Thursday, May 30, 2013

Council throws "Spirit of Prop A" and "right to vote" under the bus

"Meep. Meep."

In the council's early opposition to Proposition A, they focused on "unintended consequences" and legal flaws while insisting that they supported the "spirit of Prop A," and promising to provide an alternative that would achieve the spirit.

If that were honestly the case, the council could have proposed a simplified, alternative ballot measure for the November 2014 ballot with the alleged "flaws" stripped out. As we have pointed out before, a ballot initiative passed by voters is the only way to prevent future councils from upzoning without a public vote. The council's theatrics over the 4/5 exemption last week aren't worth the paper they are printed on unless they add a provision that prohibits NEW exceptions being added and this is protected by a ballot initiative. Without a ballot initiative, any future council can give itself any similar exemptions it wants. Without a provision prohibiting new exceptions, they can nullify the Spirit of Prop A with new exceptions so large you can drive a 5 story building through it.

So why does the council refuse to propose a clean, no-loopholes ballot initiative that fixes whatever flaws they see in Prop A? Indeed, both Mayor Barth and Councilmember Shaffer wrote in their latest newsletters that they were committed to a vote on the General Plan Update (which would be completely toothless), but did not even mention sponsoring a better "right to vote" initiative. Other council members have made clear in private conversations that there will be no "right to vote" initiative if Prop A fails.

If it is not clear to you by now, let us spell it out: Your council does not just oppose the details of Prop A. Your council is, apparently unanimously, opposed to the very principle of a public right to vote on upzoning.

UPDATE: Since publication of this post, Council Members Shaffer and Kranz have indicated support for a legitimate, alternative right-to-vote initiative. However, this still leaves them in a 2-3 minority on the Council, meaning for the public, it's Prop A or no right to vote on upzoning at all.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Say, this sounds pretty good...

... but we'd like to know our choices.

What's the council's alternative proposal?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mayor Teresa Barth: seniors and young people want high-density development

But Encinitas Mayor Teresa Barth believes the Pacific Station development represents a new kind of community.

“All of the units there have sold, so obviously, people like to live in that environment,” she said. “Whole Foods is busy all the time and people are sitting there, having lunch.”

She thinks the new development represents changing trends in the way people want to live.

“Our demographics are changing,” she explained. “The fastest growing group in our region is the seniors, people who already live here, people who are going to get out of the suburban house because the kids have all gone and they’re moving into a smaller apartment or townhouse, and they all want to live downtown. They and the millennials all want the same thing.”

Barth said both the older and the younger generations want to be able to go out their door and walk or bike to a grocery store, a restaurant, the library or the beach.
Well, we now know why Barth never signed the Right to Vote petition. And we know what to expect from her vaporware alternative ballot initiative.

UPDATE: No, just because people bought them doesn't mean people want to live there. They are speculations and party pads for the out-of-town rich. How does that help stop global warming?

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Planetary conjunction visible NOW

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Council Cluster*&^% Coverage to bring you this bulletin.

Go look in the Western sky right now, just above where the sun set. You'll see three planets in rare proximity in a triangle formation: Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury.

Monday UPDATE: That was last night about an hour after sunset. We'd guess it will be visible again about the same time tonight.

Former Coastal Commission Chair debunks council claim about Prop A

One of the many dubious claims thrown out there by the No on A forces is that Proposition A would require Coastal Commission review and could create havoc while waiting for approval or even worse if the Coastal Commission rejected Prop A.

This claim was made first by the Rutan & Tucker report, then included by the entire city council in their ballot argument, and most recently by Mayor Barth in her e-mail newsletter just yesterday:
For example, the Initiative will amend components of the city's Local Coastal Plan, these provisions must be certified by the California Coastal Commission before they can go into effect in the coastal zone, which is approximately 2/3rd of the city.

