Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Gee, thanks.

This item has made a few local news stories, so obviously someone on the city council thinks it's a meaningful concession they got in surrendering to developers.
As part of its settlement, the city will require appliants to provide information that will show that any incentive or concession will reduce the cost of a housing development.
What is the point of that? Obviously, if the city waives parking requirements, setbacks, height limits, etc., it's going to reduce the cost to the developer. This is supposed to be considered a win that the developer has to state in writing that the giveaways helped lower his costs?

Council surrenders to David Meyer on density bonus rounding up; pays his $125,000 legal costs

Seaside Courier:
Encinitas June 27 reached a settlement with DCM Properties in a lawsuit regarding the density bonus program and adoption of the city's housing element.

Under terms of the settlement, the city will continue to send the housing element to the November ballot, begin rounding up part of the density bonus calculation, and pay DCM Properties $125,000 in legal fees. The settlement also continues the requirement that developers demonstrate how a concession the city should make in its development standards will reduce the cost of the housing.

David Meyer, head of DCM Properties, said the settlement makes the city's ordinance align with state law and helps the city meet a state mandate to adopt a housing element.
It's unclear whether the council settlement was unanimous or was the same 3-2 majority of Kranz, Shaffer, and Blakespear who surrendered to the Building Industry Association in an earlier lawsuit, with Muir and Gaspar opposed. Kranz and Blakespear were the only council members quoted in the Seaside Courier article.

The timing of the settlement is suspicious, as Meyer had refused to settle earlier in the week, but settled the same day Encinitas residents sued the city over the earlier BIA settlement. One of the issues in that lawsuit was the special treatment that six density bonus projects got in rounding up the number of units allowed. This settlement appears to try to undermine that argument by making it citywide policy to always round up and created even denser density bonus projects.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Encinitas residents sue city over BIA settlement, Hymettus density bonus approval

The residents strike back.

Press release:
Today, the Encinitas Residents Alliance, supported by the North County Advocates, filed a lawsuit against the City of Encinitas and CityMark Development. The lawsuit challenges an unconstitutional settlement agreement the City made in August 2015 when it granted its authority over development decisions to the Building Industry Association of San Diego (BIA). Encinitas Residents Alliance (or ERA) aims to invalidate the pact between the City and the BIA and overturn the Council’s approval of the CityMark Hymettus Estates density bonus project in Leucadia – one of six pipeline projects treated specially as a result of the unlawful BIA deal.

“This illegal agreement binds the City in their decision making and gives unique, preferential treatment to six density bonus projects including Hymettus Estates. It changes how they calculate the number of units permitted and the net result is almost double the number of housing units allowed by our local zoning,” said Bruce Ehlers, former City of Encinitas Planning Commissioner and Boardmember of North County Advocates.
Encinitas Residents Alliance can be found here, with information on local zoning issues as well as a way to sign up for e-mail updates.  This is going to be an important group in the discussion over high-density development this fall.

Death in Encinitas Ranch

10 News:
The early morning death of a woman in a house along the Encinitas Ranch golf course was being investigated by the San Diego County Sheriff's Homicide Detail.

Paramedics responded to a house at [xxxx] Spanish Bay Court in the upscale neighborhood shortly after 2 a.m. Monday after a 911 call seeking medical aid for a woman in her late 40s, according to Lt. Kenneth Nelson.

The woman was pronounced dead at the scene despite attempts by paramedics to revive her. Patrol deputies called in the homicide detail after they became suspicious about the circumstances surrounding her death, Nelson said.
The woman, who is tentatively identified and is from the North County, was a guest at the home and had a relationship with someone who lived there, Nelson said.
Fox 5:
A sheriff’s lieutenant told FOX 5 that the woman, who was 47 years old, was visiting friends at the large, two-story home. Her body showed no obvious injuries, but the death was considered suspicious, the lieutenant said.
This comes less than a year after the October 2015 Encinitas Ranch stabbing. We never found out what that was about, did we?

