Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Vibrant Christmas!

Fairytale of New York has long been one of our favorite Christmas songs.

But in recent years, it has become particularly appropriate for Encinitas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

BREAKING: SWAT raid in Olivenhain

Happening now, on Rancho Encinitas Drive off Lone Jack.

Loud bangs heard, white plume (tear gas?) seen rising from house.

6:50 AM: "Ghetto bird still circling."

7:40 AM: All over now. Still no coverage on local news sites.

The commotion appears to be at or near 1507 Rancho Encinitas, which has multiple online business listings including "Aae Retreat" drug rehab and senior care assisted living.

UPDATE: NBC 7 has the story with video:
Multiple agencies are executing a search warrant at what one officer called a "drug house" in an affluent Encinitas neighborhood near the coast.

The officers arrived shortly before 9 a.m. [wrong, obviously] on Rancho Encinitas Drive where residents had deployed a non-lethal chemical agent after hearing the officers outside the house. Several people were handcuffed and escorted out of the house later.

Nick Backouris, with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, said officials had received multiple complaints about the 4,000 sq. ft. home over the past several years and the home has been a headache for the community. He had said at a brief press conference earlier that they had a warrant for some drug and some gang activity.
And this:
Homeowner Anastasia, one of the arrested, was charged with furnishing a home under the use of narcotics.
There's actually a law against that? They caught her bringing in a La-Z-Boy and throw rug while high?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Rudloff and Vina gave away city's right to clean 10-year extension of Little League fields lease at Ecke YMCA

Former Mayor Jerome Stocks writing in the San Diego Reader:
The Ecke family donated the land to the YMCA for the benefit of Encinitas youth back in the 1980s, and in 1989 the then-nascent city of Encinitas entered into a 25-year lease with the YMCA.

The YMCA didn’t have the money to build the facilities, and the city didn’t have the money to buy the land, so a deal was struck. The city agreed to build three or four baseball fields which could also accommodate at least two soccer fields, plus a snack shack, and equipment storage areas.

In return for constructing and maintaining those amenities, the city would have the right to program those fields to suit public demand including Encinitas Little League, Encinitas Soccer League, and what became up to seven other user groups.

The lease payments for the five acres of prime real estate less than a mile from the beach was a whopping $25 for 25 years. Yep, a buck a year for 25 years. Do the math, the 25 years was up in 2014.

But the lease also had a ten-year option that the city could exercise at its discretion at the end of the original 25-year lease. But for some reason that no one will fess up to, they threw that away.
That last part, if true, is a stunner. The fiasco was bad enough when the city council rubber-stamped the 30-day termination clause without discussion. But that was assuming that the Y had bargaining leverage and wouldn't have agreed to an extension without such a clause. If the city actually had the option to renew the lease cleanly for 10 years and didn't, something extremely nefarious appears to be afoot. That would mean the city's negotiators actively worked with the YMCA to steal an asset from Encinitas and its kids right under the noses of an oblivious city council.

Do you think those folks up north who are about to hire Gus Vina know about this whole episode?

The Ecke YMCA is a respected community organization. Perhaps the public blowback they've gotten will persuade them to do the right thing and amend the agreement to take out the termination clause.

UPDATE: It's true! The city had an absolute option for a 10-year clean renewal, which Parks Director Lisa Rudloff and City Manager Gus Vina amended away with the council's apparently unwitting approval.

Both Encinitas Undercover and the Union-Tribune's Logan Jenkins had completely missed this bombshell. Jenkins wrote, "The conventional wisdom appears to be that the YMCA held the trump card. No sudden-death clause, no extension. The city had to agree to Draconian terms." Which is now clearly not the case.

If this city council truly believes in "transparency" and "open government," there will be a full, public investigation into who was involved in adding the termination clause added and why, and how City Manager Vina and Mayor Barth agreed that this should go on the consent calendar and avoid public discussion.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

12/17/14 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.

Item of interest tonight:

- How much of a slap in the face of the council is it that Gus Vina refused to even give them the contractually required 90-day notice?  How do the council members feel now about spending the past two years on Vina's "visioning" exercises and unanimously rating Vina's job performance as "excellent?" 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Geminid meteor shower tonight

In the nighttime hours of Dec. 13, the streaking glow of falling stars will ignite across darkened skies, giving stargazers a glimpse of one of the most active meteor showers of the year: the Geminid Meteor Shower.

It is set to peak on Saturday night into the predawn hours of Sunday morning, and is considered to be one of the most consistently active meteor showers

Phantom of the Kook

Brentwood, CA seeking city manager

Brentwood, California:
Brentwood is a city in Contra Costa County, California, United States. It is located in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. The population is 51,481 as of 2010, an increase of 121 percent from 23,302 at the 2000 census.

Brentwood began as a farming community in the late 19th century, and still is known throughout the Bay Area for its agricultural products, primarily its cherries, corn and peaches. Due to urban sprawl many of the old farms and orchards have been replaced by suburban developments since 1990. Brentwood is increasingly residential, with the rate of population growth in the triple digits during the 1990s and 69% from 2000 through 2005.
City manager Paul Eldridge resigned in June to take a $270,000 job managing Union City's sanitation district. The interim manager is Steven Salomon. Brentwood is currently undergoing its Housing Element update.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

12/10/2014 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.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Vina out!

Seaside Courier:
Encinitas City Manager Gus Vina has resigned, Seaside Courier learned late Monday. Reliable sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Vina informed City Council earlier Monday of his plans to resign.

