Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2nd Annual Acoustic Kook Jam tomorrow

Fiddlers, strummers and other acoustic string musicians are invited to gather at the Cardiff Kook statue Wednesday afternoon for the second annual New Year’s Day Splash Jam. As many as 100 musicians are expected to turn up at the loosely organized jam, which will begin at 2 p.m. with a group performance that will begin with three folk standards: “Bile ’em Cabbage Down,” “Cripple Creek” and “Old Joe Clark.” The first Splash Jam — held in Cardiff on Jan. 1, 2013 — was a fluke, but it was so popular with the musicians and public, it’s coming back this year, said Encinitas fiddler R. Avery Ellison.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Quail Gardens to strip members' voting rights

We haven't paid much attention to Quail Gardens since they moved to San Diego, but an e-mail correspondent alerts us to this:
On the Governance page of our website you will find a set of proposed actions to modify the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws of the Quail Botanical Gardens Foundation, Inc., d.b.a. San Diego Botanic Garden (SDBG). The amendments relate to deleting the requirement for SDBG to have statutory members, and they were approved by our Board of Trustees on November 25, 2013.

It has been pointed out by several different constituencies within the community that most nonprofit public benefit corporations do not have statutory members. Statutory members have the right to vote on certain issues, including the election of trustees. There is often a concern that special interest groups may organize to “take over” nonprofits by applying for membership and voting in new trustees who may then change the purpose and direction of the corporation. Some of the plans SDBG has been working on to acquire additional property are being jeopardized by the way we are presently structured with statutory members.
What that means is taking away the members' right to vote for trustees, and making the board a self-selecting cabal.

The Gardens appear to be in financial trouble, losing more than half a million dollars last year on revenue of $2.2 million. What's this land deal they think the members won't like?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch

In an apparent reference to the city workers who purged Sweet Baby Jesus with great haste on Christmas Eve, the kook bears a grinch mask today.

Every Who Down in Whoville Liked Christmas a lot...
But the Grinch,Who lived just north of Whoville, Did NOT!
The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don't ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be his head wasn't screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all,
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

Friday, December 20, 2013

McDonald's reopens despite Prop A

Remember when the developer cronies told us that Prop A would mean that rebuilding the burnt McDonald's would require a special election?
Example: if the ‘Encinitas Right To Vote’ were currently the law and the owners of the McDonalds that burned down in the Sprout’s Center wanted to rebuild it exactly as it was in the 70’s, they would have to underwrite a Special Election of the half million dollars before they have spent one nickel on plans, materials labor etc…
Yeah, not so much.
After the fire in 2011, the McDonald's on Encinitas Blvd. was demolished and completely rebuilt with a new design. The new McDonald's is not connected to the any of the other businesses in the plaza and features a double drive thru but no play place. The inside is updated and more modern looking than the previous building.
Who can we trust these days?

A first step on density bonus

From Lisa Shaffer's latest newsletter:
At the final Council meeting of 2013 we showed that there is a different set of priorities and values on the Council and it makes a difference for the community. Specifically, I am pleased that we used our authority to increase the fees that a developer must pay in lieu of building affordable housing units. Our fee now more accurately reflects the cost of actually providing that housing somewhere else. In the past, staff used the price of condominium sales to calculate the "in lieu" fee. However, the City's inclusionary housing ordinance says a developer must build a 3-bedroom, 1500 square foot home or pay the in lieu fee. The City was using a composite of condo sales of all sizes, including studios and one-bedroom units. When they looked at more recent sales of units of equivalent size to the mandated homes, the fee went from about $178,000 to $319,000. If we used past sales of actual detached homes, which is what the fee is in lieu of, the calculation results in a fee of over $400,000. While I hope we will move to the higher calculation, or perhaps eliminate the in lieu option altogether, I thought it was unfair to make that change all in one leap, and proposed a middle ground. The Council supported my motion to set the fee at $319,000 by a vote of 4-1 with Councilmember Gaspar voting no.
So it sounds as if the "in lieu" fees are purely at the discretion of the council, and their existence as a cheap option for developers is a deliberate incentive that past councils have created to encourage maximum use of the density bonus. How many recent bad developments would have been different if developers had to give up valuable real estate to get the density bonus rather than paying a token fee? If this council wants to demonstrate a difference from the Stocks/Bond/Dalager council, this looks like an excellent opportunity to do so.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Late night drunkfest discussion

Tonight's council meeting started with the Hall Park toxic runoff fine issue as a non-open, controlled-message, no public discussion, presentation-only agenda item.

After that was another presentation from the Encinitas Hospitality Association, trying to fend off a "deemed approved ordinance" that would give the city more power to regulate bars behaving badly.  The new EHA spokesman is a middle-aged frat boy attorney (literally -- keeping his Stanford fraternity out of trouble was the experience he cited for being able to handle the Encinitas late night drunk scene) who resembles Senator Lindsey Graham.  Several residents spoke about continuing problems with noise, trash, vomit, and naked drunk girls in alleys.  High-density development attorney Marco Gonzalez spoke on behalf of the EHA wearing his baseball cap backwards, perhaps emulating the trendsetting style of some of the EHA's finest customers.

Council Member Kranz, who had previously opposed, with Council Member Gaspar, an emergency bar moratorium supported by the other three council members, took a tougher stance tonight.  He asked pointed questions of the EHA about the noise, trash, and vomit.  He was twice slapped down by Mayor Barth because this was supposed to be a presentation rather than a decision item on the agenda, but he persisted.

There was no action item, but the tide seems to turning toward the "deemed approved ordinance."

Monday, December 16, 2013

Is it enough to be "nice?"

