Saturday, May 30, 2015

Council considering giving staff another pay increase

From Lisa Shaffer's latest newsletter:
... if we increase staff salaries as a result of our labor negotiations, each percent increase costs about $78,000 for the represented employees and a similar amount for the remainder of the employees, so a total of $150k/year for each percent. Negotiations are underway and we don't yet know where we will end up.
Lest we forget, the average city worker already gets $92K + $36K in benefits. And the average career city retiree gets $94K for life upon early retirement.

Any pay increase would also increase pensions proportionately.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

5/27/15 City Council meeting open thread

The current city council has continued prior councils' practice of not providing written summary minutes of council discussion, but only "action minutes" which state the outcomes. Encinitas Undercover will provide a forum for observers to record what occurs at each council meeting.

Items of interest tonight: budget, capital budget, raising fines for code violations, hearing a couple of Leucadia development appeals, closed sessions on city manager and litigation.
Please use the comments to record your observations.

Happy 11th Birthday, Tayler Skye Kook

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Tim Baird to blow 2% of Pacific View windfall on iPad login software

$189,000.

Times must be pretty flush down there at the Encinitas Union School District.

Leucadia Blog.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

SANDAG's population growth estimates are consistently, horribly wrong

One of the main political and legal tools used to force high-density development on Encinitas is SANDAG's Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) numbers.  SANDAG comes up with population growth estimates, then forces cities to build high-density development to accommodate that population growth.

But there's a problem.  SANDAG's growth numbers are always completely wrong.  And not just randomly wrong, but consistently biased for the past 25 years in favor of developers.

Voice of San Diego:
In 2000, for instance, SANDAG projected the region would add nearly 400,000 new people by 2010. Instead, the population grew by just 280,000 people. The agency overestimated actual growth by 43 percent.

In 1990, SANDAG told local governments the region would add 480,000 people by 2000. The region added 315,000. That’s a 52 percent error.

They’ve missed the other way too, though it’s been a while.

In 1980, SANDAG told local governments to prep for an increase of 460,000 new residents by 1990. The region actually added 630,000 people, 27 percent more than SANDAG said.

“One can be completely agnostic about whether the population going up or down is good, but to the extent that our infrastructure budgets are driven by this projected change, along with all the other development policies for cities and the county, that’s a pretty big forecasting error,” Carson said.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Encinitas wins Golden Fleece Award for Pacific View purchase

Seaside Courier:
The city of Encinitas walked away with the grand prize at a big awards ceremony produced Thursday night by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, but the three city leaders who deserve credit for the win were not present to accept the award.

That’s understandable: the prize was the Golden Fleece Award, which each year is presented by the SDCTA, the region’s leading taxpayer watchdog, to government programs, services or expenditures that it believes exemplify wasteful or inefficient use of taxpayer dollars.

This year, the grand prize went to the city of Encinitas, for its $10 million purchase last year of the abandoned Pacific View Elementary School site. The co-winner was the Encinitas Union School District, which sold the city the 2.8-acre parcel of land and its asbestos-riddled school building at more than twice the appraised value.

Man dead in apparent gas suicide on Leucadia's Florita Street

Fox 5 News.

Neighbors say the man's name was Brent and he had three young children. He was found dead by a friend, with the windows closed and gas hissing from the kitchen. The home appears to be 222 Florita.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Parks and Rec Dept wants to cut public park hours

No more early morning jog or dog walk in the park for you!

Encinitas Advocate:
The Encinitas Parks and Recreation Commission on May 19 heard a plan that calls for reducing the hours at some local parks.

Thirteen smaller city parks, including Leucadia Oaks Park and Orpheus Park, are open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Under a proposal from the Encinitas Parks and Recreation Department, the new hours would be sunrise to sunset. This would provide law enforcement with consistency, the staff report stated.

[...]

Hours would also be scaled back at the 44-acre Encinitas Community Park. It’s open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., and this would change to sunrise to sunset.

Ecke, Ayers kicked off YMCA board for questioning fee increase on lower-income children

KPBS:
Two board members of the Ecke YMCA in Encinitas, including the daughter of branch founder Paul Ecke, have been ousted after they objected to a decision to eliminate discounted youth memberships at all of San Diego County's YMCAs.

Lizbeth Ecke, who also is the granddaughter of the Y's namesake, Magdalene Ecke, says she and fellow board member, Bob Ayers, were asked to “temporarily resign” from the Encinitas YMCA’s board of management earlier this year. Like Lizbeth, Ayers has deep family ties to the North County Y.

They say the request to step down came after the two wrote a letter to the YMCA of San Diego County's corporate board of directors questioning a policy change they believed would cut off thousands of kids from recreation programs at the county’s 12 YMCAs.
UPDATE: Ousted YMCA board members start web site: YnowSD.com

City spokeswoman Marlena Medford resigns

Coast News:
Encinitas’ communications director resigned this week, citing employment opportunities and family obligations.

