Wednesday, January 28, 2015

1/28/15 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.

Items of interest:

- Pacific View subcommittee report

Monday, January 26, 2015

Subcommittee needs more time for Pacific View plan

Like the proverbial dog that catches the car, the council faction that purchased Pacific View faces the question, "Now what?"

Residents were expecting an answer January 28, but it turns out that rehabilitating dilapidated buildings with limited resources is a bit more complicated than the Pacific View subcommittee expected.
The subcommittee said it favored rehabbing the site’s dilapidated buildings, a former elementary school, over tearing them down and starting anew, at least for the interim museum. Glenn Pruim, director of public works, said so far due diligence hasn’t found “significant flaws” in the buildings that would rule out restoration.

But bringing the buildings up to code will likely require new plumbing, electrical work, ridding the structures of asbestos and other improvements, city staff noted.
From Council Member Lisa Shaffer's most recent newsletter:
Council member Kranz and I have postponed the report on Pacific View site activation until Feb. 11. After our last subcommittee meeting and subsequent discussions with staff, we realized that we needed a bit more time to put together a clear proposal that we could all get behind. We're still moving forward, but want to make sure we understand the options and tradeoffs.
We hope the subcommittee's next report will be as entertaining as its last report.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Al Rodbell in Coast News on Peak Democracy

As amazed as we are at the silliness and technological amateurishness of the city's Peak Democracy web forum, we often lose sight of how nefarious the idea behind the software is.  Peak Democracy is designed to create the appearance of public participation while allowing insiders to control the debate.

Thanks to Al Rodbell for reminding us in the Coast News.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Barth starts nonprofit group to educate Encinitas residents

Encinitas Advocate:
Barth recently announced the launch of Engage Encinitas, a nonprofit that aims to nurture civic engagement and a sense of community. This includes hosting community potlucks, forums on local issues and volunteer opportunities.

“People are focused on slices, but not necessarily the whole of the community,” said Barth, who is the president of Engage Encinitas. “This is the 21st century approach to a service organization, where we’re engaging people across a spectrum of topics.”


Another group goal: inform the community. Engage Encinitas will organize forums so that residents can listen to experts speak on relevant topics like protecting coastal infrastructure in the face of rising sea levels.

“We’re not here telling people how to think,” Barth said. “We’re going to give them the tools to have an understanding of relevant issues.”

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

1/21/15 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.

Items of interest tonight:

1) Review of the city's Housing Element "outreach" program which includes staff having created the target property map before "public outreach" began, and said map having been circulated by insiders at an invite-only meeting for likely upzone windfall millionaires.

And don't forget the other part of the "outreach:" the city's laughably amateur Peak Democracy online forum software.

2) The Kranz-Blakespear proposal to require appellants to go to mediation before having appeals heard by the council.

9 PM: Sounds from the comments as if the Blakespear proposal is turning into quite a fiasco.  Here is former council candidate Julie Graboi's submission on the issue.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Bryan Ziegler sues county for hostile work environment and discrimination

Two-time former city council candidate and county deputy counsel Bryan Ziegler is suing the county for a hostile work environment and discrimination.

Read all about it at the Seaside Courier.

Ziegler apparently angered some Code Enforcement managers by defending some home prayer meetings from code enforcement actions. We don't know whether inter-departmental squabbles rise to a "hostile work environment" and discrimination, but we'll see how it plays out.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Drunkcinitas still drunk

From the Inbox:

To: City Council Members, City Attorney, City Manager, Code Enforcement Department, Planning Department, Encinitas Sheriff, Fire Marshall, and local Newspapers

From: Encinitas Citizens Committee

Re: Continuing noise problem & safety concern in downtown Encinitas

Over the years, the Encinitas Citizens Committee has sent numerous emails to City Council, Code Enforcement, and Planning Department. We hoped that actions would be taken to significantly reduce the public disturbances that occur on our downtown streets, especially on weekend nights, at or around bar closing time. 

We have high hopes that the new City Council, led by a new Mayor, a new City Manager, a new Fire Marshal, and new Sheriff will spearhead a campaign for a safer, quieter Encinitas! But we want you to know the reality of the situation.

