Saturday, July 31, 2010

Four candidates file for city council

Looks like it's Barth and Kranz vs. Dalager and Gaspar.

I doubt we'll have any idea who's ahead until election night. A large percentage of Encinitas won't vote, and many of those who do won't really understand the issues but may vote on a tangential acquaintance with a candidate or recommendations from friends.

Dalager and Gaspar have a lot of organized interest groups likely to support them: public employee unions, developers, Rotary Club, New Encinitas. Will Kranz and Barth's looser base of long-time residents of Cardiff and Leucadia be able to mobilize their voters?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Monster House Suzy Brown gets off on technicality

We've covered the strange case of Casa Simpatica before. Since that post, former owner Suzy Brown was arrested for stealing the uber-expensive fixtures from the house while it was in foreclosure.

Happy news for Suzy today. The lazy prosecutors didn't bother to prove the bank owned the house when she took the fixtures:

A woman accused of stealing $1 million worth of fixtures, appliances and doors from a foreclosed home in Encinitas has won a legal victory, according to the North County Times.

Suzy Brown's neighbors dubbed it the “Monster House” after the 15-bedroom villa began construction. The house fell into foreclosure in February 2009 and was vacant for about three weeks. In March 2009, it was stripped of up to $1 million in imported fixtures, police said.

Brown was facing one charge of grand theft and one charge of felony vandalism, but a judge dismissed those charges Thursday on a technicality.

A judge ruled that the prosecutor failed to prove that the bank owned the house in 2009 when a real estate broker discovered the missing fixtures, according to the paper.

"The people did not provide any representative of the bank, unfortunately," Superior Court Judge Aaron Katz said.

Brown, who built the house in 2004, had planned to turn it into a "recovery house" for patients looking to escape the clutches of drugs and alcohol, but the city killed the plan after neighbors complained about the $13 million villa.

If you're interested, Casa Simpatica is still for sale at $2.5 million, a fraction of what the bank spent to build it, and a real comp-killer at $153/sqft.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Nancy Lee Ellis pleads not guilty

And the love triangle theory gains more credence.

The cars' owner says the suspect is an acquaintence and can't understand what provoked the attack.

Neighbors say it sounded like an explosion.

"You have to be a nut to do something like that," neighbor [Neighbor? Pretty sure she's the victim] Marianne La Piedra told San Diego 6. "I mean, we were all asleep."

One man woke up and saw the fire start. He chased down the suspect and tackled her.

People who know her suspect she was jealous of the victim's relationship with her boyfriend.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

CalTrans I-5 expansion meeting

KUSI is here, and there are lots of cars and people showing up.

Come on by. It goes until 8pm. It's an expo format with booths, so you can stop by for 15 minutes or whatever you can spare.

I kinda felt sorry for the CalTrans consultants sent here to take the bullets from the angry mob. They were polite and knowledgeable, and getting an earful.

This is what the Manchester exit might look like.

They had detailed diagrams of each section of freeway through Encinitas, showing how far the widened freeway would go, and where sound barriers would go up. The worst part of the organization was that they had one tiny table on sound barriers, and that was where everybody wanted to go to find out what would happen in their neighborhoods.

The project is supposed to happen in five or ten years, depending on funding, public resistance, environmental issues, etc. Though I wouldn't count on funding being a problem as this is a federal project and Zimbabwe Ben can just print off as many billions as they need.

It was interesting to hear people propose ideas on issues like sound mitigation. The answer from the consultants was "Nope. We have to do it this way because the feds set the standards, and we can't do any more because the feds provide all the funding." I have a feeling a few local supporters of big federal government may be rethinking their philosophy.

Some of the city leaders were there. I saw Houlihan and Barth and Tony Kranz. No sightings of the union/developer wing of the council, but I may have missed them, and I left early so they may have come later. Kranz and Barth were hanging out together, reinforcing the common belief that they'd be allies on the council. I didn't see presumed Stocks ally Kristin Gaspar either.

The Resistance lives on!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Regal Road arson

Just months after the deadly blaze behind Carl's Jr. on Regal Road, another late night fire hit the same street last night.