Marlena Medford, who held the position that had been a point of controversy with a number of local activists questioning its need, said Wednesday that she had submitted her letter of resignation on Monday.

Medford, who was hired in December 2013 by former City Manager Gus Vina, served as the city’s spokeswoman, point of contact for the media and spearheaded a number of the city’s social media and public outreach initiatives.
Though the creation of the position by Vina and a faction of the council was viewed by many as costly and unnecessary, Medford was widely liked and respected. We wish her well in her new ventures!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

5/20/15 City Council meeting open thread

The current city council has continued prior councils' practice of not providing written summary minutes of council discussion, but only "action minutes" which state the outcomes. Encinitas Undercover will provide a forum for observers to record what occurs at each council meeting.

Please use the comments to record your observations.

Council to ban drinking in parks not because it's a problem but because staff told them to

Encinitas Advocate:
“The reason we looked at this… is because of Encinitas Community Park,” city Parks & Recreation Director Lisa Rudloff said Friday.

The huge new park — a 44-acre expanse that includes sports fields, a skate park, playgrounds and a dog park — is by far the city’s largest parkland. And, it’s had some alcohol-related problems since it opened in January, Rudloff said.

Between Jan. 10 and April 15, county sheriff’s deputies were called out to the park eight times for alcohol and drug-related incidents, and one person was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of public intoxication, records indicate.
It's such a non-issue that staff had to lump in other drugs -- not alcohol -- to find even eight incidents over four months. And most of those were probably that same homeless guy who could be arrested for intoxication in public which is already a crime. How many problems were caused by moms having box wine at kids' birthdays or dads having a beer while using the new barbecue facilities?

Leucadia Blog has it exactly right:
Soooooooo, in a city where the hot button issue has been drinking and partying along the now trending coast highway Encinitas district, the city is considering banning alcohol in our parks. That means all the cute yoga moms of Encinitas can no longer drink box white wine at their little kid's birthday parties.

No more mimosas in red cups!

The message from the city: drinking in parks is bad unless we are selling the drinks to you.


UPDATE: In a rare victory for common sense, ban delayed until Sheriffs show there's a problem. The cooler heads were Kristin Gaspar, Mark Muir, and Catherine Blakespear, while Tony Kranz and Lisa Shaffer voted to go along with staff's suggestion of total prohibition.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New strip mall owners kick out local businesses to go upscale

San Diego Reader:
Early in the morning on May 19, the 7-Eleven at 1446 Encinitas Boulevard closed permanently. It’s been a fixture near the El Camino Real corridor for decades — since the 1970s.

According to 7-Eleven’s director of corporate communications, Margaret Chabris, this location, one of seven in Encinitas, had a “significant rent increase and demand for other expenditures” by the new owners of the Village Square I commercial center.

Other center businesses tell an expanded story. The new owners of the center, an investment firm out of L.A., appear to want the mom and pop-owned businesses out. And they are doing so by raising rents to unsustainable rates.

In the last year, now-vacant space once housed Figaro’s Pizza, Swami’s CafĂ©, and Martin’s Fine Art School. One of the Mexican restaurants in the center may be next to leave, according to other merchants. All due to a large rent increase, as much as 50 percent, according to a merchant who asked not to be identified.

“The center owners only want nationally recognized brands,” said the business owner. “They want it to be more upscale.”
That would explain the Taco Bell teardown and rebuild a few years ago. Taco Bell is a national brand but the landlord wanted a newer-looking building. But hey, at least we're still keeping Santa Fe Plaza crappy.

Click on over to read the whole thing. It's happening in the Ralph's-TJ's strip mall too.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Encinitas is finalist for Golden Fleece Awards for Pacific View deal

Times of San Diego:
The city of Encinitas and the Encinitas school district are in competition with the cities of San Diego (for costly Portland Loos) and Escondido for the bottom awards by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association.

[...]

The annual program notes the best and worst in local government efficiency, spending and decision-making.

[...]

Golden Fleece Award Finalists

Metro

* City of Encinitas & Encinitas Union School District – Pacific View Profiteering
* City of San Diego – Portland Loos
* City of Escondido – Adoption of Citizens’ Property Rights Initiative


Regional

* Palomar Community College District – Computer Dumping
* Caltrans – Water Wasters
* San Ysidro School District – Title I Cover-Up
The San Diego County Taxpayers Association beclowned itself in 2013 when it awarded the Golden Fleece to the Poway Unified School District for the disastrous $1 billion capital appreciation bonds which the SDCTA had itself endorsed. Fortunately, this year there is no record of the SDCTA blessing the Pacific View purchase.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Dave Roberts scandal worsens

We've been remiss in not covering the weird Supervisor Dave Roberts saga.

