Monday, October 31, 2005

"It’s Frightening" Happy Halloween!

From Rock My Car Dot Com link

It’s not about money
Ecke proponents dodge the real issues
October 28th, 2005

“I’m not going to sell my assets to save this business,” Paul Ecke III told the Union-Tribune recently. “It would be foolish to do that.”

If it would be foolish for Ecke to sell assets to save his poinsettia ranch, then it’s insane for the city to give up its assets to do the same. If he won’t, then neither should we.

Ecke and his crew pushing Proposition A — which asks the city to rezone half of his land to make room for 101 houses — have said opponents are hung up on the load of cash the Ecke family has amassed over the years. “To grade me on how much in assets I have is ridiculous,” Ecke said. “It’s frightening that a successful businessman is being attacked.”

The Union-Tribune, in yet another display that the paper has no grasp on what happens north of Highway 52, joined the fray in an editorial — accusing the “No on A” crowd of being envious and attempting to bilk Ecke Ranch for more than the proposed 8-acre park. Where did they get that?

The opposition to Prop. A is not about Ecke’s bank account. It’s not really about the flowers, either. We’re not after any more from Ecke or his ranch, and we’re not attacking him because of his success.

It’s about preserving one of the last pieces of agriculturally zoned land in the city for something other than houses. Most of the nursery and farming facilities in Encinitas are operating on land already zoned for residential. Some day very soon those greenhouses will be homes.

In an area overrun by sprawl, the remaining land zoned for agriculture is a jewel, an asset to the city. In fact, Ecke agreed to keep that land as agricultural in 1994.

Ecke says he needs the profits from the housing development to modernize his farm. Opponents have asked him to prove it — and rightly so.

When college students apply for government loans, they have to prove their need. The same is true for people who apply for Medicare, welfare or any other government subsidy.

That’s the only reason money is in this debate. We don’t fault Ecke for his success. But he is asking the residents of Encinitas to give up a city asset to “save” his business. It’s only right that we should ask him to verify his need.

The attempt by the Union-Tribune, Ecke and the “Yes on A” folks to obfuscate the real issues surrounding Proposition A is shameless, and you shouldn’t be fooled.

They’re only trying to distract attention from the fact that the ranch won’t show us that it really needs to develop the land to remain competitive. They’re dodging the fact that Ecke refuses to use his own assets.

After all, if Ecke won’t use his resources to “save” his business, then why should we?

Friday, October 28, 2005

US Troops to Ecke, Where is Our Body Armor?

In a tightly controlled forum where Paul Ecke III was able to pick and choose pre- written questions about his proposed rezone of agricultural land he fumbled when a brazen soldier stood and asked why his unit had still not received body armor.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

NCT Poised to Make $14422.80 Off Prop A

The NCT has run an editorial supporting Prop A. link

Why? Because 101 new homes means 101 potential new subscribers.

A subscription to the NCT is $11.90 a month, that's $142.80 a year.

101 x 142.80 = $14422.80

That doesn't even include future garage sale ads!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


This photo was taken before the boring lame people took over the town.

You may have noticed that the bar/restaurant in our beloved historic La Paloma building is turning over to yet another owner.

First, good riddance to Martini Ranch I say. I pretty much hated that whole scene.

Unfortunately, some of the things I hated about Martini Ranch will remain and in some ways the new place may be worse.

NCT link

I have a personal hatred for hangouts with 50 television screens. Keep that crap in the sports bars. The very name "Martini Ranch" brought visions of sipping martinis and having intelligent conversation while listening to some jazz or Sinatra or something. Instead it was bad potato widgits, ESPN and decade old surf videos.

"At least the Martini Ranch had live DJ's spinning records sometimes", you say. Well, our sleepy city has adopted the fascist attitude that all music must be on CDs and listened to in your own home. Forget about art or self expression.

The license allows up to three musicians to perform but with no amplification, including microphones. Up to six video games are allowed, but pool tables are not.

Dude, I'm stoked we can play Golden Tee but these longhairs with their acoustic guitars are really disturbing my enjoyment of Monday Night Football.

