Friday, May 30, 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

5/28/14 City Council meeting open thread

The current city council has continued prior councils' practice of not providing written summary minutes of council discussion, but only "action minutes" which state the outcomes. Encinitas Undercover will provide a forum for observers to record what occurs at each council meeting.

Please use the comments to record your observations.

Tonight should be quite a circus. Generating the most heat will be the majority's ill-advised Mean Girls stunt, where they welsh on their end of last December's power-sharing bargain and strip Kristin Gaspar of her turn as mayor. Our spider sense tells us they may back down in the face of public criticism, but they've been stubborn and wrong plenty of times before.

But of more substance this evening will be Bob Bonde's presentation on ambulance services, as well as more budget discussion.

Lisa Shaffer doesn't want to hear your opinion until after she's done whatever it is she's going to do

Really?  You put something this inflammatory onto the agenda at the last minute and you expect the public to shut up until it's a fait accompli?

Somebody needs a remedial course in civics.

Open letter on Pacific View

Encinitas City Council and residents,

It's time to take a deep breath before we dive into this one. If we proceed, some changes in the proposed contract should be made. These two related elements must be addressed in concert. The first is the action plan on this purchase proposed by the City Manager:

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Angry Birds Kook

A reference to our city council?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Barth calls for asking questions and debating issues in an open forum; Lisa Shaffer deletes Facebook post where her constituents tried to do just that

Mayor Barth on the Kranz-Shaffer plan to strip Kristin Gaspar of her unanimously agreed turn as mayor (from Barth's weekly newsletter):
Encinitas mayor-sharing deal unraveling The council initiated option allows individual council members to place an item on the agenda for full council discussion at a public meeting. It is unfortunate that some critics do not recognize that asking questions and debating issues in an open forum is a more transparent and honest approach.
We wonder who those critics are who can't see that a move to take away Kristin Gaspar's turn as mayor in a unanimously agreed power-sharing deal after Barth has already had her turn is just "asking questions and debating issues in an open forum."

And we wish Barth had had this philosophy of open debate on Prop A, the most important recent public policy issue in Encinitas.  But perhaps open debate is only appropriate for high school drama.

Nevertheless, Lisa Shaffer did take to her public Councilmember Lisa Shaffer Facebook page to defend the move.

We were really looking forward to an answer to those questions. Then another of Shaffer's constituents came along and commented.

Finally, Shaffer responded. You can see her response here.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Kranz and Shaffer plan to renege on unanimous deal to appoint Gaspar mayor

In a stunning display of bad faith, crass political calculation, and petty vindictiveness, Council Members Tony Kranz and Lisa Shaffer have initiated agenda items to strip Kristin Gaspar of her unanimously-agreed six-month turn as mayor that was to begin June 11.
12A. Council initiated item from Council Member Shaffer to reconsider Mayor and Deputy Mayor transition scheduled to take effect June 11, 2014.

2014-05-28 Item 12A - Council Member Shaffer Initiated Item

12B. Council initiated item from Council Member Kranz for reconsideration of the pending transition of Mayor and Deputy Mayor duties.

2014-05-28 Item 12B - Council Member Kranz Initiated Item

The mayor-sharing was agreed last December and heralded as an example of the council's new civility. Apparently civility (and fair play) ends as soon as your colleagues have a policy disagreement over the purchase price of Pacific View.

At the time of the deal, council members expressed concern that incumbency would be an advantage (we think this concern is way overblown; just ask Mayor Stocks and Mayor Dalager). All council members were given a chance to say whether they wanted to run for mayor. Only Teresa Barth and Kristin Gaspar expressed any interest, so the council cordially agreed to allow each of them to serve for half the year.

Now that Kranz has decided he's running for mayor, he wants to change the rules.

Anyone involved in future dealings with Kranz or Shaffer would be wise to remember exactly how far you can trust them. For that matter, so would the voters.

