Saturday, June 17, 2017

Stop sign to break up Vulcan Speedway

Vulcan Avenue east of the railroad tracks has long been a preferred route for locals to get north and south between Encinitas Boulevard and Leucadia Boulevard while avoiding the Coast Highway traffic and stop signs. That's about to change.

Coast News:
The Paul Ecke Central Elementary School community will get the four-way stop sign on Vulcan Avenue they have coveted for years, but the council’s decision on the issue was not unanimous. The City Council voted 3-2 in favor of the all-way stop at Vulcan and Union Street. Deputy Mayor Tony Kranz and council members Tasha Boerner Horvath and Joe Mosca voted for the stop sign, which they said was long overdue and would keep kids safe.
This is kind of weird though:
Mayor Catherine Blakespear and Councilman Mark Muir voted against it after suggesting the item be returned to the Traffic Commission to consider alternatives short of an all-way stop sign, which they said would create unnecessary vehicle stops that would create added pollution next to the elementary school.
Has there ever been a study that shows that a stop sign in front of an elementary school creates a measurable increase in air pollution in classrooms or on the playground? Where are Blakespear and Muir getting their information?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Pyrrhic victory for patio service at Union?

Union-Trib: Encinitas gives win to downtown patio for Union Kitchen + Tap:
Patrons of the lively downtown Union Kitchen + Tap will finally be allowed to eat and drink in the patio area, but its owners will need to provide the city with yearly documentation that alcohol isn't their primary source of income.
Is it possible that Union actually sells more food than alcohol?

If not, will the city actually hold Union accountable?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

R.I.P. Doug Harwood

Local realtor and anti-Prop A campaigner Doug Harwood has passed away.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Math is hard

Encinitas Advocate:
Proceeds from the event benefit the McAlister Institute, one of San Diego’s leading resources to help people and families affected by addition.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

I fought the law and I won

We've covered before Encinitas' red-light camera contract with the corrupt Australian company Redflex. The program takes millions of dollars out of the local economy and provides no net benefit to the city budget and highly dubious public safety benefit. Despite dozens of cities dumping Redflex, Encinitas continues the contract.

Now a reader writes of a personal victory over the Redflex cameras.  From the Inbox:
An uncommon story these days: a regular citizen leery of the creepy creeping surveillance state surrounding us/good guy fighting big government story…. with a happy ending.

My red light “infraction” was surveilled and recorded at the Minority Report-looking set of cameras at the intersection of El Camino Real and Encinitas Blvd. To my chagrin, after adding up the cost of the ticket and the multitude of taxes, court fees and Orwellian-termed charges slapped on by greedy, fat-fingered bureaucrats on top of it -- plus 2 points on my driving record that would have driven up my car insurance cost for 2 years -- the red light camera ticket delivered me a potential net cost of….

Over one thousand dollars. Luckily, I contacted a small law firm in San Diego -- “Mr Ticket” -- and for a very reasonable sum the attorney took my case (along with many others I suppose), argued on my behalf, and won.

Due to complaints and a dubious Constitutional status, red light cameras have been removed in many areas across San Diego.

Not Encinitas.

Although there may be a window - the city’s contract with Redflex Inc., the intermediary camera experts that control the red light cameras in the city, expires in 2018.

What’s that, you say? A company has access to the camera data (as in your personal information, likeness, additional people in your car, their likeness, etc) is handed off to a third party who then processes the info, pictures, etc.? Yes, that’s right.

Question: How many hands does it change in the meantime? Who has access to your likeness, driver’s license number, vehicle, name, address? Who, with criminal or malicious intent, could get their hands on your private information or use that as blackmail?

The safeguard to those kinds of questions is exactly why we have a Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

But sadly, many of our fellow citizens believe, “if I’m not doing anything wrong, what’s the problem?”

On a related note, In case you’ve wondered why there are so many cameras at other intersections in Encinitas today, it’s per the city’s recent policy of installing cameras at intersections to “alleviate congestion” (wink, wink). These numerous cameras aren’t for public safety revenue generators like the one I encountered at El Camino Real/Encinitas Blvd; they are purely surveillance.

That makes me feel great.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Marin County grand jury explains pension crisis

This is an excellent, thorough report explaining the pension crisis facing California municipalities.  While the numbers in the report are specific to Marin, the issues are mostly identical for cities like Encinitas.

Key points:
It’s Worse than You Thought – While a net pension liability of $1 billion may be disturbing, the true economic measure of the obligation is significantly greater than this estimate.

The Thing That Ate My Budget – The annual expense of funding pensions for current and future retirees has risen sharply over the past decade and this trend will continue; for many agencies, it is likely to accelerate over the next five years. This will lead to budgetary squeezes. While virtually every public agency in Marin has unfunded pension obligations, some appear to have adequate resources to meet them, while many do not. We will look at what agencies are currently doing to address the issues and what additional steps they should take.

The Exit Doors are Locked – Although there are no easy solutions, one way to reduce and eliminate unfunded pension liabilities in future years would be transitioning from the current system of defined benefit pension plans to defined contribution pension plans, similar to a 401(k). However, this approach is largely precluded by existing statutes and made impractical by the imposition of termination fees by the pension funds that manage public agency retirement assets. [This last part is a new twist; San Diego has successfully transitioned to a defined contribution plan, but San Diego does not use CalPERS. The grand jury says that CalPERS has veto power over allowing defined contribution plans for new employees of any agency that uses CalPERS, and the CalPERS board would be likely to use that veto. CalPERS is like the Roach Motel -- cities check in, but they don't check out! Governor Brown proposed legislation that would have changed this, but it was killed in the union-dominated legislature].

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Hipster hoteliers meet Keep Leucadia Funky locals

Del Mar Times:


A Planning Commission discussion of a remodel of an older existing Leucadia hotel into a small luxury hotel will continue in June.

The proposed project, by Encinitas-based 101 Hotel, Inc., calls for the demolition of the interior of the existing 45-room Portofino Beach Inn, at 186 North Coast Highway 101, to reconfigure the layout to allow for a 44-room boutique hotel called The Ray with a full-service restaurant, complimentary valet parking for guests, a 600-square-foot lobby and new eight-foot sign on Coast Highway 101.

It would also include indoor and rooftop bars.
Neighbors, and at least one planning commissioner, aren't amused.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

5/24/17 City Council meeting open thread

Please use the comments to record your observations.

Airbnb eliminating "affordable housing" in tourist areas

We've already seen in Encinitas how vacation rentals and second homes for the rich quickly put an end to Smart Growthers' utopian dreams.

The LA Times explores further:
As short-term rental websites such as Airbnb explode in popularity in Southern California, a growing number of homeowners and landlords are caving to the economics. A study released Wednesday from Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, a labor-backed advocacy group, estimates that more than 7,000 houses and apartments have been taken off the rental market in metro Los Angeles for use as short-term rentals. In parts of tourist-friendly neighborhoods such as Venice and Hollywood, Airbnb listings account for 4% or more of all housing units, according to a Times analysis of data from Airbnb's website.
A search for Encinitas on Airbnb shows hundreds of units currently available.  The prime-location apartments and condos envisioned by the failed Measure T would have been even more likely to end up as vacation rentals.

Perhaps Encinitas' Housing Element Task Force should consider a prohibition on vacation rentals in any new developments that take advantage of upzoning?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Crossbow bolt fired into Encinitas home

10 News:
On Vanessa Circle on Saturday afternoon, Gretchen Schmidt and her husband heard a noise, then found an arrow on their bedroom floor.

