Sunday, December 31, 2017

Drunk driver’s car hit by train at E Street

A southbound Amtrak Train was traveling approximately 80 miles per hour when the train operator observed a vehicle stopped in the middle of the track. The train went into emergency braking but was unable to stop in time and collided with the car, the Sheriff's Department said.

The driver of the vehicle was safely removed from the vehicle by deputies on scene and arrested for suspicion of driving while under the influence of alcohol.
UPDATE: Driver is Angel Milan-Sanchez, 21, of National City.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

What tax reform means for Encinitas

One of the most prominent features of the new tax law is the limit on deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT). Because these taxes are primarily state income tax and property tax, areas with high property values in high-tax states will be most affected. Clearly, Encinitas would seem to be ground zero for the effect. Indeed, our Congressman Darrell Issa voted against the bill for this very reason.

The reality, however, is not so black and white. Here's a look at how tax reform might affect the different types of residents in Encinitas.

1) Renters - Winners

From the single surfer / biotech guy renting a studio in Cardiff to the young family renting a home in New Encinitas, pretty much all renters will see significantly lower taxes due to the lower rates and higher child credits and standard deductions. The loss of deductibility of state income tax does not eclipse this except for people with extremely high incomes.

2) Old school Encinitans - Winners

If you bought your house before the early 2000's bubble, your property taxes are protected by Prop 13 and very low, so the deductibility doesn't matter much to you. As for state income tax, most old school Encinitans don't have the mid-six-figure incomes of new arrivals, but even those who do may benefit (see #3 below).

3) Encinitas Ranch working affluent - It depends

Given that the median single-family home sale price is now $1.2 million, many of Encinitas' new homebuyers will fall into this income range.

Decades ago, Congress passed the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) to limit deductions for the very rich. Due to the fact that the AMT was not indexed for inflation, it no longer affects just the very rich but millions of upper-middle-income households. The Tax Policy Center reports that 29.1% of the returns in the $200,000 - $500,000 income range pay AMT, but that percentage would be much higher in Encinitas because AMT hits harder in high-tax, high-property-value areas. If you're in AMT, you already can't deduct state and local taxes, so the new tax law's lower brackets are a big win for you. However, if you're a high earner not currently paying AMT, you're likely to pay a few thousand dollars more because of the loss of those deductions.

4) Stretching-to-buy new arrivals - Likely modest losers

If your household income is in the high $100,000's or low $200,000's and you recently bought a house at Encinitas' record-high property values, you're likely to pay several hundred to a couple thousand more in taxes due to the loss of that property tax deduction which is so large relative to your taxable income.

5) Qualcomm / biotech / extreme sports multimillionaires - Losers

If your taxable income is $1 million or above, you're likely beyond the AMT effect and you're paying California's 13.3% millionaries' tax, which is no longer deductible. Even for those somewhat below the $1 million income level, the loss of income tax deductibility will likely vastly outweigh the lower tax brackets, so you're going to be paying a lot more.

The Wall Street Journal has a great tax calculator (subscription may be required) that lets you see what your outcome will be. I'd be interested to hear your experience, whether from the WSJ calculator or your tax adviser.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Traffic commissioners take a knee

Coast News:
A polarizing debate over protests involving the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance that has gripped the nation this year recently made its way to Encinitas in one of the most unlikely places — the Traffic and Public Safety Commission.

Commissioners clashed in recent meetings when two members of the seven commissioner board refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, and one of the members asked the board to eliminate the pledge as a standing item on the board’s agenda.

The act of protest has divided the commission, as some members said they support the stance taken by Commissioners Christina Simokat and Darius Degher, while others said they were offended by it.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Elderly man killed in hit-and-run in crosswalk near Oak Crest

Coast News:
An 87-year-old man who was critically injured by a hit- and-run motorist in Encinitas died today at a hospital and the suspected hit-and-run driver was arrested, a sheriff’s spokeswoman said.

The unidentified 87-year-old man was walking in the crosswalk near the intersection of Balour and San Abella drives, when he was struck by a pickup truck going northbound on Balour Drive, said Deputy Oscar Butler of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.


The 24-year-old suspect, Alexander Vasquez, has now been booked on suspicion of hit-and-run causing serious injury/death and vehicular manslaughter, Sipley said. Vasquez may have been driving under the influence when the crash took place, she added.
This is only the latest in a recent string of serious hit-and-runs and other fatal hits on pedestrians and bicyclists in Encinitas.

UPDATE: The victim is Jack Hesselbach, a longtime Crest Drive resident.

Someone with the same name as the suspect works at the Aviara health care center on Regal Road.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

12/20/17 City Council meeting open thread

Please use the comments to record your observations.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

OC look comes to Encinitas?

From the Inbox:
Agenda item on this Wednesday's council meeting.

Attached is one of the drawings. Many more in the staff report.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Planning Commission approves big facility for elderly

Coast News:

Westmont Living’s plans for a massive senior living facility on South El Camino Real received a unanimous endorsement from the Planning Commission, but residents are expected to appeal it to the City Council.

The Planning Commission, after more than two hours of discussion, voted 5-0 in favor of the 85,000-square-foot, 101-bed facility on roughly 3.2 acres of vacant land in South Encinitas near the intersection of Manchester Drive.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Housing meeting next Saturday

City web site:
Joint City Council and Housing Element Task Force Meeting
Saturday, December 16, 2017 @ 8:30 AM - 12:30 PM

The City Council and Housing Element Task Force will hold a discussion regarding the Housing Element Update and associated analysis to achieve a state certified Housing Element Update.

Public is welcome to attend.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Democratic infighting over Assembly seat

When Councilwoman Tasha Boerner Horvath announced a run for Assembly, some local Democrats including Councilman Tony Kranz and former Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer had an unusually harsh reaction, apparently upset that Horvath would buck the party hierarchy and challenge the party's anointed candidate, activist Elizabeth Warren.

Still, she persisted.

Now colleagues and fellow Democrats Joe Mosca and Catherine Blakespear are rising to Horvath's defense.

Warren, though not well-known in Encinitas, is a long-time activist with, the PAC formed in 1998 to give former President Bill Clinton political cover against accusations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and perjury.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Berryman Canyon goes posh

Tour courtesy of Jim the Realtor:
This is not your father's Encinitas.