Friday, July 29, 2016

Baird failed to disclose gifts and travel from yoga foundation as he was mis-stating benefits of yoga for EUSD

Coast News:
Encinitas Union School District Superintendent Timothy Baird attended conferences in Massachusetts, San Diego, Carlsbad and other locations all on the dime of two organizations linked to the district’s yoga program.

But Baird did not report the travel payments — considered gifts under state law — on his statement of economic interest forms, commonly known as “Form 700s.”

Baird said he didn’t report them because he didn’t have to — the school district’s conflict of interest code doesn’t require him to, he said.


For the most part, the state allows for local jurisdictions to set their own conflict of interest policies, with the exception of one bright line: State law require that any elected officials and administrators in organizations that manages public investments are subject to broader reporting requirements that are laid out in the Government Code 87200.


In Encinitas Union School District’s case, however, a decision in 2010 makes the case for less disclosure harder to argue.

According to Encinitas school records, the district adopted an investment policy in 2010 that starts with the following language, “The Board of Trustees and the Superintendent support prudent investment of all revenues received by the district. All district monies shall be deposited with the San Diego County Treasury as provided by law and invested as part of the San Diego County Treasury Investment Pool.”
Great reporting here by the Coast News' Aaron Burgin. What poetic justice if Baird's asset-stripping scheme on Pacific View led to his downfall on failure to disclose yoga gifts.

Background on the shady connections between Baird, the yoga foundation, and a compromised SDSU researcher here.

And from the Inbox:
This article does not even address his 2014 trip to Turkey funded by USD's iPad pushing think-tank or his 2015 Mediterranean cruise which was also likely funded by USD. Neither of those trips were reported either.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

7/27/17 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, July 26, 2016

Barth's, Shaffer's husbands take out papers to run for Mayor

The Encinitas mayor’s race took a funny and familial turn Tuesday, with two more husbands of prominent politicians indicating they might enter the race.

Steve Bartram, who is married to Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer, and Don Barth, the husband of former Encinitas councilwoman and mayor Teresa Barth, both pulled nomination papers this week, just days after Paul Gaspar — the husband of Mayor Kristin Gaspar — announced he was running.
Our first thought was that this was a stunt just to make a mockery of Kristin Gaspar's husband running, but it may be more strategic than that. Presidential elections bring out thousands of voters who don't pay attention to city council races. Put three men and one woman on the ballot with an uninformed/disinterested electorate, and the woman will win the plurality every time. Sadly, even in 2016, many people still vote based on sex and race.

Don't be surprised if they both file for mayor but don't spend a lot of time or money campaigning, and don't try to get the Democratic Party endorsement. That way, they don't split the Democrat / Smart Growther vote with Blakespear, but they do cause chaos in the uninformed vote. Well played, Smart Growthers!

State making push to ease requirements for granny flats

LA Times:
Together, the Bloom and Wieckowski bills would force cities to permit the backyard homes — also known as “secondary units” or “granny flats” — eliminate cities’ ability to require additional parking spaces for units near transit, and limit fees charged to connect to local water and sewer systems.
HT: Jim the Realtor

Saturday, July 23, 2016

NCTD cutting Del Mar residents off from beach

A plea for mutual assistance from our neighbors to the south on SANDAG/NCTD bullying cities in the rail corridor:
We are about to have the same problem in Del Mar, with a twist. NCTD is talking about enforcing illegal crossings starting August 1, 2016 (mentioned in our Sea Level Rise Technical Advisory Committee meeting on July 21, where NCTD planners were present).

In Del Mar, the train is single-tracked and runs between 1.5 miles of homes and the beach with no legal crossings in place.

We need a multi-city plan from Del Mar to Encinitas to protect our access to the ocean and our unique, invaluable natural setting.

City council omits "density," "mixed-use," and "upzoning" from high-density mixed-use upzoning ballot proposition

From the Inbox:
Encinitas City Council Schemes to Keep Truth from Voters

On June 15, 2016 the Encinitas City Council voted to up zone various areas in Encinitas for more density and more traffic. The only thing preventing this up zoning from becoming effective immediately is Prop A, the people’s Right to Vote. Passed in 2013, Prop A gives the voters of Encinitas the right to determine increased density and zoning changes. Prop A gives the voters of Encinitas the right to determine if Encinitas survives as a unique five community town or becomes a homogenous non-descript Orange County city.