This naked power grab bears a striking resemblance to the tone-deaf and bull-headed move by Mayor Jerome Stocks to appoint one of his allies to fill the council seat of the late Maggie Houlihan, when the magnanimous thing to do would have been to appoint Houlihan's (and the overwhelming majority of the public's) chosen successor.  That move was a catalyzing moment that marked the beginning of the end of Stocks' political career.

There's also plenty of irony in the fact that the defining issue of Teresa Barth's first several years on the council was that she was repeatedly passed over for a turn as mayor by a council majority her supporters viewed as bullies.  Now Barth's majority allies want to do the same thing to Kristin Gaspar.

Bonde presentation on ambulance service

The Encinitas Taxpayers Association's Bob Bonde finally gets to present his ambulance service plan. It sounds like a win-win, improving response times and saving money. We understand the Fire Department is opposed, but haven't heard their argument.

Presentation here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

5/21/14 City Council meeting open thread

The current city council has continued prior councils' practice of not providing written summary minutes of council discussion, but only "action minutes" which state the outcomes. Encinitas Undercover will provide a forum for observers to record what occurs at each council meeting.

Please use the comments to record your observations.

On tonight's agenda: more budget and planning stuff, including the impact of Pacific View. Pacific View's debt service, without even building anything on it to make it usable, will be more than a half million dollars per year, even as the city plans to continue underfunding road maintenance and pension liabilities by a few million dollars per year. And they've zeroed out all budget allocation to capital improvement projects for the next five years.

Hey, here's an idea: how about a temporary hiring freeze until somebody figures out where all this money is supposed to come from?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sabotage in Encinitas!

Last week we pointed out the council majority's overheated and incivil reactions to Council Member Mark Muir's suggestion of a temporary hiring freeze.

Others noticed it too.

From the Inbox:
"Sabotage" is a word usually reserved for headlines during world wars to describe the enemy's stealthy lethal destruction of our military factories. Of course, for the side that leads the attack those "brave special forces" are not saboteurs, but heroes. During such existential conflict language itself is in the service of stoking hatred against the enemy; so any talk of their legitimate motivations borders on treason.

I was a bit surprised by Monday's headline of the mass mailing by the "Save Pacific View" movement, featuring the accusation of the minority faction's "attempts to 'sabotage' the purchase." Yet it was effective. Hatred, rage at the "other" with all of the associated attitudes, along with the danger of escalation is very much a characteristic of our human species. If I cited examples, it would turn this little article into long sad list, one we all know too well.

The three acres described as Pacific View is not something to be saved or sacrificed, or land that may fall into the hands of our enemy- by sabotage. It is a property that has many potential uses, one of which is under city ownership that ironically is now only an idea, with the purchase predicated on this vague idea being transformed into something concrete that will be approved by future voters.

Most Americans decry the increase in partisan acrimony on the federal level, but without great disposable wealth an individual can do very little about it. Thus a city such as ours presents an opportunity to speak to those who make our laws and spend our money more directly. This makes the tone of conversation about this particular purchase of real estate all the more disturbing. "Rage displaces rationality" is a well known aphorism that is almost too self evident to validate.

Once we transcend the image of Pacific View as a living icon to be saved, we can consider its end use, now visualized as an arts center or performance space. Was there any conversation about the performance complex two miles away at the San Dieguito Academy, that unlike Pacific View has plenty of parking space and a new theater with acoustics for drama and music of all varieties. Did anyone from Encinitas even begin preliminary negotiation for a long term option on leasing time slots for this auditorium, something that would potentially benefit both the city's and school's financial needs.

I suppose my bringing this up could be considered a type of "sabotage" by some, which I regret for those who think this way. Yet, our political culture has descended to this mentality pretty extensively, meaning those who try to buck it or either ignored, if lucky, or become targets for those who seek objects for their ire.

Personally, I keep trying, leaving articles up on my personal website that I know will enrage one side or the other---with a hope that a few may take heart that such type of writing is still possible in our day.

Al Rodbell
Encinitas CA

Monday, May 19, 2014

Gaspar, Kranz to run for mayor

Sources tell Encinitas Undercover that Tony Kranz is near to announcing a run for mayor to represent the Democrats. Being halfway through his council term, it's a safe run, as even if he loses, he goes back to being on the council for two more years.