Although we will no longer send a list of specific complaints, please be advised that problems of late night noise and concern for the safety of Encinitas citizens still exist. It is extremely frustrating for the ECC to send Code Enforcement example after example of the same kinds of infractions or to repeatedly report these problems to City Council. In the past only small steps have been taken and these efforts have not produced meaningful improvements. The hoped-for peaceful co-existence between late-night bars and residents trying to get a good night's rest has not happened.

We appreciate that a Code Enforcement officer has been hired to devote half his time to the late night drinking problems, but he has still not identified the real issues. Also, insufficient actions have been taken on the ones that have been identified. These issues are:

The over-serving of alcoholic beverages to inebriated bar patrons. The noise problem created by drunks that disturb citizens late at night. The safety issue when intoxicated individuals drive in and around Encinitas. 

Examples of insufficient action: 

Key CalPERS corruption figure commits suicide

Your city's pension funds are in the very best of hands...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Own your own Olivenhain drug mansion!

The home featured in last month's SWAT raid is suddenly for sale at $1.4 million. While the owner recently lost a mortgage-related lawsuit against Chase Bank, it doesn't appear marked as a foreclosure sale. Perhaps it's just time to get out of town with a little equity.

The family bought the home in 1998 for $525,000.

Comes complete with secret compartment big enough to hide a person.

HT: Jim the Realtor.

UPDATE 1/15: Aaand it's gone. Change of heart?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Coast News on Peak Democracy sham

"Peak Democracy" is the online forum software purchased for Encinitas last year by a vote of Teresa Barth, Tony Kranz, and Lisa Shaffer (Mark Muir and Kristin Gaspar opposed) at the suggestion of former city manager Gus Vina. Residents at the time voiced concerns about the purchase, citing its dubious reliability as an honest gauge of public opinion.

Back in October, Encinitas Undercover revealed that Encinitas' Peak Democracy site was chock full o' fictional TV and movie characters. Now, the Coast News reports further:
The Coast News filed a public records request seeking the physical addresses used by the users when they registered with the site, as well as the IP addresses of the computers used to register the accounts. The city took several weeks to fulfill the requests after vetting it through its legal team.

Two of the four addresses were the home addresses of current Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer and former Councilman Jerome Stocks, both of whom said they had no idea who was using their addresses and that they were not involved with the posts.

Stocks said he would “take any and all legal remedies” against whoever used his address, but was also critical of the eTown Hall system.

“This just underscores some of the issues I have with the system,” Stocks said. “How do you really know who is posting on the site if you can just make up a name and use someone else’s address?”

The other two addresses were to local residents who said they did not participate in the forum.

The IP addresses traced back to the County of San Diego’s public library system, though it is the universal IP address for the entire system, meaning the people could have made that post from any of the county’s libraries.
Sadly, the city continues to insist that this thoroughly discredited software will be the primary means of gathering public input for the all-important Housing Element Update, which will have serious impacts on high-density development and traffic jams along our already crowded El Camino Real and Encinitas Boulevard corridors. As Council Member Lisa Shaffer wrote in her September 25 newsletter:
Furthermore, input will be received via eTownHall, not on cards or paper maps with dots or orally while sitting around tables. Everyone will be able to see displays and ask questions of staff, and then, either at the community meeting or whenever they choose, they can go to eTownHall and record their input. All the input from everyone will be captured and available to any and all who want to see it.
Sure, everyone will be able to see all the input. But we'll have no idea how much of the input is from fake accounts created to push special interests' agendas. With millions of dollars in upzoning windfalls at stake, it would be ridiculously easy for any developer to hire a few high school kids to create dozens of fake accounts to create the appearance of public support.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Council appoints Larry Watt interim manager; dumps search firm that brought us Vina

Seaside Courier:
The City Council met in closed session for more than two hours before voting unanimously to appoint Larry Watt for the position, according to Mayor Kristin Gaspar.

"I am pleased to announce that he has accepted the position this morning pending contract negotiations," Gaspar told Seaside Courier in a phone interview.

Watt, an Encinitas resident for more than 30 years, previously worked as the public works director for the city of Encinitas until his retirement in 2011. He currently serves as president of the Olivenhain Municipal Water District board, a position to which he was elected in 2012. He also previously served as general manager of the San Dieguito Water District, the head of the County of San Diego Department of Public Works' Transportation Division, and worked for the California Department of Transportation.
And this:
Council also voted to appoint Avery and Associates the recruitment firm to fill the position permanently.
The previous search firm that brought Gus Vina to Encinitas was Peckham and McKenney, which also facilitated his departure to Brentwood.

