Monday, August 31, 2015

Gaspar announces for Supervisor

Times of San Diego:
Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar became the second North County mayor to announce an election challenge to San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts.

Gaspar, the chief financial officer of a physical therapy firm that she runs with her husband, is the second candidate — after Escondido Mayor Sam Abed — to come forward to challenge the freshman supervisor.
There's still a scenario where she remains mayor: she comes in third in the June primary behind Abed and Roberts or whomever the Democrats put up to replace Roberts, then files for re-election as mayor. But she's probably got the party establishment behind her, or she wouldn't make this move.

Left Turn Yield on Green



This seems like one of the more accident-prone intersections in town.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A poet rocks among us

Local musician Darius Degher has a new album out. Eleven Story Strum is a perfect name for it. It's a big album with big sound.



Degher has a great combination of lyrics ranging from playful to thought-provoking and music that really rocks.

Check out this review from San Diego Troubadour.

Degher plays frequently around town, and will be playing tonight at the library.  You can buy the album on Amazon, or listen to it for free on Spotify.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

What's this "mansionization" about?

In the U-T, Kranz, Shaffer, and Blakespear want to reduce allowable building size for single-family homes, including remodels.

It's kinda ironic because Kranz and Shaffer opposed Prop A's right to vote on upzoning for big commercial and multi-family developments, but they want to restrict what individual homeowners can do even more tightly than Prop A's height limits and existing setback rules already do.

Are McMansion remodels really a problem? Can somebody send in examples of single-family remodels that destroyed the neighborhood?

On the other hand, if this is about stopping developments like the 10 McMansions on one acre behind La Especial Norte, that's a worthy goal.  A couple of the public speakers focused on multi-lot developer projects that were incompatible with the existing neighborhood.

Here's what one Encinitas resident had to say in the U-T comments:
I thought we already had floor area ratio and setback restrictions, which are the best way to handle the situation.

For resident homeowners concerned witn quality of life, the state's misguided high density mandate is a much greater concern than the size of a resident neighbor's remodel.
When asked whether single-family McMansion remodels were a problem in Encinitas, local realtor Jim Klinge responded, "I've never seen one, and never heard a complaint. My blog photo is from LA!"

Friday, August 28, 2015

SealFit ShotDown

From the Inbox:
Good News!

The City is asking SealFit to cease operating fitness training on the streets for now. The City is in the process of deciding on issuing SealFit a Major Use Permit and they are continuing to receive complaints, such as the one below. The following is an email sent to Mark Divine, owner of SealFit, from Mario Morales (Code Enforcement Officer for the City).

Hello Mark,

I hope you are doing well. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me this week. Per my site visit on Tuesday, we are still receiving complaints regarding the use of your business. At this time we are asking you to cease operating fitness training on city streets such as the picture noted below. You are currently utilizing city streets and alleyways for training purposes. If we continue to receive complaints we have no choice but to begin to issue cites for blocking public right of way. Encinitas Municipal Code Section 15.08.040 states, it shall be unlawful for any person to block, impede or obstruct or to otherwise prevent, delay, hinder or interfere with the free passage of persons on a City street. If you continue to block, impede, hinder, delay, free passage of residents or pedestrians you will be cited per city code. We are asking you to cease your training on city streets. Please keep in mind that you are in the process of obtaining a Major Use Permit and violations may be considered for the issuance of your permits. If you should have any questions, please feel free to contact me at your convenience. Please note: Due to the volume of complaints received Code Enforcement will conduct random inspections of your business during the regular hours of operations. If violations are witness during this time, citations will be issued. We look forward working with you and thank you for your cooperation to this important matter.

Best Regards,

Mario

Encinitas Municipal Code Section 15.08.040 Obstructing Use or Access.Unless the conduct is pursuant to issued permit or other lawful authority, it shall be unlawful for any person to block, impede or obstruct or to otherwise prevent, delay, hinder or interfere with the free passage of persons on a City street.

"The noise from them dropping these bar bells was deafening. This was heard at 6:00 pm while I was trying to enjoy my evening dinner half a block away. (It was also heard from the meditation patio at the SRF church.) Cars are trying to come down the alley. See the van approaching in the picture. They are obstructing traffic. 
Same noise heard at 6am -- the slamming of weights. SealFit needs to be in a different location. Encinitas is partly residential and too small for their needs, as this photo suggests."