Meanwhile, some had expected Mark Muir to make a similar safe run from his mid-term council seat, but Encinitas Undercover has learned that instead Kristin Gaspar will represent the Republican side.

While the two candidates have differed most notably on the issues of tax increases, spending, and the price tag for the purchase of Pacific View, both Kranz and Gaspar were united against Prop A, for overturning the Planning Commission to approve a controversial high-density development in the rural Desert Rose neighborhood, and for strongly supporting city manager Gus Vina.

It remains to be seen whether anyone from the Prop A / community preservation group will run. The first candidate to announce, libertarian Alex Fidel, has not yet been vocal about community character issues.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

New study finds older, smaller buildings better for cities than "Smart Growth"

ABC News:
Researchers examined block-by-block data from Seattle, San Francisco and Washington in part for their hot real estate markets and development pressures. The analysis found that corridors with smaller, older buildings generally perform better for the local economy than areas with newer buildings that might stretch an entire block.

Older buildings become magnets for young people and retirees alike [emphasis added], researchers said. They draw more shops, restaurants, entertainment venues, small businesses owned by women and minorities, and jobs. On a per-square-foot basis, small building corridors have a larger concentration of jobs, businesses and creative sector jobs than downtown skyscrapers. In Seattle, commercial areas with smaller, more age-diverse buildings have 36.8 percent more jobs per square foot than areas with newer, larger buildings.

Historic corridors in these cities are often active from morning to night, said lead researcher Michael Powe, an urban planner with the National Trust's Preservation Green Lab. In D.C., these areas draw more non-chain, local businesses. In San Francisco, they generate more jobs based in small businesses.
The science is settled!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

So much for "civility" -- council majority attacks Muir for merely suggesting a modicum of fiscal caution

Looks like that whole "civility" thing ended as soon as unanimity for rubber-stamping Gus Vina's agenda stopped.

First, let's acknowledge that Council Member Mark Muir's request for a hiring freeze and analysis of staffing levels is belated, possibly politically motivated, and inconsistent with his prior votes to go along with expanding Vina's bureaucracy (though he does have the legitimate point that the sudden decision to spend $10 million on Pacific View makes a significant change in the city's financial health).

That said, the substance of Muir's proposal is quite sensible. We still have no plan for paying for road maintenance and unfunded pension liabilities, plus the new debt service and operating costs for the Hall Park and Pacific View, so why not pause any new hires until somebody can explain where all the money is supposed to come from?

The response from the council majority was shrill.

Tony Kranz:
“I will be governing, and not playing politics,” Councilman Tony Kranz said as he described why he was voting against the proposal put forward by fellow Councilman Mark Muir.
Lisa Shaffer's e-mail newsletter:
Seriously, Mr. Muir? Deputy Mayor Muir proposed an agenda item related to the budget and staffing. He asked that we consider it first before looking at the overall operating budget. The agenda report said that he felt "it would be prudent for the city to implement a temporary hiring freeze" until the financial plan for Pacific View is determined. He further proposed that positions approved by the Council since January 2013 and any future positions should be reviewed "to determine if the position is meeting our community and councils [sic] needs and expectations." The timing of the item, coming just as we begin our budget discussions, seemed a bit odd to me. The budget process is how we determine funding strategies and staffing levels. So why, at the start of the process, less than a month from the scheduled adoption of a budget on which he will be voting, would he make this proposal?
Wouldn't the start of the process be the appropriate time to make such a suggestion, unless the budget had already been informally agreed to in backroom deals, and the public process was merely theater?

Teresa Barth's weekly e-mail newsletter:
The proposed FY14/15 Operating Budget includes funding for all operating costs, all proposed increases and fully funds the operating reserves and budget stabilization reserves. Resulting in an ending fund balance of $7.2M which will be available for additional capital improvement projects and/or bond debt payments.

Additionally, since 2012 operational efficiencies resulted in an annual savings of $1M in payroll and operating expenses. Reforms enacted in 2011 have already reduced pension obligations.