Now, Martini Ranch had a bad habit of hiring lazy and untalented DJ's and ignoring the local talent pool. (Many people are completely unaware that several prominent club DJ's have grown up in Leucadia. One of them will be spinning records in New York this weekend). But at the very least we had one establishment to patronize that had a little something to check out.

Encinitas is the ultimate yuppie town. The median age of our population is 36. That leaves tons of young people who love alternative music (not top 40 baby boomer radio) and dancing and literally have no place to dance or just hang out and groove to music. Just because councilman Jim Bond wants to go to bed early doesn't mean we have too.

The film Footloose was about a new guy who moved into a town that banned fun but when it turned out that Jesus liked to dance sometimes the town elders gave in.

I laughed when I read "no wet t-shirt contest". Isn't that just some lame urban myth from the 1970's?

One of the new rules is that food sales must be higher than booze sales. How the heck do you regulate that? A 2 drink limit with every cheeseburger?

So, the new D-St Bar&Grill will have lots of tee-vees to watch and chicken wings to eat. This is unique how?

At least it's not another Italian place right?

No more vinyl, that's final!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Rebuild the Greenhouses!

Rebuild the Greenhouses is a very important grassroots campaign. Our dear friend Paul Ecke III doesn't have the money to rebuild his greenhouses. They are in a shabby state of disrepair and Christmas is just around the corner, prime poinsettia time.

If you want to help poor Paul rebuild his greenhouses vote NO on Prop A in the upcoming November election and send a donation to:

Encinitas Taxpayers Association
P. O. Box 46
Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007

write "Paul III is #1" in the memo space of your check.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Those Wacky 8 Acres!

It's possible that the funniest part of the Ecke Prop. A drama are those 8 acres of "parkland".

At first Ecke felt like he was getting ripped off when the city came up with the 8 acre compromise. Ecke's buddy, Michael D. Pattinson wrote an angry commentary to the North County Times about it. link

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.

Of course now those 8 acres are being touted by the Ecke camp as this really awesome generous thing they are doing for us.

Dietmar Rothe offered this up in the NCT on Sunday link.

The people would not automatically get a fully developed park. There is much confusion about this gift. Ecke would give the city eight acres that are no longer protected as "agricultural land in perpetuity." You, the taxpayer, would have to pay for the park's development, if and when the city approves it. There is no guarantee that these acres will ever be developed into a park for all. The city could choose to develop that "gift" into more affordable housing instead. Alternatively, Mello-Roos taxes could be collected from future homeowners on the other 30 acres to develop the land into their own private neighborhood park.

No Future For My Favorite Building in ENC

Okay, drifting away from Leucadia today towards downtown Encinitas.

I swear I am the kiss of death around here. NCT link

If I love a certain open space someone will build a hotel on it. If I love a certain building it will get torn down.

The old newspaper building on the coast highway in the heart of downtown is far and away my favorite building in this town (well, I love the little metal building on E St. that was the Redsand clothing store and coffee shop just as much).

Maybe I just have an affection for cool industrial metal buildings, they are so rare in this land of stucco and red Spanish tile.

So I am dismayed to learn that the building will be torn down.

I do support mixed use, I like the idea of a grocery store in downtown Encinitas. That has been a major void in that area for the last few years.

Underground parking is a good idea, I assume it will be a pay lot though.

I am really against any corporate chains going into downtown Encinitas. I know Crate & Barrel seems fairly harmless but they could just kill the other little boutiques in the area. The city needs to talk with these other small business owners before going forward on that.

But man, I am really nervous about the new building. Mixed use sounds groovy but the great fear is getting a horrific mixed use building like the one that just went in on the coast highway in north Carlsbad. All bling bling and no substance.

I would love to see the building built in the spirit on the existing one but I believe that the city forbids any new metal buildings.

Why? Because we are a yuppie suckhole, that's why.

Volleyball dude Steve Timmons is current co-owner of the building. Remember when he wanted to fight Mike Tyson?