This creates two different zoning regulations in the city during the lengthy Commission review process. Nor is there any clear answer as to what the impacts would be if the Coastal Commission does not approve the changes. All of this uncertainty opens the door for legal challenges.
Today brings news of an e-mail response from former Coastal Commission Chair Sarah Wan:
Based on my 15 years as a Coastal Commissioner, and twice its Chair, there is no basis for the claim that the Coastal Commission will need to certify or delay the effective date of Proposition A. The Proposition is concerned primarily with how future changes to zoning are made and capping building heights and clarifying how building height is measured. None of these would trigger Commission review. Choosing to lower height and be more restrictive than what is currently allowed is not inconsistent with current Encinitas Local Coastal Plan.

The balance of the Proposition merely sets out a process for who and how future zoning changes are approved, requiring public votes and increasing notification requirements. I am not aware of any case law requiring Commission review. More importantly, in my over 30 years of affiliation with the Commission I cannot recall a single case where a Proposition was ever brought to the Commission for review.

Changes to a General Plan approved by voters that require a zoning change would not trigger review of the Proposition and would only trigger the need for a Local Coastal Plan Amendment if and only if a specific zoning change were approved by the voters that was less restrictive than what the current Plan allows.

Sara Wan
Former Chair
California Coastal Commission

Hall Park Construction destroying Cardiff wetlands?

Newbies to Encinitas may not even be aware of the strip of lush, dense vegetation that runs along Rossini Creek through Cardiff's Composer District. You can't see it from any major thoroughfares, and you're unlikely to stumble across it unless you're walking, running, or biking through some out-of-the-way residential neighborhoods. Its vibrant life is an oasis hidden among Cardiff's new and old housing developments.

From the inbox:
The idiots constructing the park on the Hall property have totally blocked water flow into the protected wetland that runs the length of the canyon. Months ago, they permitted tons of red silt to flow into the wetland requiring legal restraint. Now they have blocked it up. I wonder what the penalty is for destroying a protected wetland.

I have lived on the canyon for nine years and have never seen the creek dry...until today.

Abe Ordover
Residents of the Composer District are known to be agitated by the regional sports park with 90-foot stadium lights being forced upon their quiet, residential neighborhood. Still, this issue merits immediate investigation.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Council members drop-kick Murphy

The knives were out for new Planning Director Jeff Murphy, who drafted the attempt to change the 4/5 loophole to a 3/5 loophole. Union-Trib:
The council said last month that it wanted to change the code to eliminate a controversial exemption used by developers on big projects that can allow the projects to move forward without a public vote.

However, in a recent staff report, the city’s new planning director downplayed that request and instead recommended the city keep the exemption and even make it easier for developers to qualify for it.


“This is, in my mind, a very unfortunate situation because it puts us all in a bad place,” Mayor Teresa Barth told new Planning Director Jeff Murphy during the meeting.


Council members unanimously voted to go with their original proposal to eliminate the exemption, and said they found it hard to argue against the initiative proponents’ statements that the situation makes them look bad.

“I have to say I agree with much of what the speakers have said,” Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer said.
The new policy, however, is entirely symbolic. It can be overturned by a 3/5 majority of any future council until it is protected by the passage of either Proposition A or the council's vaporware alternative ballot initiative.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Are you an unwitting opponent of Prop A?

Sources tell Encinitas Undercover that at least three people on this list of alleged "Encinitas Residents Opposing  Prop A" do not oppose Prop A, and, in fact, one alleged opponent actually circulated Right to Vote petitions and currently proudly sports a Prop A yard sign.

It is clear that Very Bad People with Very Big Money will say and do Very Bad Things to defeat Prop A.

If they are successful with the assist from your City Council, what will your City Council do to "honor the spirit of Prop A" and stop Encinitas from turning into Manhattan Beach without voter approval?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Former Mayor, Supervisor Pam Slater-Price endorses Prop A

Well, look what we have here:
As the fourth mayor and 23-year resident of the beautiful city of Encinitas, I am very concerned about the future Quality of Life of all residents if Proposition A is not approved by a majority of the Voters June 18.

