Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Attn: Yuppie Dorks, Dirt is not Sand

NCT link

Story in the North County Times about that hotel (which is now some sort of scammy condo deal) to be built on that pretty piece of land at the end of North Leucadia. The suits from KSL Encinitas Resort Co., which also owns the La Costa Resort and Hotel Del Coronado, probably haven't been to the site lately but if they had they would notice that there is a really nice natural beach there with our famous perfect Leucadia sand. There are a few cobble stones sure, but that changes daily.

Of course these knuckleheads want to dump the brown cliff dirt on top of the beautiful natural beach.

Maybe they could just give the extra dirt to David Meyer? (zing!)

The site used to home to the classic Barker's Noah's Ark restaurant.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Things Are Getting Aggro...

UT link

"Underlying the fight, which involves 110 residents along Andrew Avenue and surrounding streets, is animosity by some toward the Ecke family. Paul Ecke III's brother-in-law, developer and real estate consultant David Meyer, owns some of the land at the heart of the fight"

Kind of trippy that the SRF sold some of that land eh?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Eminent Domain Restrictions Pass (but is it a hoax?)

NCT link

I worked until 9:30 last night so I missed the city council meeting. Anyone out there go?

The council passed Jerome Stock's eminent domain ordinance 5-0.

Jerome, big night for you. This will really help your run for higher office. I would like to think that this blog inspired this whole thing. No need to thank me bro, it's all good. Now read this:

I would like to share what I told the Council. First I said (except what is in parentheses), "When this item was put on the agenda a few weeks ago I gave a presentation that pointed out that the governments here in San Diego have been doing similar things as occurred in New London. (where was Council's outrage then?) My examples included the Top Gun House, Del Mar Highlands Shopping Center, and the Petco Park district. Council avoided discussing these projects. The use of eminent domain in those places occurred in redevelopment districts. (then I put up one of those anti-redevelopment posters that were everywhere in Leucadia, I think JP has one on this blog)This poster went up all throughout Leucadia when this Council, led by Councilmember Stocks, attempted to push a redevelopment district on this City. If you read the third whereas in the ordinance you will find an apparent admission that this ordinance does not protect the Citizens from what happened in New London (we already have some state laws that protect us). Is it true that a redevelopment district won't be constrained by this ordinance? If so, this ordinance is there, but it is useless (flaccid keeps coming to mind) . I would go so far as to say it is deceptive (Jerome would be happy that people think he added some security) . Fortunately for Leucadia, your plan to tie the redevelopment agency to the storm drain problems backfired. The public began asking too many questions that Council did not want to address with regards to the $5 million dollar storm drain fiasco (Council gets a scrunchy face when you bring this up... later Stocks made some comments about how they dropped the redev. idea but that he wanted credit for exploring all the options. I don't give credit because it was a waste of the City's money and a HUGE waste of a lot of Citizen's time and effort.).Along with many other citizens I requested that you come up with an ordinance that outlaws forced transfer of private property (at the previous meeting). This ordinance doesn't do that. It instead puts it to a vote. Just outlaw it! If this law is just a gesture, make a good one (Christy seemed to admit that it was just a gesture in the last meeting).I will again try to guide this council into a discussion of this City's policies regarding the legal use of eminent domain. The City and the agencies you sit on have the power of eminent domain to gain property for public uses. Roads (for instance). When is it okay to force someone into an offer they can't refuse to sell their property? What restrictions or policies does this City have? None I assume (except this new ordinance, but it is just a gesture). Lets make some. I think the use of eminent domain should be strongly incorporated into all planning processes. The use and threat of eminent domain should not be allowed when alternatives have not been thoroughly weighed. I also think there should be a lengthy notice of intent to use eminent domain prior to its use. Lastly, there should be safeguards so that this City can not use eminent domain to support private enterprise, even if the direct use is public. What if the Ecke rezone will have a significant impact on the traffic on Saxony and widening the street is required. Would it be okay for the City to use eminent domain then?I can't tell you if this scenario is realistic because this council put the cart before the horse and is putting that rezone to a vote before the environmental impact report is out (I keep hearing that this might be realistic).These are my three questions:1) Is it true that a redevelopment district won't be constrained by this ordinance? (I think the answer is no because Christy told me that I should lobby my state representatives... you should see the proposed bills ACA 22 and SCA 15) 2) Why not just outlaw the New London approach to eminent domain? (The response was something like... we could get sued or this unusable ordinance won't stand up in court if we outlaw it straight up. I can't image a scenario where an outside party could sue the City for NOT using eminent domain to give them someone else's land BECAUSE of an ordinance outlawing it. Can you? The ordinance would restrict the City and the City would have to sue itself????? I missed something) 3) Does this City have any guidelines or policies that constrain the otherwise legal use of eminent domain? If not, spend your time here starting an ordinance that provides useful protections, instead of wasting your time on an empty gesture. (I suggested this last time too, no one wants to go there because it is a little less SAFE than proclaiming they are against New London style attacks on property rights... kinda like in redevelopment districts. The citizens have missed out an opportunity to gains some protections)

