The Ecke family donated the land to the YMCA for the benefit of Encinitas youth back in the 1980s, and in 1989 the then-nascent city of Encinitas entered into a 25-year lease with the YMCA.That last part, if true, is a stunner. The fiasco was bad enough when the city council rubber-stamped the 30-day termination clause without discussion. But that was assuming that the Y had bargaining leverage and wouldn't have agreed to an extension without such a clause. If the city actually had the option to renew the lease cleanly for 10 years and didn't, something extremely nefarious appears to be afoot. That would mean the city's negotiators actively worked with the YMCA to steal an asset from Encinitas and its kids right under the noses of an oblivious city council.
The YMCA didn’t have the money to build the facilities, and the city didn’t have the money to buy the land, so a deal was struck. The city agreed to build three or four baseball fields which could also accommodate at least two soccer fields, plus a snack shack, and equipment storage areas.
In return for constructing and maintaining those amenities, the city would have the right to program those fields to suit public demand including Encinitas Little League, Encinitas Soccer League, and what became up to seven other user groups.
The lease payments for the five acres of prime real estate less than a mile from the beach was a whopping $25 for 25 years. Yep, a buck a year for 25 years. Do the math, the 25 years was up in 2014.
But the lease also had a ten-year option that the city could exercise at its discretion at the end of the original 25-year lease. But for some reason that no one will fess up to, they threw that away.
Do you think those folks up north who are about to hire Gus Vina know about this whole episode?
The Ecke YMCA is a respected community organization. Perhaps the public blowback they've gotten will persuade them to do the right thing and amend the agreement to take out the termination clause.
UPDATE: It's true! The city had an absolute option for a 10-year clean renewal, which Parks Director Lisa Rudloff and City Manager Gus Vina amended away with the council's apparently unwitting approval.
Both Encinitas Undercover and the Union-Tribune's Logan Jenkins had completely missed this bombshell. Jenkins wrote, "The conventional wisdom appears to be that the YMCA held the trump card. No sudden-death clause, no extension. The city had to agree to Draconian terms." Which is now clearly not the case.
If this city council truly believes in "transparency" and "open government," there will be a full, public investigation into who was involved in adding the termination clause added and why, and how City Manager Vina and Mayor Barth agreed that this should go on the consent calendar and avoid public discussion.