UPDATE: Victim identified as Yvonne Paquette, a jeweler and former San Dieguito and Sunset High School student.

UPDATE 2: Sources say a drug overdose due to drug use unbeknownst to residents.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Coast News explores Baird ties to yoga foundation, USD researcher

Coast News:
But an investigation by The Coast News into the financial records of the Sonima Foundation reveal, among other things, a complex web of payments from the Sonima Foundation to the director of the USD center that conducted the survey, raising conflict of interest concerns among parents and experts.

The Coast News also found that the very report the district has used to advance the yoga program calls into question its effectiveness, but that Baird, USD and the Sonima Foundation — which is primarily funded by several billionaire hedge fund investors — have highlighted only the positive aspects of the report.

In addition, Baird’s own daughter appears to have been employed by the Sonima Foundation at the height of the partnership, raising further concerns about the relationship between Baird and the foundation.
... and much, much more. Read the whole thing.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Gaspar interview with Mike Slater on EUSD yoga, farm lab, rubber-stamp school board

"Overall, I think the priorities are getting a bit skewed."

Here's the podcast. Gaspar starts about 3:45, and goes about 8 1/2 minutes.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

City consultant's survey discovers the obvious: residents want natural open space and trails, not more city-run recreation programs

The survey found that Encinitas residents ranked preserving natural areas and keeping existing park facilities in prime condition as their top goals.

When given a list of park-related spending options and asked how to divvy $100, preserving and protecting natural habitat areas got the largest share of the money, $25, and increasing trails came in second with $19, said Art Thatcher of GreenPlay LLC, the lead consulting company handling the parks planning project.

Adding an aquatic facility came in third, he said.

Lisa Shaffer in Democratic infighting over SANDAG tax increase

Voice of San Diego:
More than 20 liberal organizations, calling themselves the Quality of Life Coalition, have pledged to defeat More than 20 liberal organizations, calling themselves the Quality of Life Coalition, have pledged to defeat the proposal from the San Diego Association of Governments. They argue the package of transit, highway, stormwater and preservation projects doesn’t do enough to shift the region to an environmentally sustainable transportation network, or promise enough to the laborers who will construct the $18 billion worth of projects over 40 years.


Heebner and Shaffer responded that it was insulting to suggest they were being duped.

“We are both thoughtful, intelligent women who have studied the issues,” they wrote in response.
Does relying on misinformation from staff sound familiar?
In one section, Heebner and Shaffer argue that the federal government prevents SANDAG from striking project labor agreements – deals that guarantee worker pay and benefits and that require hiring to be done through union halls. It is a specific priority for the coalition.

Ricardo Ochoa, a union attorney and coalition member, responded harshly.

“The assertion that ‘the Federal Government does not allow PLAs’ is 100% false, and I am sorry that SANDAG staff is apparently spreading such misinformation,” Ochoa wrote.

He’s right. The Obama administration encourages PLAs on federal projects, and has since February 2009.

Heebner copped to the error, apologized, and said she stood by the rest of the letter.
No indication whether Shaffer also admitted to the mistake and apologized. But that would be very uncharacteristic for her.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

6/22/16 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, June 21, 2016

EUSD Board meeting tonight on Baird yoga fiasco

There could be fireworks.

Parents for Responsible Spending:
EUSD released a Q&A in which it claims the Superintendent's only duty on the Sonima Advisory Board was "to make an annual report" about the EUSD H&W program. Well look here- Baird enjoying a private benefit luncheon at the Tudor Jones mansion in Greenwich, CT! He has a big ole smile with his arm around Sonima founder Sonia Jones and her fancy friends. Hmmm... Try again Baird. Your hand has been caught in the cookie jar!

Meeting is at 6 pm (after a closed 5:30 pm circle the wagons session) at EUSD headquarters at 101 South Rancho Santa Fe Road.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Lying by omission

Seaside Courier on Encinitas residents supporting the city council's high-density development plan:
Other residents supported the update to foster diversity in Encinitas.