The majority of the current up zoning is mixed use, a combination of retail commercial and residential condos at existing shopping centers at major intersections in Encinitas. Sprouts center, Town Center (Target) are some of the proposed retail properties approved for condos built on top of the business stores. The new ordinances approved by the Council allows a developer to reduce the amount of parking spaces which will push parking into adjoining neighborhoods. No matter where you live, you will be affected by this proposed up zoning with more density and more traffic.

On June 22, 2016 in agenda item 10B the City Council was presented with the ballot question for the November election. NOWHERE in the ballot question was the truth about the up zoning. However, within the proposed ballot question was this phrase: “encourage sustainable mixed uses in the City’s five communities…” with no other mention of up zoning to mixed use and increased density.

Council member Catherine Blakespear lead the Council discussion on removing the mixed use phrase from the ballot statement. The other Council members, Kranz, Shaffer, Muir, and Mayor Gaspar voted with Blakespear to remove from the ballot question any reference to mixed use.

What can be done with the City Council’s duplicitous action of not including the up zoning fact and removing the mixed use comment of why residents are voting in November? As a former Council member would say – So sue us. Why? Where is the honesty in this City Council?

Voters, the Council can be told firmly that the ballot question needs to fully reflect the up zoning and the mixed use. Send the Council emails objecting to their conspiracy on the ballot question to deprive the voter of vital information. Let the Council know the voters are watching and want that ballot question revised.
The text of the ballot question:
Shall City Council Resolution No. 2016-52 and Ordinance No. 2016-04, which collectively update the City’s General Plan Housing Element, amend related General Plan provisions, and amend Specific Plans, Zoning Code, Zoning Map, Municipal Code, and Local Coastal Program, in an effort to comply with State law, incentivize greater housing affordability, implement rules to protect the character of existing neighborhoods, maintain local control of Encinitas zoning, and resolve existing lawsuits, be adopted?
Ah, so it's not about density. It's about protecting the character of existing neighborhoods. Thanks, Council! Super helpful!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Culture Brewing coming to downtown Encinitas

While Encinitas remains one of the few cities in North County not to have its own craft brewery (or several of them), we're open to tasting rooms for other cities' finest.

First was Lost Abbey's Confessional in Cardiff, now comes Solana Beach's Culture to downtown 101.

San Diego Eater:
A North County tipster spotted a notice indicating that Culture Brewing Co. is planning to expand into downtown Encinitas, and the brewery confirmed that it has signed a lease for a space on South Coast Highway that's just over 1,000-square-feet.

The local craft brewery's original production facility and tasting room is in Solana Beach, and Culture opened a satellite tap room in Ocean Beach in 2014. A rep for the brewery told Eater that it is currently going through the permitting process, with the goal to be open in Encinitas by January 2017. Beer won't be brewed on site, but patrons will be able to stop in for tasters, pints and growler fills of Culture beer.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

City to fight residents after settling with developers

Coast News:
Encinitas will defend itself against a lawsuit launched by residents opposed to a settlement the city approved with the Building Industry Association that paved the way for the recent approval of a density bonus project in Leucadia.

The City Council emerged from a closed-session meeting July 13 and announced it would defend itself against the suit, which was filed in June by the Encinitas Resident Alliance.

City officials declined comment, citing closed-session confidentiality.

The lawsuit challenges the 2015 settlement between the city and BIA, which the citizens group says unconstitutionally tied the city’s hands as it pertains to six density bonus projects, including Hymettus estates, a nine-unit project the council approved amid criticism from neighbors.

Paul Gaspar announces for Mayor

Seaside Courier:
Paul Gaspar, a Doctor of Physical Therapy, businessman and community leader, has announced he is running for mayor of Encinitas.

Gaspar, the husband of current mayor Kristin Gaspar, who is running for county supervisor, cited his concern for the “leadership space left behind by his wife” in a press release.
Here's the election lineup so far:

RepublicansSmart Growther DemocratsProp A Folks
MayorPaul GasparCatherine Blakespear
City CouncilMark MuirTasha Boerner-Horvath
Phil GrahamTony Kranz
Possible entrantsJoe Mosca

Are we missing anyone?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

7/20/16 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.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Questions on Blakespear's Working Group Switcheroo

Cardiff's Julie Thunder in a letter in the Seaside Courier:
Dear members of the Encinitas City Council, City Manager, and City Attorney,

I have painstakingly reviewed the video minutes from your July 13th special meeting, and I have some questions for you.

