Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Change In Attitude?

North County Times article by Adam Kaye

ENCINITAS ---- City officials have struck a first-of-its-kind deal with two Encinitas homeowners. The homeowners, Anthony and Erin Smith, are getting nearly a 50 percent break on their property taxes. In exchange, they have agreed not to raze or substantially alter their historic home at 221 Sunset Drive.

The City Council this month unanimously approved Encinitas' first "Mills Act" tax-incentive agreement with the Smiths. The Legislature enacted the Mills Act in 1972, and in 2003, the City Council adopted the program to preserve local landmarks.

To qualify for tax relief, the Smiths have agreed to preserve the appearance of their 1926 English Tudor-style home and to allow periodic inspections by city officials.

This too late for the old adobe church compound that used to exist at Vulcan and F but I like it. Southern California has been infected with a strange desire to tear down everything in it's short history, I'm glad some people are now stopping to take a deep breath and saying no to the bulldozer.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

We Are Not Angry, Just Disappointed

This city council is a great disappointment. In 2005, Kerry Miller got 2 raises. Firefighters got a nice raise and the Sheriff's Deputies got an 8% raise. In March, city employees got a staggering 35% raise in the form of a lifetime boost in their retirement income as well as a 3.2% raise in salary for the next 3 years. What did we get. They increased our water rates, increased the appeal fee from $100 to $250, our sewer rates have gone up, they want us to pay for the clean water program and they are telegraphing even more taxes and fewer services in the days ahead.

What's wrong with this picture?

from the Encinitas Taxpayers Association.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Join the Encinitas Taxpayers Association

ENC Taxpayers Membership Online

It's time to be an adult and join the Encinitas Taxpayers Association. It's only $10 and they know what they are doing.

Yes, I know it's not quite as cool as the Star Wars Fan Club but it's cheaper.

A Note From Gil Foerster

Gilbert Foerster said,

It just seems like a mistake, in my opinion, to shrink or diminish the areas in greater Encinitas that will require a coastal development permit as well as the exclusion of some of the types of projects that the city staff, with no input or discussion from the citizens and only five quick minutes of council discussion brought forward and got passed October 26 as Resolution No. 2005-52. (Case 05-215) Every action that is taken by the city staff and/or the city council that has the potential to pose an adverse effect, either individually or cumulatively, on coastal resources, should remain under the eye of the Coastal Commission. The maintenance of an element of affordable housing and preservation of historical buildings not designated as historical by the State but historical to the residents of the City is an important part of the character of our coastal zone.

Please write to the Coastal Commission and request that the areas considered for categorical exclusions not be expanded west of Interstate 5. Please request that the changes of use of non-residential structures(#1), and demolition of existing buildings and reconstruction of ??? (#3) be removed from the request for types of exclusion.

This will not guarantee that a Starbucks won’t go in the La Paloma, nor will it save every building that someone thinks might have historical significance, BUT at least it will give the citizens of Encinitas the ability to appeal if there is a ground-swell of opposition to council or city staff decisions.

Please address correspondence to: California Coastal Commission
c/o Gary Cannon - San Diego District Office
7575 Metropolitan Dr., Suite 103
San Diego, Ca 92108
City of Encinitas Resolution #2005-52(Case 05-215)

All About Christy

NCT link

Adam Kaye wrote a good bio of Mayor Christy Guerin.

On the dais, she sometimes rolls her eyes and shakes her head when she disagrees with remarks by her colleagues. She has taken criticism for some of her retorts to statements from the public.

"I don't let people get away with saying whatever they want," she said. "We have citizens accuse us of crimes, of violating the Brown Act, of spending money like drunken sailors. No one told me I have to leave those things unaddressed. I never want to be rude to anyone, but I think the respect should be mutual.

What is the Brown Act? link

Ralph Brown sez: Don't violate me.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Those Pesky Details Keep Bogging Us Down

Coast News link

Ballots sent out early next year that deal with a monthly $5 fee for the city’s clean water program will not include any opposition statements.

Mayor Christy Guerin brokered a compromise in the language. “We’re getting bogged down in the details,” she said, adding that a sentence or two would not be likely to sway many opinions one way or the other.

Those are the kind of quotes that haunt you in November.

I'm telling you, that $5 a month tax gets voted in and in a couple of years it gets raised to $10 a month in a closed session. Then it gets raised to $15 a month and it won't keep our water clean. That money will go to consultants trying to figure out how to turn the La Paloma theater into a Starbucks or something.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Bill Rodewald is a Great American

This was a comment posted regarding the proposed tax/fee:

Bill Rodewald, President of the Encinitas Tax Payers Association spoke something close to the following last night.

