Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spock Block Week such a success that Kranz wants to do it every year

San Diego Reader:
“It’s hard to judge actual economic impact,” says Kranz, “but when Encinitas people have fun, it’s a success.”

Reportedly, throughout the week, Trekkies would be spotted having their picture taken in front of a banner. “It didn’t cost the city anything,” said Kranz; local organizations sponsored the banners. Kranz hopes the event will become an annual tradition.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Carlsbad residents wish they had a Prop A

NOTE: Those looking for Carlsbad's February 2016 Measure A please see here.

Coast News commentary:
Disappointed by building heights

Many residents are disappointed by the vote at the March 18 Carlsbad Planning Commission Meeting that recommends to the City Council an amendment to allow taller buildings in Carlsbad. Two hotels have requested permission to add a 4th floor (the Carlsbad standard is three floors) in a building with a 45-foot height (a height approval is also needed). By offering ocean view rooms on the fourth floor, the two hotel chains stated that they would then be able to obtain more revenue from these rooms.

We hope, when the final vote goes before the City Council, that the Council Members advocate for the residents of Carlsbad, not for the profit of the hotels. We hope they will uphold the scenic and uncluttered beauty of our city and Envision Carlsbad’s defining attribute, “small-town feel of our beach-side community,” for all residents and visitors to Carlsbad.

With this amendment, Carlsbad will have FOUR floors of bright lights at night instead of three; thus, the resort will appear much larger and more noticeable than any other hotel in Carlsbad.

The residents were well served when Commissioner Scully (who cast the lone vote against the amendment) rightfully pointed out that, without the amendment, the two hotels can still build a beautiful quality hotel within three floors as all the other hotels in Carlsbad have done.

Now, with the approved additional floor, the resort will obviously impact the countryside.

At the meeting, the hotels claimed that four floors “will give more open space”. Regardless, the resort will be larger.

The argument of “more open space” could support requests to add floors to any commercial building in the city. Thank goodness, the buildings in Carlsbad are only three stories, wider rather than higher and thus less obtrusive.

Thank you Carlsbad Council for generally, in the past, not approving more floors, more lights, more obstruction of the panoramic views.

Each Commissioner mentioned a concern for setting a bad precedent, yet five Commissioners voted for the precedent-setting amendment. Other hotels (and commercial developers) will justifiably say that, if the Commission granted approval to these two hotels, then they too want to “improve their amenities” and gain “a view of the ocean” with more floors. They will capitalize on this new amendment and could rightfully call it favoritism to specific hotel chains if they too don’t get amendments to achieve “better resort amenities.” In fact, at the meeting on March 18, the hotel management company also pointed out a precedent that was set years ago. These two hotel chains want similar treatment given to another hotel in Aviara that exceeds the standard height and number of floors. When will it stop? It won’t.

The Commissioners frequently said that they will be more vigilant in the future about more floors in tall buildings — why not now?

The fight for the residents isn’t over. Only the Planning Commission voted to approve the additional floor within the additional height.

It still needs to be approved by the Council Members who must continue to stand firm against the push for taller buildings…. that have more floors to light up the sky.

Madeleine Szabo,

Carlsbad

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sheriff's deputy kills suicidal man in Village Park

NBC 7:
A deputy was involved in a shooting in an Encinitas neighborhood Friday morning, officials confirmed.

The shooting was reported just after 9:45 a.m. in the 2000 block of [Shadytree] Lane. Jan Caldwell of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said the deputy was not injured.

[...]

A neighbor told NBC 7 the suspect had been experiencing marital troubles and deputies had been called [to] his house before this incident, including a time when the man was throwing things out of the window. The neighbor said a deputy shot the suspect because he was armed with a shotgun.

The neighbor said the suspect's wife ran out of their home this morning saying her husband had a shotgun and was going to harm himself.
U-T:
TV station KUSI reported that a man said to be suicidal had been shot, and was dead. A news helicopter showed a a yellow tarp over an apparent body behind homes.

The shooting occurred about 9:40 a.m. on Shadytree Lane off Glen Arbor Drive in the Olivenhain community, sheriff’s spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said.

Shadytree Lane is a cul-de-sac lined with four-plex townhomes, with trees and some small open spaces behind the backyards.

One resident said she and a girlfriend who was visiting heard two short bursts of gunfire and they looked outside to see a deputy hiding behind a garage, his handgun drawn. They later saw a woman collapse in distress in a yard.