Throwback Thursday: the Michael Stanewich case

The recent full-on SWAT raid of a small-time junkie hangout in Olivenhain reminded some commenters of one of the great crime stories in Encinitas history, the 1991 robbery of an Olivenhain home by an off-duty narcotics detective.

L.A. Times:
An off-duty San Diego County deputy sheriff found robbing an Encinitas home and beating its owner was shot and killed Wednesday by a fellow deputy who did not recognize the robber as his colleague and close friend until he removed a stocking from his friend's head.

Sheriff's officials said Deputy Michael Stanewich, 36, an undercover narcotics detective and nine-year veteran, was fatally shot by patrol Deputy Gary Steadman, 35, an 11-year-veteran, who responded with another deputy to a report that a residence was being robbed. Both men worked out of the same sheriff's station in Encinitas.

Stanewich had been to the home, owned by Donald Van Ort, 32, last week to search for narcotics and noticed a large amount of cash that he did not seize, officials said.

On Wednesday, officials said, Stanewich returned to the wood-framed stucco home with an unidentified accomplice to steal the money, estimated to be about $100,000 in cash. The deputy wore rubber gloves and a stocking over his head.

More contemporaneous details from the L.A. Times, which seems to be the paper of record for Encinitas:

Debt may have been motive.

Stanewich was shot in the back.

Deputy-turned-robber eulogized as friendly, helpful.

Victim's Pick Is Ruled Out as Accomplice

Van Ort attorneys on lawsuit vs. Sheriff's Dept.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Fire station realignment under consideration

From the Inbox:
Dear Encinitas resident,

The Encinitas Firefighters need your help!

Your City Council is considering a dangerous plan to change the way fire and EMS protection is delivered in the City of Encinitas. One aspect of the plan is to permanently close Fire Station #1 in downtown Encinitas and Fire Station #4 in the Village Park area. Another component of the plan is to cross staff ambulances and fire engines. Cross staffing means the crew from the fire station will take either an ambulance to medical aids or a fire engine to fire/rescue calls. While this may sound appropriate, IT IS NOT and will have a substantial impact on public safety. Cross staffing of fire engines and ambulances will not get a proper number of personnel to acute medical emergencies. It will take stations out of service for longer periods of time due to longer call duration while transporting patients to the hospital. Additionally, cross staffing takes away the ability to handle a wide array of emergencies while returning from calls due to not having the appropriate tools available on an ambulance to handle fires, vehicle accidents, rescues, etc. If a fire, rescue, hazardous material incident, etc. comes in while returning from a call, we will either have to go back to the fire station and pick up the fire engine or respond to the incident in an ambulance with no ability to handle the emergency. Does this sound prudent to you?

The Encinitas Fire Department is always looking for ways to better provide and more efficiently provide the very important service that you entrust us with. This is not the way to do this! No other fire department in California provides fire/medical protection in this way.

The Encinitas Firefighters Association is asking for your help. Your presence would be appreciated at a joint meeting of The Encinitas City Council and The Traffic and Safety Commission. The meeting will be held on Monday January 12, 2015 at 6:00 PM in the Encinitas Community Center at 1140 Oakcrest Dr. Encinitas California 92024. Even better would be speakers who express their concern about this plan.

Thank you for your time and consideration with this matter.

Jim Mickelson
Encinitas Firefighter's Association Local - 3787
We've heard that Encinitas has among the highest per capita fire service costs on the planet. We've also heard that Encinitas has way more fire stations (and expensive ones at that!) per square mile than comparable cities. But we'd like to see the data.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

La Paloma Theatre showing The Interview

In a move foreseen by the prescient local blog Encinitas Guerrilla, La Paloma Theatre is currently showing The Interview, the movie cancelled by large theater chains after online threats supposedly coming from an offended North Korea.

If you're capable of enjoying Seth Rogen stoner comedies, go see it. It's pretty entertaining if you set your expectations correctly. A star is born in Randall Park, the actor who plays an emotionally complex Kim Jong-Un.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's on Neptune

The rich may not be better than the rest of us, but they damn sure do a better job on holiday decorations.

Camille and Alden 18th Birthday Kook