Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Council surrenders to David Meyer on density bonus rounding up; pays his $125,000 legal costs

Seaside Courier:
Encinitas June 27 reached a settlement with DCM Properties in a lawsuit regarding the density bonus program and adoption of the city's housing element.

Under terms of the settlement, the city will continue to send the housing element to the November ballot, begin rounding up part of the density bonus calculation, and pay DCM Properties $125,000 in legal fees. The settlement also continues the requirement that developers demonstrate how a concession the city should make in its development standards will reduce the cost of the housing.

David Meyer, head of DCM Properties, said the settlement makes the city's ordinance align with state law and helps the city meet a state mandate to adopt a housing element.
It's unclear whether the council settlement was unanimous or was the same 3-2 majority of Kranz, Shaffer, and Blakespear who surrendered to the Building Industry Association in an earlier lawsuit, with Muir and Gaspar opposed. Kranz and Blakespear were the only council members quoted in the Seaside Courier article.

The timing of the settlement is suspicious, as Meyer had refused to settle earlier in the week, but settled the same day Encinitas residents sued the city over the earlier BIA settlement. One of the issues in that lawsuit was the special treatment that six density bonus projects got in rounding up the number of units allowed. This settlement appears to try to undermine that argument by making it citywide policy to always round up and created even denser density bonus projects.

75 comments:

  1. This is the advice of all the special legal counsel that the city has hired? Probably find Sabine with Meyer at the local watering hole toasting over his success. Meyer is a blight on this community.

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    1. Ecke is Meyers and Meyer is Eckes. Eckes and Meyers are blight in this community. Sell outs. Anything for a buck.

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    2. Sabine has remained in office because he knows who the real power brokers are in this city. I would imagine that he argued for the settlement, claiming it was the least expensive option. There are less than subtle ways to serve your real Master - like influencing the transient council's decision to throw in the towel.

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  2. I don't understand the math. Kranz, Blakespear and Shaffer have said that it saves money to settle with BIA and now seemingly David Meyer instead of paying for an attorney to represent the City. The attorney they let go said that we had a 50/50 chance of winning. I for one would rather pay someone to represent citizen's interests than pay off developers and the BIA. At least we had a chance for a positive outcome. The settlements strike me as payouts to avoid getting attacked and only make our advisories stronger for the next round since we are funding their fight and not ours. Wake up council!

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    1. Council needs to conserve resources so they can fight the Hymettus residents.

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    2. Except they settled with Meyer before Hymettus appeared on their doorstep, so...not really.

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  3. Gaspar's report out of closed session - the council vote was unanimous to settle. The city's same outside lawyer for the BIA was used for David Meyer.

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    1. The closed session report from June 22 indicated a unamimous decision to ENTER into settlement talks. Apparently the settlement was reached at another closed session the very next day, June 23. We do not have a public report indicating the vote on the settlement itself.

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    2. According to the Brown Act, the public is entitled to know how each council member votes, whether in closed or open session. The exact terms of the settlement need not be disclosed until all parties to the lawsuit have signed the contractual agreement.

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  4. Does anyone know who the attorney was that represented Meyer? Or did he not have an attorney and used Sabine as his? If he did the second, that would seem to be a conflict of interest, not that it would matter much to Sabine's ethics.

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    1. Meyer's attorney is Gregory S. Day, who has an office in Cardiff. He cannot use the city attorney to sue the city.

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  5. Press release of the settlement is on the city website.
    Our consultant attorney forget to mention that our municipal code requires rounding down and to not do so is a violation of the code.
    Wait for other developers to sue the city to get all the same terms given to Meyer.

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    1. Pandora's Box - did this establish a precedent?
      This council is chummy with Eckes (Meyer is elated by marriage), especially Gaspar and Muir. You realize who really runs this city.

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    2. Must be quite a marriage if he's still "elated"......

      - The Sculpin

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    3. And Kranz' friendship with Liz Ecke. He even calls her by her amusing nickname.

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    4. 9:30 AM "related" is the right word, but "elated' is a Freudian slip - elated by $$$$$$$, which the Eckes are rolling in.