Peter Pan Kook

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

3/25/15 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.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Attempted abduction of 7-year-old girl at Solana Beach's Skyline Elementary

From the Inbox:
Solana Beach and extended Community Friends,

A parent’s worst nightmare was averted yesterday in broad daylight at Skyline School as our daughter was the victim of a botched abduction. We are very fortunate that she thought quickly and kicked and screamed until she was heard by nearby teachers. She is now safe at home.

I typically keep to myself and not much into mass emails, but felt compelled to share to try to catch this person and assist everyone with the protection of their children. We also want everyone to know the details regarding the incident so you understand what kind of crazy person is still running around out there.

This was not an incident where a man hung out on the fringe of the Skyline campus and attempted to lure the first child he saw. This man parked in the top Skyline parking lot, walked through the heart of the school, past the front office, and up to the main part of school only 15 minutes after the dismissal bell rang. He tried to wrap packing tape around her head multiple times around. He was also attempting to pick her up and carry her off of campus. We share these details with you so you understand how reckless and crazy this person is.

1. Please have the discussion with your kids. “Stranger Danger” and the importance of not complying. The “if you want to see your mommy again” was used in our case as he tried to lure her behind the garden and attempted to tape her up. Yell, scream, draw as much attention as you can. This is what saved our daughter.

2. This person got away. He is still out there. Please report any sighting of a silver Ford Flex with a black roof a man fitting this description: white male about 6’0”, 200 lbs. facial stubble, and wearing a red and white striped baseball jersey, white baseball pants, green baseball hat, and a duffel bag. Teachers and a janitor pursued him, but he was able to race off in his vehicle. If you see anything, please call 911 or Detective Frank Feliccia at 619-544-7017.

We need to catch this person so it doesn’t happen to anyone else. If an entire community and City are looking out for him, the chances are greater. Officers are pulling over every Ford Flex that meets this description. Please report it.

There were witnesses that saw this individual as he ran away. They have met with detectives and a sketch will be available by today. I will share any info that I obtain.

Never in our wildest dreams would we think this could happen to us. Please forward to as many people you can to help prevent it from happening to others.

Silver Ford Flex with black roof

Monday, March 23, 2015

Soccer league to pack city hall Wednesday

The Little League wasn't the only youth organization to get shafted by the city council's giveaway of the Ecke Sports Park. Here comes Encinitas Express Soccer, and they want turf and lights at Leo Mullen Field to make up for it.

Union-Trib:
The Encinitas Soccer League is urging its some 1,700 members to come to Wednesday night’s Encinitas City Council meeting to lobby for artificial turf and permanent field lighting at Leo Mullen Sports Park.

“It’s certainly a need,” league President Rick Lochner said Friday. “If you look at Carlsbad, they’ve got about a dozen (city-owned), lighted turf fields — we’ve got none.”

[...]

The Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA, which owns the Ecke Sports Park fields on Saxony Road, has recently indicated that it is considering eliminating one or more of those four fields as part of a future construction project. The soccer league uses those fields for Saturday games and nighttimepractice sessions. And, if the YMCA proceeds as planned, “we’re going to be in a world of hurt,” Lochner said.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Closed is the new open

From the Inbox:
Blakespear's latest newsletter:

"What's now clear to me is that the hard questions need to be asked in private, before the meeting, when there's time for city staff to get additional information or research an issue more. Most of the preliminary issues and all the relevant data points need to be ironed out before the meeting so that when the five City Council members get together to find consensus, we are in the position to be able to move forward. My process is improving!"

Why does Blakespear want to take things into the back room where residents cannot hear the questions or staff explanations? We were told there would be a new transparency. Is this it?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

3/18/15 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.

Among other items tonight is Tony Kranz's Spock Block Week.

Vilkin sentenced to 64 years to life in Upton killing

Fox 5 News:
An Encinitas man who shot and killed a neighbor with whom he’d been feuding over the cutting of bushes and trees on the defendant’s vacant lot was sentenced Wednesday to 64 years to life in prison.

Michael Vilkin, 63, was convicted last June of first-degree murder in the death of 56-year-old John Upton.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

In-depth article on last year's fatality from Encinitas downtown vibrancy

Last April we covered the story of Rachel Anne Morrison, an Encinitas resident and Scripps Ph.D. student who was killed by a drunk driver heading back to La Jolla after drinking heavily in downtown Encinitas.