“There are some mega trends that are going to change our community character no matter what we do about the housing element,” said resident Greg Shannon. “Those are basically income inequality, climate change, public health, racism, and housing affordability.”
Could that be this Greg Shannon?
Cedros Crossing, the mixed-used train station project approved in concept in 1991, is brain-dead. The plug will be pulled at a City Council meeting tomorrow evening.


Greg Shannon, Shea's representative, will say that he has gone as low as he can go on the number of apartments. It's all about the money.

The council will say it has acted in good faith but it cannot accept 120-plus apartments. It's all about the mass.
A little context makes a big difference, eh?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cardiff gets last minute reprieve from 3-story condos; Leucadia, Old & New Encinitas not so lucky

Cardiff Town Council:
Thank you to all who came to the meeting last night and sent e-mails. A special thank you to all who spoke. The meeting went from 6 PM to midnight, and public speakers took up a good portion of that (2.5 hours, perhaps).

Bottom Line: Council (all members) were sympathetic to the concern about 3 story mixed use in Cardiff's commercial district, and limited the site (known as C-3, with 5 parcels) to two stories, and 30 feet. This is the current height limit, and also the Prop A limit. The map approved is the Sustainable Mixed Use Places map, which had the best EIR, particularly with respect to traffic.

Even though we asked the site be removed, and it was not, I think this is a good outcome. 3 stories in the heart of Cardiff would have been character redefining. The limitation to two story will mean fewer residences (than with 3 stories) and no adverse changes to views, bulk, and mass beyond what is allowed now.


No other site was changed.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

6/15/16 City Council meeting open thread *** HOUSING PROPOSITION ***

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.

Of special interest tonight is the Housing Element Update which will put a proposition on November's ballot to allow high-density three-story condos in many areas of Encinitas now zoned for two stories and/or non-residential.

Please use the comments to record your observations.

Cardiff Town Council protests high-density switcheroo on tonight's agenda

Cardiff Town Council:

Dear Mayor Gaspar and Councilmembers Blakespear, Krantz, Muir, and Shaffer,

I am writing to you regarding the inclusion of "Site C-3" (several parcels in Cardiff's Commercial District) in the Sustainable Mixed Use Plan (SMUP), also called Environmentally Superior Alternative. This plan removes 7 sites from and adds a SINGLE site to council's Modified Mixed Uses Places (MMUP) plan. Removing net 400-500 (going from approximately 2400 to 1987) units obviously seems like a superior alternative.

I suggest an Even More Environmentally Superior Alternative - Remove the SINGLED out Cardiff Commercial District from the plan. Why should this site receive special treatment?

1. This is the ONLY site added by staff in creating the SMUP (see below e-mail).

2. The inclusion of this site is NOT DEMOCRATIC. All the other sites on the SMUP came from the MMUP, which is more democratic in nature, because it was based on multiple engagement exercises with the community. This site could have been put on the map by a single person on city staff. Not democratic.

3. The people of Cardiff (and greater Encinitas) never got a chance to weigh in on this site, since this site has not been on suggested on many of the other maps. This seems like an END-RUN, more so since one of parcel comments states, "Developer Interest."

4. This is a massive change to the DEMOCRATICALLY DERIVED CARDIFF SPECIFIC PLAN. Hence, likely not the preferred place for density in Cardiff.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The CalPERS Fraud

Kersten Institute:
After SB 400 was passed in 1999, Calpers went around to local governments in California with a sales pitch that ended up being a complete scam.

Bill Kampe, Mayor of the City of Pacific Grove (Monterey County), says his city is one of the many public agencies that was scammed by Calpers and continues to pay a huge price. Pension costs now make up 25% of the city’s General Fund spending, and continue to grow, while the city is having a tough time paying for basic city services and infrastructure needs, such as road maintenance, Kampe says.