It was about 18 to 20 inches long with a metal tip. Brett Scott, owner of Willow Creek Archery, identified it as crossbow bolt, which can travel up to a quarter mile at high speeds.

The bolt pierced a screen, two glass panes and blinds, before landing feet from the bed.
No, it's not Olivenhain again. This is New Encinitas just behind El Camino Real.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Friday, May 12, 2017

Coastal Commission orders Rail Trail moved to east side

Union-Trib:
The commission voted to support a 1.3-mile route east of the railroad tracks along San Elijo Avenue from Chesterfield Drive north to Santa Fe Drive.

“I’m shocked,” said Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear, who had spoken eloquently to the commission in favor of a placing the bicycle and pedestrian paths along Coast Highway 101 west of the railroad tracks.

“I’m very disappointed,” Blakespear said. “We’ve been working on this for the last year. I don’t know what else we could have done.”

[...]

Only a few residents supported building the trail along San Elijo Avenue.

“We need new infrastructure, and we need it on the east side where it belongs,” said former Encinitas Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

What a million dollars will buy you in Encinitas



The stunning 237 La Mesa Avenue.

Fraternity member from Encinitas among 18 charged in Penn State hazing death

The February Penn State fraternity hazing death has recently made national news as details come out:
[Timothy] Piazza, a 19-year-old sophomore and pledge at Penn State's Beta Theta Pi fraternity, died on Feb. 4, after he fell down the stairs during a pledge ceremony at the house on the night of Feb. 2. Fraternity members did not call 911 until the morning of Feb. 3, about 12 hours after Piazza's fall, according to a report on the grand jury's investigation. Piazza's death "was the direct result of traumatic brain injuries," according to the forensic pathologist.

The eight or nine full-color and full-broadcast-quality cameras at Beta Theta Pi showed that Piazza’s skin had turned gray by the morning of the 911 call, Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller told ABC News. The color change was especially noticeable in the final 40 minutes before the 911 call -- the time period prosecutors call the "cover-up" -- during which the students allegedly wanted to make Piazza appear healthier than he was by trying to dress him in clean clothes, Parks Miller said.
More from Philly.com:
After his initial fall, members of the fraternity moved him to a couch "and hovered over him for hours" but did not seek emergency help until the next morning, about 12 hours later, [District Attorney Stacy] Parks Miller said, though injuries were visible to his stomach and head.

According to the grand jury presentment, Kordel Davis, a newly initiated fraternity member, told other members that Piazza needed to go to the hospital late on the night of the party. He said he was rebuffed by Neuman, who shoved him and said that the members had the situation under control.

Overnight, Piazza fell several more times as he tried to move about. He lastly fell a second time down the basement stairs, where he would remain for hours before the fraternity members discovered him in the morning, Parks Miller said.

His chest was bare, he was breathing heavily, and he had blood on his face, according to the presentment.
2016 La Costa Canyon graduate and long-time Olivenhain resident Luke Visser is among the 8 of the 18 suspects facing the most serious charges:
Luke Visser, 19, of Encinitas, California: Aggravated assault, involuntary manslaughter, simple assault, reckless endangerment, hazing, alcohol-related charges.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Tortilla Flats fire sale

Almost a year ago, the Leucadia Blog highlighted a new house in the Tortilla Flats neighborhood selling for more than $2 million.

The sellers just dropped the price to $1.7 million, and Redfin predicts a quick sale.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Lazy Acres parking

Nice work, City of Encinitas!




That's why we pay those six-figure pensions: you can't get planning and engineering talent like this on the cheap!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Police action


Encinitas Boulevard at Vulcan right now. That's a car up in the trees beyond the woman on the phone.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Coastal Commission staff pushes Rail Trail back onto east side of tracks

From Preserve Cardiff Rail Corridor, a petition before the May 11 Coastal Commission vote:
URGENT UPDATE - Coastal Commission staff report recommends Commissioners vote to place the Coastal Rail Trail BACK IN THE CARDIFF RAIL CORRIDOR.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Delays on city's $3.7 million lifeguard tower will affect Moonlight Beach all prime summer season

Unexpectedly!
Throughout much of the busy summer season, people will find unexpected construction activity and fewer places to park at Encinitas' Moonlight Beach.

Construction of a $3.7 million lifeguard tower, which was initially proposed to conclude before Memorial Day, now looks unlikely to be done until the end of July, city associate civil engineer Stephanie Kellar said this week.

Many days of rain between October and March and each "post-rain cleanup" day afterward put the project about a month behind schedule, she said. And, that has only been one of the causes of project delays.

The city also faced unexpected trouble with the demolition of the old lifeguard tower because asbestos and lead were discovered in the building, she said. Then, there was a seawall issue — the city expected to find one hidden underground seawall that needed to be removed and instead found two.
But at least we'll have a $3.7 million lifeguard tower eventually!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Rosebay homeowners win lawsuit over 2nd-story addition

Last year we brought you the story of a young family planning to build a very modest 2nd-story addition to their home in the Rosebay neighborhood.  Wealthy homeowners in the gated community on the hill above Rosebay filed suit to stop the addition even though 1) the property is zoned for two stories, 2) Encinitas doesn't have a view ordinance, and 3) even if there was a view ordinance, the small and distant addition could not reasonably be seen as blocking the plaintiff's view.



Today we have some happy news from the remodelers!

- In part because of the lawsuit, which required us to dip into our savings and emergency fund, we spent ~4 months changing banks, refinancing, and negotiating for a larger construction loan. Luckily, and because of our good credit history, this worked. We just kept our fingers crossed that we wouldn't get sick or lose our jobs. Fighting this has cost us tens of thousands of dollars. Although this is likely less than the Hedman's on West Bluff have paid their lawyer over the past 1.5 years, they clearly can afford to throw good money after bad whereas for my husband and I, it was a major decision to fight. We decided to fight because we love where we live, and we have a right to do this by the letter of the law.

- We started construction April 1, which was before we knew the outcome of the case. We didn't have a choice because otherwise we would lose our General Contractor (as he would have move onto other projects). We had waited as long as we could. We were confident they would lose but it has still been a nerve-wracking month. It was a good month though as our son turned 1 year old! It's crazy that it has been a year since the Hedman's sued the city and served us papers.

- We found out the judge ruled in our favor this past Thursday. I broke down in tears of joy at my office (pics attached :) It was a weird feeling after awhile though - it's more like relief. Yes, we won but really we just prevailed and survived. This should have never happened in the first place. Unfortunately we can't recoup our lawyers' fees due to the Anti-SLAPP law, which normally serves to protect people like us from having to pay developers' lawyers' fees were we to lose a case (i.e., the roles are normally reversed). We knew this going in but it still bothers me.

- There is a slim chance they will appeal this ruling, which would drag this out at least another year, and cost us more money. However, hopefully they aren't that delusional as the judge ruled strongly against every argument they tried to put forth (e.g., there is no public view obstruction). In fact, if you go walk the trail, it is difficult to make out our new roof line from among the trees (pics attached). If they are crazy enough to appeal, we are going to do a fundraising effort so that our neighborhood can come together and fight on behalf of all of our interests, which is defending our neighborhood's right to improve our homes, and the value of our properties. Not a day goes by where I don't remind myself that a small minority live in 3,500 square foot homes (like the Hedman's) while the majority live in homes much smaller like us. I've worked incredibly hard my entire adult life to get to where I am today, and I'll be damned if someone is going to try to use their money to bully me. We did everything according to the City's rules and regulations; we didn't ask for a variance; and we aren't flipping the property. This is our home.