So what was Muir's proposal really all about? Just petty politics or a serious effort to sabotage the purchase of the Pacific View? Based on previous actions, I think the later.

Councilmembers Muir and Gaspar continue to engage in these fiscal calamity scare tactics even though the facts simply do not support their allegations. I believe they will continue with their efforts at the May 21 meeting when we discuss financing options for the purchase.
While we haven't seen the budget details yet, here are a few questions citizens might want to ask of Mayor Barth:

1) Despite Vina's claimed $1 million in "operational efficiencies," isn't it true that staffing costs actually increased during the time in question, and will continue to increase every year?

2) Isn't it true that Vina's budget continues to underfund road maintenance and allow road conditions to decay just as they did under the Stocks council?

3) Isn't it true that Vina's budget continues to underfund pension liabilities just as budgets did under the Stocks council?

4) That $7.2 million fund balance is not recurring revenue, but the last cash left in the bank from prior city councils. Vina's six-year financial plan, unlike prior budgets, appears to allocate no revenues for the next five years to capital improvement. Do you really think it's prudent management to have your only plan for future capital improvement be to spend Encinitas' last reserves?

And finally, how the heck is asking for a temporary hiring freeze and staffing analysis "a serious effort to sabotage the purchase of the Pacific View?"  Let's tone down the overheated rhetoric.

Happy Birthday Alex Kook

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

5/14/14 Council meeting open thread

The current city council has continued prior councils' practice of not providing written summary minutes of council discussion, but only "action minutes" which state the outcomes. Encinitas Undercover will provide a forum for observers to record what occurs at each council meeting.

Please use the comments to record your observations.

On tonight's agenda: the budget and the six-year "financial plan." While the agenda packet is short on details, we can be sure that Vina will want to continue neglecting road maintenance and pension liabilities while increasing staffing costs. Oh, and it looks like they have completely zeroed out the capital improvement budget for the next five years.

Happy 16th, Hunter & Taylor Kook

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Density Bonus

Letter in this week's Coast News:
May 2014

Letter to Encinitas City Council
BCC: Senator Mark Wyland, Assemblyperson Rocky Chavez, Supervisor Dave Roberts, The People of Encinitas

In a Franz Kafka short story whose name I am forgetting, the State passed a law allowing real estate developers to invoke a special law allowing them to tell communities how and where they were going to build on land they had bought. And the cities that try to protect its citizens from these real estate builders can be pretty much assured of being sued in court, in this case by City Mark Development group. Does this sound upside down? Shame on Sacramento for voting this law in, taking advantage of communities and allowing real estate developers to force citys’ hands. This is the very definition of insanity.

Here's the Developers' formula, in a nutshell: Buy property. Invoke Density Bonus Law (DBL). Build mini-neighborhood within a neighborhood. Make substantial profit. Get out. That’s the template.
(See California Government Code Sections 65915 – 65918.)
This stinks. The State of California has made a huge error against the citizenry it is sworn to the betterment and protection of. And we, the neighborhoods forever changed, will have it crammed down our throats and live with the results in perpetuity. It is crystal clear that this is wrong for so many reasons. Our jewel City of Encinitas has become one of those areas Developers are focusing on as particularly desirous, and vulnerable, and seemingly not inclined to contest.

Nonetheless there is still some degree latitude in the interpretation of this terribly-written state law, which should and will hopefully be overturned. Until that time though, it behooves city governments and their Planning Commission staffs (Encinitas, say) to not fast-track this particular kind of carpet baggery or to lie down for it — but to seek ways, when the outrage is clear that a neighborhood will be radically shrunk, forcefully imposed upon, and changed forever, to not lie down in the face of these profit-machine businessmen builders — to endeavor to guard the people from that negative change that will become permanent. And lest you be too quick to dismiss this as simply a NIMBY letter, in fact it is more a cry of outrage against unfair legal bullying. The enactment of this law here will help destroy the very heart of the neighborhood it purports to help, regardless of the vitriolic opposition of the neighborhood. This is so twisted.