Kampe said the problems started in 2001 when city officials made a big mistake and accepted a “raw deal” from the Calpers. At the time, Calpers officials urged the city to adopt a series of major benefit expansions for public employees, particularly public safety employees, that they said would help with recruiting and improving public safety services in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Furthermore, Calpers said the benefit enhancements would not cost much money and benefit the city in the long-run.

But by 2004 Pacific Grove city officials soon realized they had been “duped” by the union-run Calpers, when a few years later Calpers jacked up its rates and the City of Pacific Grove realized that it was having a harder time recruiting and paying for public safety officials because the changes allowed for retirement at age 50 with very generous pension benefits. As a consequence, the city had to layoff 1/3 of its staff, eliminate road maintenance for five years, and enact deep cuts to public services–all issues that the city continues to struggle with more than a decade later.
The Encinitas City Council fell for the CalPERS fraud in 2005, after Pacific Grove and other cities had already realized they'd been duped and after CalPERS was already deeply underfunded. Not the brightest leaders here in Mayberry.

Encinitas now spends more money on government worker pensions than it does on road maintenance, and pension costs will continue rising significantly each year.

UPDATE from the Inbox: Pension costs are more than doubling for the school districts too.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Baird feels heat at EUSD board meeting; parents demand termination & threaten board recall

Coast News:
“The superintendent colluded with the Sonima Foundation and Scott Himelstein at the University of San Diego to falsify research about the yoga program to induce the district to implement and continue this yoga program,” said Anna Hysell, an immigration attorney who has children in the district.

“Because you colluded to defraud the district with false research, and your role in the Sonima Foundation as a board member, you are in violation of California fraud and conflict-of-interest laws, as well as the federal False Claims Act and you are subject to prosecution,” she said to Baird.

Hysell said she is handing over all the evidence she has gathered to the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Education, the California Audits and Investigation Unit and the San Diego Civil Grand Jury.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Cardiff Specific Plan archives available online

From the Inbox:
As the Housing Element is coming up I put the www.savecardiff.com website that I had prepared from 2007-2010 back online as a historical resource of the council’s long time plan to ignore the will of residents and promote high density up-zoning in the Cardiff Commercial District. The citizens hard won victory to realize representation and self-determination by passing the “Cardiff Citizens Plan” in 2010 is now threatened.

Andrew Audet
The city's Housing Update, shown in the map below (but subject to change), will be on the ballot this November, and would overturn the Cardiff Specific Plan.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Is you is or is you ain't Trump's baby?

June 7: Video of Kristin Gaspar apparently on election night:
I cast a vote for Trump today.  I think that it's important that we have someone that moves forward with Republican principles, and that's why I cast the vote the way that I did.

June 9: Logan Jenkins:
Gaspar is well-schooled in the notion that Republicans, in order to succeed in an increasingly progressive region, cannot be ideological bullies.

“Trump is the polar opposite of me,” she said.

UPDATED to include better quality video found on Facebook.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

6/8/16 City Council meeting open thread ** SPECIAL 5 PM START TIME **

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.

Please note the special 5PM start time to review community grant allocations.

Gaspar makes Supervisor runoff, favored to win in November

Kristin Gaspar easily beat Sam Abed to take second place and make the runoff against Supervisor Dave Roberts.

What's really got to have Gaspar backers excited is that Roberts pulled only 39% of the vote, while the two Republicans pulled a combined 61%.  With most Abed supporters likely to vote Gaspar in November, Gaspar is now the clear favorite to win the seat.

Full election results here.  Not a lot of surprises, or even other interesting races.

UPDATE: Carl DeMaio's analysis here.  One highlight is that Darrell Issa just barely came in ahead of a no-name Democrat.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Group releases large report documenting Baird yoga & iPad conflicts

A 49-slide PowerPoint presentation documenting connections between EUSD Superintendent Tim Baird, the Sonima Foundation, and University of San Diego administrator Scott Himelstein who allegedly had a lucrative side business consulting for Sonima.