- A silver lining in all of this is that we have met a lot of new neighbors, and most people have been unequivocal in their support for us, and our project. Obviously not everyone is stoked on the project but most people are, and it feels good to have that support after everything the Hedman's have put us through. We have also been fortunate that we are living next door during the remodel. Our neighbors are retired, and are fixing up another home while renting to us. It's crazy lucky that this happened but at the same time it speaks to the homeowners in this community, and how much we all support each other.

- We want to thank the community for rallying behind us, and for bearing with us through the dust and noise of the final framing etc. that should be done soon!

Ed Deane out at Public Works

Coast News:
Encinitas, which has lost a number of top planning and public works officials over the past 18 months, is set to lose another one.

Ed Deane, the city’s deputy public works director, confirmed that he will be resigning effective May 5.

“I am going to be taking some time before my next step,” Deane said. “Looking to see what is available.”

[...]

Deane started his term with the city in March 2011, shortly before the hiring of former City Manager Gus Vina, who resigned in 2015 to take the city manager position in Brentwood.
We don't recall Deane being among the more controversial staff members, as some of the other recently departed clearly were.

The Coast News goes on to discuss the high levels of staff turnover since City Manager Gus Vina's departure. For the city's budget, that's a very good thing, as new hires receive a less outrageous pension package than legacy employees.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Yes on east-side Rail Trail?

From the Yes on (east-side) Rail Trail folks:
IT'S BACK: RAIL TRAIL ALIGNMENT ISSUE TO BE HEARD BY COASTAL COMMISSION IN MAY

The plan for an east-side alignment of the Cardiff Rail Trail was left for dead after the Encinitas City Council bowed to the demands of a well organized opposition campaign in March of 2016, voting to endorse a west-side alignment along Route 101 and stranding Cardiff residents who wanted to walk, run, and bike along San Elijo Avenue.

The east-side alignment is now back from the grave. The rail trail alignment issue will go before the California Coastal Commission in early May. Correspondence between Commission staff and SANDAG during the latter part of 2016 indicates that Commission staff are opposed to the west-side alignment.

If the Coastal Commission votes against the west-side alignment, then the original plan for running the trail along the east side of the tracks may be resurrected.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Is commercial marijuana production the answer to Encinitas' pension crisis?

Councilman Joe Mosca's old friend the Sierra Madre Tattler:
More and more cash strapped cities in California are beginning to look to marijuana as a potential revenue resource. Many of these fine localities might say it is for other reasons (in Encinitas the purpose given is to "save local agriculture"), but if it wasn't for the tax potential of commercial ganja would they really be interested? I doubt it. It's always about the money.

Former Sierra Madre Mayor Joe Mosca, who abruptly vacated a City Council seat halfway through his second term here a few years back, recently resumed his political career in the City of Encinitas. Now an appointed member of the City Council there, today he sits on a subcommittee tasked with bringing marijuana into their revenue mix. Faced with a massive $154 million in (euphemism alert) "unfunded market pension debt" (link), obviously no stone (or stoner) is being left unturned.
We'd caution both growers and revenue-hungry politicians that the projections based on current marijuana prices are likely to be wildly overstated, as commercial and home growers rapidly increase supply now that it's legal.

Friday, April 21, 2017

While Encinitas fiddles, other cities get serious about facing pension crisis

LA Times:
The statewide pension issue was a hot topic Monday at the Huntington Beach City Council meeting.

The council voted unanimously to have the city’s Intergovernmental Relations Committee consider proposed state pension reform legislation and bring the item to the council’s next meeting.

[...]

Councilman Billy O’Connell, who made the proposal, said CalPERS has increased pension costs, which has jeopardized the city’s ability to provide services to its residents.

“CalPERS has failed in [its] fiduciary responsibility, and this failure poses great risk to cities, our hard-working employees and the taxpayers who will ultimately foot the bill for CalPERS’ failures,” O’Connell read from a statement.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Council moves to crack down on problem bars

Del Mar Times:
After years of wrangling, piecemeal measures and mounting uproar from neighbors along the Coast Highway 101 corridor, the Encinitas City Council on Wednesday, April 19, signed onto a package of sweeping reforms to the way restaurants and bars manage their on-site alcohol service.

The wide-ranging package of reforms includes: Alcohol service to stop 10 p.m. along the coastal corridor, with later cutoffs if bars prove their good behavior; establish a noise ordinance downtown and update the standards elsewhere; stiffer fines for code violations; and measures to curb party buses and the long lines of patrons waiting to get into bars.

But for the coalition of residents who have railed against the changing tone of the coastal corridor, the most important aspect is the “deemed approved ordinance,” which will allow the city to enforce nuisance codes according to uniform standards across the city.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

4/19/17 City Council meeting open thread

Please use the comments to record your observations.

Assembly bill would enforce compliance with Public Records Act

Naked Capitalism:
[...] the PRA is an important law intended to provide for transparency and accountability. Our limited experience shows that California government bodies routinely thwart the statute.

We learned yesterday from the general counsel of the California Newspaper Publishers Association that State Assemblyman Rob Bonta is sponsoring a bill, AB 1479, set to be heard next Tuesday, April 25 in the Assembly Judiciary Committee. It is designed to bar obstructions and unreasonable delays to responding to PRA requests.

[...]

I know this is last minute, but if you are in California and can send in a short note, it would be extremely helpful. Please stress that the citizens a right to have access to public records and that you are distressed to see how regularly government agencies waste taxpayer dollars and thwart transparency by denying, delaying, and/or making incomplete responses to Public Records Act requests.
The City of Encinitas has its own history of public records obstructionism, most notably repeatedly fighting in court to deny the public access to a public road conditions report.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Appeals court rules that cities can reform pensions

It just takes leadership.

Union-Tribune:
A state appeals court on Tuesday vindicated San Diego’s five-year-old aggressive pension cutbacks, potentially saving the city millions it could have been forced to spend creating retroactive pensions for more than 3,000 workers hired since 2012 [and hundreds of millions going forward, obviously].

California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal unanimously overturned a 2015 state labor board ruling that said the cutbacks were illegal because of then-Mayor Jerry Sanders’ involvement in the successful citizens’ initiative that made the changes.

The initiative, Proposition B on the June 2012 ballot, replaced guaranteed pensions with 401(k)-style retirement plans for all newly-hired city employees except police officers.
Encinitas' pensions are somewhere between $40 million and $154 million underfunded depending on how rose-colored your glasses are.

The average career Encinitas city government worker retires young and receives $98,000 per year for life.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Local seawall case going to California Supreme Court

Coast News:
The state Supreme Court will hear arguments in May on an Encinitas seawall case that could have far reaching implications on the state Coastal Commission’s authority regulating the beach barriers.

The state’s high court is scheduled to hear arguments at 9 a.m. in San Francisco on May 4 in Lynch v. California Coastal Commission, nearly seven years after a pair of Encinitas residents contested the state agency’s decision over their request for a seawall permit.

The court’s decision could determine if the state Coastal Commission has the authority to impose time limits on privately erected seawalls along the state’s coastline.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Recreational marijuana subcommittee to meet Wednesday

Del Mar Times:
The Encinitas city council's subcommittee on Prop 64 will meet publicly for the first time April 12 to discuss adult use of marijuana in the city.