“I will again start my remarks by saying that clean ocean and lagoon water is very important. The truth is that the City of Encinitas has been complying with all Federal and State clean water standards for many years, and that the voters have been paying for it, thank you. This is not an environmental issue, its an economic issue.

I am not here tonight to convince the Council to abandon its efforts to tax the people of Encinitas twice for the same service. I am here to lay out my theory and opinion that the process has been rigged from the start. My opinion is that in this case and with this tax, the City has attempted, and may succeed in deceiving the people of Encinitas, the very constituents that it purports to represent.

I would agree that what I just said is strong language, and would not have made that statement had I not been interested in the opinion of the voters with regard to this issue and that the opinion survey portion of the process was fixed. The City got the answers that it wanted because they hired the team that promised to deliver just that. Let’s loook at some interesting events:

1) The City decided to spend $110,000 of taxpayer money to hire three consultants to deliver a new tax, to literally manipulate the opinions of its constituents. Interestingly, according to Jennifer Smith, the City Financial Director, there was no competitive bid process which seems odd given the value of the assignment. Even more interesting is the fact that there was no request for proposals process, and not written record of what the City was looking for in an opinion survey of the voters. Conveniently, the direction was given to the consultants verbally and without any documentation. Is anyone surprised that the survey questions were manipulated to elicit the desired results? If so, let’s get to the next item.

2) The City hired Tramutola LLC as one of the consultants and their web site is quit revealing. I’ll bet that it is meant to be seen by City Officials, not by their constituents because they spell out the playbook on how they can assist the City to manipulate public opinion. The opening page boasts that “Tramutola has advised and guided communities to successful passage of local tax measures.” The very next page is even more telling: it cuts right to the reason that the City chose Tramutola after failing to win a taxpayer lawsuit to tax its citizens twice for the same service. It says, “Working with you we will design a campaign to generate the DESIRED RESPONSE”.

They go on to say in their Planning to Win section that they will answer some though questions for the City like;
When should you hold your election? (Maybe right around the holidays so the so the opposition will be too busy to mobilize)
How do you craft a measure to maximize your chance of winning?
Can certain portions of the population be exempted from the tax?
They can even assist a city to recruit, train and empower a third party advocacy group to sell the idea of a new tax. Very interesting given the fact that one has sprung up right here in Encinitas, although I’m not sure that they all live and vote in our City.

3) This is the one that personally offends me the most. The City council had a meeting right here in this room on November 30, 2005 where they led us to believe that community input and Council debate would have some effect as to the decision to proceed with a public vote. Several people spoke in opposition to the idea and there was a support of the new tax that spoke as well. How is it that the Council voted to proceed at approximately 7:30 PM on Wednesday the 30th and voters received a letter and well crafted flyer less than 36 hours later? The picture of beaches and surfers were well chosen and quite appropriate in this marketing piece, but again the timing is most interesting. What marketing and mailing firm can pull together photos, draft and edit text, get approval from the client, fold, sort and mail a piece like this in less than 24 hours? Common sense would tell anyone that this process would take a minimum of 5 days and that the Council had given the authority to proceed several days before the November 30th meeting. Your decision had been made before you arrived here. That marketing piece that actually indicates that the clean water program has not yet been implemented, a lie, was approved and ready to be mailed days ahead of the meeting because you had made your minds up days before. That insults me and should insult everyone that believes in fair and open government!

Whether what someone here at the City did to fool the voters can be deemed illegal is for a lawyer to decide. The City attorney has said that “public funds (eg postage, mailers, and staff time) may not be expended to assist or defeat the passage of a measure submitted to the voters by the City Council”. I submit that, at a minimum, what has been done to raise our taxes is just plain wrong. I will work to educate your constituents as to the events that I have discussed and will encourage every voter in the City to demand a fair playing field in this and future elections. I would also encourage the Council to remember that you work for us, not against us.

My mother taught me that if I was going to point out a problem that I should be prepared to offer a solution, so here it is; Look your constitutes in the eye and tell them that this is not an environmental issue, it’s an economic issue. Then tell them that by voting no on this water meter tax the water quality will remain the same and that they will save $600 and be entitled to an immediate refund of close to $75. Let your constituents know that the City has the money to continue to comply with Federal and State mandated Clean Water programs. That is what I would do. “

Last night the Council also gave the City attorney a big raise. The City keeps loosing big lawsuits so I take this to mean that the City attorney is giving the Council good advise and they ignore it, the Council is too dense to identify bad service, or they want to keep the current attorney happy because a new attorney might go after the Council and expose them.

The Council also gave a juicy benefits increase to figherfighers and a raise to the City Manager.

