Tuesday, November 29, 2016

CalPERS may come clean, devastate cities

Pensions & Investments:
The stakes are high as the CalPERS board debates whether to significantly decrease the nation's largest public pension fund's assumed rate of return, a move that could hamstring the budgets of contributing municipalities as well as prompt other public funds across the country to follow suit.

But if the retirement system doesn't act, pushing to achieve an unrealistically high return could threaten the viability of the $299.5 billion fund itself, its top investment officer and consultants say.


Two years of subpar results — a 0.6% return for the fiscal year ended June 30 and a 2.4% return in fiscal 2015 — reduced views of what CalPERS can earn over the next decade. Mr. Junkin said at the November meeting that Wilshire was predicting an annual return of 6.21% for the next decade, down from its estimates of 7.1% a year earlier.

Indeed, Mr. Junkin and Mr. Eliopoulos said the system's very survival could be at stake if board members don't lower the rate of return. “Being conservative leads to higher contributions, but you still have a sustainable benefit to CalPERS members,” Mr. Junkin said. The opinions were seconded by the system's other major consultant, Pension Consulting Alliance, which also lowered its return forecast.

But a CalPERS return reduction would just move the burden to other government units. Groups representing municipal governments in California warn that some cities could be forced to make layoffs and major cuts in city services as well as face the risk of bankruptcy if they have to absorb the decline through higher contributions to CalPERS.

“This is big for us,” Dane Hutchings, a lobbyist with the League of California Cities, said in an interview. “We've got cities out there with half their general fund obligated to pension liabilities. How do you run a city with half a budget?”

CalPERS documents show that some governmental units could see their contributions more than double if the rate of return was lowered to 6%. Mr. Hutchings said bankruptcies might occur if cities had a major hike without it being phased in over a period of years. CalPERS' annual report in September on funding levels and risks also warned of potential bankruptcies by governmental units if the rate of return was decreased.
CalPERS has now missed its investment return targets -- badly -- for the past 1, 3, 5, 10, 15, and 20 years. Cities and state agencies are legally 100% liable for the difference.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Methane found on EUSD Farm Lab site

From the Inbox:
On Nov. 14 the Encinitas City Planning Department approved an Encinitas Union School District development for a Farm Lab on Quail Gardens Drive. (PBD number 2016-52 in the notice of decision city archives) There is methane on this property. The Planning Department, the School District, the Director of the farm lab seem oblivious to the fact that elementary schoolchildren will be in the same area as the methane. Anna Yentile, the City’s planner for this project, wrote:

The planner also wrote as part of the approval:

“No potentially significant adverse impacts to the environment will result from the project and the project is exempt from environmental review pursuant to Section 15304(b) and 15311 of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines.”

City Senior Planner Kerry Kusiak approved the project.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Developer attorney Marco Gonzalez publicly calls Measure T opponents liars

(We suppose that's an improvement -- two years ago he was calling them racists!)

On NBC 7:
"Really the disappointment came from the campaign against it.  The folks who were behind it were found to be using some misleading factual information.  And, you know it's not terribly hard to get people to vote against growth in a city like Encinitas, but I felt like they took the rhetoric to a new level.  They used a lot of just misinformation and lies and half-truths to scare people into believing that the plan was something that it really wasn't."
Gonzalez gave no specifics about what the alleged "misinformation and lies and half-truths" were, or who "found" opponents "to be using some misleading factual information."

NBC 7 interviewed Gonzalez and Measure T supporter Catherine Blakespear at length, apparently making no effort to get the No on T side of the story. Measure T opponents have offered to work with the city to come up with a plan that complies with state law and, unlike Measure T, actually contains affordable housing.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Popout neighbor from hell

In early 2015, the City Council majority voted to approve some extraordinary setback exemptions for what appeared to be a ridiculously narrow, unbuildable sliver of a lot.