The Encinitas Right to Vote Initiative is probably the most important issue to be placed before the voters since incorporation of Encinitas in October of 1986. [...]
Slater-Price is an ally to Teresa Barth, Tony Kranz, and Lisa Shaffer.  She supported Kranz and Shaffer's 2012 election, and Barth's in 2010. Their political views are very close.  They all teamed up to support Dave Roberts over establishment favorite Steve Danon in the race to succeed Slater-Price as Supervisor. The council honored Slater-Price in January, with, as we seem to recall, a rather gushing tribute from Barth. It probably would not be going too far to say that Slater-Price is somewhat of a hero to Barth and her supporters.

So why the opposing views on this critical issue? We can think of three key differences: 1) Slater-Price has not been spun by Gus Vina, Rutan & Tucker, and city staff; 2) Slater-Price is no longer an active politician but merely a [UPDATE: former] resident who loves Encinitas; and 3) Slater-Price has years more experience and much more knowledge of how government and developers work. Remember, Shaffer and Kranz are complete government neophytes, and Barth was until this year in the outcast political minority, shut out from backroom deals. What say you?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"Spirit of Prop A:" Council to consider replacing 4/5 loophole with 3/5 loophole

You can't make this stuff up. In an alleged effort to close the 4/5 council majority upzoning loophole, staff have proposed replacing it with a 3/5 loophole (or 2/3 depending on the number of council members who are present):
Upzoning and height restrictions can be completely thrown out the window when "Changes in land use designations and zoning are required in order to comply with state and federal law."
As anyone who watched the Desert Rose fiasco knows, absolutely anything can be justified as "required by state law"... throwing out environmental restrictions, minimum lot setbacks, parking and traffic requirements, fire safety concerns, etc.

The Planning Commission rejected the loophole 3-2, but staff are trying to push it through council anyway.

If this loophole passes, it's open season for high-density developers on Encinitas.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Encinitas Council Not Poised to Adopt the REAL Spirit of Prop A

Prop A makes deciding on upzoning a right of the voters, and makes it is so the council can’t take that right away. The last part is essential to the spirit of Prop A.

We can’t know if that last part is one of the things Mayor Barth sees as a negative because she is keeping her comments vague. She refuses to answer the question: What are the negatives of Prop A? It deeply matters what is on her list. Without that list you don’t know if she is going to give the public the 10% of Prop A that they actually care about, or leave that out, if Prop A fails. 

If Prop A fails you might not even get even 10% of what is in Prop A. In fact, you might get a bunch of stuff you didn’t want.

Let’s review. This is what the council committed to in writing:
The Council will propose changes to the General Plan (Land Use Policies 3.10 & 3.12.5) to require zoning changes and General Plan Updates to be approved by a public vote providing the community with a greater voice in our future. This will fulfill the spirit of Proposition A -- the right to vote on upzoning.

The spirit of Prop A was to make it a RIGHT of the voters to vote on upzoning and make that RIGHT irrevocable by council action. It doesn’t look like the council is moving on the second part. The essential part. Without the second part, why bother with the first part? What’s the benefit?

According to one senior city official, what the council will be voting on next week WILL NOT result in the proposed changes going to the voters to be ratified, and thus their changes will not be immune from future council changes (via a 3/5th majority). The spirit of Prop A WILL NOT be fulfilled by the council without the council setting a new course.

Prop A makes a substantive change, in that it cannot be overturned on some random Wednesday night when nobody is watching. You say that won’t happen? How many people know that the council, including Barth, overturned your right to vote on city borrowing on long-term debt?  The parallel is somewhat close, because that provision of the city management manual giving you that right was put in as a direct response the last time there was a serious voter initiative put in front of the council. There is widespread support for voter approval for bonding, perhaps even more than for voter approval of upzoning.

Because of all this, I consider what the council is doing next week as no better than symbolic. When Jerome was Mayor I wrote that he should spend his time on substantive changes rather than symbolic changes (ex: eminent domain “reform”), and made suggestions to that effect. To be fair, this council should work on substantive changes rather than symbolic changes that will not keep future councils from changing it back or weaseling in a NEW exception.