Thursday, August 27, 2015

We get complaints

From the comments:
Geez, ya know, EU is usually fairly rational, but he's really stretched, sensationalized and speculated wildly on this one.

Because hack Thomas K. Arnold asked idly in that worthless rag, the Seaside Courier, if it's time to bring Stocks back doesn't equal being "touted in the local press."

EU picked up that nonsense and put it under a cute, provocative headline on his blog. That doesn't legitimize Arnold's wackiness, but it pulls eyeballs to the blog.

Then, to go from bad to worse, EU speculates that if the totally self-interested, arrogant, egomaniacal, [personal allegation deleted] Stocks had ridden in on a white horse and convinced himself and other council members to vote against the pension increase, it would have been defeated and the city would be on a financial cloud nine.

Has Stocks ever done anything that remotely resembled being heroic?

EU, if you want to be a good reporter, go into the records and find out how the pension increase got on the agenda, if there was a staff report, what the council discussion was, what citizens said and who made the motion to approve.

That would be responsible. What you've done up to this point is irresponsible and downright silly.
Let's take these items one by one.
Because hack Thomas K. Arnold asked idly in that worthless rag, the Seaside Courier, if it's time to bring Stocks back doesn't equal being "touted in the local press."

EU picked up that nonsense and put it under a cute, provocative headline on his blog. That doesn't legitimize Arnold's wackiness, but it pulls eyeballs to the blog.
The publisher and editor of the Seaside Courier spend a lot of time and money on the paper, and, by all appearances, hope for it to be not only a profit-making enterprise but a serious local influence on public opinion. You found the idea of a Stocks comeback far-fetched, as did we, and we had a little fun with it. If you have a complaint, it should be with the Seaside Courier, not EU.
Then, to go from bad to worse, EU speculates that if the totally self-interested, arrogant, egomaniacal, [personal allegation deleted] Stocks had ridden in on a white horse and convinced himself and other council members to vote against the pension increase, it would have been defeated and the city would be on a financial cloud nine.

Has Stocks ever done anything that remotely resembled being heroic?
Irrelevant. The point is, as another commenter pointed out, that Stocks was the dominant personality on the council and had a lot of influence. And even if he might not have changed the outcome by persuading another council member, he is still responsible for his own vote. Whether he would ever do the right thing is beside the point. We're saying he could have and should have opposed the pension increase. How is that objectionable?
EU, if you want to be a good reporter, go into the records and find out how the pension increase got on the agenda, if there was a staff report, what the council discussion was, what citizens said and who made the motion to approve.

That would be responsible. What you've done up to this point is irresponsible and downright silly.
We've discussed the 2005 4-1 vote (Stocks, Houlihan, Guerin, Dalager Yes; Bond No) many times before on this blog. The agenda item from 2005 is right here on the city web site, but we don't expect it will be all that enlightening. Without even reading it, we can tell you that city management likely maintained a neutral tone in the report in order to not appear self-serving, but vastly understated the long-term costs of the pension increase. The actual costs of the increase tunred out to be millions of dollars per year, plus more than ten million dollars in unfunded liabilities. That's more money than it would cost to start maintaining the roads properly.

Beyond what's written in the staff report, we can assure you that the council was being told:

1) We have to attract and retain quality employees
2) Other cities are doing it
3) CalPERS says everything is fine
4) Encinitas is in great financial shape

Did we get that about right?

Downright silly? Often. Irresponsible? We don't see it that way.

Carlsbad mall developer wins

No matter which side you're on regarding the Caruso mall plan for the Carlsbad strawberry fields, it raises some interesting issues.

Developer Caruso says he had to do an end-run around the California Environmental Quality Act because CEQA is such a quagmire it makes it impossible to do anything.

Union-Trib:
A citizen-led initiative was the best way to get Carlsbad's approval for a proposal to build a lagoonside shopping, entertainment and open space destination, the developer of the project said Wednesday.

Rick Caruso, founder and CEO of Caruso Affiliated, said he chose the initiative process because he didn't want his unique plan to get bogged down in the legal quagmire that can happen with the California Environmental Quality Act.

Even though his Agua Hedionda South Shore Specific Plan was designed to comply with CEQA, he said, the initiative process completely bypasses that state legislation.