Today's U-T has an in-depth story.

The killer, a college-educated professional and father of two, drove all the way from the Bird Rock area to drink with buddies in Encinitas' vibrant downtown scene.  

From the Inbox:
A few weeks before this accident happened, 3 council members voted against a Deemed Approved Ordinance (DAO) that would have resulted in real consequences for bar owners who over-served patrons. I appreciate that Teresa Barth and Lisa Shaffer voted in favor of the DAO, but they did not have a 3rd vote to pass it.

I think that a vote to put stricter rules into place would have sent a message to bar owners to be more aware of drunk drivers. I am not opposed to people having fun, but if the council had made a different decision and required GREATER responsibility of bar owners, it might have raised awareness, and Rachel might still be alive.

Anarchy in the ENC

Within days of the Sheriff's Department helmet raid at the skate park, nary a helmet can be seen.


Faces have been obscured to protect the free.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Seniors don't want high-density development?

We are told by former mayor Teresa Barth and other "Smart Growth" devotees that seniors want high-density development.

The reality?  Not so much.

NBC News via bubbleinfo:
Although Boomers are most likely to be satisfied with the size of their current homes, the conventional wisdom that these empty nesters would downsize to smaller homes later in life turned out to not be the case. “It is a bit contrary,” said Trulia housing economist Ralph McLaughlin. “According to our survey, we are finding that almost as many of them want larger homes.”

While 21 percent of Baby Boomers want a smaller house, the highest percentage of any age bracket, the number who still want to go bigger is five percentage points higher. Last year, Fannie Mae noted that Boomers displayed no hurry to trade in their houses for retirement condos.
Yes, it's an unscientific online poll. But it aligns with the sentiments of the senior citizens we know. We still haven't met the senior who wants to move from Neptune or Encinitas Ranch to Pacific Station.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Potted palm

From the Inbox on those hardhats and neon vests this morning working on the Moonlight Beach Canary Palm:
Hardscape (container ring and sidewalk) have been placed around the palm.  The upper 3 feet of the root ball was trimmed back and the soil mounded around the trunk.  Why the people were on the boom looking at the tree's crown is a mystery - the palm appears unusually flat; there is generally a vertical spike of new fronds coming from the top.  Canary palms are susceptible to a fatal fungal disease (Fusarium wilt) most often spread by contaminated pruning tools.  This fungus can invade the plant via cuts (wounds) - either from cut frons or severed roots.  There is no cure for this disease and it is very prevalent in San Diego County.  Hopefully, the city contracted experts that know about the hazards to this iconic palm.










Kranz promotes Trekkie tourism

From the Inbox:
Tony is back with a new idea for increasing tourism.

On next week's agenda:

SUBJECT: Proclamation to establish “Spock Block” for one week, March 26 – April 1, 2015

INTRODUCTION OF IDEA: On February 27, 2015, Leonard Nimoy, the actor known as the original Mr. Spock in the Star Trek television and movie franchise, died at the age of 83. The Spock character’s heritage was half human and half Vulcan, which means that one of the oldest streets in Encinitas, Vulcan Avenue, has something in common with Spock — a name.

I would propose that this Council declare in a proclamation that the Civic Center and Library block, from Vulcan Avenue and Cornish Drive to D and E streets, be called “Spock Block” for the week of March 26 – April 1, 2015. This would coincide with what would have been Nimoy’s birthday on March 26th.

The purpose of this proclamation would be to encourage anyone who enjoyed Mr. Spock and the Star Trek series to come to our city to celebrate the life of Mr. Nimoy. Businesses would be encouraged to welcome Trekkies, as they’re known, to put on a pair of pointed ears and greet people with the Vulcan “V” sign and the saying Spock made famous: “Live Long and Prosper.”

Creativity and having fun would be the main objective, something that would have appealed to the human side of Mr. Spock.

DIRECTION TO STAFF: Prepare the proclamation and set up a public address system so that Mayor Gaspar can read the proclamation in a public ceremony at the lower parking lot on the corner of Vulcan Avenue and E Street, March 26th, at a time to be determined.

http://encinitas.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=7&event_id=594&meta_id=46768

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Encinitas vibrancy makes the evening news again

10 News:
ENCINITAS, Calif. - A dashcam captured an ugly Uber encounter after a trip was cut short in Encinitas.

The ride began around 11 p.m. on Feb. 28 with a pickup at a Cardiff bar. Minutes into the ride, the driver is heard issuing a warning.