Breaking News: Dalagher Finally Cuts Down Old Dead Tree

The former mayor and now mere city councilman mortal and tool sharpener has finally cut down that old dead pine tree that has been blighting up his front yard for decades.
You may have heard that Dalager plans to develop his property and build a family compound. I am cool with this and actually plan to do the same at my parent's Leucadia property.

NCT link

Dalager knows that Encinitas is out of control price wise for young people. It is extremely hard for the next generation to afford homes in the town they grew up in. The choice is to either move away or live at home with your parents forever. This sounds funny but it is actually a good idea. Keeping the family unit together is good not only for the family but is a good foundation for America.

However, if this family thing is just a cover story to sell out then he is just another Leucadia backstabber. Time will tell, in the meantime I am giving him the benefit of doubt.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

New Tax Propaganda Team Hired

Word is that the city of Encinitas has hired this slick marketing firm, Tramutola, to hoodwink us into voting in their scammy new tax next year.

Be prepared for cute signs that play on your emotions. It won't work, this new tax will be defeated because you people out there know better.

From their website:

TRAMUTOLA has helped public agencies prepare for and pass over 180 bonds and other tax measures that have resulted in more than $18 billion in voter-approved revenues. Most of these measures required approval from two-thirds of voters. We are proud to be known as this country's bond and tax election experts. When supermajority support is needed for victory, TRAMUTOLA has the expertise to get you the votes you need to win.

This is the kind of thing you can look forward to seeing.

When your little heartstrings are getting pulled when you see images of children just remember that the city of Encinitas has a surplus and that storm runoff should come out of the general fund and that the city already got busted for charging us an illegal tax (thanks to the Jarvis Taxpayer Association for watching our backs).

Previous post about this tax.

Coast News story about this tax.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Behold! A New Mayor!

NCT link

Christy Guerin is our new mayor. Now I know a lot of people around here have dubbed her "Ms. Bossy Pants" but here are some things I like about her:

She stood up for Leucadia during the Salem RDA meetings saying "I'm just not seeing the blight."

She answers her e-mails.

She appears to be paying attention at city council meetings instead of staring out into space like some people up there.

She always has a new outfit for every public appearance.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Artist Colony/Rock 'n Roll House Doomed?

NCT link

Rock 'n Roll House

And the A Street proposal by Sax calls for scraping the cottages that house the 101 Artists Colony and the Builders Trading Co.

Also to be demolished is a building called the Rock 'n' Roll House, a purple-painted bungalow festooned with beads, mirrors and images of rock musicians.

"It's amazing they would tear this down," said Richard Margolin, Sax's tenant who created the artwork, "but that's the way things go."

'Rather upscale'
In an interview last week, Sax said that he hoped Margolin and other tenants can remain until the last minute before a groundbreaking planned in next fall.

Sax said he expects the 52,296-square-foot project, called Encinitas Artist Lofts, to cost $23 million.

Fifteen of the town houses would be between the highway and an alley, and four others are planned opposite the alley, on A Street, where the Rock 'n' Roll House stands.

The proposed dwellings have between one and three bedrooms and decks atop the 33-foot-tall buildings. Sax said he is already fielding offers for the homes, that would sell for more than $1 million.

The homes will be connected to commercial spaces below, that could be bought and sold separately, Sax said, adding that buyers would receive incentives for buying both.

"We would like to encourage local artists who want to be in the commercial (spaces)," Sax said.

He agreed, however, that most artists would be hard-pressed to afford the spaces.

"They are rather upscale," he said.

I was kinda surprised that the Rock 'n Roll house was a rental! If the landlord was smart he would incorporate it into the new development and keep it as a tourist destination.
If I owned the land (and I don't so who cares right?) I would turn the Rock 'n Roll House into a small club and have bands play there or at least have a lounge/bar with a jukebox.
It's awesome that the new million dollar units are going to be called Encinitas Artist Lofts even though no artist will be able to afford them. That is like when somebody bulldozes a bunch of oak trees and builds tract homes called Oak Tree Ranch.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Giant Public Works Yard, Why?

Councilman Jerome Stocks is either a great America or a little weasel depending on who you talk to but he has a good quote in Angela Lau's Union Tribune story about the public works yard.

Councilman Jerome Stocks said he is not sure Encinitas really needs a consolidated public works yard.

"We have been operating satellite yards for 20 years, and we have better streets than San Diego," he said.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Higher Than Expected Bids for Library

NCT link

Construction bids for the Encinitas library have come in up to 50 percent higher than a city estimate of $9.3 million.

Officials this week opened four bids, ranging from $14.1 million to $18.6 million, to build the library on Cornish Drive and bury nearby utility lines.