Unfortunately, what the city is poised to do may be worse than that. It may open the door for even easier action by the council on upzoning. Instead of affirming the right to vote in clear language the council decided to strike out the 4/5 exemptions from the GP. Why was this glaringly bad, immediately, to many lay observers? If you don’t replace it with language that prohibits NEW exemptions, it opens the door to new exceptions without having to overturn the current council's decision. Oh, this is just chicken little talk? Keep reading.

If you want an example of an exception that could be added that would be consistent with the strikeout of the 4/5th exemption, look at what has been proposed. The staff report for the PC review of the topic recommends the city add in an exemption to voter approval for compliance with state law. Translation: just about any upzoning that contains residential could EASILY be construed to fall under that exception.

THIS IS A BOMBSHELL! It gives a spectacular example of the obvious "flaw" of only striking out the exception.

Again, maybe this is just the way Mayor Barth wanted it. We can’t know if she keeps her list of negatives about Prop A secret.

Here is what people are saying to me: There is no way Encinitas City Manager Gus Vina would have allowed such a bold move without first checking in with Barth. Barth has a long history of "talking" to the CM about things she does and doesn't want to see happen, during her private meeting with him and other staff. 

(I’d ask Gus directly but he's not answering questions. Barth isn’t either.)

We can’t know if what we are seeing is consistent with the Mayor’s desires or not, because she has kept her list of negatives secret.

To fulfill the core spirit of Prop A a statement has to be added that states that the VOTERS will get the final say, with no exceptions. That must be set up so the council can’t overturn it on a whim.

I would be satisfied if the council stated clearly what their goals were in creating their version of Prop A (that would sort of require being open about what they see as the negatives of Prop A) AND set a timeline for moving to get their version which gives the voters the last say with no exceptions, submitted to the registrar of voters.

A strikeout version of Prop A doesn't meet the spirit of Prop A. A resolution by the council to change the GP's exceptions doesn't meet the spirit of Prop A. Only a voter approved ballot measure that has language that affirms the rights of the voters meets the spirit of Prop A.  If they did that, I would be so satisfied with that I would actively campaign against Prop A.

Don't forget, the Council promised to fulfill the spirit of Prop A, only they might be twisting the meaning of the spirit of Prop A to manipulate the public. We can’t adequately evaluate that until the Mayor tells us what parts of Prop A she sees as negatives, leaving the good parts to be adopted by the council and voters.

Note: I have not decided if I’m going to support Prop A or not. I’m waiting to see the Mayor’s list of negatives. Please don’t be surprised if I agree with the Mayor.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

City Council play loyal pawns in developers' No on A campaign

We can't wait to see the council's alleged alternative initiative.

It had better be something rock solid because so far the council is playing for the other team.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Kranz speaks on Prop A

In the North Coast Current, Councilman Tony Kranz explains his opposition to Proposition A.  His reasoning centers on the 101 Specific Plans which conflict with the General Plan.  Prop A honors the General Plan and limits height to two stories.  Kranz wants to honor the Specific Plans which allow three stories.
These provisions will introduce uncertainty into the land-use planning process, in addition to undoing key provisions of previously approved Specific Plans for the Highway 101 corridor.


In my opinion, it is this little-known “nullification” of decisions made years ago that makes Prop. A bad for our city. Whether you like or dislike the specific plans for the 101 corridor, they were adopted following an extensive public planning process.
Like Lisa Shaffer, the only other Council Member who has been willing to state her reasoning for opposing Prop A, Kranz avoids repeating or defending the claims made in the council's unanimously-approved ballot arguments.

For the other side, see Sheila Cameron and Olivier Canler, also in the North Coast Current.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

As I Lay Plotting: rocker Tim Lambesis arrested in Encinitas murder-for-hire plan

As I Lay Dying vocalist Tim Lambesis has been arrested for allegedly conspiring to have his estranged wife murdered.