Deputy Mayor Tony Kranz and Council member Joe Mosca, who were appointed to the subcommittee in February, will lead the discussion beginning at 4 p.m. at the Council Chambers, 505 South Vulcan Avenue.

Residents will be given time to address public comments. Each speaker will be limited to three minutes, according to the meeting's agenda.



Much more at Voice of San Diego. It's about farming in Encinitas; retail shops have been ruled out.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Planning Commission resurrects alcohol proposal

Three years after the City Council rejected a "deemed approved ordinance" that would give the city more power to crack down on problem bars, and three years after the death of Rachel Anne Morrison who was killed by a driver who was severely overserved in Encinitas, and weeks after police checkpoints showed a continuing high rate of drunk driving, the Planning Commission is trying again.
The Encinitas Planning Commission — which two months ago rejected a proposed moratorium on new alcohol permits downtown — voted Thursday to ask the City Council to approve a new ordinance that would require bars and restaurants to meet tougher standards if they want to keep serving booze.

The so-called "deemed approved" ordinance is similar to what's in place in Ventura, another coastal town with similar alcohol-related complaints. The ordinance would create a new permit system for existing bars and restaurants requiring them to meet certain standards regarding noise and other public nuisance problems in exchange for an operating permit.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Motorcyclist killed on I-5

Southbound, south of Encinitas Boulevard. Avoid the area and be safe out there.

UPDATE: Lane-splitting and hit-and-run:
The rider was splitting lanes when the motorcycle crashed into a Toyota that was changing lanes, from the No.1 to the No. 2 lane, about 5 p.m. south of Encinitas Boulevard, the CHP said.

The impact caused the rider and bike to slide under a big rig traveling in the No. 3 lane. The trailer’s left, rear tires ran over the motorcycle and rider, the CHP said.

[...]

The Toyota driver did not stop after the crash, the CHP said.


UPDATE: Victim identified as 24-year-old Christopher Isaacs of San Diego.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Renowned investor takes issue with rosy pension outlook endorsed by Blakespear

Widely respected investment manager Rob Arnott explains the math behind likely pension returns:
40% Bonds. Yield is 2% for the US aggregate bond market.
60% Stocks. Our base case is 5.4% for US stocks, but we think valuations are too high, so we trim this to 3.3% for the coming decade.  Here’s our logic:

The yield is 2%.
Earnings growth over the past century has been 4.5%, of which 3.1% was inflation (real growth of 1.4% … far less than most people realize).

Inflation expectations are about 2%, so perhaps we should trim this forecast by 1.1%.

This gives us a base-case of 5.4%.

Valuation multiples are stretched, with the stock market priced at 25 times the 10-year average earnings, against a historical norm of 16.8x. If we’re back to historical norms in 10 years, that costs us another 4.2%.  Since valuation multiples could (a) return to historical norms, or (b) remain at today’s lofty multiples, let’s split the difference, and trim our return expectations another 2.1%.

This gives us a likely outcome of 3.3% from stocks.

If our logic is sound, we earn 0.8% from our bonds (40% allocation x 2% return) and 2% to 3.2% from our stocks (60% x 3.3%, or 60% x 5.4%). Add up the return from stocks and the return from bonds, and we get 2.8% to 4% from our balanced portfolio.
If Arnott is right, Encinitas' unfunded pension liabilities are a lot closer to the Stanford analysis of $154 million than the CalPERS/Blakespear estimate of $40 million.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Brust restructures Planning and Public Works Departments

Union-Trib:
Both the city's planning and public works departments will be reorganized in the coming months to create a "one-stop" faster-processing spot for development applications.

The restructuring proposal, which received initial approval from the City Council Wednesday night, was put forward by City Manager Karen Brust. It calls for transferring the city's engineering division and storm water functions out of the city's Public Works Department and into what's now called the city's Planning & Building Department.

That department would be renamed the city's Development Services Department, a move that puts Encinitas in company with about a third of San Diego cities, Brust said. It should also help speed permit-processing times because all development-related services will be handled in one department, she said.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Lone Jack road failure to cost $450,000

Coast News:
It will cost Encinitas nearly $450,000 to fix extensive pavement failure along Lone Jack Road that caused a dump trunk to sink into the street earlier this month.

The City Council unanimously approved payments to two firms — $18,800 to Geopacifica for inspection work related to the Lone Jack repairs, and $370,000 to TC Construction for the construction of the emergency repairs, plus a $58,500 contingency — at the March 29 council meeting.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Blakespear stands by CalPERS' fake numbers on pension liability despite overwhelming expert consensus

Del Mar Times:
The city has an unfunded pension liability of close to $40 million, but over the last three years has allocated five percent of annual savings toward the unfunded pension liability, which equates to about $1 million, Blakespear said.
Independent analysts at Stanford found Encinitas' unfunded pension liability to be $154 million.

City Council either wants to protect, or prosecute, homeless sleeping in cars

This unintelligible article in the SD Reader:
No car-sleeping in Encinitas, say lobbying city fathers

[...] The latter lobbying shop is run by Jonathan Clay, whose now-retired father Ben did similar chores for the county, port, water authority, and other government agencies.

Other current clients of the younger Clay include the City of Encinitas, which seeks to “prohibit local agencies from enforcing laws and ordinances, or otherwise subject to civil or criminal penalties, the act of people sleeping or resting in a lawfully parked motor vehicle. While a vehicle may be ‘lawfully parked’ in a residential neighborhood or in the parking lot of a business, that does not mean that it is acceptable to have people live there. The issues raised...are less about parking, and more about the use of vehicles for human habitation, including sleeping and ‘resting’ in front of existing homes and businesses.”
The headline implies the opposite of the first quoted sentence that the city seeks to prohibit enforcement. But then the rest of the quote backs up the headline's pro-enforcement view.

Which is it? Does the city want to punish or protect the homeless sleeping in cars? Who is the San Diego Reader quoting, and why are they arguing against their own position?

You'd never know it from the Reader, but I believe the real story is that a proposed state law would prohibit enforcement, and the city is opposed to this proposed law (i.e. the city wants to keep enforcing laws against homeless sleeping in cars).

Journalism these days.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

City Council meeting open thread

Please use the comments to record your observations.

Face slashed with broken bottle in dads' brawl at Capri fundraiser

Del Mar Times:
A Capri Elementary School parent is accused of slashing another parent’s face with a broken bottle at a fundraiser for the school over the weekend.

The alleged incident occurred on March 25 at the Hilton Del Mar, where the Encinitas school’s PTA was hosting its Run for the Roses Spring Auction Gala. What was advertised as a “fun evening out with other Capri Families” turned violent when a fight allegedly broke out between the two fathers.

“There was a dispute between two parties,” said Officer Billy Hernandez of the San Diego Police Department, which is handling the case. “During the dispute, the victim was struck in the face with a glass.”

Paul Pfingst, the suspect’s attorney, said his client was provoked when the victim insulted the client’s wife.

"His wife was subjected to intolerable insults and that was caused this whole sorry event to take place,” Pfingst said, adding he would not repeat the comments that were made.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

3/22/17 City Council meeting open thread

Please use the comments to record your observations.

Encinitas woman dies after taking turmeric intravenously

10 News:
Friends say Jade Erick was a “free spirit” who was as beautiful on the inside as she was outside. She was also interested in holistic health, but that interest may have contributed to her death at the age of 30.