The city has programmed $13.6 million for construction.

Officials attribute the higher-than-expected bids to increased costs of construction and materials brought by global competition and domestic natural disasters.

As many of you know my wife is a budding architect. We were talking about the cost of projects like these. She says that since materials are so expensive the trick is to be clever and design "clean with no bling".

At her firm she took over a remodel project for some crappy strip mall out in the sticks. The project was way over budget so she cleaned up the previous design, removing all the goofy ornamentation and weird angles and corners that served no function and saved the client $100,000 in one day's work.

"You can't just haphazardly design a building without thinking about the labor it will take to build it. California worker's comp insurance drives construction cost up to $200 an hour. It's stupid to have your workers spending hours and hours building useless gimmicks that make the building ugly anyway."

That is the kind of mentality we need not only for the Encinitas public library but for the sick and twisted notion of spending $16 million on pedestrian crossing for the train tracks. My wife thinks we could have crossings every 1/4 mile for less than $5 million instead of just 4 crossings for $16. Aye caramba!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

More Fees

We all know about the new tax/fee the city wants to hit us with for storm water runoff. Here is a UT story about the city raising fees for your next remodel.

UT link

Remember, a fee is a tax.

Good Letter in NCT

NCT link

Developer's columns reveal building bias

By: LISA PRAZEAU - I am writing because I have to address three North County Times columns written by Michael D. Pattinson.

First, in his Nov. 1 column, Mr. Pattinson called the people of Encinitas "grouchy," "control freaks" and "no growth" advocates. He claimed that developers "give" residents "parks and roads and other amenities" and that residents "reap the rewards."

The people of Encinitas voiced their concerns and Pattinson resorted to name-calling and blanket statements. Everyone knows that growth puts a bigger demand on infrastructure (roadways, schools, water and sewage). In turn, cities often increase utility rates and city fees to help compensate for the impacts. Furthermore, developers do not "give" anything. By law, they are required to monetarily compensate for impacts associated with the development. It's a good thing that article was on the Opinion page, because it stank.

Second, Pattinson's Nov. 15 column stank worse than the first. I was hoping the NCT printed the column to let its readers see the character of Mr. Pattinson. In that column, Mr. Pattinson wrote: "If you are looking for a hero, you must first find a simple act of defiance." He identified Rosa Parks as a hero and offered a look at his so-called "local hero," Bill Johnson.

No doubt Rosa Parks is a hero admired for her bravery, great deeds and noble qualities. On the other hand, in 1998 Bill Johnson purchased 7,500 acres around the man-made Vail Lake near Temecula and proceeded to grade the land without the required permits. Pattinson praised Johnson's "act of defiance." Is Johnson known for his activist work against the mistreatment of developers? Pattinson suggested that "heroes slice through red tape." He proposed that "deep in the bowels" of City Hall a bureaucrat came to the "sudden realization that all of the permits, all the fees, and all the time to get them were a huge hoax" and "a fraud no longer worthy of belief." It would be "deep in the bowels" that Pattinson would come to that summation. A world without permits (law and order) would be a smorgasbord for the self-serving; Pattinson and his cronies would no doubt be at the front of that line.

The third NCT column is the one printed on Nov. 29. Pattinson complained that "Christmas has come early to Oceanside, Lake Elsinore and the county of Riverside." He complained that City Hall is raising new-home taxes. He said residents of these cities are "reaping the rewards," i.e., a new City Hall, boat docks, animal shelter, child care centers and brand-new traffic signals (he refers to these as "amenities" and "gifts"). He admitted that developer fees do not cover all costs of the "gifts." Then he announced that "developers don't pay fees; they just collect them." What I hear Pattinson saying is: The city imposes proportionate developer fees to compensate impacts to infrastructure and services and in turn the developer passes on the costs to the new-home buyer. How in the world did Pattinson think that this column was a winning position? Pattinson should heed the words of Shakespeare: "Better to be silent and thought ignorant; than to speak and remove all doubt."

Pattinson's position is clear: As president of Barratt American, a builder based in Carlsbad, his goal is to build. He is an opportunist. He has no real regard for the impact to the existing residents, schools, infrastructure, environment or quality of life and no respect for the people whose lives are disrupted. He is grouchy because the longtime residents of these impacted communities are not bending over backward to his massive building and measly compensation. Meanwhile, Barratt American just registered an "all-time record quarterly sales" of $131.2 million for the quarter ended Sept. 30. So, what is with all the grouchiness from Pattinson?

Lisa Prazeau lives in Escondido.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Leucadia Still Funky

I am pleased to report that Leucadia is still funky as of Dec. 05 2005.