An EU commenter wrote:
These are encroachments into side yard setbacks. The municipal code has restrictions on encroachments. Using the words "pop outs" suggest a legal use which it isn't.  Kranz, Blakespear, and Shaffer legalized an open season of illegal encroachments for every property owner in Encinitas. The builder wanted to live with his family and attorney wife on this nonconforming lot with illegal encroachments. The builder threatened a lawsuit and had contacted the attorneys that represented the BIA against the city if he didn't get his building permit. The builder also wanted the council to give him special treatment. Read his letter. This isn't a case of decks encroaching into side yard setbacks. The developer pushed out the house sidewalls to put in kitchen cabinets, a wet bar, 12 feet long "window seating" extending out from the house and other encroachments.

And here it is under construction:

The neighbors aren't pleased.

Building to the max

From the Inbox:
Who at City Hall decided this fits our community character? And don't we know this is going to be used as an excuse for more to come?

Friday, November 18, 2016

Gaspar surges in absentee vote for Supervisor

Tuesday night's absentee ballot count brought Kristin Gaspar's campaign back from the brink of extinction.

Last night's vote count makes her the favorite to win. With just 82,000 of 396,000 remaining votes counted since Tuesday, Gaspar has cut Roberts' lead from 1735 votes to just 560 votes.

If the remaining absentee and provisional ballots are anything like those counted so far, Gaspar wins. Roberts' only hope is if the remaining ballots to be counted are markedly different somehow. This could happen if the registrar is counting some geographies ahead of others, or counted absentees ahead of provisionals.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Developer attorney Marco Gonzalez REALLY wants 48-foot-high mixed-use buildings in Encinitas

... rather than the city working with residents to develop an affordable housing plan that fits Encinitas' community character.

From Lisa Shaffer's newsletter:
Attorney Marco Gonzales [sic] proposed an alternative path, which is for the City to adopt Measure T despite the public vote, and offered to work pro bono to defend the City against an anticipated lawsuit from the opponents of Measure T.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

11/16/16 City Council meeting open thread

Please use the comments to record your observations.

Supervisor race now too close to call?

While it looked like Kristin Gaspar lost the Supervisor race last week, the absentee ballots are turning out to tilt conservative. Gaspar trailed by 2% in early results, but now trails by just 1%, with 396,000 ballots (county-wide) yet to be counted.

The conservative tilt in the absentees is consistent with the Congressional race, with Rep. Darrell Issa narrowing the gap in San Diego County and expanding his comfortable lead in Orange County.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Monday, November 14, 2016

Deputy shoots robbery suspect on South El Camino Real

10 News:
San Diego Sheriff's Department is investigating a deputy-involved shooting of a robbery suspect Monday morning.

A sheriff's representative said law enforcement officers were attempting to pull over the motorcyclist in connection to a restaurant robbery when he sped off. Deputies chased him and he crashed in front of the Pacific Pines housing community on El Camino Real, south of Santa Fe Drive, around 5:45 a.m.

The suspect then took off running, according to authorities, and that is when he was shot. He was subsequently transported to the Scripps La Jolla hospital with multiple gunshot wounds.
UPDATE: Suspect is 53-year-old Robert Parkin of Encinitas, which would appear to be this long-time Seaside Market employee and San Dieguito grad. Thanks to "123" for the tip.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

11/9/16 City Council meeting open thread

Please use the comments to record your observations.

Trumpocalypse Now! Gaspars' budding political careers die in Trumpster fire

Back in June, it looked like Kristin Gaspar was a shoo-in for Supervisor.  We noted:
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.
Similarly, Logan Jenkins in the U-T:
[...] the highly disciplined Gaspar is the odds-on favorite to beat incumbent Dave Roberts in the general election.

Again, that’s not preference talking. It’s the implacable math.

Get out your own calculator.

Roberts won a pathetic 39 percent of Tuesday’s vote. 39 percent.

Not since incumbent Supervisor Paul Eckert, a deeply wounded candidate, finished third in the 1986 primary has a sitting supervisor performed so poorly in a primary.