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    5. Does Liz call Kranz by his moniker - Dalakranz?

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    6. Thanks to Meyer, other developers will not have to sue to gain the same terms. Part of the settlement is that the city agrees to change the density bonus rules for all future projects as well as Meyer's.

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  6. And yet another reason for...
    1. Gaspar will be an embarrassment to encinitas win or lose.
    2. Vote no in Nov.
    3. Criminal investigation or at least some good discovery work done by the lawfirm representing citizens. Sleezy guy like Meyer is not clean and will be thrown under the buss by his overlords at the first wiff of prison time. Outside of San Diego, corruption is a big deal.

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  7. 9:37- And yet for many years our own City Attorney has bilked the residents for a lot of money. And, he is still at City Hall. If I remember this correctly, there was a quote saying we paid him 10 million in 7 years. This was a few years back when I think a local citizen was researching him.

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  8. The city has allowed itself to get into this weak position. There is no excuse for not having all the state and county mandated elements in place. I'm sure Staff will say that the citizens scuttled many attempts at this. This puts us in a weak position when sleazy people who hate us sue. The presumption in court for not having the elements in place is that the city is in the wrong. Now we are stuck with a bad choice of voting for a rushed poorly written HEU or defending against more lawsuits from a weak position. The developers are like sharks who sense our weakness. It's worse for us that dealing with any old developer, because Meyer feels he is entitled to have his way with us.

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    1. Staff had ample ability to approve a Housing Element six years and $4 million dollars ago! All they had to do was to read it, make a couple of minor changes, and we could have had a Housing Element in compliance. How and why they portray themselves as the victims when they have spent OUR money and have been halted by 30 volunteers and retirees shows how inept our City staff actually is. Why they are still all there is beyond shameful.

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    2. Can you point us to a city that has an HCD approved HEU similar to what you imagine ours should have been?

      There are hundreds. I've read a bunch, and they are all pretty similar to what is currently proposed.

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    3. And your point would be what, 4:50? That "a bunch" of other cities got screwed over, so we should, too?

      Here's what I "imagine:" an HEU that doesn't include developer-friendly policy changes designed to unravel Prop A and our community character guidelines. HCD doesn't require that.

      Since you asked: how about an HEU that isn't on some crazy timeline, thanks to the City handing the keys to the town over to the BIA?

      And last, but not least: an HEU whose outcome were not guaranteed adoption, thanks to the BIA settlement.

      These other bunches of cities get their hands tied by the BIA, too?

      I say NO to the stinker we're supposedly legally obligated to pass.

      It'll be interesting come November. How will the city explain the NO vote to a drooling BIA?

      How do the three who signed the agreement explain to voters that the election in November was rigged by them to pass?

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    4. Since you asked, the (obvious) point was: 4:08 claimed we could make "a couple of minor changes" to our existing HEU which would result in a green light from HCD.

      If true, surely there's an example out there from among the hundreds of compliant HEUs that would support 4:08's point. If you want us to believe in unicorns, then bring us one to examine.

      As for the argument about unrealistic schedule, we are last in the whole county, and among the last in the whole state to pass a compliant HEU. We've had more time than virtually every other city in the State. But you think the problem is a rushed schedule? Somehow I suspect that's not your real objection. Let's not hide behind straw men--just be honest.

      As for the BIA settlement, do you have a copy? I don't, but I read this in the Seaside Courier:

      "Part of the 2015 BIA lawsuit settlement said that the city had to get a housing element on the November ballot, in accordance with Prop. A, which says that all zoning and land use changes need to go to a vote of the people."

      No guarantee of outcome. Although, if we vote it down, we are still legally bound to follow state law, and Prop A likely would be set aside by subsequent legal action if the courts find that it effectively blocks our compliance with state law.

      I also wouldn't be surprised if comments made on this blog over time are later used to demonstrate how residents have used Prop A as an instrument of nullification.

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    5. "Nullification?" If that's not Tony posting at 10:59 I'll eat my hat.