Erick died after a bad reaction to turmeric, a spice used in Indian food and in dietary supplements, that was dripped directly into her veins through an I-V.

According to the San Diego County Medical Examiner the cause of her death was “: anoxic encephalopathy due to prolonged resuscitated cardiopulmonary arrest due to adverse reaction to infused turmeric solution”. A spokesperson confirmed the turmeric was delivered through an IV.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Another housing lawsuit threatened

Coast News:
Encinitas has been hit with yet another legal challenge to Proposition A and the city’s failure to adopt a housing element update.

This time, a group of attorneys specializing in affordable housing law on behalf of the low-income community has issued a letter to Encinitas demanding it adopt a housing element by March 30, or be sued.

The four-point legal demand dated March 15 argues that the city has repeatedly failed to meet it’s state requirements to zone appropriately to meet its regional affordable housing needs. The letter then takes aim at Prop. A, the 2013 voter initiative that requires a public vote on major zoning changes or changes to the Housing Element, which the attorneys argue directly conflicts with state law.

“By continuing to require voter approval to adopt an updated housing element, the city continues to be without a housing element that complies with applicable state law, and will not be in compliance for the foreseeable future,” the letter states.

San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program, Cozen O’Connor P.C. and the Public Interest Law group represent Lorraine Del Rose and San Diego Tenants United in the case. Del Rose is described as a San Diego County resident who has struggled to obtain affordable housing due to lack of supply.
It should be pointed out to the supposed affordable housing advocates that adopting Measure T against the will of the voters would require zero affordable housing, and would result in the development of primarily luxury condos and vacation rentals, none of which would appear to help Ms. Del Rose. Whereas if they took a chill pill and allowed the Blakespear-Ehlers task force to develop a plan, there would be actual affordable housing requirements.

But maybe affordable housing isn't the real goal here.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Encinitas drunk driving rate much higher than San Diego Gaslamp district on St. Patrick's Day

10 News:
In the Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego Police set up a checkpoint near the San Diego ShamROCK block party. Of the 1,699 vehicles that passed through the checkpoint, police screened 76 vehicles, SDPD officer Tony Martinez.

During those screenings, 18 drivers were detained for further evaluation, with six being arrested.

[...]

In the North County, San Diego Sheriff's deputies stationed a DUI checkpoint in the 1800 block of South Coast Highway in Encinitas from 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday.

Of the 878 vehicles that passed through that checkpoint, 41 were sent to secondary screening. During those screenings, 11 drivers were evaluated for being under the influence, of which eight were arrested - five for alcohol-related impairment and three for drugs impairment, according to SDSO deputy Brenda Sipley.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Friday, March 17, 2017

Skyline Elementary kidnapper Jack Doshay pleads guilty, gets deal for 10 years

Times of San Diego:
A man who tried to kidnap a 7-year-old girl outside a Solana Beach school two years ago pleaded guilty Thursday to kidnapping and assault with intent to commit molest.

Jack Henry Doshay, 24, a member of an affluent Fairbanks Ranch family, will be sentenced to 10 years and four months in state prison on May 31. He will also be required to register as a sex offender for life.

Doshay’s father, Glenn, is a minority shareholder of the San Diego Padres.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Pedestrian killed by train at Leucadia Boulevard

This afternoon.

Carlsbad to consider trenching train tracks

Times of San Diego:
The number of trains traveling through the Carlsbad is about 50 per day, and that number may double by 2030, so the city is considering its options to increase safety and reduce future noise as more tracks are built.

In an interview with KPBS, Carlsbad City Councilman Mark Packard pointed to a January 2017 feasibility study he said shows that it’s beneficial to put an additional train line in a deep trench.

“When we saw (the second track) coming, we realized that this is our one chance, as the double tracking is being done, to put it down below grade where it ought to be, or leave it at street level and suffer the impacts,” he told KPBS.
Meanwhile, the Encinitas City Council canceled yet another regularly scheduled council meeting.

Friday, March 10, 2017

SANDAG seeks white-collar crime specialists to investigate Measure A misrepresentations

Union-Tribune:
The San Diego Association of Governments is looking for a law firm with experience investigating white-collar crime to determine how overly-optimistic sales tax forecasts ended up in a ballot measure, and if people knew predictions were wrong but failed to speak up.

In an executive board meeting on Friday, the regional planning organization decided to create a three-member subcommittee to help hire the law firm, and to publish a request for proposals to advertise for the lawyers.
Encinitas' representative on the board of directors overseeing SANDAG at the time SANDAG was deceiving the public was former ethics professor Lisa Shaffer.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

3/8/17 City Council meeting open thread

Please use the comments to record your observations.

Cities should brace for huge rise in pension costs

Sacramento Bee editorial:
New Sacramento City Manager Howard Chan is putting together his first budget proposal, and you might think with the improving economy, he would be able to hand out cash to this program or that.

Instead, he’s warning department heads not to expect many of their pent-up requests, he’s focused on increasing revenue and cutting expenses, and he’s looking at least five years down the road.

There’s a very good reason: Higher pension costs are on the way because CalPERS lowered its expected investment returns. Sacramento’s additional payments are projected to rise from a manageable $3.2 million in 2018-19 to a frightening $29.4 million in 2022-23.

“It keeps me up at night,” Chan told The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board this week.

If the higher CalPERS contributions aren’t the stuff of nightmares for city and county officials across the state, they should at least be a big worry. The League of California Cities calls the pension issue the biggest obstacle facing every full-service city in the state. It is urging its members to run the numbers and to start taking necessary steps. It says some cities may have to consider hiring freezes and service cuts. Even then, the league warns, some cities might eventually veer dangerously close to bankruptcy.
Even the much higher costs coming the next few years will likely not be enough, as experts warn that CalPERS' accounting and assumptions are still far too aggressive.

Encinitas has $154 million in unfunded liabilities according to a conservative Stanford analysis.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The bicycle menace

Letter in Encinitas Advocate:
As a 50-plus year resident of Encinitas I'm still waiting for one cost benefit analysis of spending millions for the addition of more bike lanes. Just one blind survey (one that can't be overwhelmed by social media) of people who actually bike to work. Or how about a survey just of the actual amount of bicycle traffic by season and hour.

Anecdotally, what I see during the week is mostly retired types exercising and on the weekends larger groups exercising along our highways/streets. Consequences I/we do know are more frustration. More time (something we can't ever get back) sitting and driving in our cars.

More CO2 emissions because cars are less efficient when idling at longer stop signals/signs because of narrowing of roadways. How about a survey/study of air quality in the road corridors. These could be done easily by putting particulate measuring devices along 101 in town. The city owed it to the residents to do a real cost benefit analysis instead of what appears to be "feel good" governance.

Bart Denson
Encinitas

Friday, March 3, 2017

No, Millenials don't want to live in high-density urban apartments

We're often told by Smart Growthers that Millenials want to live in urban apartments.

The reality? Not really. Union-Tribune:
“We definitely want a house because we want to have dogs,” she said. “And kids someday.”

Hataishi’s hopes aren’t far off from her peers. A pair of studies released this week suggests that the majority of millennials want to live in the suburbs, have already started buying outside urban areas, and base their homebuying decisions mainly on affordability.