"Sit down or I'm pulling over. You get out," says the driver.

Patrick, the driver, asked 10News not to use his last name. He says all four passengers smelled of alcohol and one of the women was trying to jump into the front seat from the back.

"She's grabbing the shifter. She's grabbing the emergency brake … anything she can grab onto to help her into the front seat," said Patrick.

When she refused to stop, he stopped at a restaurant parking lot in Encinitas and asked them to get out. Two women and one of the men then exit the SUV.

Patrick says one of the women then picked up some rocks and threw them at his SUV. In the next few moments, the sound of rocks hitting the SUV can be heard on the video, along with a series of banging noises.

"The banging is him kicking and kneeing the car," said Patrick.

Finally, the last man gets out and tosses his own rock at the SUV. The final damage was nearly $2,000 in scratches and chips.
Click over to 10 News for the video.

Mardi Gras Kook

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

3/11/15 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.

Tonight's meeting is about the Housing Element. One commenter says that the Planning Department is putting back in a bunch of stuff from the rejected IAG "ugly baby" plan.

Skateboarding is a crime

From the Facebook:

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Little League proposes compromise with YMCA over Ecke fields giveaway

From the President of Encinitas Little League:
The Ecke Sports Park fields would be impossible for ELL to replace. The lighted fields are a positive gathering spot for families and the community — come by any Saturday in spring to see four games in progress, a line at the snack bar and kids in dirty uniforms enjoying the day outside. Ecke Sports Park itself is a huge part of ELL’s baseball success and ELL has done its’ share — using its’ own fundraising money to install in 2011 additional safety netting on fields 2 and 3 (cost $8,360.00), an artificial turf infield on field 2 in 2012 (cost $20,000.00) and a batting cage renovation in 2014 (cost to ELL $17,000.00 not including $13,000 in donated turf.) ELL has invested over $45,000.00 in the Ecke Sports Park since 2010, all made in reasonable reliance that ELL would have full access to the facility through 2024. The new Encinitas Community Park (ECP) is wonderful — but was not intended as a full time sports park and is not close to a comparable facility, with its lack of lights, only 2 unfenced baseball fields (with no infield turf) and no batting cages.
The League is offering to surrender one of the four fields for the YMCA to expand parking. They can manage with the other three fields by shifting some older kids' games to the new Encinitas Community Park. This solution would seem to be a reasonable way out for the League and the YMCA -- and for the re-election hopes of the four council members who approved the giveaway of the fields. But apparently the YMCA is insistent about its development plans; otherwise, this whole thing would have been settled months ago.

Ugly Baby is back!

When the city paid out-of-town consultants MIG more than $1 million to run a series of workshops and create a high-density development plan, the result was so widely reviled that former mayor Jerome Stocks famously called it an "ugly baby" and the entire plan was scrapped.

Until now, apparently.

From the Inbox:
The Council meeting this Wed. will have new information that wasn't revealed by Jeff Murphy.

1. The housing element draft contains much of the rejected MIG housing element update material.

2. The old MIG sites inventory is now part of the housing element draft that will be included in the packet going to HCD.

Here is the link:

http://encinitas.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=7&event_id=593&meta_id=46558

Jeff Murphy, Manjeet Ranu, and Mike Strong provide no reason why they have included the old MIG work.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

City fails to negotiate lower fine for repeated environmental violations

U-T:
After two years of negotiations, Encinitas has agreed to pay the full $430,851 state fine for twice letting sediment-filled stormwater flow off a city park construction site and into San Elijo Lagoon, state officials announced Thursday.

Under the terms of the tentative settlement agreement, the city will pay the full fine, but nearly half of the money — $206,393 — will be diverted to a San Elijo Lagoon habitat restoration project, said Rebecca Stewart, a sanitary engineering associate with the San Diego office of the state’s Regional Water Quality Control Board.

[...]