Kevin Cummins

Monday, August 22, 2005

I Am Not a NIMBY

I am not a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard).

A NIMBY is regarded as anti-development. I am not this. I like buildings. My wife graduated from architecture school last year. She has several projects going up around town right now. They are good clean designs and her customers are happy campers.

I am not anti-development in Leucadia. I am against declaring Leucadia "blighted" because that was a colossal scam. I am anti-scam, which makes me unpopular with some powerful people in this town. Boo frickin' hoo.

I want to see the empty lots in Leucadia developed. But I don't want to see Leucadia become littered with ugly pink pseudo Tuscany villa lot busters like in Carlsbad. I really don't consider this to be an extreme viewpoint.

Attention Baby Boomer developers: I know that when you are out on the golf course dipping into your third beer of the morning that good architecture is the last thing on your mind but consider this, you are spending far too much money constructing those tacky homoerotic McMansions.

Good clean design not only looks better and functions better, but it is more cost effective. Why are you wasting $200 a square foot construction cost on those goofy faux castle turrets? Are you trying to launder money or something because you can't possibly think your "Old Creek Ranch" or "Nantucket" or "Rancho Villa Hamptons" are in good taste. I mean, even Liberace thinks your houses are gay.

Thank goodness Encinitas no longer allows paranoid gated communities. Don't build in a town if you are afraid of your neighbors.

Architecture these days has been committeed to death. Too many cooks in the corporate kitchen.

So please, if you own some land by all means build yourself some shelter. But remember, architecture begins with the site. Maybe take a gander at it first before just bulldozing it and importing a bunch of fill dirt.

There is a whole new generation of gifted architects coming out of San Diego right now. It's up to you to have the foresight and vision to really do good for the future of North County. You will save an assload of money while you are at it so it's a win win.

I got your back.

*Note-Beware the NIMNBY, Not In My New Back Yard. This person moves into your neighborhood and then tries to ban your kids from skateboarding down the street or something.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Quality of Life vs. Quality of Life

Is quality of life having a mall and a Starbucks to drive to like in the uber congested and bizarre UTC area or is it being able to take your kids for a bike ride down Encinitas Blvd. without fear of them getting rundown by traffic?

Density has been a bit of a dirty word in this town over the years but I have always seen it a little bit differently. To me, "good" density is when small towns have multi-level apartments and live work lofts and mixed use buildings. A town with density creates a lively walking vibe with people on the sidewalks and small markets and bakeries and other shops. The town should be surrounded by open space that you can escape to when you and your sweetie need a little elbow room.

Unfortunately, there is little to no open space left surrounding Encinitas (the beach is still the best place to go if you can get a parking spot). "New" Encinitas" is sprawl, which means all those beautiful rolling hills are now ugly tract stucco houses and those people needs cars to get around full time. (I'm not a freaky anti-car hippie but I like to stretch my legs and walk whenever I can).

