Saturday, February 25, 2017

Weak oversight from area school boards

From the Inbox:
Take a look at this somewhat recent article on John Collins, the former fired Poway superintendent, being the subject of a criminal investigation: link.

Voice of San Diego has documented Collins' downfall well: link. This whole story is eerily similar to the path EUSD seems to be going down now:

A strong, charismatic superintendent who has a loyalist packed board that fawns all over him, pisses off enough parents over time resulting in non-loyalists getting elected to the board. Once enough dissident board members got elected in Poway, they hired a firm to conduct a forensic audit of the superintendent which revealed extensive financial improprieties (which may lead to a criminal prosecution). EUSD has had the same situation as Poway, with a charming superintendent and a board whose unquestioned devotion seemed to have no limits. However, like in Poway, a non-loyalist has been elected and question are now being asked that were not asked before. Wonder what an audit of EUSD's superintendent would find?

Of course, public school superintendent corruption and criminal prosecution seems to be a pattern in San Diego County (Sweetwater High super Jesus Gandara and Southwestern super Raj Chopra, for example).

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Apparent suicide by train in Leucadia last night

A woman was fatally struck by a freight train when she ran onto the tracks in Encinitas, authorities said Thursday.

The victim dashed into the path of a BNSF train headed south at about 50 miles per hour in the vicinity of North Coast Highway 101 and Diana Street for unknown reasons around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, sheriff's Deputy Jason Burk said.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Council gun-shy on open space acquisition after Pacific View fiasco

San Diego Reader:
A 33-acre Encinitas strawberry farm landed on mayor Catherine Blakespear's wish list this week when the real estate agent representing the family owners offered it to the City of Encinitas.

"It's just north of the San Elijo Conservancy," Blakespear said. "We don't have the money to buy it but I'd like to be able to."


The tumultuous multi-year effort for the city to acquire and repurpose the Pacific View property from the Encinitas School District left the city's leaders feeling a little timid about venturing into land acquisition again, Blakespear said. The city bought the 2.8-acre property for $10 million in 2015, issuing bonds to pay for the purchase.
Years after the council's $10 million Pacific View purchase, the buildings remain dilapidated and unoccupied and have yet to live up to the council's vision.

City Council rendering of Pacific View site

Friday, February 17, 2017

Council to consider commercial marijuana cultivation, retail pot shops

In a 4-1 vote, the Encinitas City Council has started the process to allow commercial marijuana growing in their city.

Encinitas, dubbed the flower capital of the world, sees an opportunity to keep their agricultural business alive.


City council member Tasha Boerner Horvath said she conducted a survey of her own and 67 percent of residents want a store front or delivery service of some kind for marijuana.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

2/15/17 City Council meeting open thread

Please use the comments to record your observations.

Housing Task Force first meeting report

Del Mar Times:
The group — comprised of Mayor Catherine Blakespear, Deputy Mayor Tony Kranz, former Planning Commissioner Kurt Groseclose and No on T spokesperson Bruce Ehlers — ultimately decided at the meeting to interview for a housing element expert to answer technical questions regarding state requirements and survey similar cities to see how they met the state’s Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) numbers.


The task force, which was created at the Feb. 1 city council meeting, also agreed to pursue capping up-zoned properties at two stories, provided they meet RHNA requirements. It will also look to minimize the buffer zone, which is the number of units above the state-required 1,093 zoned high-density units.

The city would return to the general plan for definitions, specifically how height is measured.
Click on over and read the whole thing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Wrong-way CalPERS whiffs again

CalPERS' timing is truly uncanny. From dumping tobacco stocks at all-time lows to buying leveraged L.A. scrub land and "toxic waste" CDOs at the peak of the housing bubble, CalPERS has a knack for doing it wrong.

And yet again:
A shift away from stocks and private equity just before the presidential election has caused CalPERS to miss out on about $900 million in revenue since September.

CalPERS Chief Investment Officer Ted Eliopoulos disclosed the number at a Board of Administration meeting on Monday in a presentation describing how a temporary shift in assets has played out.