Reports by Zillow and Harvard break with stereotypes of America’s largest generation, namely that they prefer to rent because they favor experiences over building equity and want to live in urban environments.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Public officials can't use private e-mail to hide public business from public

Says the California Supreme Court:
Texts and emails sent by public employees on their personal devices or accounts are a matter of public record if they deal with official business, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday in a unanimous decision hailed by open-government advocates.
The City of Encinitas has a long history of hiding public documents from the public.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Lone Jack jacked

Reportedly a sinkhole:





UPDATE: Union-Trib:
A section of Lone Jack Road gave way under a dump truck in Encinitas early Wednesday, a sort-of sinkhole that will cause days of road closures and construction work in the city’s Olivenhain area.

The truck got stuck — a front tire sank nearly to the front bumper— when the pavement collapsed on the westbound side of two-lane street. The incident, about 450 feet south of Fortuna Ranch Road happened at roughly 2:30 a.m.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Weak oversight from area school boards

From the Inbox:
Take a look at this somewhat recent article on John Collins, the former fired Poway superintendent, being the subject of a criminal investigation: link.

Voice of San Diego has documented Collins' downfall well: link. This whole story is eerily similar to the path EUSD seems to be going down now:

A strong, charismatic superintendent who has a loyalist packed board that fawns all over him, pisses off enough parents over time resulting in non-loyalists getting elected to the board. Once enough dissident board members got elected in Poway, they hired a firm to conduct a forensic audit of the superintendent which revealed extensive financial improprieties (which may lead to a criminal prosecution). EUSD has had the same situation as Poway, with a charming superintendent and a board whose unquestioned devotion seemed to have no limits. However, like in Poway, a non-loyalist has been elected and question are now being asked that were not asked before. Wonder what an audit of EUSD's superintendent would find?

Of course, public school superintendent corruption and criminal prosecution seems to be a pattern in San Diego County (Sweetwater High super Jesus Gandara and Southwestern super Raj Chopra, for example).

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Apparent suicide by train in Leucadia last night

Patch:
A woman was fatally struck by a freight train when she ran onto the tracks in Encinitas, authorities said Thursday.

The victim dashed into the path of a BNSF train headed south at about 50 miles per hour in the vicinity of North Coast Highway 101 and Diana Street for unknown reasons around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, sheriff's Deputy Jason Burk said.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Council gun-shy on open space acquisition after Pacific View fiasco

San Diego Reader:
A 33-acre Encinitas strawberry farm landed on mayor Catherine Blakespear's wish list this week when the real estate agent representing the family owners offered it to the City of Encinitas.

"It's just north of the San Elijo Conservancy," Blakespear said. "We don't have the money to buy it but I'd like to be able to."

[...]

The tumultuous multi-year effort for the city to acquire and repurpose the Pacific View property from the Encinitas School District left the city's leaders feeling a little timid about venturing into land acquisition again, Blakespear said. The city bought the 2.8-acre property for $10 million in 2015, issuing bonds to pay for the purchase.
Years after the council's $10 million Pacific View purchase, the buildings remain dilapidated and unoccupied and have yet to live up to the council's vision.


City Council rendering of Pacific View site

Friday, February 17, 2017

Council to consider commercial marijuana cultivation, retail pot shops

NBC7:
In a 4-1 vote, the Encinitas City Council has started the process to allow commercial marijuana growing in their city.

Encinitas, dubbed the flower capital of the world, sees an opportunity to keep their agricultural business alive.

[...]

City council member Tasha Boerner Horvath said she conducted a survey of her own and 67 percent of residents want a store front or delivery service of some kind for marijuana.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

2/15/17 City Council meeting open thread

Please use the comments to record your observations.

Housing Task Force first meeting report

Del Mar Times:
The group — comprised of Mayor Catherine Blakespear, Deputy Mayor Tony Kranz, former Planning Commissioner Kurt Groseclose and No on T spokesperson Bruce Ehlers — ultimately decided at the meeting to interview for a housing element expert to answer technical questions regarding state requirements and survey similar cities to see how they met the state’s Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) numbers.

[...]

The task force, which was created at the Feb. 1 city council meeting, also agreed to pursue capping up-zoned properties at two stories, provided they meet RHNA requirements. It will also look to minimize the buffer zone, which is the number of units above the state-required 1,093 zoned high-density units.

The city would return to the general plan for definitions, specifically how height is measured.
Click on over and read the whole thing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Wrong-way CalPERS whiffs again

CalPERS' timing is truly uncanny. From dumping tobacco stocks at all-time lows to buying leveraged L.A. scrub land and "toxic waste" CDOs at the peak of the housing bubble, CalPERS has a knack for doing it wrong.

And yet again:
A shift away from stocks and private equity just before the presidential election has caused CalPERS to miss out on about $900 million in revenue since September.

CalPERS Chief Investment Officer Ted Eliopoulos disclosed the number at a Board of Administration meeting on Monday in a presentation describing how a temporary shift in assets has played out.

The fund moved some of its investments away from stocks and private equity last fall, anticipating a period of market volatility. It has missed some of the broad market gains that have unfolded in recent months.
Thanks to CalPERS' bad performance and dishonest projections, Encinitas has an unfunded pension liability of $154 million by Stanford's analysis.

 The average Encinitas government worker retires much earlier than private sector employees and gets $98,000 per year for life.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Housing task force meeting Monday night

From the Inbox:
The City kicks off its next HEU round with a task force meeting at 5 p.m. this Monday, February 13, at City Hall. The agenda says simply "Continued discussion toward a legally compliant housing element."

The task force deck is stacked against lone Measure T "No" representative Bruce Ehlers; on the "Yes" side we have: Blakespear, Kranz, Groseclose, and assuredly a passel of staff members.

Likely we'll also have Barbara Kautz, the city's consulting attorney, in attendance.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Whole Foods bites the dust

Coast News:
The Pacific Station Whole Foods, which debuted five-and-a-half years ago to large crowds and a downtown eager for a standalone market, will shut down, the Texas-based chain announced Wednesday.

The 23,000-square-foot market, which was the centerpiece of the mixed-used development, will close its doors for good Feb. 22.
Guess it never made much sense for people to drive to the bar district to buy groceries.

2/8/16 City Council meeting open thread

CANCELED

Monday, February 6, 2017

2/6/17 Special City Council meeting on housing open thread

Please use the comments to record your observations.

Municipal finance is hard

From Tasha Boerner-Horvath's newsletter:
We have the highest bond rating of AA+!

[...]

Because we have followed good fiscal practices we received a bond rating from Standard & Poor [sic] of AA+ — the highest a city can receive.
That's news to Standard & Poor's.   But we're sure she'll be able to trust everything else staff tells her.

Special City Council meeting tonight

The council is meeting to give direction to the subcommittee on the housing update.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Housing meeting summary

UPDATE: Video now available.

Thanks to Anonymous for the summary:
All in all, it was a pretty good meeting. Bruce E did a good job of outlining 11 constructive points about how to build a housing element that may be acceptable to both HCD and voters. I don't think he'll get everything, but the majority of it was pretty reasonable stuff.

Blakespear didn't have her best night, but she got a B grade. Not sure if it was planned, but she seemed to do most of the talking for the City. Some technical issues came up around RHNA numbers and accessory units that she should have had our lawyer answer, and instead engaged in a back and forth with citizens explaining why their ideas wouldn't work. It created a little bit of citizens vs. city atmosphere when she was clearly trying to create a sense of unity.

We learned that the strategy is to get a new housing element in front of voters this fall, if at all possible. The terms of the settlements are in breach, so we should expect those cases to restart. Right now, we don't have a viable defense. If we can show a judge potential to have the matter resolved this Fall without court intervention, they likely would give us time and space to make it happen.

