The Carlsbad based development company Barratt American has been taking some lately. Here is a sweet letter from the president of the company that ran in the North County Times last week.
Property rights revolution fizzles
By: MICHAEL D. PATTINSON
The shortest property rights revolution in the history of California is now officially over. It was great for the 10 minutes it lasted.
The revolution began July 13 at Encinitas City Hall. Led by Councilman Jerome Stocks, the City Council voted to restrict, if not outlaw, the practice of allowing the city to condemn private property for other private use. - The Supreme Court said that was all right, but the people of Encinitas were rightfully fearful their homes were at risk too. After all, they told their council members, this is America, and our right to our private property is guaranteed, isn't it?
For a good 10 minutes, it was. That was until the City Council considered their next item: 38 acres belonging to the Ecke family in Encinitas.
If the Ecke name sounds familiar to those outside of Encinitas, it should. The Ecke family created Encinitas as a world center for flower growing. Maybe you've heard of the poinsettia: They invented it. Their plan would keep flower-growing alive in the city.
Inside Encinitas, a small portion of this family's 75-year record of generosity and contribution to public life is commemorated with their name on the YMCA.
City plans allowed 200 homes on the Ecke land. City planners thought 100 were better. The Eckes agreed, but it was a Hobson's choice: Agree, or lose all economic use of the land.
So much for property rights.
Then city staffers came up with a brainstorm: Since they had eliminated 100 homes from the plan, that meant there was that much more land left to take, I mean, set aside. So they grabbed another eight acres. And the city didn't pay a penny for it.
Steal some land in Connecticut, and the nation erupts in anger. Take much more in Encinitas, and only an angry Councilwoman Christy Guerin speaks up.
"It's not fair," she said. "I'm not going to hold this family hostage and make them do something we don't make other developers do."
She was right and wrong: Yes, the city is holding the Eckes hostage. But no, they are not the only landowners subjected to this ritual abuse.
Let's be realistic: No matter how important the Eckes have been to this area, few are going to shed any tears for wealthy people losing their property rights.
But remember this: If a City Council will take dozens of acres of property from the area's most influential family, what do you think is going to happen to you when you make your first visit to City Hall to ask for permission to build a granny flat? Or a new fence in your front yard?
You are not going to have a chance.
Don't call this democracy, either: This is nothing more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what they are having for dinner.
So the next time you see a story about a housing crisis in California and how only 6 percent of people in San Diego can afford the price of an average home, or when your children tell you they are moving to Oklahoma because they cannot afford to live around here anymore, don't shake your head and pretend you don't know how it got this way.
Because now you surely do.
Michael D. Pattinson is president of Barratt American, a Carlsbad-based developer, and is past president of the California Building Industry Association.
A fairly testy letter. He makes a few good points but they are overshadowed by the fact that he is pissed off as all hell that his big development contract just got downsized.
I really have nothing against Ecke developing this land, it does belong to him afterall, but Pattinson ignores the fact that the Eckes made a deal.
One thing that is not clear is what kind of anti-eminent domain ordinance Stocks is going to propose. Is it to protect property owners from other private parties or from the city? Most rational people think that the 8 acre park is a decent compromise for Ecke breaking his word. An 8 acre park also increases the value of the homes to be built so they shouldn't cry too much.
It's pretty obvious that Barratt American doesn't have much of a design philosophy, they are blatant urban sprawlers. These big companies need to realize that they are affecting a lot of their fellow human beings. Developers have a social responsibility to create nice neighborhoods with a high quality of life. Every new development, especially sizeable ones, should have some open space for families to enjoy.
101 homes that are sure to sell for 1 million each? That is like, uh...a 100 million dollar project or something man.
Also, can we just drop the attitude that we owe ours lives to the Eckes? The Ecke ranch is NOT the Salk Institute.
Pattison's gripe about affordable housing was just too funny. Take a look at Barratt American's website and check out the over the top fruity McMansions they build. Faux-Luxury!
Pattinson is right about one thing, democracy in this town is on a slippery slope. The irony is that most people blame people like him, Meyer and Ecke.