At last week's Planning Commission meeting, the Leichtag Foundation managed to push an accessory use "interpretation" for two new offices for non-agricultural use on what is supposedly "ag in perpetuity" (of Ecke fame) property. They asked for the two and got them. Never mind that the code doesn't allow this use, never mind that in very real terms it's a violation of Prop A - effective rezoning without a vote of the public - it's one more bone the city can throw at business.
Those who heard testimony from the Leichtag group that focused almost solely on what nice people the Leichtags are, what philanthropic folks they are, and, in a time when all we hear are bad, sad things on the news, they offer a ray of hope to our poor city. What they offered and the city enabled is a slippery slope to what Jim Farley (Leichtag spokesperson) has been whispering around town: they'd love to see a convention center there. Would you??
According to Farley, the good people at Leichtag make no profit on their operation and whatever they do is good for the people of Encinitas...except they forgot to ask us. Kind of brings to mind the image of foie gras that is so yummy and so good, except producers forgot to ask the goose. You know how that turns out for the goose.
Here are two more views on the subject from long-time residents.
When asked about the plans, Mayor Barth was supportive of Leichtag.
Other community members voiced the concern that changing the rules for a beloved community group sets a precedent that the law no longer applies equally to everyone and that cronyism may become business as usual.
Let's give the last word to Lee Leichtag's granddaughter, Heather Greene:
My grandfather always had the attitude of, "if you can't get in through the front door, you go around and you go in the back door."