Thursday, October 13, 2005


The NCT published a letter from the Leucadia Cares folks in response to Oceanside political lobbyist Jack Orr's "Red Shirts" column. They pretty much bitch slap him.


link to Orr's commentary

The letters to the editor section of the NCT is great because it's filled with people taking sniper shots at each other and it takes days if not weeks for the drama to unfold.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Ms. Beak Nails It

My all time favorite columnist in San Diego, the mysterious Ms. Beak, calls out Ecke and the city council. Classic.

Encinitas calls itself the “Flower Capital of the World,” which confuses many visitors. After all, even the most brain-dead ’Zonie knows the famous flower fields are actually in Carlsbad. The only overt sign of flowers in Encinitas are the buckets of plastic-wrapped roses for sale in the local 7-Eleven.

Encinitas proclaims itself the “Flower Capital of World” primarily due its status as the home to the Paul Ecke Ranch, the company that almost single-handedly turned poinsettias into an annoying Christmas tradition.

More than 70 percent of the poinsettias grown in North America and more than 50 percent of the poinsettias sold worldwide originate at the Ecke Ranch, according to the company. So maybe Flower Capital of the World is a bit of reach, but at the very least the city could legitimately call itself the Poinsettia Capital of the World.

But there is a wee bit of a problem. The Eckes say they can no longer afford to compete in the cutthroat flower biz unless they upgrade their facilities and “modernize” their greenhouses. To raise money, they want the city to allow them to build more than 200 houses on some of their land zoned for agriculture.

Cutting through the fertilizer, the Eckes are, in fact, simply pointing out that growing condos in Encinitas is far more profitable than growing flowers.

The Eckes’ operation is based on choice land on the hillside just east of I-5, the type of location that makes for developer wet dreams. When the family first moved to the area in 1923, Encinitas was just another dot on the map, a cool place to surf and camp on the beach. There was no interstate, never mind a Taco Bell.

Needless to say, that was long ago, as anyone who has driven Encinitas Boulevard on a Friday night can attest. The Ecke property is now smack dab in the middle of one of the hottest real-estate markets south of Irvine, a thriving metropolis of tract homes, fast food chains, Super Target stores and swell car washes.

To a very large degree, the Eckes have already cashed in on the rush to pave Encinitas. In the mid-’90s they sold off 850 acres of prime hillside land that was carved into a sea of stucco, shopping centers and various city-approved recreational facilities. At the time, they whined about “saving the ranch,” arguing that unless they could plant more townhomes, the flower business might have to move to, say, Fallbrook. Apparently the millions they earned off that deal wasn’t enough, and now the Eckes are once again tossing out the sob story.

In essence, they’re saying that developing the land is the only way to raise capital to save the poinsettia business. They can’t get a bank loan. They can’t run up the old credit card. They absolutely must build more than 200 houses on one of the last greenbelts left in the area, or the Ecke Ranch will go bye-bye.

Since the Ecke Ranch is a private company and doesn’t release any details, the city will have to take the Eckes’ word that times are real tough in the poinsettia game, despite the family’s dominance of the industry.

Much like the Chargers and Padres, the Eckes say they are committed to staying in town—even while they’re threatening to leave if they don’t get their way. They also play the “jobs card,” noting as often as possible that the ranch employs more than 300 employees “during peak seasons,” making it “one of the largest private employers in north San Diego County.”

The Eckes don’t explain how many people they employ outside “peak seasons,” nor how many of those employees are “poinsettia waterers.” But even if the plans are approved, the Eckes’ poinsettia operation will dwindle to a skimpy 20 acres, and it certainly won’t create new jobs or grow the all-mighty tax base.

In other words, the Eckes’ core business these days is really land development. No matter how they spin it, their motivation to “raise capital” is the same as every other developer who would like to “raise capital” by turning farmland into a row of duplexes. The Eckes are simply using the flower business as a front, asking for special favors in order to subsidize a less profitable aspect of their business. It’s the same as Alex Spanos asking for a variance to build apartments on city controlled open space simply because the Chargers suck.

Any other landowner in Encinitas would have to get on all fours and squeal like a pig to get prime land rezoned for another grove of stucco palaces. After all, city leaders hold all the cards in these little poker tourneys.