UTC and even "New" Encinitas was not built to ever evolve and change overtime. It is set up to be a stagnant environment forever. Density needs to be formed as an infrastructure that will serve future needs and growth over time. It must be allowed to evolve organically.

Carlsbad has sprawled to our boarders and the once lovely coast highway cruise isn't quite the same as it once was. El Camino Real I avoid at all cost.

UTC is the worst case scenario for Encinitas. Sprawl meets poorly planned density. Unfortunately, I fear that the myopic grumps in charge consider UTC as a model of success.


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Monday, August 15, 2005

Guatemala VS. Encinitas




Won't someone coddle us?

$50,000 to Paint a Pigeon Killing Bridge that Doesn't Belong to Us

NCT link

We live in a very strange town.

$19,000 gets you what some bored teenagers with BB guns would do for free. I think I will hire a scary clown to hang out with a sign that reads, "It's not about the pigeon poop".

$31,500 for a freaking paint job? I'd like to see that invoice. Next time 50 grand is burning a hole in the city council's pocket let's use it to liposuction the fat out of their heads.

You are welcome NCTD. (anyone look familiar?) I can see why we would want to spend our general fund money on their bridge, NCTD has done such a lovely job keeping the train track areas nice.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Affordable Housing, Jumbo Shrimp & Army Intelligence

NCT story by Adam Kaye

Can I go one week without reading about David "Freak Boy" Meyer in my paper?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Better Late than Never for Pedestrian Bridges

SD UT story by Angela Lau

The same week that the city installed these oh so cute signs warning motorist to keep an eye out for those jaunty surfers trying to cross the road I was stopped in my wetsuit while carrying my board by the then new "Coaster Cops" for crossing the train tracks. I told them my name was Rob Machado and they let me go but the irony of the timing of the incident made my blood boil.

The city was exploiting the image of my surfer lifestyle to amuse the tourist while hassling me at the same time.

I became obsessed with the issue of pedestrian bridges. I would go off on ranting tirades at backyard bar-b-ques, I wrote angry letters to the editor (none were published), I left angry messages on the city manager's voice mail (no response). Gary Taylor, then surf writer for the Coast News took my side publicly after he too was stopped by the cops for crossing the tracks.

So it's great to see that the city is actually going to do something logical and sensible for a change. It's been a wacky year for local politics and this is positive improvement that can make all of us proud to be live here again. Pedestrian bridges over train tracks are a no brainer and should have been built years and years ago. Hell, I've been to third world countries that have pedestrian bridges over tracks. We are almost as good as them right?

However, as you can see north Leucadia once again gets the shaft. North Leucadia needs at least one bridge. There are hundreds of persons who cross the tracks to get from the residential areas to the small markets and restaurants on the coast highway. I suppose Leucadia is getting screwed for two reasons.

1. The city keeps forgetting that north Leucadia is part of Encinitas.

2. The city doesn't want to spend money just so the blighted Mexican and white trash families squatting in the low rent apartments and trailer parks on Vulcan Ave. can get to the liquor store safely.

City PDF link

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Barratt Speaks Out

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.

NCT link

Property rights revolution fizzles


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.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Angry Mob on Sheridan Rd.

High drama and bad blood came to boiling point last week over the new east coast Nantucket development going into old Leucadia.

NCT link

The former greenhouses were sold by David Meyer, who is married into the Ecke family, to Barrat American Incorporated, a company that once gave Encinitas councilman Jerome Stocks illegal campaign contributions.

The willy nilly John Kerry style homes will sit on elevated fill dirt, giving them a dominating presence on the quiet street. Naturally the neighbors are not happy. There was no answer to why another recent development project on the same street was not raised.

The planning commission pretty much told the angry mob that it was too late to do anything about it, that they should have spoke up earlier. The neighbors protested that they were not actually notified as the city claims.

Someone brought up this excellent point, why is the site graded if they don't have the grading permit yet?

Things that make you go hmmmm...

The neighbors started a blog called Leucadia Cares.