For her part, Gaspar earned 34 percent while skirmishing with another well-funded Republican mayor, Escondido’s GOP-backed Sam Abed.

“I think it will be tough for Dave to capture Sam’s voters,” Gaspar told me, doing her best not to smirk at the self-evidence of the statement.

If you give Abed’s rock-ribbed conservative votes to the center-right Gaspar, which you logically must, she trounced Democrat Roberts by more than 20 points.
Indeed.  Gaspar was on the cusp of seizing one of the most prized and powerful public offices in the county.  And then this happened:

Despite Donald Trump's stunning national upset tonight based on strength in blue-collar rust belt states, the vulgar Trump was then and remains now politically toxic in moderate, well-educated North San Diego County. Gaspar's huge unforced error revived Robert's near-dead campaign.

Compounding the error of Gaspar's spontaneous Trump endorsement were a couple of more deliberate bad ideas. First, Paul Gaspar's decision to pretend to be a medical doctor in campaign ads, presumably on bad advice from a consultant (Paul Gaspar's campaign filings show payments to the same consultant that council candidate Phil Graham used, to ruinous effect). Second, Kristin Gaspar's decision to trump up a charge of Brown Act violations against council members Blakespear and Shaffer, a charge that neither the public, nor the city attorney, nor even Gaspar's colleague Mark Muir bought. Tonight, Paul Gaspar has lost the mayor's race in a landslide, and Kristin Gaspar is down by two points with 72% of the vote in. How quickly fortunes change.

UPDATE: Or not!  Gaspar surges in late counting of absentee and provisional ballots.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Monday, November 7, 2016

Election predictions

Time to step up and make your predictions.

1. Mayor: Blakespear or Gaspar?
2. City Council: which three of the five get seats?
3. Supervisor: Gaspar or Roberts?
4. Congressman: Issa or Applegate?
5. Measure T: Yes or No?

Tie breaker: what percent of the voters vote Yes on T?

Make your predictions in the comments.  Attach a moniker if you want everlasting glory.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Cardiff Kook weighs in on Measure T

The Kook, while wishing a happy birthday to Carla, is firmly in the No on T camp.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Measure T: Know before you vote!

We've heard the city council's arguments that Measure T is the best plan they could come up with and we'll get sued more if we vote no.

It behooves us to be informed voters and hear both sides of the argument before voting.

From the No on T folks:
Watch these 4 short videos that explain the main issues with Measure T:

Measure T overview – http://vimeo.com/189479622

Building height under Measure T – http://vimeo.com/189478755

Location of Measure T upzoning – http://vimeo.com/189479275

Lawsuit threats and Measure T – http://vimeo.com/189480676
And there's more- the city admits that the 48-foot height limit is a completely unnecessary giveaway to developers:
The City admits Measure T would work within our 30' height limit.

“Even without an amendment to the height limit, however, local developers have confirmed that R-25 sites could develop at densities of 19-24 units per acre under Proposition A limits."

(City of Encinitas, Housing Plan, Appendix B, Page 68.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Planner Manjeet Ranu reportedly out

From the Inbox:
Manjeet Ranu has officially resigned. Time to party.
Ranu was known for his difficult relations with Encinitas residents who perceived him as pushing for maximum density and favoring developers over residents.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

48-feet tall is similar to 30-feet tall?

Facebook ad:

Say what?

Ah, but we see what they did there.

They didn't say the proposed heights and densities were similar to current city code; they said similar to "what exists," meaning 3-story mixed-use buildings like Pacific Station and Moonlight Lofts and the things next to Caldwell's Antiques.  Those properties were upzoned by a prior city council without a public vote (which the 2012 council lied about to voters in the ballot argument against Prop A).  Prop A subsequently restored the General Plan's 2-story, 30-foot height limit, which Measure T would overturn.

Yes on T: make 3+ miles of the 101 corridor similar to Pacific Station!  But are Pacific Station or Moonlight Lofts even close to 48 feet tall?