Stewart said it isn’t unusual for a settlement agreement to include funding for a local habitat restoration project. The lengthy negotiations also were “typical,” she said. What is unusual is that the city will pay the full fine amount — the state did not agree to reduce the fine that it initially recommended two years ago, she said.
The reason the board is treating Encinitas more harshly than usual? Accidents happen, but in this case the city showed complete negligence and disregard for the law and the lagoon for an extended period of time:
An official with the Water Quality Control Board said the fine is so large because the problem happened twice and because Encinitas failed to significantly improve stormwater control measures between the first and second runoff incidents.

“I’m sure they were disappointed (in the fine) — everyone’s disappointed at the penalties that are sent out,” said Rebecca Stewart, a sanitary engineering associate with the state agency.
As is customary at the City of Encinitas, no one has been held accountable for the violations as far as the public can see.

Friday, March 6, 2015

San Diego Reader on the end of Little League play at the Ecke fields

While the City Council remains awkwardly silent about its giveaway of the Little League fields, local media aren't forgetting.

San Diego Reader:
With opening day of the 2015 Encinitas Little League baseball on March 7, until last week, the league wasn’t sure it would hear “play ball” this year. And this may be the last year they are allowed to play at the Magdalena Ecke YMCA's baseball complex — fields they’ve used for 25 years.

The league that produced an all-star team — which was one win away from making it to the 2014 Little League World Series — and the City of Encinitas both thought they were entering into a standard ten-year agreement with the Y for its four-diamond complex. The YMCA owns the property; the city leases and pays for field improvements. But the Y threw a curve ball.
The Reader chalks this up to bad faith on the part of the YMCA, but simple incompetence and negligence on the part of city staff and the City Council. We're not so sure about that. City Manager Gus Vina never struck us as a bumbling fool but as a shrewd operator doing things out of the public eye for his own reasons (e.g. hiding the fact that he had hired Rutan & Tucker and covering up the city's Rossini Creek environmental violations). And the fact that the Council still hasn't held Parks and Rec Director Lisa Rudloff accountable for the debacle lends credence to the theory that there is more than simple incompetence behind the giveaway.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Chavez vacates Assembly seat; will Gaspar run?

U-T:
Assemblyman Rocky Chávez made it official on Thursday: He'll make the uphill run for U.S. Senate.

The Oceanside Republican said he will challenge Democratic frontrunner Attorney General Kamala Harris for the seat being vacated by Democrat Barbara Boxer. He is the first Republican to enter the 2016 race.
This opens up Chavez's Assembly seat, in a safe Republican district. Looking around the district from Encinitas to Camp Pendleton, there are a handful of candidates who have the name recognition and political network to mount a serious run. Might Kristin Gaspar give it a try?

Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood would have a good chance of winning. He's nominally a Republican but liberal and well-funded by the labor unions. We know he's ambitious, as he ran for and almost won Bill Horn's Supervisor seat last year. Popular Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall would be another formidable candidate. He has a track record of accomplishing pension reform, and was recently re-elected unopposed after defeating labor candidate Keith Blackburn in 2010.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Odds & Ends

Stuff we've been remiss in not mentioning yet:

- Encinitas terminates Peak Democracy: 4-1 vote.  Shaffer voted to keep Peak Democracy, despite its numerous well-documented and irreparable flawsreportedly because staff likes it, and Shaffer trusts staff.

- Council, Sabine disagree on BIA lawsuit: Blakespear said that the council and city attorney disagreed on the case, which would explain why the council replaced Sabine with outside attorneys.  Presumably, Sabine wanted to surrender to the BIA on some issues that the council wanted to contest.  It looks like a good move by the council as Shaffer's recent newsletter reports, "I was impressed by the outside counsel and think they will be a great asset as we move forward with all of our housing-related work."

- Yesterday's mid-afternoon Pacific View subcommittee meeting: anybody take time out from work to attend?

But give us a break. Our coverage of these issues would still be "excellent" by Encinitas City Council standards, right?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Supreme Court to hear warrantless searches of hotel guest records

Back in 2013, the city council voted unanimously to force Encinitas hotels to turn over guest records to the police without a warrant. The idea was pushed on a number of Southern California cities around the same time by law enforcement agencies.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently ruled against the intrusion on Fourth Amendment grounds, putting the Encinitas snooping program on hold.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments today, and presumably rule in June. We'll hazard a guess they'll respect the Fourth Amendment on this one.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


CORRECTION: Thanks to a commenter who reminded us that the after the city council unanimously passed the law on the first reading, they did not pass it on its required second reading.