I don't know who the authors are, and I can't vouch for the information inside, but someone clearly did a lot of research and it raises a lot of serious questions.

Have a read yourself and see what you think.

Monday, June 6, 2016

U-T endorses Gaspar for Supervisor

Union-Trib: Roberts ethics problems, Abed temperament, Gaspar best choice.

This has been the most interesting race in the county, with Roberts' problems, Abed getting the Republican Party backing, and Gaspar getting the backing of the business PACs.

Tough to call but our gut says Gaspar beats Abed to get into the runoff with Roberts. In November, it will be a question of whether Roberts' ethical problems outweigh the awesome power of Supervisorial incumbency.

Happy Birthday Jason Richards Kook

This is one of the more interesting recent birthday Kooks.  The Kook holds a bloody sword and the severed head of a USC personage.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Logan Jenkins on EUSD's $800,000 yoga program

Logan Jenkins in the U-T:
A raspberry — the Leaving in the Lurch award — to the Sonima (formerly Jois) Foundation, the classroom yoga benefactor that sucked the Encinitas Union School District in by underwriting yoga for several years and then yanking the funding for the 2016-17 academic year.

The district must now decide if it values its custom-designed yoga program, the one it fought for in court, highly enough to pay $800,000 for it.


Short of Sonima reversing course, Baird and the board are facing a hard political test. If they bow their necks and insist upon funding yoga at the current level, blowback will be harsh.

Yoga offers measurable benefits as physical (and mental) exercise, but elevating it above science and art?

That’s a stretch.

Friday, June 3, 2016

City smacks down Vishions drug paraphernalia shop

Cease and desist, sir!

Side note: anybody remember the old head shop ("Puff n' Stuff?") in the Wendy's complex by Cottonwood Creek?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Cardiff Town Council rallies against high-density development plan

IMPORTANT: Three Story Mixed Use in the Heart of Cardiff

The Encinitas Planning Commission approved City Staff's version of the plan for the Housing Element Update - not the plan generated by themselves, or council or the plan generated from public input. The City Staff is recommending their plan to the City Council, and the Planning Commission is recommending this same plan to the City Council as well. This plan puts large scale mixed use (3 stories) in the heart of Cardiff. Please see the article below.


Three stories in the middle of the Cardiff commercial district will not be acceptable to all those who labored during the past years on the Cardiff Specific Plan.

The Housing Element Update has taken years to complete and thru these many years, it seems that the community input gathered from workshop after workshop was dropped somewhere along the line. It is unfortunate that City Staff nor Planning Commission members do not recall/respect, the long Cardiff Specific Plan process (lots of money and many years) in which the citizens committee unanimously rejected large scale mixed use and three stories in Cardiff. Both the Planning Commission and City Council rejected mixed use in the Cardiff Specific plan area altogether.

It also seems they don't really care about affordable housing. Three story mixed use development in the heart of Cardiff will lead to very nice luxury condominiums with ocean views, not affordable housing. The city council needs to know how you feel about this. Finally, the particular sites have never been vetted by the people of Cardiff. You may prefer 2 story mixed use on smaller lots, or 2 story mixed use on Santa Fe, as other versions of the plans had, versus intense development in the already crowded commercial district. Traffic is often backed up from San Elijo to I-5 on Birmingham, and this will only make it worse.

The next step is City Council. They have the to power to edit this plan, pick another plan, or create another plan. Please let your views be heard. You can e-mail council at council@encinitasca.gov - a copy will go to each council member. This topic will be discussed at the City Council meeting on 15-Jun-2016 at 6:00 PM. Please attend and speak if you can, but by all means, e-mail the city council.
The City Council's high-density development plans actually affect Leucadia, New Encinitas, and Old Encinitas even more than Cardiff. But as we saw with the Rail Trail fiasco, Cardiff folks are well-organized and effective. It remains to be seen whether the Council will change the map to reduce the impact on Cardiff, which could have a big effect on the November vote.