(For the following, I will reference the video with time stamp markers. You can watch the video at

A few months ago, Councilmember Blakespear suggested a 15-member "citizens working group" for planning within our City's rail corridor. The City hired a consultant to select 15 people from the 40-plus applications that were received. The consultant did its part, and all applicants were notified of the final list several days prior to this Special Meeting by our Acting Director of Planning, Manjeet Ranu. Those of us at NoRailTrail were satisfied with this list as it seemed to be an even and fair distribution of citizens from our City.

Watching the video of the special meeting, it begins with City Staff presenting the Council's criteria for applicant selection and the already published list of the 15 selected Working Group members.

But, during the public comments, we quickly learned that Blakespear has worked with at least one other stakeholder group to create her own list of criteria and her own Working Group list.

Public speaker Kathleen Lees of Leucadia Town Council spills the beans at 06:55, "Leucadia Town Council reviewed all the applications for the working group and we wholeheartedly support the list Catherine has put together."

Wally the Rotting Whale visits Leucadia

A dead humpback whale that keeps washing up on the Southern California coast after being towed out to sea is proving to be a headache for beach officials.

A construction crew in Encinitas tried cutting up the rotting carcass Sunday but work was halted when part of a forklift snapped off. They’ll try again Monday and plan to haul it to a landfill.
Here's how one Oregon town dealt with this problem:

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Measuring is hard

Bracero 3 is an enclave of three lovely homes on oversized lots, less than a mile from the beaches of Encinitas.
Less than a mile? Really?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Mizels lobby community groups for support in buying library naming rights

Encinitas Votes:
Dear (Arts Organization):

We are proud of the fact that the Mizel Family Foundation has worked tirelessly through our community activism and philanthropy to make Encinitas a better place.

And now I’m asking for your assistance.

Opening Day at the Races Kook

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Blakespear un-flip-flops (re-flip-flops?) on east side rail trail

Cardiff's No (East Side) Rail Trail:
Blakespear is flopping again!!!!! This is from her partner's newsletter (Shaffer)
Council member Blakespear expressed unhappiness with her relationship with SANDAG and what she perceived as unfair terms of the proposed MOU. She proposed that we ask the newly formed Coastal Mobility and Livability Working Group (see above) to consider whether we should stay with the currently proposed Highway 101 alignment or reconsider the east side with additional "concessions" from SANDAG to accommodate the local community. This elicited a response from the Mayor that she would never support the east side. She felt that SANDAG had demonstrated their willingness and ability to listen to community input and it was the City Council that wasn't listening when we originally supported the east side plan.


Write or call Blakespear and let her know how you are greatly against this. 760-633-2620
Please email SANDAG right now. Here is the email address They have a meeting tomorrow at 9 am to discuss the Coastal Rail Trail. The citizens need to let them know we are in favor of the west side alignment.

Here is my letter,


I am writing to let you know that my group, and is in complete agreement with putting the Coastal Rail Trail on the west side of the Rail Road Tracks along coast HWY in Encinitas. Our group is called No Rail Trail because we did not support the city council member's decision to put the CRT on the east side of the Rail Road Tracks.

Please don't let the failure of our city council members representing our wishes effect your decision. We do not blame SANDAG for this. Our group has well over 2,000 members and you have received an email from each one of these members when they joined the group. As a matter of fact our city has never had more of a response on any issue that this one.

Please do the right thing and approve the Coastal Rail Trail west side alignment.

Chris Swanner
Cardiff by the Sea,

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Pokémon brings Darwin Awards to Encinitas

Coast News:
Two men were taken to Scripps La Jolla Trauma Center after Encinitas lifeguards and firefighters rescued one man off of a bluff around E Street and another man who had fallen 75 to 100 feet down to the beach below.

Both have sustained moderate injuries, according to a press release.

Emergency crews and lifeguards discovered the first man on the beach shortly after 1 p.m. and were tending to him when they spotted the second man on the side of the bluff, according to Joint Fire Management Services Battalion Chief Robbie Ford.

According to a press release, Sheriff’s deputies said the two males were playing Pokémon GO on their cell phones, when they went over the side to retrieve “prizes.”

7/13/16 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.

