Sunday, February 05, 2006
Word from the Leucadia Underground, dig it:
The Andrew Neighborhood appealed the Planning Commission’s approval of Barratt America’s Nantucket project last week.
Our top eight reasons to cringe at the Ecke/Meyer/Barratt project are:
8) Barratt graded without grading permits (just like Rosa Parks)
7) Barratt got a custom home exemption, averting a publicly aired review
6) Underground gasoline tanks were ignored in the EIR,
5) No street parking within the development
4) The project leaves Andrew Avenue more narrow than it started,
3) Lot pads were raised 2-5 feet higher than necessary (to steal ocean views from existing homes)
2) A density bonus was granted to Ecke/Meyer even though they didn’t add any new low income housing,
1) Staff made numerous untrue statements to the Council regarding the project and Council has been uninterested in ascertaining the truth.
The neighborhood was too late to appeal the top 8 reasons. They weren’t too late to appeal Barratt trying to build houses that violate the height limits by several feet. So, last week the neighborhood went in front of the Council with their appeal. In an appeal the Council is suppose to act in their judicial role, ensuring all relevant laws are obeyed.
The appeal got going with Michael Schwaebe’s presentation to Council. He was really smooth, and paused at important points so that Council would remember them. It didn’t seem to work. That is Andree standing in the background. He had to flip paper copies of Michael’s powerpoint presentation because the City didn’t load Michael’s presentation on the computer. Staff was nice enough to provide a set of hard copies of the presentation, but they forgot to tell anyone that the pages had been shuffled.
Barratt’s staff sat together and did not look proud. They got caught cheating. Ron Rouse did all their talking. Seems like Rouse is always the attorney when developers are trying to get away with something in our town. He must be rich.
That is Ron Rouse standing and Everett Delano sitting. Delano is the neighborhood’s attorney. Rouse got that map in his grip by yanking it out of Delano’s hands. That was super funny. Delano is smiling. Right then, he knows the case against the approval of Barratt’s permits is only strengthened by Rouse’s attempt to distract the Council. Everett even agreed with the facts described by Rouse, but they were totally irrelevant to the appeal. Rouse’s arguments were “the most amount of nothing” we have ever heard. At that point, the uninitiated audience members thought that there was no way that Barratt was going to win.
The Council was treated to an extra dose of nothing, because about 8 minutes into Rouse’s address, the City Clerk stopped his clock and added about a minute and half to his ten minutes to speak.
That is Jerry Sodomka. He has been monitoring the Planning Department over that last few years. He tried to get Council to deliberate on the merits and actually address the issues relevant to the appeal. He has seen this Council get good at blowing a lot of wind and avoid addressing the issue on appeals. He also reminded Council that the appeal was an appeal of the Planning Commission and Staff’s recommendations. It doesn’t make sense for Council to just ask staff if they made a mistake and then say that they are voting for staff’s recommendation because staff attested that “No mistakes were made.” No justification necessary. It is surreal when the Council does that.
That’s Jerome Stocks. A very classy lady came to the appeal and read all the conditions requiring a Council Member to recuse themselves and then asked the entire Council to affirm that they didn’t have any conflicts of interest. None of the Councilmembers responded. At a different Barratt appeal I humbly asked Jerome to consider recusing himself because he accepted illegal campaign contributions from Barratt America. It would have been a good way for him to help promote trust in the system. The aware public surely needs some of that.
The appeal ended in a 4-1 vote, letting Barratt violate the municipal code(again). Houlihan dissented. Dalager, Jerome, Christy, and Bond did nearly flawless impressions of activist judges. Except for Danny they didn’t have the strength to just come out and say something like, “Today, we don’t like this law so we aren’t going to enforce it.” Instead they used some pretty messed up arguments. Danny gave staff direction to change the law, so in the future it would be legal to do what Barratt proposed. When he did that we thought he was going to vote to reject the plans because he seemed to admit to understanding that Barratt's plans violated the Encinitas Municipal Code.