Friday, November 30, 2018

City asks judge to impose Measure U in its entirety

... despite the fact that it both fails to meet HCD requirements and has unnecessary giveaways to developers.

Coast News:
Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear said, “I can’t think of anything more the city could have done to craft a plan that both housing regulators and voters would accept. We really did try our best, both in terms of effort expended and compromises to gain consensus. So we find ourselves here,” meaning in court and at a judge’s discretion.

Frazier’s ruling will wait until the county and city have officially certified the ballot results of Measure U. The controversial housing initiative failed, with 53 percent of voters opposed, which makes the judge’s decision to wait a mere formality. Measure U sought to allow increased housing density up to three stories high at 15 potential sites in Encinitas. A similar ballot initiative, Measure T, was soundly defeated in 2016.

Encinitas’ legal counsel argued that the city should be made to adopt Measure U. Attorney Dolores Bastian Dalton of Goldfarb & Lipman described that plan as “a workable and practical solution that gets all three parties out of the impasse that we’re in.” She said other potential options that require more community feedback and political consensus would “only embolden the anti-housing group.”

Thursday, November 29, 2018

City manager gets raise

Del Mar Times:
Encinitas’ chief administrator will be one of the better paid city managers among similar municipalities in the region after City Council action Wednesday, Nov. 28.

Council members voted 5-0 to give City Manager Karen Brust a $7,283 boost to her annual base salary as well as a $20,000 increase to her deferred compensation plan and an additional nine hours of paid vacation annually.

“The city manager has done a great job in the last year,” Mayor Catherine Blakespear said. “One of the key things is that we had a staff reorganization, and a number of vacancies ... that we needed to fill and she’s done an excellent job of filling out her team so that we’re able to accomplish the City Council’s priorities.”

With the salary increase, Brust will receive $250,043 in annual base pay, which does not include health and retirement benefits. The wage figure does not include the addition to the deferred compensation plan, a savings account untaxed unless the money is withdrawn.

The base pay alone is 36% more than Gus Vina was making just six years ago.

It seems city workers have discovered the ol' ratcheting trick.

City reportedly considering one-way streets in Cardiff

Del Mar Times:
Members of the public are invited to join the City's Traffic Engineering Division to discuss potential street modifications, including changes to existing street striping and parking along Liverpool Drive and Chesterfield Drive.

The meeting will take place Dec. 4 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Encinitas City Hall, 505 South Vulcan Avenue. For more information, visit

Monday, November 26, 2018

Streetscapes in Paradise

LA Times:
After a fast-moving fire swept into town a decade ago, burning more than 200 homes and trapping thousands of fleeing residents on gridlocked mountain roads, a grand jury called on officials to improve evacuation routes.

But six years later, the city decided to narrow a portion of the main road through town from four lanes to two as part of an effort in the downtown area aimed at boosting commerce as well as traffic and pedestrian safety.

Two other roads in the city were also narrowed, records show.

The so-called “road diet” for Skyway slowed traffic, and a local civic group donated benches and landscaping to beautify the zone.

Nearly two weeks ago, Skyway was the scene of unspeakable horror when the worst wildfire in California history besieged Paradise. Up to 27,000 residents trying to escape the flames instead were stuck in traffic, the buildings around them burning. Some died in their cars when the fire roared over them.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

La Paloma featured in industry publication

Good history and profile of the current proprietor at

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

11/14/18 City Council meeting open thread

Please use the comments to record your observations.

Mountain rises behind Sunset High School

In 1943, a volcano suddenly arose in a cornfield in ParĂ­cutin, Mexico.

Similarly suddenly, a mountain has arisen here in Encinitas, behind Sunset High School on Requeza Drive.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

L.A. "road diet" program comes to Encinitas

On Wednesday's agenda:
Vision Zero starts with the ethical belief that everyone has the right to move safely in their communities, and that system designers and policy makers share the responsibility to ensure safe systems for travel.

Vision Zero is a significant departure from the status quo in two major ways:

1. Vision Zero recognizes that people will sometimes make mistakes, so the road system and related policies should be designed to insure those inevitable mistakes do not result in severe injuries or fatalities. This means that system designers and policymakers are expected to improve the roadway environment, policies (such as speed management), and other related systems to lessen the severity of crashes.

2. Vision Zero is a multidisciplinary approach, bringing together diverse and necessary stakeholders to address this complex problem. In the past, meaningful, cross-disciplinary collaboration among local traffic planners and engineers, policymakers, and public health professionals has not been the norm. Vision Zero acknowledges that many factors contribute to safe mobility -- including roadway design, speeds, behaviors, technology, and policies -- and sets clear goals to achieve the shared goal of zero fatalities and severe injuries.
Here's how that's implemented in practice:
In July of 2017, Los Angeles imposed a "road diet" in the quiet beach community of Playa del Rey, replacing car lanes with bike lanes and parking spaces. The roads were suddenly jammed with traffic. The community was livid.

"Most of Playa Del Rey didn't know this was happening," says John Russo, a local resident and co-founder of Keep L.A. Moving, a community group formed to fight back against the city's unilateral decision to reconfigure the streets. "It really created havoc for us because we have no other roads to take."