There's a special meeting at 5PM to approve the consultants' recommendation to fill the Rail Corridor Working Group with building industry professionals, representatives of city-funded merchant associations (see Encinitas Guerrilla), and former Mayor Jerome Stocks.  But it may not matter much because the city is approving a Memorandum of Understanding that says SANDAG doesn't have to incorporate the recommendations of the Rail Corridor Vision Plan anyway.

Please use the comments to record your observations.

UPDATE: From Lisa Shaffer's newsletter, the final approved slate with Muir abstaining and Gaspar voting No:

Carris Rhodes, Leucadia 101
Brett Farrow, Cardiff 101
Tom Cozens, Encinitas 101
Jim Benedetti, Chamber of Commerce
Chris Swanner, No Rail Trail
Jody Hubbard, Yes Rail Trail
Rahul Deshpande, Cardiff Town Council
William Morrison, Leucadia Town Council
Judy Berlfein, Bike-Walk Encinitas
Mikayla McFadden, Paul Ecke School
Robert Hemphill, Leucadia
Ron Dodge, New Encinitas

CalPERS fail

Sacramento Bee:
CalPERS’ investment portfolio barely eked out a profit during the 2014-15 fiscal year and it performed even more poorly during the 2015-16 cycle that ended June 30, declining by $8 billion (2.6 percent) to $293.7 billion.

Thus, CalPERS is falling extremely short of its earnings benchmark, known as the discount rate, of 7.5 percent per year, and its average earnings over the last two decades are now under that level.

It also means the fund is scarcely 70 percent of fully covering liabilities, even at 7.5 percent, and therefore under the 80 percent deemed to be minimally sufficient,

The timing for flat earnings couldn’t be worse. CalPERS is seeing pension outlays rise as baby boomer workers retire in large numbers and claim benefits that politicians irresponsibly increased during a brief period of high earnings. Moreover, the projected lifespan of retirees continues to increase, which means even more outlays.


CalPERS has been demanding hundreds of millions of dollars in additional contributions from state and local governments – hitting cities particularly hard – to offset rising outlays while hoping that the mild pension reforms instituted by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature will have a moderating effect in the long run.
Despite Encinitas' skyrocketing pension costs, the City Council has in recent years voted repeatedly to expand the bureaucracy, making the problem even worse. The city now spends more money on pensions for workers' early retirement than it does on its underfunded road maintenance.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Marco's sister names her boyfriend "Veteran of the Year"

Stay classy, Gonzalezes!:
Saluting your significant other’s accomplishments is nothing new, but when Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez opted to give her boyfriend a Veteran of the Year Award it raised eyebrows.

The annual honor, in which state Assembly members recognize veterans from their districts, was recently given to Nathan Fletcher, who has been dating Gonzalez for about a year.
Fletcher left his wife and two adopted children about a year and a half ago.

Consultants recommend Jerome Stocks, city insiders for rail corridor working group

Because of the selection criteria, commercial and development interests are heavily represented, while independent community activists including Gerald Sodomka, Dr. Lorri Greene, Doug Fiske, and Julie Thunder were not selected.

Full list of selected and rejected applicants here.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Stabbing at Home Depot

10 News:
A witness told 10News several people were yelling at a male driver who was driving erratically and fast through the store's parking lot.

The witness said the man stopped and got out of his car at the store's outdoor floral section. According to the witness, the man stabbed a person watering plants and then ran inside the store. The injured person's condition is unknown.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

"Don't worry," they told me...

"Just because we increase the zoning doesn't mean they'll actually build it..."

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Gus Vina pushing utility tax in Brentwood, lagging in polls

Having tried and failed to impose a sales tax on Encinitas, former City Manager Gus Vina is heading a task force trying to impose a utility bill tax on East Bay residents and businesses.

And it's going over about as well as his sales tax.

East Bay Times:
The Fire and Medical Services Task Force, which comprises 10 government and fire district officials, earlier this month floated the idea of asking voters in November to approve a tax on electricity, gas, cable TV and telephone service.

But the results released Wednesday suggest that it's unlikely the proposal would garner the simple majority vote required to pass: The highest rating the tax received anywhere in the district's service area was 47 percent.

"The public appears to be happy with being underserved," said Fire Chief Hugh Henderson [who gets $319,211 in pay and benefits], noting that 69 percent of the respondents indicated they are pleased with its performance.