Vina has been accused of messing up a number of Council requests. Most recently, some Council members, including Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer, said they felt blindsided by his report in September that tax-free bonds could not be used to finance the city’s $10-million purchase of the abandoned Pacific View Elementary School site—driving up the total cost of the deal to more than $20 million over 30 years.
From "Excellent" to out in a year and a half? What changed?

We thought only 28 obstructionists thought Vina was doing a bad job. Does the council owe them an apology?

Hat tip to Jim the Realtor!

Happy 16th Birthday Corie Kook

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Al Rodbell reviews Tony Kranz's Housing Element meeting

At Focus on Encinitas:

This is a report on Tony Kranz' meeting last night on this issue at the libray. Tony was honest, beginning by saying he didn't have all the answers. Unfortunately, as his goal was to provide information, his lack of a fundamental understanding of the key issue, whether the "affordable" housing that is the promise of the entire project is real or a fraud, was something he admitted not knowing.

Several members of the audience stated that the planning director Jeff Murphy had said that the chance of these higher density apartments going to the poor* is zero. With any research at all Tony would have discovered this article The Multi-Family Myth, that explains that however the state has defined terms, and then dictated new zoning, they will not increase availability of housing for low income people at all in wealthy cities such as Encinitas.

Tony got caught up by the word "affordable," and said the premise of this law could be true depending on what it means. The word happens to be euphemism for poor, those with little income - yet the actual word is ambiguous by intent. In a free market, which these high density residences will be, everything that is purchased is by definition affordable -that is to those who purchase it such as every multimillion home in Rancho Santa Fe. The term has evolved, along with other euphemisms, under the guise of being kind to those who are destitute without any appreciation how such imprecision of language leads not only an elected city official, but the voters, to be universally confused about a major redefinition of their city. Worse, it allows those developers who are among the wealthy to get richer under the cruel illusion that they are helping the poor. And our friend Tony seems oblivious to this!

Complete Communities is the new Smart Growth

In June, we wrote, "Complete Neighborhoods is the new Smart Growth," as central planners struggled to come up with a catchy marketing phrase for the highly unpopular high-density development they want to force on neighborhoods.

Now the Union-Tribune is on the case.
Some local urban planners and developers, always on the hunt for a new catchphrase, say they have largely failed to tell the public what’s ahead as San Diego enters an increasingly urbanized future.

“It was instructive to me about how we are perhaps not communicating with the average person,” said Joe LaCava, one of the panelists at an Urban Land Institute breakfast Nov. 18, recalling the feeling after one explosive neighborhood meeting earlier this year.

The group toyed with the latest buzzword, “complete communities,” as a new way to communicate what they’re up to. The phrase is meant to entice the public to accept growth by offering a higher quality of life that’s free of congestion, full of housing they can afford and close to shopping, recreation and workplaces.

Previous slogans have apparently fallen flat: smart growth, city of villages, transit-oriented development.
Maybe it's the product, not the marketing?  If we wanted to live in the big city, we would have moved to the big city.

Dueling density meetings open thread

Tony Kranz's meeting on the Housing Element Update and the Olivenhain Town Council meeting were both held last night. Olivenhain had a presentation from Jeff Murphy on the HEU, and residents did not seem receptive.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Encinitas attorney Carl Dimeff sole beneficiary of wealthy elderly client's change of trust

U-T Watchdog:
Four prominent nonprofit charities — UNICEF, the NPR Foundation, Doctors Without Borders and the San Diego Research Foundation — are suing to invalidate a trust [Siv] Ljungwe created in 2008, which left all her money to Encinitas lawyer Carl Dimeff.

The charities contend that Ljungwe was mentally ill when she signed off on the trust, suffering from delusions and infatuated with Dimeff, whom she had met four years earlier by stopping in at his storefront law office.

They say that Ljungwe long wanted her fortune to be distributed to the four charities — each getting an equal 25 percent. Those were the terms under a trust that was set up in 2004 and that the disputed trust of 2008 wiped out.

At the core of the challenge from the charities is a claim that Dimeff cultivated an improper relationship with Ljungwe, capitalizing on her fixations on him and her mental illness to redirect the fortune to him.

Dimeff declined to comment.
Dimeff's office is listed in the old Bank of Dalager building on 101.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Logan Jenkins: "Council members appear to have been snoozing as they rubber-stamped" Ecke YMCA baseball fields contract

A raspberry — the Say It Ain’t So award — to both the Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA and the city of Encinitas for quietly poisoning the future of the coastal community’s ancestral baseball fields.

The YMCA and the city appear to be playing mutual moneyball. Now it’s time for youth baseball boosters to play hardball.

In negotiating what was assumed to be a pro forma 10-year extension of a 25-year lease agreement on fields used by Encinitas Little League for more than a half-century, the city bent over, selling out the League and, to compound the damage, not sending up a red flag to say they’d done so. (City Council members appear to have been snoozing as they rubber-stamped the contract.)
One gets the distinct impression that Jenkins is beginning to perceive City Manager Gus Vina as Encinitas council watchers long have: that he manipulates the befuddled council by limiting and distorting (or in this case, glossing over) the information they receive.

Vina has, yet again, quite publicly embarrassed the council and poorly served the public.  Will the council show any backbone in his performance review next month?

UPDATE: It's much worse! The city had the option to renew for 10 years without a termination clause and gave it away without public discussion!