The smart move would be for the city to tell the Eckes, “Eat me.” Save the land. Make ’em sweat. If the Eckes really need the big payday, they’ll come back with a better plan, one that might actually help the city’s quality of life.

Instead, the Encinitas city leaders are negotiating like crack ’hos desperate for a fix. They’re fast-tracking the project, rubber-stamping every new development proposal from the Eckes, pursuing the same shrewd community planning strategy that turned the El Camino Real corridor into a clogged land of Long John Silver franchises.

If they keep it up, no one will call it the “Flower Capital of the World” anymore, even if the Eckes keep their operation alive. Heck, they won’t even call it Encinitas. It will be known simply as “South Tustin.”

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Short Term Rental Drama

The short term rental ban is in the news again NCT link

I personally have no problem with people renting out beach houses. There were complaints about noise and partying, mostly from the Sea Bluff condos (which is ironic because when I was in high school some of the most gnarly parties I had ever seen where held there. "The cops can't get through the gate." explained some coked out knucklehead in a fluro pink t-shirt with matching Oakley blade sunglasses).

The motels and hotels may complain but if you are a nice proper Midwest family where would you rather stay, in a cool 4 bedroom beach house right on Neptune or cram the whole family in one room of one of our ratty motels?

An argument against the rental ban is that it denies people access to the beach. I guess I follow that flimsy logic, sort of.

You would think an anti-social guy like me would support the ban but I've never had it out for tourist. I have nothing against tourist. In fact thank gawd for all those tourist bringing out their cute daughters back in the day (the local girls would have nothing to do with me).

Also, tourist eat out a lot thus supporting the local restaraunts that we all love. This is a good thing.

Somebody brought up the new hotel going in. Oh gee, you mean the $400 a night hotel?
I don't see a lot of families going for that.

I understand that the city council wants to avoid us becoming a full on rental/transient type of beach town but I just don't see that happening.

So here is how it breaks down as I see it:

Couples book hotel rooms.

Families get beach houses.

So I guess we can conclude that the Encinitas city council hates the American family. You know who else hates the American family? OSAMA BIN LADEN, that's who!

I support banning things.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

City Council Unearths Magical Zoning Amulet


After years spent poring over mysterious and arcane plat sheets and deciphering long-forgotten building codes, the Encinitas city council unearthed the mysterious City Zoning Amulet Friday.

"Behold!" Jerome Stocks shouted, holding aloft the solid-gold amulet, which is emblazoned with the Ever-Evaluating Eye of Surr-Vey, Lord Of Demarcation, He Who Measures And Assesses. "With this sigil, the power of zoning comes. Through me, the power of zoning flows! All will behold my power, and I shall bow to no man when designating matter-of-right developments for major retail and office spaces to a maximum lot occupancy of 75 percent for residential use!"


Christy Guerin took her turn and held the glowing amulet aloft and transmuted a neighborhood of low-income apartments into a semi-wooded, single-family, residential district with an adjoining riverside park.

Though the amulet had long been dismissed as urban legend, a mythical ideal of zoning perfection handed down from city planner to city planner, the Encinitas city council became convinced that not only was it real, but that it had been used to lay out the cities of Ur, Atlantis, and Inver Grove Heights, MN.

apologies the the

Monday, October 03, 2005

Choo Choo!

I live close to the tracks, so close in fact that I if I am watching a movie on DVD that I have to pause it when the train blows it's horn. There is a lot of fuss these days about train noise and "quiet zones".

NCT link

As usual everyone is over thinking the problem.

The problem really isn't the horn, it's the fact the engineers lean on the damn thing for a half mile when a couple of short toots would suffice.

Remember a couple of years ago when Amtrak had that new euro train running for a short time? That train had a nice horn, a classic whoooo whooooooo.

The current trains all have The World is Ending Banshee Screams of Death horns that sound horrifying.

The Coaster trains seem to be less offensive than the Amtrak. I figure that a ex-wife of a Amtrak engineer lives nearby.

Our fearless councilman Jerome Stocks is on the NCTD board. So Jerome, at the next meeting throw it out there that the engineers just need to do the classic "choo choo" and not the status quo "BLAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRR BLAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRR!!!!!!"