CEQA makes it too easy for a competing developer to tie his project up with a lawsuit that, he said, even if he wins it, can be costly and time consuming.
And Carlsbad residents feel hoodwinked because they signed petitions believing they were supporting a public vote, but the initiative process allowed the council to approve the development without a public vote.

Encinitas' Prop A would theoretically prevent such a large-scale development without a public vote here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

8/26/15 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.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Encin-CHEAT-as! Ashley Madison database has hundreds of local names and addresses

News broke last month that someone, originally supposedly hackers but now possibly an insider, had stolen the Ashley Madison marital infidelity dating site's customer database.

The database is now available in some of the darker corners of the internet, and soon likely to be much more widely available. Through a contact with some deep technology connections, Encinitas Undercover has seen the names, addresses, e-mails, and credit card transactions of Ashley Madison users in Encinitas. There were 3480 credit card transactions by 441 unique names in Encinitas zip codes, with 348 names in 92024, 72 names in Cardiff's 92007, and 21 names in 92023 (Leucadia P.O. Boxes). While a handful of the names used pre-paid gift cards rather than identifiably named credit card accounts, most of the names appear legitimate and generally match public records of names and addresses in Encinitas.

Amateur blackmailers are already trying to extort people in the database by texting or e-mailing using the contact info provided. Of course, it would be futile to pay the blackmailers, because thousands or millions of other people have, or soon will have, the same data. If you're in the database, it's probably best to 'fess up immediately to your spouse. And given that men vastly outnumber women among Ashley Madison users, chances are that many of them never actually made a connection and had an affair... not that looking alone is not going to get you in pretty hot water at home.

Encinitas Undercover will not out anyone on the list (so don't even ask), but we will happily clear a whole group. We didn't notice any Encinitas politicians' names in the database, nor any of the 28 obstructionists. One lesser-known North County elected official was listed.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Jerome Stocks 2016: Tanned, Rested, Ready

Thomas K. Arnold in the Seaside Courier on what happens if Gaspar runs for Supervisor:
Gaspar’s departure would leave Councilman Mark Muir as the only member of the city’s leadership team with a thorough understanding of how a city should be run. Lisa Shaffer, Tony Kranz, and Catherine Blakespear are committed public servants, but they tend to fly off into a utopian la la land that keeps getting them, and the city, into trouble. It was Shaffer and Kranz who floated the idea of a sales-tax hike and then, just a few months later, voted to spend $10 million of the public’s money on a dilapidated old school that’s going to need millions more just to clean up and be transformed into something useful.

[...]

Is it time to bring Jerome Stocks back? He’s Encinitas' most experienced policy wonk who understands that in government, what’s right isn’t always popular, and what’s popular isn’t always right.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Late-night drunk couple falls off cliff between D and E Streets

Times of San Diego:
Two people were injured when they fell off a 30-foot cliff just south of Moonlight Beach in Encinitas today. The Encinitas Fire Department said a man and a woman in their late 20s fell onto the sand between D and E Streets at about 2 a.m.

The man suffered moderate injuries while the woman sustained minor ones. Both were taken a local hospital. There were indications that alcohol was involved, according to the fire department.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Encinitas' new full-time, pensioned Code Enforcement officer hired because of late-night bar problems has performed a total of 11 late-night visits all summer

We have pointed out the absurdity of the City Council's creation, at Gus Vina's request, of a new full-time Code Enforcement position (replacing a part-timer for a net increase of half of a full-time position) to deal with late-night and weekend bar problems when the position would be mostly daytime, weekday hours.

And here's what we get for our additional $54,000 per year: 11 late-night inspections all summer.

From Lisa Shaffer's newsletter:
To date, for this summer, Code Enforcement conducted a total of 11 late night inspections for June, July and August 2015 on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night. In addition, Sheriff Deputies also conducted downtown/ beach patrols every weekend. At times Code Enforcement was accompanied by ABC officers or Sheriff's Deputies and at times, Code Enforcement and Sheriff’s Deputies worked separately or on different nights.

For this summer, only three establishments received citations for various violations
Shelter/Saloon: one citation for overcrowding, two citations for excessively loud noise, and one citation for obstructing use of the sidewalk
Kraken: one warning for overcrowding and one warning for excessively loud noise. Two subsequent citations for noise were voided due to a technical error.
Priority Public House: one warning for overcrowding
Not even eleven nights when they inspected each of the handful of problem bars? But eleven total visits all summer?

