Thursday, February 26, 2015

This could be the last year for Little League at Ecke ball fields

We wrote last year about the City giving away its option to a clean 10-year extension of the lease for the Ecke YMCA baseball fields, which put Encinitas Little League at grave risk of a loss of playing fields.  The change was negotiated by city staff, and passed unanimously by council without discussion as a consent item. When a member of the public informed the council a year later that they had put the Little League fields at risk, the council seemed surprised.

It now appears that risk has become a reality.  Encinitas Advocate:
Susan Hight, executive director of the YMCA, said in an email that the organization is developing a site master plan to serve members better, including expanding its footprint and renovating existing buildings. The plan could affect one or more of the fields.

"The YMCA anticipates finalizing their master plan site prior to July 2015, in advance of next year's scheduling session (for leagues)," Hight said. She also said the YMCA would provide open communications with families who are part of the sports leagues.
So the YMCA clearly wanted to terminate the lease early. Just over a year after being given the right to terminate, they already have development plans. But why would the city give away eight or more years of use of the fields with no good alternative for the Little League?

Parks and Rec Director Lisa Rudloff is sticking to the highly dubious city line:
Rudloff said the 30-day clause provides flexibility if either party wants to end the lease. As an example, Rudloff said: "If the city, through the parks master planning process, identified space to develop, the city would have flexibility to get out of the lease."
The city needing flexibility to get out of the lease stretches credulity.  The rent is $25 for the entire term, and maintenance and utility costs are only $129,000 per year, a tiny fraction of the Parks and Rec budget and a bargain for four lighted fields for which the city has no alternative for the Little Leagues.

So what the heck happened?  We can see three possibilities:

1) Rudloff's story is true.  Vina and Rudloff wanted the option to save a small amount of money, and either didn't know or didn't care that they were taking much-needed playing fields away from Little Leaguers.

2) Rudloff and Vina gave away the fields to benefit the YMCA or related development interests, for some unknown reason.  The fact that they negotiated this change and slipped it through the Council without public discussion lends credence to this possibility.

3) Some or all of the council members supported the YMCA development plans for some unknown reason, and Vina and Rudloff were just carrying out the council's wishes.  Unlikely as this may seem, it is bolstered by the fact that the council has neither fired Rudloff nor opened a public inquiry into this debacle that hurt thousands of Encinitas children's sports opportunities and made the council look foolish.  By not holding anyone accountable for the contract change, the council is admitting tacit approval.

What's your theory?

All four sitting council members who gave away the Little League fields have their terms ending in 2016, and at least three are expected to run for re-election.  Joe Mosca and Al Lerchbacker may want to call the Little League folks.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

2/25/15 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:

- mid-year budget review - the re-launch of Joe Mosca's political career. - cancellation of Peak Democracy web poll software contract - SANDAG update on Coastal Rail Trail (complete through Solana Beach, non-existent in Encinitas)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Barber angry over mural depicting immigrants arriving by boat

10 News:
A business owner in Encinitas is up in arms over a mural painted on a neighboring 7-11 convenience store.

The mural depicts a group of people -- who appear to be immigrants -- arriving on shore in a boat, one of them with a backpack in hand.

The business owner believes the image is offensive and should be taken down.

10News Reporter Vanessa Van Hyfte is talking to folks in Encinitas and will have reaction at 5 p.m.

Huge Carmel Valley Smart Growth project "One Paseo" approved

Read all about it in the U-T.
Possibly paving the way for more intense development in many parts of San Diego, the City Council voted 7-2 on Monday night in favor of the controversial One Paseo mixed-use project in Carmel Valley.

Three of the council’s Democrats — Todd Gloria, Myrtle Cole and David Alvarez — joined with the panel’s four Republicans in support. Councilwomen Marti Emerald and Sherri Lightner voted “no.”

Council members in support said the 1.4 million-square-foot complex of office buildings, condos and retail stores is a strong example of “smart growth” because it will allow people to live, work and shop in the same place, reducing the need to travel.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

2/18/15 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.

Item of interest: the re-launch of Joe Mosca's political career.

Huntington Beach finally says "enough"

OC Register:
Saying the influx of big housing projects is too much for its city, the Huntington Beach City Council voted to halt new development along Beach Boulevard and Edinger Avenue on Tuesday night.