      His favorite word against Prop A was when he fronted for developers, crying "nullification" of the specific plans. He also claimed that the specific plans should be honored since so much work went into crafting them. He always neglected to add "and the council ignored all the work and did what it wanted to benefit developers."

      That was Tony posting for certain. Notice the rest of the insider story.

      Dude is going down hard in November.

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    6. 11:47 has no substantive response, changes the subject.

      We shall call you Carnac, for your ability to know things with absolute certainty, based on virtually no reliable information.

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    7. 10:59 is Kranz. Let's just lump all his natterings under the general umbrella of "fearmongering," which has been explained here on EU in the last months, on the same points, ad nauseum.

      And I'd say 11:47 explains the nullification bit pretty nicely. You may just be new around here. Kranz' nullification act is well known in these parts.

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    8. Tony been drinking too much? All was lost on the prop A turn, hard to live in a town where everyone knows your true colors I suspect.

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    9. And since you are posting, what have you accomplished on council? I'd say zero but the list of harm to our community is apparent with developer interests at the forefront. But Spockblock legacy shall be yours.

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    10. You might be afraid too if you were Tony. I am not sure what other employment opportunities are open to him if he loses this election.

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  9. Why have a council to watch out for our "best interest?" Just stick Meyer on the dais and let him have his way with accomplices Manjeet and Sabine. That's basically what they've do e by settling.

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    1. "...done by settling."

      How is it one person runs the town??

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    2. 10:59- I call B.S. There are 34 cities in California without a HEU. San Clemente is one of them, as is Redondo Beach, Pismo Beach and a whole lot of other cities. Check out Encinitas Votes for all cities.

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    3. San Clemente had an approved Housing Element in the last cycle. They are late with the update, but the changes are modest since they are working off of an approved one. They are not fighting the State, and will have one approved in the next few months. You can read their draft HEU here.

      Similar story at Redondo Beach. They actually passed their updated housing element and replaced the old one over a year ago (March 2014), so the state listing could be out of date. You can read the RB HEU here.

      Pismo Beach had a compliant Housing Element certified by HCD in 2010. They fell out of compliance about a year ago because they didn't update it on schedule.

      If your point is that there is safety in numbers, because a large number of cities are fighting the state and refusing to comply with state law, you are just wrong. Cities fall out of compliance from time to time, and the courts cut them some slack as long as they get back on track soon. That's very different from expecting that a city can just give a big, permanent FU to Sacto, and expect that there will be no consequences.

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    4. The point I believe is our council runs around claiming we're the last ones, when we're not.

      This is how they get themselves in trouble and they never learn.

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    5. Number of cities who have been out of compliance for longer than Encinitas:

      0

      If thats not "last," then what is?

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    6. 10:59 AM
      Unicorns, you say. Council members Shaffer, Kranz, and Blakespear like unicorns.

      You are missing the point. Jeff Murphy and his cohorts which includes the council packed promises, promises that weren't required into the draft housing element submitted to HCD.

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  10. Wouldn't it be great if wrong doing was found and residents then start sueing the developers. Pretty much half of Leucadia would have a suit against the city, Meyer, and the developers. New city leaders could sue the developers for the damages the city paid to residents. Lawyers would get rich, streets would still not get fixed, but the developers would be sent packing.

    Yeah, I am not afraid to dream.

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  11. This city council has absolutely no balls. They continue to ruin our city by letting the developers be in charge.

    They even want to rename OUR library that we paid for.

    The group of five need to grow some balls and start representing the people who elected them.

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  12. Good news is that there are 4 seats up for grabs this November. Hopefully, some people will put their names in so that we don't have to vote for people we don't necessarily like.

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  13. What a scumbag this David Meyer character!. Taxpayer of Encinitas now have to pay him $125K, so that this screwball, who lives on a few acres mansion overlooking Encinitas, can freely cram high-density housing down our throats. There is a hot place in hell for that dude.

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    1. We paid him $200K last year! He's raking it in from us taxpayers. Council forgets: we are not only paying the scum, we are encouraging him to return for more wins.

      His Ecke status has been his protection. We'll see how long his luck holds.