This is going to upset some folks, because we are back in hurry up mode. We'd need to put another draft in to HCD for review this Spring. It means there isn't time to go back to square one. I'm expecting to see them start with Measure T, and make revisions to lower building height, create actual affordable housing, shrink the "buffer," benchmark against other cities, restore how heights are measured, remove the attic bonus floor--that sort of thing.

There's a constituency that will never be satisfied, and that's okay. They aren't winnable, so the city should focus on the most important changes that would affect voters who were on the fence last time.

After last night, I now think it's possible to get this done. I'm not sure if the time pressure is a good thing or a bad thing. There will be errors; the process won't be perfect. But having more time encourages a bloated document with more targets for misinterpretation or confusion.

I'd like to see CC develop a list of guiding principles and goals for the refresh, and stay laser focused on them. I think half or more of those principles should come verbatim from Bruce H's list.

Before sending anything to HCD or the voters, measure the draft against those goals.
UPDATE: Articles on the forum from Aaron Burgin in the Coast News and Barbara Henry in the U-T.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Housing meeting tomorrow night

After the failure of Measure T at the polls, the City Council will meet with residents tomorrow night to find a way forward to meet state housing mandates.

The meeting will be at 6pm at the Senior Center, 1140 Oakcrest Park Drive.


Friday, January 27, 2017

The $64,000 sketch

Well, once you have a $3 million lifeguard tower, prices start losing their shock value.

Coast News:
The City Council’s recommendation to the group, which is composed of local residents, community stakeholders and city commissioners, included the following:

[...]

• Approve a staff request for $64,000 that would allow city staff to develop conceptual drawings of an under crossing at Verdi Avenue as an alternative to a proposed at-grade crossing at Montgomery Avenue in Cardiff.
Who's drawing it? Picasso?

Undocumented driver plows into shoppers at Trader Joe's

Del Mar Times:
An unlicensed 87-year-old woman crashed her car into a Trader Joe’s store in Encinitas and injured four people on the afternoon of Jan. 26, authorities said.

A preliminary investigation found the woman, who was the sole occupant of a 2002 Honda Civic, backed her car into the store at 115 N. El Camino Real near the front door at about 2:38 p.m. and hit four female pedestrians, said Sgt. Scott Bligh of the San Diego Sheriff’s Department's North Coastal Station.

[...]

Three of the pedestrians were taken to local hospitals, while one was treated at the scene, Bligh said. No information was immediately available on any of their conditions, but authorities said each woman complained of pain and one was being treated for potential broken bones.

The driver, who had been cited in the past for prior moving violations and has never been licensed, was uninjured, Bligh said.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

1/25/17 City Council meeting open thread

Please use the comments to record your observations.

Encinitas housing in Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal:
The San Diego suburb of Encinitas hasn’t fulfilled a housing plan in more than two decades, and voters in November chose not to adopt one in a citywide referendum.

That leaves the city open to litigation from Marco Gonzalez, a former environmental lawyer-turned affordable-housing advocate. Mr. Gonzalez has fought antidevelopment neighborhood groups in Encinitas and surrounding towns in the past and threatened to file a lawsuit in October if the election failed.

He hasn’t sued yet, saying he is waiting to see what happens after the appointment of a new council member to fill a seat vacated by the city’s newly elected mayor.

“Sometimes you need to have a stick,” he said, “and whack a few cities over the head.”

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Yes on Streetscape

Darius Degher in the Coast News:
The reduction of vehicular lanes to one on each side will be a positive development in the long term, even if there is a period of adjustment needed.

Even if traffic becomes worse along Highway 101, this will only prompt drivers to stay on the freeway during rush hour (as they do in Del Mar), instead of using the 101 as a freeway surrogate.

Most importantly, it will, over time, encourage local residents to leave their cars at home and use their bikes instead. In future summers, when tourist families arrive from Phoenix in their incredibly large SUVs, hopefully, they will be able to park them for the week and rent bikes to get around instead.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Leucadia Streetscape's back

Apparently the draft Environmental Impact Report came out over the holidays and it ain't pretty. The public comment period is now closed.

Doug Fiske writing in the Coast News:
Few people like the Leucadia 101 corridor as it is. But the Streetscape plan described in the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) the city released in December is not a good upgrade.

Among the plan’s specifics:

[...] The plan would reduce a four-lane highway — called a major arterial — to two lanes but claim it’s still a major arterial. [...]

[...] 14 unrestricted lefts onto (Coast Highway) 101 from side streets. Where there are now two traffic lanes each way, lefts are already a hazard. Where there’s only one northbound lane, lefts are more hazardous. One traffic lane each way would make lefts even harder and more dangerous. [...]

[...] Solana Beach’s 101 corridor is a commercial success because there’s plenty of parking. To equal that corridor’s parking capacity, Leucadia Streetscape would have to add 2,700 spaces. Adding only 136 spaces over 2.5 miles would not produce the commercial boom the city and the Leucadia 101 Main Street Association have been salivating over [...]

[...] Removal of 31 heritage trees, including the iconic eucalyptus at the Leucadia Boulevard intersection. [...]

[...] Encroaching on or taking 16,545 square feet of private property.[...]

[...] In its words, “the draft EIR concludes that the project would result in significant unavoidable impacts for emergency services (fire protection and police protection) and traffic circulation.”

The project would increase emergency response times that are already far worse than the fire department’s goal. [...]
What's not to like?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

El Callejon replacement seeks to expand business hours

Party on, Encinitas!
In addition to Thai, Korean, Japanese and Chinese cuisine, the new restaurant, named Open House, is proposing to sell beer, wine and alcohol on site with a Type 47 liquor license, the same type of license as its predecessor.

Open House is proposing to open earlier and close later than El Callejon, with business hours of 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 8 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tipster: Mosca misrepresented his Sierra Madre past to Del Mar Times

One of the central complaints from Joe Mosca's former constituents is that he ran as a community character preservationist, and then voted pro-development.

From the Inbox:
Mosca tells a whopper in this article [Del Mar Times].
Mosca said many people were “under the impression that [he] was anti-growth,” but he did not label himself with a stance.

“To say you’re pro-development or anti-development really pigeon-holes you on the city council when you have responsibilities such as the [state-mandated] housing element and accommodating Regional Housing Need Allocation numbers and balancing that with property owners’ rights,” he said. 
Here is what he told the Pasadena Weekly in 2006.
Campaign motivation/issues: “I propose to solve the challenge of over-development by working closely with preservation groups to use preservation funds to purchase any open spaces that become available in our community to ensure that the open spaces will stay open and be held for the benefit of all the community. I also propose to change our zoning laws so that they represent our vision for our community and that they protect our vision to the fullest extent of the law. I do not want our community altered by high-density development projects or large buildings that do not fit into the fabric of our community."
Sound familiar?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Editorial: Muir was right on Mosca pick

North Coast Current:
What qualifies someone to be appointed to the Encinitas City Council? Two or three years living in the city with little public footprint outside a brief stint on the Parks and Recreation Commission. The one sitting council member to question this? Mark Muir.