And the existing one and a half full-time Code Enforcement Officers couldn't be bothered to make 11 bar visits over 2 or 3 weekend nights? You've got to be kidding.

Drone Wars!

A man was jailed on Sunday on felony vandalism charges after downing a drone at Moonlight Beach by throwing a shirt at it. The drone was reportedly operated by a professional, presumably video-recording the city-sponsored beach music concert on behalf of the band or the producers.

The man claimed both safety and privacy reasons for downing the drone. We're not sure how intentionally crashing the drone over a concert crowd benefits public safety, and we don't get the expectation of privacy at a crowded music event on a public beach.

We've got a bit more sympathy for this guy, who shot down a drone that was perving on his daughters in his backyard.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

8/19/15 City Council meeting open thread

They're baaaaaaaack....

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.

Vandal uses power tools to destroy Paul Ecke Central playground equipment

From Facebook:
One of the play structures at Paul Ecke Central was vandalized sometime over the weekend from August 15 - 16. Someone apparently used a power tool to cut through the plastic slide and plastic brackets on the play structure. Also damaged was a metal platform. Anyone who has information about the individual(s) who vandalized the play structure can contact the Encinitas Sheriff's Department at (760)966-3500 or the Encinitas Union School District Office at (760)944-4300.


An EU commenter tells us this is the second time this has happened to the same playground.

The list of suspects can't be that long. Only a few houses back up to that playground, and I'm sure there's one really obvious guy who's anti-social and not too bright. Probably even made noise complaints about the school in the past. The Sheriffs ought to be interviewing all the neighbors.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

SealFit needs Major Use Permit, encounters neighborhood resistance, holds meeting tonight

From the Inbox:
This is an immediate issue which impacts you! It involves the SealFit business located at 849 Second Street in Encinitas. They currently use megaphones for their fitness exercises and drills in an outdoor courtyard, in the streets of downtown Encinitas, and on the beach -- at all hours of the day and evening. They are asking the City for a Major Use Permit. If granted this will add significant disturbance to the peace and harmony of our beautiful downtown neighborhood.

Like many ECC members and residents, you have probably already been disturbed in the morning, noon, and even in the evening by SealFit clients doing their training on the streets as well as in their courtyard.

Tonight from 6:00 - 7:00 pm there with be a Citizens' Participation Meeting at SealFit. Their objective is to more freely use their courtyard and streets for training (with the continued use of megaphones). If the City awards them the Major Use Permit they are seeking, they will undoubtedly go into full swing and there will be untold problems as the result.

Please attend this important meeting to voice your opinion or to stand by those who will be expressing their concerns about this already troublesome neighbor.

If you are unable to attend the meeting, your opinion still counts. Please send an email to Jon Atwater jon@sealfit.com or call him at (760) 634-1834 to express your opinion about SealFit.

The attached PDF file contains a letter to neighbors as well as SealFit's Business Description. Interesting to note that the description does not fully mention what really goes on from day to day.
Here's SealFit's invite to the city-mandated neighborhood meeting.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Gas smell from ocean returns to Encinitas

Three years ago, a massive cloud of gas stench covered the western part of Encinitas and Solana Beach.

We've recently noticed brief wafts of the same smell occasionally while at or near the beach, and Encinitas Undercover has had a recent spate of hits from people Googling "Encinitas gas smell" or similar.

The fact that this keeps happening in the heat of mid-summer lends credence to our "Don't panic - it's organic" theory.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Remodels no longer need Coastal Commission permits

From the Inbox, a local realtor flyer:



UPDATE: Here's the 2005 staff report. While the 2013 City Council required modest home remodels far from the coast to be subject to Coastal Development Permits, some people in the comments are saying that the reversal of this policy doesn't just apply to single-family remodels but also to new development.

More background here in the 2014 staff report explaining the history and the 2013 changes.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

8/12/15 City Council meeting open thread

Oops... meeting canceled. Thanks to 5:22 commenter for pointing that out.

So how's your summer been?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Former Olivenhain fraudster Anthony Elgindy commits suicide

We often refer to Encinitas as the Ponzi scheme capital of America due to its numerous Ponzi schemers, but it's been home to other types of financial fraudsters as well.