It is widely agreed both by residents speaking at City Council and by council members' own public comments that the council's foremost achievement for 2013 is being nice to each other.  The prior council had been known for petty personal squabbles, particularly among three of the five council members, so maintaining the same basic standard of civility we demand of schoolchildren was indeed a welcome change. Yet we can't help but feel that we deserve more from our elected leaders than not being at each others' throats.

Serendipitously, Maureen Dowd wrote an essay on niceness in the New York Times just days after the council's shared-mayor love-in meeting.  Dowd's argument that there's a duty to be honest rather than nice in book reviews would seem to apply even more strongly to matters of public policy.

The road maintenance backlog is still underfunded and getting worse.  The pension liabilities are still underfunded and growing.  The council continues to take on additional debt with no discussion of how to service it.  We haven't had any progress on the General Plan Update. The new council hasn't followed through on promises to enact a sunshine ordinance or to find ways to mitigate the density bonus.  Public trust in the council is still badly damaged by the council's unambiguously dishonest ballot arguments against Proposition A.  City contractors, under lax city oversight, continue to violate environmental regulations both with respect to protecting trees at construction projects and to preventing toxic waste runoff into the lagoon.

But the council members are nice to each other.

Somehow, we suspect the residents who voted for change in 2012 had more in mind than the council's interpersonal bickering.

All quarrels are not petty. Sometimes quarrels are about big things, and it’s an actual privilege to take a side in them.        

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Neighbors protest high-density development in Leucadia

Again, developers are using "density bonus" laws to force high-density developments on low-density residential neighborhoods.  Jared Whitlock of the Coast News has the story:
“As far as the density issue, and I know that’s why everybody’s here, I realize you guys want five (homes),” Haley said. “But in order for it to work with us, we’re going to go in and proceed with 10.”

He later said CityMark would work hard to make the development blend in with the rest of the community.

CityMark is in escrow with the property, but the purchase is contingent on the project getting approval from the city. Haley declined to state the sale price.

The city is currently reviewing CityMark’s project plans, according to Roy Sapau, senior planner with Encinitas. Staff members will then look at whether the development could have a significant impact on the environment.
Some of the current council members have made statements about challenging density bonus laws, but based on what they did to the Olivenhain community of Desert Rose, we wouldn't hold our breath.

You can see where the city and developers want to put high density next here. If you have lavender or purple near you, be afraid. That's what the city sees as "underutilized" (i.e. "not generating enough revenue to fund our pensions").

And even if you don't have lavender or purple near you, ponder how El Camino Real, Encinitas Boulevard, and I-5 are going to handle all those additional people coming and going.

Got gridlock?

What you get for $1.25 million

This house on Sylvia near Moonlight Beach was featured in the New York Times real estate section.

WHAT: A three-bedroom two-and-a-half-bath house near the beach

HOW MUCH: $1,249,000

SIZE: 1,552 square feet


SETTING: Encinitas is a coastal city in San Diego County. This house — a bungalow with a red-tile roof — is on a narrow street dotted with palm trees two blocks from Moonlight Beach. Public coastline stretches out on either side. Downtown, a collection of small shops, cafes, restaurants and bars along a low-key stretch of Highway 101, is a block or two inland. San Diego is about a half-hour south.

INDOORS: The two-story house was built 1944, and remodeled within the past few years. Floors in most rooms are dark hardwood, and windows have plantation shutters. Through the front door is a living room, with an arched entryway leading into the dining room and kitchen, which has quartz countertops, a farm-style sink and stainless-steel appliances. French doors in the kitchen open to the backyard. Across the yard, there’s a detached artist’s studio with a full bathroom. One of the bedrooms is on the main level; the other two are upstairs.

OUTDOOR SPACE: Between the house and the studio, there’s a yard and an outdoor shower.

TAXES: $15,612 a year (estimated)
It sold 4 1/2 years ago for $880,000. Nice trade.

Happy 50th Birthday, Lisa

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Half a mayor

In last night's meeting, the Council decided to give Teresa Barth half of the next year as mayor, and Kristin Gaspar the other half.

Apparently, the Council's unanimously approved city attorney Glenn Sabine didn't bother familiarizing himself with the city code on the issue before the meeting.
2.20.020 Presiding Officer

A. On the second Tuesday of each December, the City Council shall choose one of its members as Mayor and one of its members as Deputy Mayor. (Ord. 2010-09)

B. The Mayor and the Deputy Mayor shall serve a term of one year, or until a successor for each position is chosen. Three affirmative votes shall be required to choose or change the Mayor or Deputy Mayor (Ord. 2010-09).
But who cares about law or good public policy? We have council members who get along with each other, and isn't that what really matters?

In other news, the council decided not to have an open council meeting about the city's pollution of Rossini Creek at the Hall Park project. Apparently, getting fined by a regulatory authority for repeated, reckless practices that pollute the lagoon is just like being involved in a lawsuit that requires confidential strategy discussion. So the public will receive only a carefully crafted "informational presentation" on December 18 rather than an open, honest discussion of what happened.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Encinitas fire chief quits after two months

Del Mar Times:
Encinitas Fire Chief Jon Canavan has resigned after two months on the job and will return to Poway as its fire marshal. Canavan said Thursday his change of heart was based on the large time and energy commitment needed to do the Encinitas job, coupled with unspecified personal issues.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Bank-robbing returns to Encinitas

It's been almost three years since frustrated home-seller John Leendert Oskam was identified as the Drywaller Bandit. Yesterday, bank robbery returned to Encinitas. Someone robbed the El Camino Citibank:
A man wearing a white baseball cap robbed a Citibank in Encinitas on Tuesday, authorities said. The robbery was reported at 12:30 p.m. at the bank on North El Camino Real near Encinitas Boulevard. The thief approached a teller and lifted his shirt, showing a handgun tucked in his waistband, FBI Special Agent Darrell Foxworth said.