It is lately being whispered more and more that the Encinitas Planning Commission staff is laying low in the face of these DBL projects now abounding in Encinitas. At the helm here is Mr. Jeff Murphy, Planning and Building Director, hired less than a year ago, who at the packed March 26th Encinitas City Council meeting seemed to evince little interest in researching ways to defend Encinitas neighborhoods from this City Mark Development group, helplessly citing only state legalities of why this was pretty much already a fait acompli. Meanwhile the building industry (read: City Mark) is being highly creative and investigating any and all loopholes and details of this law to force the Encinitas Planning Commission to its knees. So far it’s working.

That is not the spirit that the citizens of Encinitas need from these unelected city staffers, whose salary is paid with resident tax dollars. (For this we have to pay?) This undermining behavior and attitude might need to become part of the conversation with our elected City Council members. There is a growing feeling in the air that there may possibly be some degree of complicity between the Developers and commission staffing at City Hall. This is a disturbing perception, to say the least, and yet to be proven wrong. Nothing is challenged, all resistance is passive from our Encinitas Planning Commission. This bodes poorly for our neighborhoods, and for Encinitas citizens.

Below are a few pulled quotes from the building industry relating to the California Density Bonus Law.,” instructing them how to overwhelm those communities where Developers "encounter hostility from local jurisdictions” and “ regardless of what the locality wants." This should be required reading for California communities wherever builders are muscling their way into our lives. And this is only a taste of what this industry is sharing with its members. If you're smart, you'll be worried about this seemingly well-intentioned law; it is actually a specious and cynical law. I have no idea how this was passed or whose palms were greased or arms were twisted in Sacramento, but it is probably safe to say "follow the money" here.

Keep reading … This from "A Developer's Guide to the California Density Bonus Law" —; it tells you exactly how the California Building industry perceives its role:

"A developer who meets the law’s requirements for affordable or senior units is entitled to the density bonus and other assistance as of right, regardless of what the locality wants. ... The density bonus statute can be used to achieve reductions in development standards or the granting of concessions or incentives from jurisdictions that otherwise would not be inclined to grant those items. ... Developers who nonetheless encounter hostility from local jurisdictions are provided several tools to ensure that a required density bonus is actually granted. ... If a developer successfully sues the locality to enforce the density bonus requirements, it is entitled to an award of its attorneys’ fees. The obligation to pay a developer’s attorneys’ fees is a powerful incentive for local jurisdictions to voluntarily comply with the state law density bonus requirements, even when the jurisdiction is not in favor of its effects on the project. ... The density bonus provides one method for developers to improve the economics of their project while still complying with the inclusionary housing requirements. While there are some local agencies which believe that inclusionary units do not qualify for density bonuses, it is generally understood that the density bonus is intended by state law to be a powerful financial tool to help developers achieve the inclusionary housing requirements. ... Obtaining greater density can help the developer of any type of project bring costs and financing sources into line by putting more homes on the land. ... The incentives and concessions to be provided by the local government can provide a helpful way to modify development requirements which may stand in the way of a successful project. ... the Density Bonus Law is unquestionably a useful option for housing developers trying to make financial sense of their projects in today’s economy.”

And there's plenty more outrageous material where these quotes came from. Who are these people? This gross manipulation of the law is unconscionable and even skirts the lines of morality. It is complete self-interest being barely disguised as altruism. This can not and should not stand. Where are the representatives looking out for our neighborhoods? This is beyond bizarre. It is Kakfa-esque. Orwellian, even.

The City Mark Development builders are ready to come in to Fulvia and Hymettus in Encinitas and change our world, whether we like it or not. Their barely-contained smirks at the March 26th City Council meet were more than mildly discernible as Planning and Building Director Murphy shot down every attempt that the City Council proposed at ameliorating this travesty about to be committed. This was my first time attending a council meeting.