Since 2010, the area has seen high-density developments constructed along those major thoroughfares, and Peterson said in his proposal that many residents worry that such development is changing the composition of their suburban beach city into an urban environment. The Register wrote about the conflict on Monday.

“The idea that this is the future – I just don’t think it is,” [Councilman Erik] Peterson said Tuesday. He received a standing ovation from a handful of members in the audience. “I can drive down Beach (Boulevard) and see Saddleback; I can see the mountains. It’s a community. Not just a big city.”
Beach Boulevard and Edinger Avenue are Huntington Beach's intersecting north-south and east-west thoroughfares, equivalent to our El Camino Real and Encinitas Boulevard.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Seaside Courier questions Pacific view involvement of Barth arts groups

Seaside Courier:
Questions are being raised about two groups eager for a say in the future of the Pacific View Elementary School site, which the city of Encinitas last year agreed to purchase for $10 million.

The two groups are Engage Encinitas and Friends of the Arts. Former Encinitas City Councilwoman Teresa Barth, who while on the council pushed for the city to buy the 2.8-acre site for a future arts center, is involved with both groups — and other organizations that would like to run the arts center question whether this involvement gives her an unfair advantage once the city council decides to choose an operator.
Our first reaction to this was that it was a big nothingburger, that Encinitas Friends of the Arts just wanted to help out and provide volunteers. In that case, this looked like a pretty weak anti-Barth shot from Tom Arnold and the Seaside Courier, both known for their opposition to the Barthist faction on the city council.

But then on the other hand, it would be highly problematic to give any group control of a $10 million public asset based solely on the group's political connections to council members. Encinitas Friends of the Arts is a small organization with extremely limited financial resources, unable to contribute meaningfully to the expenses of rehabilitating the old buildings and running a museum. Giving EFA or any private organization anything more than an advisory role in the management of an eventually revenue-producing operation would be at serious risk for conflicts of interest.

What do you think?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Former Sierra Madre councilman applies for Encinitas Parks & Rec Commission

Among the candidates for various commissions to be interviewed at this Wednesday's council meeting is Joseph Mosca for Parks and Recreation, who has less local history but more political history than most.

The Sierra Madre Tattler, which was highly critical of Mosca, has lots in its archives, and paints a picture of a politically ambitious former rising star in the LA County Democratic Party who had his eye on an Assembly seat. Mosca resigned his council seat in 2011 to move to London for family reasons.

Among the archives is this discussion of the eerily Barthesque drama over Sierra Madre's mayor rotation.

Given the weak field of potential 2016 Encinitas council candidates, Mosca could fairly quickly become a top-tier candidate.  His spouse is a director at Gilead Sciences, whose stock is up 400% since he's been there, so campaign money shouldn't be a problem.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

2/11/15 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.

Item of interest: spending $500,000 to rehab the Pacific View buildings into a temporary museum (does this mean a CN Tower is out of the question?).

Encinitas schoolkids get porn on iPads

We've long been critical of Encinitas Union School District Superintendent Tim Baird's debt-for-iPads program.

But it gets worse. Much, much worse.

The Encinitas Union School District failed to install filters on iPads it sent home with elementary school students, making it more likely children can use the devices to download inappropriate content, a group of parents told the school board Tuesday.

The parents also complained that Superintendent Tim Baird has been aware of the problem for a long time, but has failed to take any action.


At Tuesday’s board meeting, several parents said students had become exposed to pornography through district iPads. “There was no filter established. I mean zero,” said Neil Warren, a parent at Capri Elementary. “You can not expose children to the harmful effects of pornography.”

Chuck Phillips, a chief technology officer for a major digital marketing firm in San Diego, and parent with two kids at Flora Vista Elementary, told Baird that there should be clearer milestones to get the filters installed on the tablets as soon as possible. “There’s just no accountability to parents,” he said.

Monday, February 9, 2015

"Housing mandate could doom Encinitas by design"

Read all about it at the North Coast Current.

And a gratuitous Bridal Kook pic:

Friday, February 6, 2015

Cuthbert the Goalie Kook

Emily Cuthbert wears #1 as the goalkeeper in the Encinitas Express Southern California competitive league.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

2/5/15 Special City Council meeting open thread - Housing Element outreach

Please use the comments to record your observations.

UPDATE: Seaside Courier wrap-up here.

