owner pulled the plug Tuesday, worried that a series of recent noise citations over loud music could cost him his liquor license.

Beth Levy, who books bands five nights a week at the popular bar, said owner Ron Crilley made the difficult decision to indefinitely cancel live music after a city code enforcement officer showed up Tuesday with five citations for excessive noise. The citations, all written between June 26 and July 20, say that amplified music could be heard late at night outside the walls of the bar at 2531 S. Coast Highway 101.

To avoid risking the loss of his liquor license, Crilley asked Levy to cancel all future concerts.

"For 39 years we've had live music almost every night of the week," Levy said. "I've worked there 10 years. I'm a single mom with three kids and I'm worried about the future livelihood of myself and everyone that works here. Without music, we won't have the crowds in here dancing like we used to."

[...]

Michael Rennie, whose band Rio Peligroso was scheduled to perform at The Kraken tonight, said the loss of the bar as its "North County home base is significant for us."

"It's hard to imagine that the Kraken contributed significantly to any noise issues," Rennie said. "There are no residences nearby, it sits in Highway 101 and nearby businesses appeared to be closed by the time we took the stage. If anything, it seemed The Kraken would be a magnet for activity in that area after 8 p.m."
So in response to complaints from downtown Encinitas residents about public drunkenness, drunk driving, noise, sex, vomiting, and urination around Second Street, the council hired a full-time, pensioned code enforcement officer who works mostly day shifts and hasn't visibly improved the downtown situation.  But a long-time local music tradition two miles away that was not a known problem for neighbors gets shut down. So that's how it works.

An online petition to save music at the Kraken started just two days ago already has more than 1100 signatures.

HT: The Sculpin.

UPDATE: In the face of public outrage, the city backs down:
Jul 23, 2015 — Thank You To Everyone For Joining The Cause To Keep Local Live Music At The Kraken. We Have An Update From The Owner That The City Of Encinitas Has Heard Our Cries And Will Allow Us To Continue Live Music At The Kraken Without Future Retaliation Or Citations. I Strongly Urge Everyone To Continue To Show Why Local Live Music Is An Essential Part Of The Cities Culture. Once Again, Thank You All And Your Voices Have Been Heard. We Saved The Music!!!