Road diets are part of a strategy known as Vision Zero, in which Los Angeles aims to eliminate all traffic-related fatalities by 2025. It's an idea borrowed from Sweden, which in the '90s started experimenting with reconfiguring the roads to encourage more commuters to bike or take mass transit to work.

"In order to achieve zero deaths, public officials have been doing some odd things," says Baruch Feigenbaum, the assistant director of transportation policy at the Reason Foundation, the 501(c)(3) that publishes this website. Road diets aren't "based on science" or any "empirical findings."

"After the road diets were put in, we actually saw traffic accidents go through the roof," says Russo. "We had an average of 11.6 accidents per year on these roads in Playa Del Rey. We've had 52 accidents in the last four months."

In October, Pasadena residents successfully fought the city's attempt to put a "road diet" on Orange Grove Boulevard.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Will the city be honest with the court about why Measure U failed?

Open letter from Luke Dion to the city council on Encinitas Votes:
Encinitas will go before a judge on November 13 in a status hearing for lawsuits against the city related to our non-compliant Housing Element. These cases were delayed pending the outcome of Measure U, which if passed would have mooted the basis for the suits. Measure U was defeated, and so the cases will somehow proceed.

This is the second time voters have rejected a ballot measure. Judges are notoriously deferential to voters, and rarely issue sweeping rulings that invalidate the will of the electorate. I expect the judge to look for ways to avoid or minimize the scope of judicial intervention. I would expect the judge to ask our city leaders if they feel voter approval of a compliant housing element is impossible in Encinitas.

I think it’s important for our elected leaders to answer carefully. After watching voters reject months or years of work by our city council, there will be a temptation to say that council did everything possible, and that blame for the failure rests with voters—that there is no hope for a voter approved plan. This would be factually incorrect, and an insult to voters that we will never forget.

The difficult truth is that there is a voting bloc who will never vote yes on a compliant housing element, but they are a minority. There are others in the middle who voted no on this specific plan because of mistakes and poor decisions made by our leaders in the crafting of this plan. When the judge asks, we expect and deserve leadership that accepts responsibility for the flaws that caused Measure U to fail. I realize this is a difficult and painful thing to do, but it’s the truth, and it’s what is best for the City legally.

I ask each council member to spend real quiet think time over the next few days to write down a list of specific decisions and elements of the process and the plan that you think cost votes. Go to court prepared, and when asked by the judge, do the hard right thing.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Tasha triumphs

Did anyone get the license plate on that Mack truck that hit the city council?

Tasha Boerner-Hovarth came out of nowhere, spent a brief time on the planning commission, spent less than two years on city council, gerrymandered Mark Muir out of a council seat, helped kill Measure U, and got elected to the state assembly over the strenuous objection of her council colleague.

That's more in two years than any Encinitas council member we can recall has accomplished in multiple terms!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Election results

With so many people voting absentee and provisional now, it will take a long time to count the votes in the close races.

Here are some early results: Levin and Horvath winning, Hubbard and Mosca narrowly ahead, Measure U narrowly trailing.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Opinion: "Measure U is such a scam that even Goldman Sachs would blush"

Charlie McDermott in the Coast News:
Measure U is an attempt to coerce the residents of Encinitas into gifting our most valuable public asset, our established zoning, to select landowners and developers to enable them to earn an instant risk-free windfall of hundreds of millions of dollars. In return we will get more traffic and infrastructure strain. What the Mayor and her fellow council members will get down the road has yet to be determined – but we have seen this kind of movie before.

Our zoning laws greatly limit what each of us can do with a piece of property. Individually, we all agree to these rules because they limit what others can do with their property and this prevents them from doing something that would negatively affect us. Thus, our city zoning largely determines what each parcel of land is currently worth; and as a whole it defines the character and layout of our city. Literally billions of dollars in Encinitas land value is allocated across the established zonings – and this hidden value is a very tasty pie for special interests.

The Measure U lobbyists are asking us to create a massive exception to the rules to enable them to develop over 2,000 high-density, “up-zoned” housing units, which will allow up to 30 units per acre! Plus it will gut Prop A for good measure.

If Measure U passes, these “special” individuals will enjoy an instantaneous zero risk land value profit in the hundreds of millions of dollars (e.g., 2,000 units x $120,000 land profit/unit = $240,000,000). The total profits when the finished units are sold will be much higher and yet not one penny of this up-zone value will be paid out in fees as dividends to the public or to the City for public infrastructure projects.

Once Measure U passes, we the people will see these units built out ASAP and our local population increase significantly. However, if Measure U fails then developers will have to to buy and develop the land at market prices and under the current zoning rules. Thus they will move very slowly, block-by-block, because of the high costs and free market risks. But if we socialize all the risks then all these units will be immediately built out because so much profit will be baked in from the Measure U land value increase.

Measure U is such a scam, that even Goldman Sachs would blush, but it is right there in black and white for you to vote on. Send a very clear message to interloping developers, Mayor Blakespear, and her comrades in the City council that our town is never ever going to be for sale by voting No on Measure U in overwhelming numbers. Make this one really hurt so the interloping special interests go away for good.

Charlie McDermott, Encinitas