Perhaps the most famous was Anthony Elgindy, who made national news when his Olivenhain mansion was raided by the FBI.  Elgindy had been a penny-stock operator in the mode of Wolf of Wall Street and Boiler Room, then turned FBI informant.  What got him in trouble in 2002 was his relationship with crooked FBI agents who sold him information about pending FBI investigations into public companies.  Elgindy then profited by shorting the stocks of those companies.

The lavish mansion raided in 2002 was on Calle Tres Vistas in Olivenhain.  Public records also show Elgindy having lived on Rancho Encinitas Drive, at the opposite end of the loop from the Olivenhain drug house.  Elgindy was believed to be living elsewhere in the San Diego area more recently.

Now Don Bauder in the San Diego Reader tells us:
Elgindy's son, Adam Elgindy, says on his Facebook page, "My dad, Anthony Elgindy, passed away yesterday. He was under so much stress and panic and he took his own life." Several of Adam Elgindy's friends sent him condolences such as "I'm sorry man, "if you need anything at all hit me up man," and "I'm praying god watches over you."
Our condolences to the Elgindy family.

More background on the stock-shorting scheme and trial here and here.

Happy Birthday Leo, Mischa, and Mimi Kook

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Ghost train

When a train is approaching, the rails often vibrate, creating a "singing" sound.

But it's different in Encinitas. The rails just south of the Swami's parking lot sing throughout the day, even when there are no trains for miles in either direction. Anybody know why?

Friday, August 7, 2015

Explain that Kook Contest



Props to anyone who can figure this one out.

And thanks to the creators for giving us this puzzle!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Traffic commissioner Peter Kohl doesn't like anonymous critics

Encinitas Advocate Q&A with Peter Kohl:
What is it that you most dislike?

Rude people; people that hide behind anonymity when criticizing others.
We presume Kohl is referring to this incident, where a resident, shocked at Kohl's imperious silencing of the public and his fellow commissioners at a public meeting of the Traffic Commission, wrote anonymously to Encinitas Undercover. Other attendees have confirmed to EU the accuracy (and even understatement) of the writer's description.

Members of the public have a variety of valid reasons for remaining anonymous when criticizing the actions of public officials. Some fear retribution in their dealings with the city; others simply want to stay out of the limelight while making their small contributions to improving local government.

Public officials choose to subject themselves to a higher standard. If you don't want criticism of your public actions, don't seek public office.

As for "rude people?" Well, rude is in the eye of the beholder.

City to replace award certificates with commissioned art pieces

From the Inbox:
A $1000 art piece instead of a $10 certificate

http://www.encinitasca.gov/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=5626
Technically, it's two $500 art pieces, but the point stands.

But hey, that will help justify our $127,000 Arts Administrator position!

We're still underfunding road maintenance, by the way...

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Jenkins: Gaspar to run for Supervisor

Wow!

We didn't think Kristin Gaspar would seek higher office so soon, but Logan Jenkins says he has the goods: Escondido Mayor Sam Abed is too conservative for the district and is having trouble fundraising. Assemblyman Brian Maienschein isn't running. Nor is San Diego Councilman Mark Kersey. Which leaves Gaspar.

It makes sense once you think about it. A positive, moderate woman to go after the moderate and female vote against the hostile-work-environment tarnished Dave Roberts (or whoever replaces him on the Dem side). She doesn't have a lot of accomplishments to run on, but who needs accomplishments these days? Gaspar has to be the favorite in this race at this point if she gets enough support from the county GOP machine to edge Abed out of the primary.

What's this mean for Encinitas? A much lower chance of the Republicans re-taking the city council majority any time soon. They couldn't come up with a single new viable candidate in 2014; how are they going to find two winning newbies in 2016?

King Kook

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.

UPDATE: The victim has been identified as Sergio Jimenez Solano of San Diego, and the coroner reports a possible tire problem but no mention of DUI.  Probably safe to let the Encinitas bars off the hook for this death, unlike Rachel Anne Morrison, Christina Donaghy and Tom Couberly, and Tara Murphy.

UPDATE: Union-Trib sticking with "suspected drunken driver." If he just had a tire problem, that doesn't explain the driving with no lights or the multiple DUI calls from other motorists. Maybe his bad drunken driving caused him to hit something that caused a tire problem?

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.