The fund moved some of its investments away from stocks and private equity last fall, anticipating a period of market volatility. It has missed some of the broad market gains that have unfolded in recent months.
Thanks to CalPERS' bad performance and dishonest projections, Encinitas has an unfunded pension liability of $154 million by Stanford's analysis.

 The average Encinitas government worker retires much earlier than private sector employees and gets $98,000 per year for life.

Monday, February 13, 2017

2/13/17 Housing Task Force meeting open thread

Please use the comments to record your observations.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Housing task force meeting Monday night

From the Inbox:
The City kicks off its next HEU round with a task force meeting at 5 p.m. this Monday, February 13, at City Hall. The agenda says simply "Continued discussion toward a legally compliant housing element."

The task force deck is stacked against lone Measure T "No" representative Bruce Ehlers; on the "Yes" side we have: Blakespear, Kranz, Groseclose, and assuredly a passel of staff members.

Likely we'll also have Barbara Kautz, the city's consulting attorney, in attendance.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Whole Foods bites the dust

Coast News:
The Pacific Station Whole Foods, which debuted five-and-a-half years ago to large crowds and a downtown eager for a standalone market, will shut down, the Texas-based chain announced Wednesday.

The 23,000-square-foot market, which was the centerpiece of the mixed-used development, will close its doors for good Feb. 22.
Guess it never made much sense for people to drive to the bar district to buy groceries.

2/8/16 City Council meeting open thread


Monday, February 6, 2017

2/6/17 Special City Council meeting on housing open thread

Please use the comments to record your observations.

Municipal finance is hard

From Tasha Boerner-Horvath's newsletter:
We have the highest bond rating of AA+!


Because we have followed good fiscal practices we received a bond rating from Standard & Poor [sic] of AA+ — the highest a city can receive.
That's news to Standard & Poor's.   But we're sure she'll be able to trust everything else staff tells her.

Special City Council meeting tonight

The council is meeting to give direction to the subcommittee on the housing update.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Housing meeting summary

UPDATE: Video now available.

Thanks to Anonymous for the summary:
All in all, it was a pretty good meeting. Bruce E did a good job of outlining 11 constructive points about how to build a housing element that may be acceptable to both HCD and voters. I don't think he'll get everything, but the majority of it was pretty reasonable stuff.

Blakespear didn't have her best night, but she got a B grade. Not sure if it was planned, but she seemed to do most of the talking for the City. Some technical issues came up around RHNA numbers and accessory units that she should have had our lawyer answer, and instead engaged in a back and forth with citizens explaining why their ideas wouldn't work. It created a little bit of citizens vs. city atmosphere when she was clearly trying to create a sense of unity.

We learned that the strategy is to get a new housing element in front of voters this fall, if at all possible. The terms of the settlements are in breach, so we should expect those cases to restart. Right now, we don't have a viable defense. If we can show a judge potential to have the matter resolved this Fall without court intervention, they likely would give us time and space to make it happen.

This is going to upset some folks, because we are back in hurry up mode. We'd need to put another draft in to HCD for review this Spring. It means there isn't time to go back to square one. I'm expecting to see them start with Measure T, and make revisions to lower building height, create actual affordable housing, shrink the "buffer," benchmark against other cities, restore how heights are measured, remove the attic bonus floor--that sort of thing.

There's a constituency that will never be satisfied, and that's okay. They aren't winnable, so the city should focus on the most important changes that would affect voters who were on the fence last time.

After last night, I now think it's possible to get this done. I'm not sure if the time pressure is a good thing or a bad thing. There will be errors; the process won't be perfect. But having more time encourages a bloated document with more targets for misinterpretation or confusion.

I'd like to see CC develop a list of guiding principles and goals for the refresh, and stay laser focused on them. I think half or more of those principles should come verbatim from Bruce H's list.

Before sending anything to HCD or the voters, measure the draft against those goals.
UPDATE: Articles on the forum from Aaron Burgin in the Coast News and Barbara Henry in the U-T.