Long story short: the guy with the smiley public image seems to have a real dark side in private.  He had mass resignations from his staff amid complaints about a hostile work environment.

And now it gets worse. Voice of San Diego:
Another shoe has dropped in the scandal engulfing County Supervisor Dave Roberts political career.

Here’s NBC 7 San Diego on the Democrat’s troubles: “A former employee for San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts is accusing him of misusing public funds, using county money to pursue a personal relationship and retaliating against employees who spoke up against these alleged practices.” Here’s the U-T’s version.

If true, the complaint is devastating.
Full complaint in all its gory detail here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

5/13/15 City Council meeting open thread

The current city council has continued prior councils' practice of not providing written summary minutes of council discussion, but only "action minutes" which state the outcomes. Encinitas Undercover will provide a forum for observers to record what occurs at each council meeting.

Items of interest on the agenda: the budget, increasing fines for code violations, and proclaiming Friday May 15 "Bike to Work Day in the City of Encinitas."



Please use the comments to record your observations.

Post-meeting media coverage:

Seaside Courier: Encinitas aims to regulate sober living homes.

Encinitas Advocate: Council decides to write a letter on density bonus

Union-Trib: Intrepid Theatre Company gets OK to move ahead on theater in Encinitas Ranch shopping center. Funny how they weren't interested in Encinitas' new $10 million crown jewel Pacific View arts center.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Fatal motorcycle accident on RSF Road

From Facebook this morning:
[...] in the same spot where these types of events have been happening in the 44 years I've lived in Olivenhain..It's time to straighten this curve......................About 15 minutes ago, there was a terrible accident on Rancho [Santa] Fe Road, right at the curve in front of my house. A car and motorcycle collided. Many of us ran down there to help, calling 911 on the way. I WAS PUT ON HOLD. The biker stopped screaming and passed. People immediately started CPR until the paramedics arrived. The shocked him and were continuing CPR as they took him away in the ambulance. I pray that God sees fit to allow this young man to return.

[...]

This becomes the 5th death, and countless injury accidents on this bend. We knew when we moved here that the county (now the city) might take some of my land in order to straighten this dangerous 2 lane blind bend. 44 years, and thousands of daily trips later, we're still waiting.
Another commenter:
My friend and team mate Brian Graves died there,senior year in high school. He was heading back home after going to 7-11 for ice cream. A car driving too too fast heading south crossed over the line and hit him head on. His Mom still maintains a memorial post there. White post with blue ribbons. Mustangs colors.


UPDATE: Father-son motorcycle ride ends in death of 28-year-old.
The accident happened about 10:15 a.m. as the men were riding separate motorcycles south on North Rancho Santa Fe Road, sheriff's Sgt. Joe Tomaiko said.

As they rounded a curve north of Peppertree Lane, a Hyundai sedan started to turn into their path and the riders steered around on each side of the car. The Hyundai collided with the younger man's motorcycle, which caught fire. The rider was thrown into a traffic lane, then struck by an Infiniti SUV, Tomaiko said.
And a commenter on the U-T corrects:
This article is incorrect. The hyundai was waiting to turn left onto Peppertree. The motorcycles came up on that car from behind but did not stop in time. One motorcyclist passed on the right in the bike lane but the deceased hit the left rear fender and was thrown into oncoming traffic. A tragic and awful accident. My condolences to the deceased family members. Rip.
Encinitas Advocate names the deceased as John Wilcsek.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Downtown residents not getting any relief from bar problems

From the Inbox:
To: Encinitas City Council, Jeff Murphy, Joan Kling, Mario Morales
From: Encinitas Citizens Committee

As was stated in prior messages to Code Enforcement, the Encinitas Citizens Committee chooses not to have monthly meetings with Mario Morales. In our previous meetings he had nothing to report to us about inspecting the offending alcohol serving establishments. We also expressed frustration that the bars are only going to be inspected 2 days a month during warm weather. This is not appropriate given that the summer nights, especially during the weekends, are the historical times for disruptive behavior by the bars and bar patrons. As to Mario's question about whether he can use an email response as a meeting, we would not call an exchange of emails a meeting at this time.

We consider it good news that the City Council has recently approved an ordinance that will raise fines. With the new ordinance, the third citation will go from $500 to $1,000. The Shelter/Saloon and Union have two offenses each. So this means, no doubt, that if there is a third citation it will cost them $1,000. Or, were the first two offenses let go without fines? Shameful if that was the case!

We think it is essential that this Ordinance go into effect before the summer. This would put the City of Encinitas in a stronger position to curb disturbances as establishments would be more diligent about obeying the law. Waiting until part or all of the summer has past would be an extreme waste of a very necessary ordinance!