This time, police have made an arrest.

Hot smoke charred the attic of the home and a Mercedes-Benz parked in the driveway was slightly damaged, Sturtevant said.

Investigators said the Mercedes appears to belong to a woman, believed to be in her late 50s to 60s, who was detained for questioning. Neighbors told investigators they saw her place some type of accelerant on the hood of the BMW seconds before the fire began, Sturtevant said

No injuries were reported and no other homes were scorched. A damage estimate is still being determined.

The name of the woman in custody has not been released. A motive for the arson has not been disclosed.

Sounds like a catfight! Mercedes lady vs. Beemer woman.

Note to future arsonists: it's probably not a good idea to park the getaway car so close to the fire.

UPDATE: The suspect is 64-year-old Nancy Lee Ellis, of Caminito Ocean Cove in Cardiff. The victim was Marianne LaPiedra. Speculation on the motive is running wild in the comments at the U-T, going from a love triangle to friends committing insurance fraud. We'll be sure to keep you up to date as details develop.

UPDATE 2: Ellis was reportedly intoxicated, which would give more weight to the love triangle motive and less to the insurance fraud motive. And a hero dog saves people from the fire.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I-5 expansion meeting Tuesday night

Tuesday, 5pm - 8pm at the Encinitas Community and Senior Center, 1140 Oakcrest Park Drive, Room 142.

Public Works Department pats itself on the back; SDWD consumers still getting screwed

The Public Works Department of Encinitas is congratulating itself for complying with hundreds of pages of bureaucratese recommended by the American Public Works Association, an umbrella bureacracy of local bureaucracies.

Meanwhile, captive residents of the San Dieguito Water District still pay far higher rates than those in the Olivenhain Water District for bad water and bloated employee pensions.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Jerome Stocks wants to turn I-5 into a 14-lane super-freeway through the heart of Encinitas

Read all about it in the Union-Tribune.

Officials at Caltrans and the San Diego Association of Governments, the region’s long-range-planning agency, expect the expansion plan to draw much public scrutiny. They note that it would affect — at a minimum — the half-million people who live along the North Coast corridor.

The project would run through six cities and require the construction of 40 bridges and overpasses, along with noise-reduction walls next to more than 1,500 homes, including apartment complexes, according to Caltrans.

The state has scheduled five public meetings on the just-released draft environmental impact statement. If a recent KPBS radio talk show on the topic is any indication, the workshops might well turn into a forum on mass transit solutions versus bigger highways. Most of the callers to “These days” were encouraging bus, trolley and train improvements over highways.

On the other hand, Encinitas Councilman Jerome Stocks, a member of the SANDAG board of directors, recently told the Union-Tribune that he believes traffic-weary residents will welcome the expansion. By 2030, Caltrans estimates that one million vehicles a day will be on the I-5 highway.

The public will have five opportunities to ask questions and express its concerns and interests:

July 27 - Encinitas - Encinitas Community & Senior Center, Room 142

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The flies return to Del Mar

It's that magical time of year again when the flies return to Del Mar like the swallows returning to Capistrano.

Piles of manure at the nearby racetrack draw enough flies to cover both neighboring cities, Del Mar and Solana Beach.

Where the flies fill the skies
Down in old Del Mar
Take a plane
Take a train
Take a kayak

There is botox in every face
And lots of vacant retail space
Where the flies fill the skies
At Del Mar

Citizens of Encinitas, a few miles north, aren't visited by the flies. But we've got our own issues.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Natives getting restless now

A couple of contentious local issues in the news:

Dan Dalager and Kristin Gaspar want to light up Cardiff's sunsets. Covered extensively at Cardiffian, and concisely in this Leucadia Blog post.

And 10 News covers the proposed Leucadia cell tower. Earlier covered on Leucadia Blog.