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    2. Finally some one says it. The Ecke's are the problem. They think we are their surfs, and that they can do whatever. Sure, they once owned some farm land here. But, they are a bunch of greedy hick farmers. This Meyer fellow only married one to make money, and soon the Ecke name goes away.

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    3. How dare they think they can stand on us to ride waves!

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    4. How long his luck holds? How about the last 15-20 years. This guy has been kicking the bejabbers out of the behinds down at city Hall for years, pulling one scam after another, like swapping the low income unit on the Barrtt American property...

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    5. So true, 3:54. Yet now he's becoming a household name, something he's reportedly uncomfortable with. And not a good household name, I might add :)

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    6. If Barth, Shaffer, Kranz and Blake hadn't insisted on attempting to alter a state housing law (retroactively) that every person in authority but one assured them that the law could not be changed; then the City would have $600K to spend on other needs of the city; oh, yeah, add the other $600K wasted on attempting to move forward on the Manchester underpass this year, that again, only outside council agreed with the 3 no-nothings and we have $1.2 mil thrown away by these 3; one of which is running for Mayor as a fiscal conservative. Careful there, no laughing while drinking your milk at the dinner table. Watch for Slater-Price to come out of her coffin and try and manage this Fall's campaigns for City Council.

      Reportedly, Blake returned from Sacramento espousing how successful her plea to legislators to vote against AB 2501, Yeah, Catherine, that's WHY the vote after you finished was 11 votes against you and none for you. What a child.

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  14. Here's an idea. The city manager is looking for an assistant, right? Hired that Meyer guy, then he can get a pension, too.

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  15. Someone please answer why 'pipelined' projects effective date doesn't start with when their developments are granted the permit to build and not when they first apply. This stinks. There should be be pipelined developments to begin with. This stinks.

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    1. Correction There should be no pipelined projects to begin with.

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    2. 10:21 - The reason the effective date is when the applicant turns in his permit application is because it is assumed that that the applicant has met all all the necessary requirements as of that date to obtain the permit. A permit really should only be a rubber stamp, regardless of whether the application fits in the 4 corners of the law or whether the applicant is asking for a variance. If you think about it, how can you apply for a variance if the law creating the variance doesn't exist yet?

      Case in point - I submit an application for a driveway that's 12 feet wide. 3 days before I'm scheduled to receive my permit, the city council, on advice from the fire dept. changes the permit to require all driveways be 15' feet. My permit, which did fit within the 4 corners is now a variance. 2 things: I now have to start the process all over again and submit a new permit, or I may not have the extra 3 feet of width on my property, which now means I 'm seeking a variance - I'm non-conforming!

      So "Pipelining" is only fair.

      - The Sculpin

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    3. Sculpin is wrong. A permit application is simply the first step in the process. The permit has to go through the Planning Department, CCP meetings, Planning Commission, and then City Council if appealed. There are many changes along the way. A project is not considered "vested" until the Final Map is issued.

      The city made an extraordinary exception when it granted vested rights to the six pipeline projects. The lawsuit against the city has merit. Will the city settle with the plaintiffs? They're foolish if they don't. But our city council tends to act foolishly.

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    4. Sculpin is usually wrong. City Hall tool..... no more.

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    5. Sculpin shoots from the hip. He may want to trust and verify things before posting wrong information.

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    6. 1:46 PM
      Permitting a driveway is not the same type "permit" for a subdivision. The developer must follow the ordinances and state law pertaining to subdivisions.
      Really, there's no such thing as a pipeline project. The council made it up to fit the density bonus projects that hadn't gone through the process.
      To be vested construction must have started not just thinking about it. That wasn't the case for the six density bonus developments.

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    7. I'm not referring to vesting, since that wasn't the question. The question (as I read it) was the retroactive application of changes in zoning laws for permits that were in the process of being considered by city planners. I run into this often - the rush to formally submit permit applications prior to potential law changes. In reading the responses, I'm not referring to the planners right to change a grading plan because the engineering was wrong, or the the applicant missed an easement or calculated an FAR incorrectly. Those issues are applications of current law, not changes in current the law.