City hires outside attorneys to defend Building Industry Association lawsuit over density bonus

San Diego Daily Transcript:
The city of Encinitas has hired outside counsel to defend itself against a suit brought by the Building Industry Association of San Diego challenging the city's amended policies for enforcing the state's density bonus law.

Encinitas has brought Goldfarb and Lipman LLP, which is based in the Bay Area and has a San Diego office, to defend against the suit, according to a substitution of attorney filing earlier this week.

The attorneys listed from Goldfard and Lipman as representing the city were Barbara Kautz and Celia Lee.

Previously, City Attorney Glenn Sabine had represented Encinitas in defending against the complaint filed last fall.
This will be very welcome news for Encinitas residents who viewed the assignment of Glenn Sabine as a sign that the city was not interested in vigorously defending the suit.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

2/3/15 Special City Council meeting open thread - Housing Element outreach

Please use the comments to record your observations.

UPDATE: Union-Tribune summary of the meeting here; Coast News here.

Second group forms to create alternative housing plan

UPDATED: New time and place:
Location and Time UPDATE

We will be meeting down the hill from the library at the Encinitas CafĂ©, in the “backroom”.

We will push the start time back 15 minutes to give people a chance to walk down the hill if they don’t get this message in time. We will post a notice at the library.

What: HEU Alternative(s)
When: Sunday at 3:15pm
Who: Encinitas Residents
Where: Encinitas Cafe

From the Inbox:
From: Encinitas Project
Subject: Encinitas HEU Alternative(s)
Date: February 3, 2015 at 6:15:20 AM PST

Encinitas Residents,

An Encinitas City Council majority is supporting an offer to consider suggestions from the public on how to construct the Housing Element Update (HEU).

Council Member Mark Muir is aware of only three people expressing interest in forming a committee to develop (an) alternative(s) to the plan developed by staff and supported (at least tacitly) by the council. We are looking to the public to develop various approaches to addressing issues that will impact our future.

We are planning to meet next Sunday (Feb 8th) at 3 pm at the Encinitas City Library.

Our agenda on Sunday includes:
Scoping what would be entailed in the project
Developing ideas for a process
Deterring how to structure and organize the collaborations
Determining what would be needed to successfully contribute to the HEU

What: HEU Alternative
When: Sunday at 3pm
Who: Encinitas Residents
Where: Encinitas Library

Please share with your friends and readership.

Thank you for your past contributions to the city,

Kevin Cummins
Tom Frank
(2 of the 3)

Taxpayers Association accepts Muir housing challenge

From the Inbox:
As you are aware, the City has been working on its State Regional Housing Needs Assessment allocation for years and yet many citizens seem unaware of the proceedings or the possible ramifications. The City has sent out flyers, held workshops and hired consultants but the Encinitas City Council feels that more should be done to get the public informed and involved.

On January 21, 2015 Council voted to allow a community based group to submit a housing map of its own making for consideration by Council in its deliberation on the Housing Element Update to stimulate public interest.

The Encinitas Taxpayers Association (ETA) has been following this subject closely and believes that there are viable options to City staff proposals that must be pursed. It will be submitting a notice of intent to pursue an independent analysis, study, proposal and map to the City Council at its February 3, 2015 meeting and will be asking to be appointed the official Community Based Housing Map (CBHM) Group.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Muir offer to community groups

From the comments:
Why has no one here mentioned Mark Muir's proposal to form a private community group to come up with an alternative housing element map?

I find it curious that the loudest voices criticizing the process have fallen silent. It would seem that this is the opportunity you wanted.

Methinks Muir has outsmarted you. He's going to show that all the objections about community input and process are bunk. The true motives behind All Rodbell and his merry band are about to be revealed. Namely, there is a small no growth group that wants a hostile confrontation with Sacremento over state housing law.

Actually, I don't have a problem with that position. I do have a problem with cloaking that position in side issues of process and community input.

I will be watching closely to see if Al, Sheila, Julie, Lynn, Andrew, Bob, and Donna actively participate in the citizen-driven alternate process, and if they can produce a plan the conforms to state requirements and guidelines.
Muir, Gaspar, and Blakespear approved the proposal to allow community groups to propose alternatives to the city's housing plan. Shaffer and Kranz voted no.

Will a community group come forward to accept the challenge?