I think we all know that this “affordable housing” law, heavily influenced by developers, in reality is something of a sham. Its repeal really must occur. When you examine the loopholes that allow the one token affordable unit in this shoe-horned overdeveloped cluster to be traded, bought out of this loop, rented for a period, then later sold at full market value – well, then it’s hard to find any benefit to the community and the supposed recipients of the affordable dwelling. The building industry has found new life with this Density Bonus Law! The people protecting this law are not our friends.

How bizarre, twisted, absurd laws such as become voted into law starts out benignly enough, I imagine, until the real measure of it begins slowly to reveal its terrible wrongness. And then it is usually too late. It is right now not too late for Encinitas, though City Mark Development is hunched and waiting for legal approval to insert their nine houses onto a two-acre lot. And they will have built without regard to neighborhood reaction or feeling, holding a few “due diligence informational meetings” with neighbors, just for the record. The opposition has only grown; there are no converts.

This ham-fisted intrusive State of California law is not serving its constituents in this case — we in the neighborhood it implodes, nor the low-income people in whose name it purports to be representing. It is the opposite. In other words, there is no one being served by this DBL except the Developmental (builders’) community, who have been given carte blanche by the State of California, in this instance City Mark Development.

What is wrong with this picture? There is trouble in Mudville, folks, and it’s about to start slinging. Franz Kafka wouldn't have blinked an eye. The wealthy manipulate the laws; it has ever been thus. Follow that money!

Please voice your voice. They (below) are waiting to hear from you.

May the Force be with us.

Stephen Keyes
(Fulvia Street resident since 1992)

Encinitas City Council member emails:

State/County representatives:

* State Senator Mark Wyland:

* Assemblyman Rocky Chavez (via Senior Field Rep. Tom Garcia):

Here are a few websites from your friendly California building industry and friends:

"A Developer's Guide to the California Density Bonus Law": (

Friday, May 9, 2014

Muir calls for hiring freeze

It's about time!

Read all about it in the Seaside Courier:
Encinitas should implement a hiring freeze until it can sort out its finances following the $10-million purchase of a former school site, City Councilmember Mark Muir says.

"I feel that it would be prudent for the city to implement a temporary hiring freeze, until such time as the funding source is determined and the impacts to the budget are known," wrote City Councilmember Mark Muir in a report to be considered May 14. "Exceptions to the hiring freeze can be made by the City Manager, as long as the position is determined to be critical to the organization and within our current budget."
Given the sorry state of Encinitas' long-mismanaged finances, this move is long overdue. We certainly could have used it two years ago before Gus Vina and the current council expanded the bureaucracy. And the "critical to the organization" exception is wide enough for Vina to drive a cabinet through.

But at least two council members (see also Kristin Gaspar) are finally talking about our fiscal problems!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Encinitas in San Diego Reader

SD Reader letters:
[...] We are still waiting for a Sunshine Ordinance to be passed here in Encinitas. Our City Attorney is equally lax at following open government law specified in the CPRA and the Brown Act. Encinitas was successfully sued for CPRA violations by Kevin Cummins, in 2010-2011, when City Attorney Glenn Sabine (also City Attorney for La Mesa) wrongly withheld a road report, improperly claiming it was exempt as a “draft document.” Sabine’s office attempted to appeal the court’s ruling, with council’s approval, but the appeal was so frivolous that the Court of Appeal denied review!

Mayor Teresa Barth, and councilmembers Tony Kranz and Lisa Shaffer promised in their 2010 and 2012 campaigns that, were a new majority to be elected, they would enact a local sunshine ordinance ASAP. That has yet to happen.

Instead, our council has actually regressed on open meeting law, disallowing nonagenda item public comments at all so-called Special Meeting Strategic Planning sessions. The Brown Act defines regularly calendared meetings as those that receive at least 72 hours notice. Encinitas Strategic Planning Meetings are now being held, routinely, on the first Wednesday of the month, with more than 72 hours notice.

But because city practice has been to hold council meetings on the second, third and fourth Wednesdays of the month, Mayor Barth and City Manager Gus Vina, are using this contrivance of “special meetings” to discourage public participation and to disallow the normal practice of three minutes per speaker on all agenda items.