      - The Sculpin

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    8. It's interesting to watch the videos of the Planning Commission and City Council meetings whenever "pipeline" projects are discussed. Members of the PC and CC are always confused about the definition of "pipeline", often believing that it means they must approve these projects. They then turn to the city attorney for a definition, which is often an exercise in obfuscation.

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    9. Sculpin just give up, would you? It's amazing how much misinformation (disinformation?) can come out of one person.

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    10. Maybe the Sculpin's logic center is malfunctioning due to excessive horse methane inhalation.

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    11. 11:04 AM

      'the PC and CC are always confused about the definition of "pipeline"'

      I've watched both and I don't see any confusion except for the public speakers. All "pipeline" refers to is a promise to review these projects in a timely manner.

      The projects were submitted under one set of rules then the rules were changed and they had to resubmit. With the settlement, the rules for those 6 projects reverted back to the original rules once again causing the developers to revise their plans. As this caused the projects even more delay, the settlement agreement, besides allowing the projects to once again round up, required the city to process those projects in a timely manner. Nothing in the settlement required the PC or CC to approve them.

      Maybe you forgot that the PC didn't approve the initial Hymettus Estates plan and also didn't approve the Cardiff 8 project. It doesn't appear that the PC believed they had to approve the projects because they were "pipelined".

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  16. The City Council members all suck. They should be ashamed at how they have continued to mess up this city and create problems. They don't support the citizens, they support themselves. A bunch of sick, narcissistic, self serving corrupt individuals. I wouldn't walk across the street to say hello.

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  17. Poster 10:59 has taken a point and misstated it.


    "Since you asked, the (obvious) point was: 4:08 claimed we could make "a couple of minor changes" to our existing HEU which would result in a green light from HCD.

    If true, surely there's an example out there from among the hundreds of compliant HEUs that would support 4:08's point. If you want us to believe in unicorns, then bring us one to examine."

    To set the record straight,as early as 2009, some of our residents argued against hiring MIG to do the ENTIRE General Plan Update and instead said that we should ONLY do the Housing Element, which was a requirement.

    It was TERESA BARTH who argued for doing the entire General Plan Update in order to "keep Planning staff busy" since there were years when they were only dealing with 5-12 new houses per year. Teresa pushed hiring MIG and enlarging the mandatory Housing Element to a complete General Plan Update--which ended up being nearly 600 pages of text for a city of 19 square miles and 60,000 residents, more than double the size of the General Plan for the COUNTY of San Diego. At the time that this project was formulated, all that was needed was to read the Housing Element and make a few minor changes at that time. Instead, the Planners have created the mess that we have so that they can keep drawing six-figure paychecks. There is something wrong when a few over-paid, under-performing planners and our Council can create such a mess for all of the rest of us. Special blame is on the shoulders of Teresa Barth.

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  18. 8:31 speaks the truth. I remember that whole debacle well. I think we spent a lot of money on the MIG report if I am not mistaken. I won't quote a number, since I really don't know it and am too lazy to look it up at the moment. I just wanted to support 8:31's comment.

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  19. Barth was second to $tock$ in the worst councilmember.

    She was the one that brought us and supported the loser Vina for years. With nothing being done. I sure hope the current city manager knows what she is doing . We are watching and she better clean house and get things done.

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  20. In terms of what has been spent on the GPU/Housing Element/At Home Encinitas, MIG and their subcontractors pulled in $1.3 million with several extra infusions of cash when they would call in Daniel Iocafano or Veronica Tam to do extra push polls and propaganda sessions. Peder Norby then took over with the infamous dot exercises and other activities. They later brought in Peak Democracy and other consultants to do their magic. Keep in mind that Manjeet has a 1 million dollar budget for the latest portion of this plan, but of course we will never know the full amount that was spent since funds for this project have been pulled out and reallocated to other city funds like the IT Department, Office Supplies, Travel, and other accounts. There seem to be at least two planners who have dedicated full-time to this project for the past seven years. Estimates are that they have spent AT LEAST $4 million on this plan so far.