Finally and of utmost importance, is the need to increase Code Enforcement's visits to problematic places that serve alcohol. The ECC still asserts that frequent and timely monitoring -- as well as appropriate fines -- are vital to a healthy downtown environment and to provide a safe and disturbance-free life for residents and local businesses.
Last year the council created another full-time code enforcement position at the request of Gus Vina, using the downtown drunkfest scene as an excuse. Sounds like that new officer is focused on other things.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Union-Trib sells out to LA Times

News by way of the Union-Trib itself.

We expect one of the first noticeable changes to be in editorial and news bias, from Manchester crony capitalist developer Republican bias to LA Times pro-union Democrat bias.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Shaffer congratulates city for recognition from software vendor for using vendor's product



On Facebook. The link is to what is quite obviously nothing but a press release from the software vendor.

But what's the reality of OpenGov? Are Encinitas and its water district really "the first two governments in San Diego to launch elaborate online budget platforms?" Does Encinitas really have better online budget information than Carlsbad or San Diego? Do any readers here know of formerly apathetic neighbors who started using OpenGov and are now much more engaged?

We don't know of any regular users of OpenGov, and we tend to hear from quite a few fairly active council watchers. We do recall giving OpenGov a cursory look when it was first introduced in Encinitas, and found it fairly simplistic.

Serial candidate Bryan Ziegler featured in 92024 Magazine

Bryan Ziegler, who ran quixotic, way-out-of-the-money campaigns for County Supervisor, then Encinitas City Council, then Encinitas Mayor, is featured in this month's freebie 92024 Magazine.



And he's out on disability for a back injury from his County job. P.S. He recently sued the county for a hostile work environment and discrimination.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Midnight Powerline Service

No, that glow last night wasn't the full moon in Scorpio. And it wasn't new stadium lights at Encinitas Community Park.

That was just some really powerful lighting for midnight powerline repairs on Rubenstein.

Happy 40th Birthday Jason Kook

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Yet another Encinitas Ponzi scheme

Three years after we wondered whether Encinitas was the Ponzi capital of America, the answer seems to be yes, yes it is.

First there was Scott Bottolfson. Then there was John Clement's EdgeFund. And then Steven Hamilton.

And now meet Dennis Eugene Long:
Dennis Eugene Long stole a lot of money over the years — nearly $1 million from dozens of victims, including about 30 who showed up at his sentencing hearing Tuesday.

But it wasn't just the financial losses that prolonged their hurt.

"You stole not only money but trust," Suzanne Stoneall said to Long, who was inside a holding cell in a Vista courtroom. He had been the man she came to know through Bible study as a big brother.

[...]

Prosecutors said Long, 65, of Carlsbad defrauded at least three dozen families out of $5,000 to $87,000 after persuading them to invest in an herbal Viagra-type drug business. He told them the company had just been sold to a larger company for $4 million, but it wasn't too late to get them in on the deal because some earlier investors had backed out.

Long told the victims, who he had met through churches or his daughter's volleyball clubs, that he had been a successful businessman and a corporate-level official at Target. Court records show he worked as a retail clerk at an Encinitas Target until he was fired. An investigation by Carlsbad police indicated he had been selling shares of the bogus herbal supplement company since at least 2005.
Though the U-T cites Long as most recently having lived in Carlsbad, public records show him having lived on Swallowtail Road at the north end of the golf course in Encinitas, as well as having worked at the Encinitas Target.

What brings so many Ponzi schemers to Encinitas? Is it a population of gullible people with a lot of money?

In any case, if a middle-aged white male from Encinitas offers you an investment opportunity, just walk away.

Friday, May 1, 2015

GoPro pulls out of Cardiff

U-T:
Action video camera maker GoPro has leased 45,000 square feet in the remodeled former San Diego International Floral Exchange building in Carlsbad – boosting the high-profile company’s local footprint.

Based in San Mateo, GoPro was founded in 2004 by University of California San Diego graduate Nick Woodman, an avid surfer who found a better way to capture photos and videos on the waves.

Today, GoPro dominates the digital camera and camcorder market. It has more than 1,000 employees worldwide. In San Diego County, GoPro employs 80 workers at an older, 13,000-square-foot office building in Cardiff, according to real estate research firm CoStar.
Cardiff locals have reported the GoPro people transforming the scene downtown as bankers in business suits became common next to regulars in flip flops at the local cafes.

This move sounds like not really a policy problem with Encinitas government, but just not enough office space in Cardiff for a growing company.

Satire or reality?

Encinitas Guerrilla:
Following the recommendation in the staff's agenda report, the Encinitas City Council added an ordinance to the municipal code that bans common sense in city government. The council's action formalizes a practice that has been followed since incorporation in 1986.

Accordingly, the city will continue to maintain a bloated staff, and to pay salaries and provide benefits and pensions unmatched in the private sector. The city will also continue to pay at least double the going rate to consultants, to contractors for capital improvement projects and to property owners for purchases.