In a press release titled "Murder for Hire Plot Foiled," the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said Lambesis was arrested "without incident" on Tuesday, May 7 at 2:00 p.m. in a retail business on Vista Way in Oceanside, California.


On Tuesday afternoon, Lambesis is alleged to have asked an undercover detective to kill his wife. Authorities arrested him, took him to the Encinitas Station and booked him into the Vista Detention Facility.
Note to all those looking to hire a hitman: the second guy you try to hire is usually a cop, because the first guy you asked went straight to them.

Meggan Lambesis is listed on Neptune Avenue.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Shaffer speaks on Prop A

Lisa Shaffer has posted her reasoning for voting no on Prop A.

A few preliminary thoughts:

- Kudos to Shaffer for discussing this issue with the public, which the mayor has been running from. Other council members have been radio silent.

- Shaffer seems to back away from some of the more outrageous statements made in the ballot argument (e.g. "Imagine a 30-foot structure five feet from your property line" and "Major land use changes HAVE ALWAYS happened with a vote of the people" Really? When did the public vote for three stories on 101 in violation of the General Plan?). If no one on the council will stand behind the over-the-top claims in the ballot arguments, why did they unanimously approve them?

- Shaffer argues that "the harder we make it for property owners to build within our existing land use policies, the more likely they are to use the Density Bonus law to circumvent our constraints."  That seems wishful thinking: if we give them three stories, they won't use the density bonus.  Did the North 101 lofts end up any less dense with three stories than they would have been with two stories and a density bonus?

Barth Afraid to State the Negative Consequences?

After a couple weeks of being strung along, Barth is still not willing to
state what she currently sees as the negative consequences of Prop A. She has
made public statements that seem to indicate that she's backing off of some,
but which ones she hasn't stated.

Which consequence is actually an unintended negative consequence?
Which "issue" is genuine, and not manufactured? Which issue is
actually a consequence? 

Doesn't the public have a right to know this before they vote?

This council allowed an ambiguous and suspect report on Prop A to become the
official word on Prop A and they signed a ballot statement that they don't want
or can't defend. This does not facilitate an open public dialogue. Instead it
helped kick up a lot of dust.

Was that on purpose? Well, Barth not being
willing to lay it out doesn't give me much confidence that she is going to help
clear out the dust. Is it because she doesn’t want to be open with the public? She
can fix that in five minutes by emailing her list of negative consequences.

So, why won't Barth answer? Right now Barth forces us to guess. Why did Barth
initially offer excuses that were highly questionable and inconsistent? Barth
has been trying to play both sides on this (and many other issues). In this case,
she made the statement in her mass mailing that said that Prop A had negative
consequences. I asked Barth what SHE saw as the NEGATIVE consequences. She
refuses to answer.

I will pay the first person $100 (or donate to a charity on their behalf) if
they get Barth to list the negative consequences of Prop A, in writing, this

Here is her personal contact


Don't email her on her city mail. If you correspond on her city email she
will have to restrict responses to being completely factual or risk being
seen as advocating using city resources.  

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Council bows to public pressure, backs down on taxpayer-funded propaganda

In yet another unanimous vote (as independent thinking is neither present nor welcome at City Hall), the council reversed its plans to use tax dollars to send out "informational" mailers against Prop A.

Coast News:
Council was due to finalize the language for a mailer containing frequently asked questions about Prop A, and for a postcard reminding residents that there’s a special election set for June 18. But at Wednesday night’s meeting, council unanimously voted not to send either one.

Prop A reaffirms the city’s 30-foot height limit and would eliminate council’s power to “up-zone” beyond height and density limits with a fourth-fifths vote.

Councilwoman Kristin Gaspar said she initially backed the mailers, but changed her mind after hearing concerns from the public.


Councilman Mark Muir also said he received quite a bit of feedback from residents about the mailers.

“I have some reservations after listening to public input,” Muir said before the vote to scrap the mailers.
Really?  It took massive public blowback for them to realize this was a bad idea?

If we care about Encinitas, we're going to have to watch this council like a hawk.