UPDATE: To be fair, I'm not sure Dalager or Gaspar have gone on record in favor of the nighttime sports park. Encinitas politicians tend to be pretty cagey about their views on controversial issues until it's time to vote, and local media have been pretty poor at reporting where everybody stands. But rumor has it that Gaspar and her Rotary Club are big supporters of the full-blown sports park. And here's a conflict assessment report from 2008 that asked interested parties "What do you believe are the main obstacles to consensus on the Park's final design?" One respondent's answer: "Rotary Club."

I think it's fair to say that unless candidates vocally oppose the nighttime sports park before they're elected, they're a serious risk to support it after they're elected.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

70K for new student attendance software to be approved tonight by EUSD

In perfect form, the EUSD has yet another school board meeting scheduled this evening, the day after the fourth of July holiday. Two meetings ago they held a meeting the day after the Memorial day holiday. There appears to be a pattern here of holding meetings when most inconvenient for parents, community members and business owners to attend, but perhaps I am simply reading into it too much.

Nonetheless, an among several agenda items is a little doozy about approving some fancy new software called Illuminate. This is a software that teachers and administrators will use to traack attendance, among other things. According to a quick google it is a tool that: "that provides administrators and educators with a single web-based point of access to student demographics, attendance, and schedules, as well as discipline, grades, assessment history, state reporting mandates, and more."

Sounds great at first sight. The price is $11.00 per student for the first year, and $6.00 per student for each year thereafter. (see page 16 of the July 6th agenda found here:,%202010.pdf)

So with about 5,000 students thats roughly $55,000 for the first year of this new tool for teachers. Oh but that's not it, they also must purchase another tool called Intel-Assess to be used in tandem with this Illuminate software. The cost for this for the 2010-2011 school year will be $15, 102. (see page 21)

So roughly 70K this next year on a software to take attendance. I wonder what teachers think of this use of funds? It is also a fact that EUSD contracted for a similar, more widely-used attendance software for the district just two years ago which they are still paying off.

At the last board meeting Board member Muir wished to bring to light a letter from the County Board of Educaation warning the district that the Corono-based company that created Illuminate was still in it's phase of ironing out kinks and it would be unwise for the district to sign on when the technology was still in the guinea pig phase. She was shouted down by the Superintendent's trusty lapdog Skiljan.

Like petulant children the Superintendent, the lapdog Skiljan and Board president dismiss any real concerns brought up and trudge ahead being the educational tool peddler's wet dream that they are, buying up every new shiny tool dangled before them without consultation from educators, parents or god forbid, The Technology Advisory committee.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sunana Batra on the Encinitas Unified School District's money grab

The Encinitas Unified School District is about to take on 30 years of debt to buy a bunch of flashy tech toys that will be obsolete in 5 years. If this passes, property owners will be paying more than $1000 each per year long after the gadgets have been junked.

Here's Sunana Batra's latest, Robin Hood in reverse:
The Encinitas Union School District will be asking voters to approve a $44 million bond issue that is a grab bag of goodies hashed out in private by a handful of people acting on their own, while parents, homeowners and small businesses were shut out.

It's safe to say the total cost will be a whopping $90 million in principal and 5 percent interest over the 30-year life of the loan. Anyway you look at it, it's fiscally irresponsible. Still, there's not one mention in 119 pages of the agenda of the total cost to taxpayers over the course of the 30 years.

In their zeal to keep the gravy train flowing, backers of the measure would saddle taxpayers with irresponsible debt we'll still be paying off when some of the youngest students are starting to have their own grandchildren.

Without the space limitations of the newspaper column format, Batra goes into much more detail at The Leucadia Blog.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Homeless people spurn Encinitas for posher digs of Del Mar and Solana Beach

NC Times:
Compared with the 2009 count, homeless people increased from 114 to 201 in Carlsbad, from one to five in Del Mar, from 396 to 524 in Oceanside, from 22 to 56 in San Marcos and from two to 15 in Solana Beach.

Homeless people decreased from 219 to 176 in Encinitas [...]

What a joke. Only pinhead government bureaucrats could come up with such a precise number purportedly counting everyone sleeping in cars or under bushes in such a vast area by sending a bunch of volunteers out with flashlights and notebooks.