These are all unilateral policy changes and decisions being made by outgoing Mayor Barth, City Manager Gus Vina, who was given a vote of no confidence by Sacramento City Council, before being recruited, with the help of Barth, to Encinitas, as of July of 2011, and long overdue for replacement contracted city attorney, Glenn Sabine, our City Attorney since 2000. Sabine is far too set in his secretive ways, which include encouraging, despite public objections, inappropriate serial prebriefing of council members re upcoming agenda items.

Lynn Autumn

Taste of Cardiff Kook

Taste of Cardiff is tonight.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

5/7/14 Special City Council Meeting Open Thread

The current city council has continued prior councils' practice of not providing written summary minutes of council discussion, but only "action minutes" which state the outcomes. Encinitas Undercover will provide a forum for observers to record what occurs at each council meeting.

Please use the comments to record your observations.

On tonight's agenda: "Community Planning."

Plus: rumors of a suprise Special Guest!

Note that it's at the Senior Center at 1140 Oakcrest Park Drive, and probably won't be televised.

Happy Birthday Emmy Kook

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Clairemont fights back against Smart Growth bullies

Read all about it at Voice of San Diego.

There was one example of Mayor Barth's young people who want high density development:
“Right now, I feel like this room doesn’t want me to live here,” said [23-year-old Gina] Schumacher, who said she lives with her parents and rides a bike because she can’t otherwise afford to live in the neighborhood.

By the time she said that the plan was meant to get people to drive less, to ride bikes and transit and pass one another on the streets, “instead of getting in our cars and going to go to work and be very anti-social people,” the crowd had heard enough.

It erupted in laughter, followed by the cascading boos that chased her from the stage and followed her out of the room.
Believe it or not, we were once young and wanted to live in the big city. Silly us, we moved to the city rather than asking politicians to bring the city to us.

Though "Smart Growth" is ostensibly a progressive central planning idea, in this case the liberal council candidate Sarah Boot was opposed, while the conservative Lorie Zapf was in favor, perhaps influenced by developer campaign contributions, until she flip-flopped due to public pressure.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Odd comments from council members on Desert Rose lawsuit

Two council members had puzzling comments in their weekly newsletters about the recent court ruling that found that the city council was wrong to ignore environmental concerns when they overturned the Planning Commission and voted to approve a high-density housing development in a rural Olivenhain neighborhood.

First, Mayor Barth:
This ruling does not over turn the approval for the project but will require an Environmental Review. 
Where is Barth getting her legal analysis? From Lionel Hutz? Does she actually believe that the environmental report is a mere formality that won't require reconsideration of the project and cannot influence the outcome?

Or is she simply revealing the practical reality that the council has pre-determined to ram this project through no matter what the environmental review says?

Secondly, Council Member Shaffer:
Meanwhile, a judge ruled in favor of Olivenhain neighbors who sued the developer, asserting that a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR) should have been required before deciding whether to approve a density bonus project referred to as Desert Rose.
It's not the developer that was sued and lost. It's the City of Encinitas. The name of the case is Save Desert Rose vs. City of Encinitas. The judge ruled that the city was wrong to approve the project without consideration of an Environmental Impact Report.  Shaffer's responsibility as a council member is to oversee staff as a representative of the public, so she should be keenly involved when a judge rules that city staff have done wrong or advised the council incorrectly.

We hope that Council Member Shaffer simply misstated the case, and that she's actually aware that this is merely the latest in a long string of costly staff and legal incompetence: illegally censoring free speech, illegally hiding public reports from the public, illegally dumping sediment into the San Elijo Lagoon, claiming to have a financial plan when they have no such thing, etc. We hope that Shaffer and the other council members are holding staff and the city attorney accountable for this stuff, but we haven't seen any evidence of that yet.

We'd be inclined to chalk up Shaffer's comment to a simple misstatement, but we're beginning to see a pattern of Shaffer linguistically distancing herself from responsibility for her actions. Remember when she was "sad at the divisive tone and misleading messaging" about Prop A?