As a troika of City Council members — Mayor Catherine Blakespear, Deputy Mayor Tony Kranz and Councilwoman Tasha Boerner Horvath — voted to appoint resident Joe Mosca out of 13 applicants to a vacant seat on the dais Jan. 11, Muir stood out as the one member willing to stand outside the majority in the name of community experience and continuity.
Click on over and read the whole thing.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Seaside Courier folds

Escondido Grapevine:
The monthly publication — which served coastal North County — did not print a December issue, and has no plans to print a January issue, according to T.K. Arnold, the paper’s lead contributing writer.

The publication’s website continues being updated periodically, Arnold said. The most recent online article was published on Dec. 28.

“The Courier has been closed down in terms of its publication since mid-December,” said Alice Jacobson, the newspaper’s owner and publisher.

Jacobson cited revenue problems and lack of advertising as the primary reasons that the paper has ceased print operations. Local businesses have to be particular with their advertising dollars, and may have found alternatives online and on social media, she added.

“Basically, Alice ran out of money,” Arnold said.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The fix is in! Council majority appoints carpetbagging L.A. political climber over numerous eminently qualified longtime locals

Meet your new appointed councilman Joe Mosca.

May this work out for the council schemers as well as the appointment of Mark Muir worked out for Jerome Stocks.

And they vote themselves a 45% pay and pension increase to boot. Notice how they do this immediately after an election, knowing that the voters will not remember by the time of the next election.

1/11/17 City Council meeting open thread

They're baaaaaack....

Please use the comments to record your observations.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Encinitas has $154 million in unfunded pension liabilities

... according to Stanford's California Pension Tracker:




Those are admittedly conservative estimates. CalPERS' widely acknowledged completely phony numbers are $38 million. The reality likely lies somewhere in between.

The average full-career retiree in Encinitas gets $98,000 per year for life and retires at a much younger age than private sector peers.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Gaspar highlights homelessness as top priority for county

10 News:
The new supervisor said addressing homelessness would be a top priority.

"To combat the rise of homelessness throughout the region, we have to build on a network of individuals committed to resolving this issue through collaboration, through advocacy and through the careful allocation and realignment of the resources," Gaspar said. "We have to define this goal before we ever enter the water. And we have to keep pushing, we have to keep swimming because we have to meet that goal."

She said she has discussed a partnership with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer on solving the problem of homelessness. She conceded that it would be "a major challenge" to resolve the issue.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Union seeks to open outdoor dining

Legal notices:

CITY OF ENCINITAS PLANNING AND BUILDING DEPARTMENT LEGAL NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING BY THE PLANNING COMMISSION PLACE OF MEETING: Council Chambers, Civic Center 505 South Vulcan Avenue Encinitas, CA 92024 [...] It is hereby given notice that a Public Hearing will be held on Thursday, the 19th day of January, 2017, at 6 p.m., by the Encinitas Planning Commission to discuss the following items: 1. PROJECT NAME: Union Kitchen and Tap CASE NUMBER: 15-230 MIN/DR/CDP FILING DATE: August 31, 2015 APPLICANT: Eric Leitstein LOCATION: 1108 South Coast Highway 101 (APN: 258-316-21) ZONING/OVERLAY: The subject property is located in the Downtown Encinitas Specific Plan (DESP) Commercial Mixed-1 (D-CM-1) zone and the Coastal Zone of the City of Encinitas. DESCRIPTION: Continued public hearing to consider a Minor Use Permit, Design Review Permit and Coastal Development Permit application to allow the construction of an enclosed outdoor dining patio area, parking and associated improvements for an existing restaurant. On-site consumption of beer, wine and distilled spirits with an existing Type 47 ABC license are proposed within the new outdoor dining area.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

16 applicants for open council seat

Your applicants are:
Tony Brandenburg
Stacie Davis
Mark Demos
Bruce Ehlers
Marla Elliott
Steele Fors
Wendy Harper
Terra Lawson-Remer
Daniel Marotta
William Morrison
Joe Mosca
Lisa Nava
Edward O'Connor
Gregory Post
Michael Schmitt
Steven Winters
Applications here.

We'd have to say Mosca and Ehlers are the front-runners: Mosca if the council wants to create a supermajority and boost a once-and-future rising Democratic Party star, Ehlers if the council wants to extend an olive branch to the majority of voters who voted for Prop A and against Measure T.  What do you think?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

No, Millenials don't want high-density development

For years, we've been told by developers and their politicians that Millenials are different than prior generations: that they will want high-density urban living rather than the traditional American suburban lifestyle.

The data say otherwise. Wall Street Journal:
Big cities may be getting all the attention, but the suburbs are holding their own in the battle for population and young earners.

That is the thrust of a study of population trends and housing set to be released Monday by the Urban Land Institute’s Terwilliger Center for Housing, a nonprofit real-estate research group.

Property developers and urban-policy experts have trumpeted the influx of young, affluent professionals into big central cities in recent years. The shift has transformed downtown areas, sparking a historic boom in luxury-apartment construction and retail development.

[...]

But research shows that suburbs are continuing to outstrip downtowns in overall population growth, diversity and even younger residents.

The suburban areas surrounding the 50 largest metropolitan areas make up 79% of the population of those areas but accounted for 91% of population growth over the past 15 years, according to the study. What’s more, three-quarters of people age 25 to 34 in these metro areas live in suburbs.
They're starting families later than earlier generations due to a number of factors including the Great Recession, student debt, and changing priorities. But once they settle down and have a family, they want the same thing prior generations did: a nice house in a family-friendly neighborhood with good schools, and a yard with space for the kids and a dog to run around.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Lake Fulvia claims tree

From the Inbox:
This huge stone pine tree went DOWN at 3 a.m. on NYE.  No one was hurt; it barely touched a car and missed the house next door. 

The City workers who came to deal with it said the root ball was very small for a tree this size.  They and neighbors guessed that was because it had no need to send roots out far in search of water.  Even one day's worth of rain generates 6"-15" of standing water.  It's pumped only when neighbors complain. 

The City refuses to fix the flooding problem and this time got off easy; had anyone been injured, it would not have been hard to find an attorney to take this case of negligence.  The City's been warned repeatedly over the years about this corner, nicknamed not so lovingly by residents "Lake Fulvia."

The property just west of where the tree is located is where the City approved 9 houses to go in on what is now nearly-raw land.  The City bizarrely claims that the extensive hardscape from the "Hymettus Estates'" 9 houses would somehow lessen flooding in the area.  Locals call the ill-conceived project "Hymettus Mistakes."



UPDATE:  From the Inbox:
Here's a photo taken on Dec. 16 before the tree fall. This is what the flood typically looks like before the City sends out the pumper truck. Large vehicles like to blast through the flood sending walls of water into my neighbors' yards.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Culture, Modern Times bringing tasting rooms to downtown

San Diego Reader:
"After an exceedingly long and exhaustive quest for the perfect location, we are absolutely thrilled to announce that we have located a suitably rad spot for a North County tasting room," the post reads. Specifically, the 3000-square-foot site will open on Pacific Coast Highway at the north end of Encinitas (470 S. Highway 101).

According to the announcement, the so-called Far West Lounge will feature 32 taps flowing from a U-shaped bar that will serve up to 150 patrons in a "luxurious mid-century tropical" space featuring booth seating and "a swanky indoor fire-pit." It will sell Modern Times cans, coffee beans, and merchandise, in addition to growler fills, and also serve as an additional pick-up destination for special releases ordered through the company's seasonal online sales. No specific timeline was given for the tasting room's opening, though CEO Jacob McKean expects it to be sometime in 2017.
Solana Beach brewery Culture is closer to opening a less ambitious facility near Biergarden.