    This plan has changed names at least three times, but someone on this website has suggested that it should be called what it actually is, not what consultants and planners keep renaming it to trick voters into supporting it. I have heard some call it the gold-plated turd. Sadly, that is more descriptive and accurate than "At Home Encinitas."

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  21. 6:31- Thanks for doing my homework for me. I remember all of those things. Norby was paid about $100,000 per year, if memory serves me. He lives in Carlsbad. Peak Democracy was another boondoggle. But it did get our city's communication director a job with them, so there is that. Have they replaced her by the way? And let us not forget that once upon a time there was a city manager named Kerry Miller. He had an executive secretary. When Miller left, she got the job as Chief Financial Officer in our city. Not so sure why she got it, and not Jay who had worked for the City for 20 years. She then went on to have a fling with Sabine and is now married to him. I have often thought it a conflict of interest but no one else seemed to care.

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  22. Also remember that Barth pushed MIG to provide a so-called "template" to "save money" on the General Plan update. The hundreds of citizen surveys that were provided at great time and expense by Encinitas residents were put into a box, and the "template" was used as a starting point instead of our own General Plan. Is is really considered an "update" or even a template that they started with other cities' General Plan Updates for which MIG had already been paid and not our own City Plan? Barth was correct that it saved MIG money, but she was supposed to represent interests of Encinitas residents and not underemployed Planning staff nor MIG. Nobody is more personally responsible for this mess than Barth.

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  23. As you all continue to complain about density bonus, the state continues to restrict the discretion local governments have in reviewing density bonus projects. AB 2501 (and a few others) was approved last Tuesday in the Senate Transportation & Housing Committee with some further amendments (not yet on the website) that will tighten the density bonus statute. AB 2501 was cosponsored by our very own David Meyer.

    For all the talk, Meyer is succeeding both here and at the state. The governor has already indicated support for AB 2501. Two weeks ago Blakespear appeared before the Senate committee to convey Encinitas' opposition and our lobbyist appeared before the committee last Tuesday to reiterate that opposition. It had no effect. For one thing many state legislators view Encinitas as the poster child for affordable housing resistence in beach communities. Far from backing down, legislators appear to be tightening the screws. If all your complaining has had any effect I would say it was the opposite of what you want.

    I say this as someone who is no fan of density bonus nor of Daive Meyers. Reality is such a bitch.

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  24. As a private citizen, David Meyer nor anybody else can sponsor or cosponsor a bill in the legislature. He can lobby or bribe the legislators, but he can't sponsor the bill.

    In Encinitas, the problem is that density bonus projects add few, if any, truly affordable houses. The economics prohibit that. There are no subsidies. The law is well-intentioned, but it doesn't work.

    A.B. 2501

    This bill, co-authored by Assemblymember Tom Daly (D-Anaheim), would streamline and strengthen the state’s density bonus law. It actually would do quite a bit, according to Bloom’s office, including:

    Clarifying that the intent of the law is to encourage the development of affordable housing and that the incentives provided for in the law are available “by right,” meaning they require no special approval by commissions or city councils, to developers who build affordable units.

    Ensuring that local governments process density bonus applications expeditiously and establish certainty that inaction by the local government will not delay a proposed housing development.

    Clarifying that an applicant for a density bonus need only demonstrate that requested incentives reduce the cost of development.

    Increasing the certainty regarding the number of additional units a developer is allowed to build in exchange for providing affordable units.

    Limiting the ability of local governments to impose additional requirements on density bonus developers that do not increase a development project’s feasibility.

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    1. 11:57 AM

      While it's true that only a legislator can be considered an official cosponsor of a bill, various groups do identify themselves as cosponsors, as was the case with Meyer during the Assembly committee hearings.

      My point is that the legislature shows no indication of relaxing density bonus whether or not it's effective. I don't like it. It does produce a few affordable units but it won't solve the larger problem.

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    2. Summary of AB 2501 as of 6/15/16:

      http://www.legtrack.com/bill.html?bill=201520160AB2501

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  25. This is better than a nut farm.
    Where's nurse Ratchet when you need her the most?

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    1. Who are you - Mr. Peanut?

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