Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Keep Hondo City Funky

Don't worry Gaijin, this year it won't be about me.

"Our tax dollars..." don't you just hate that phrase because you know that whatever follows is going to make a little bit of bile come up into your throat?

Encinitas delegation headed to Japan

By: ADAM KAYE - Staff Writer

ENCINITAS ---- A sister-city delegation is leaving Thursday for Japan, where officials will reaffirm ties with a city that is reorganizing much as Encinitas did 20 years ago.

Hondo City, Japan, is consolidating with Amakusa and eight other townships to become a single city of Amakusa, local officials said Monday. Encinitas and Hondo became sister cities in 1988.

When Encinitas incorporated in 1986, the communities of Encinitas, New Encinitas, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Leucadia and Olivenhain merged to become a single city.

As part of Hondo's transition, Encinitas Mayor Christy Guerin will exchange formalities with her Japanese counterpart, Mayor "Bossyhakama" Yasuda.

NCT link

The city's yearly budget includes $12,000 (our tax dollars) to support the sister-city program. Traveling at the city's expense this year are Mayor Guerin, Deputy Mayor James Bond, City Manager Kerry Miller, (why are we paying for the city manager to go to Japan. Will the Japanese who are excellent at management make Miller wear ribbons of shame for his shoddy job here in Encinitas?) Fire Department Chief Don Heiser (Why is a fire chief that is retiring next month going? It is his final boondoggle at taxpayers expense) and Parks and Recreation Department Director Chris Hazeltine (What purpose is there in sending a parks guy at taxpayers expense to 'knock around'?).

Guerin is bringing her teenage son and Bond is bringing his wife. Also making the trip is former Councilman Rick Shea, chairman of Encinitas' Sister City Committee, and his wife, Minerva. (Is this a joke? Why are we sending these people? Are we paying for the Shea's?)

Amakusa is a beautiful part of Japan and I'm sure the trip is going to be heaps of fun for everyone involved but it looks bad when you are a city leader struggling to find money for your capital projects and you take a vacation on the tax payer's dime. Yes, international relations are important. Did you know that Encinitas has been a favorite destination for Japanese surfers for over 30 years? It's true, they love to stay at the Moonlight Motel, surf D-St and Swami's and buy surfboards and surf clothing at the local surf shops and drinks tons and tons of beer at our local haunts.
My family business has had a tight relationship with the Japanese ever since I was a little kid. Everyone at the shop has posed for hundreds of photos by touring Japanese surfers. I recommend restaurants and stores and places to go to the visiting Japanese, doing my civic duty to help our local economy.
Why do I bring this up? Well I was thinking, maybe it would have made more sense to have a sister city in Japan in an area that has surf. I figure all the tax dollars I have personally generated for Encinitas by my relationship with the Japanese has financed all the trips to Japan.
You are welcome.

Someone from the city please bring me back an Akira action figure.


  1. Big disgrace, a waste. I think everyone going should go on his or her own dime.

    This perk is like the straw that broke the camel's back.

    James Bond, especially, should know better. Christy Guerin, how can you face your constituents?

  2. Why are we sending, on our dime, a fire chief that is retiring next month? This is obviously a taxpayer paid vacation for Guerin, Bonds, Heiser, city manager and the rest. Can we impeach or recall these people?

    It is unbeleieveable that Guerin and Dalager voted for this expenditure. Vote these two characters out of office come November if we can't recall them sooner.

  3. Why isn't Maggie going?

  4. Why isn't Maggie going?

  5. It isn't about me.

  6. There should be clear justification for this expense.

    1) Does the City get a net return on this cultural exchange investment?

    2) Can that return be realized in a cheaper and more efficient way?

    If the answer is yes and then no, maybe we shouldn't be too upset about this.

    But come on, how does a Councilperson participating in a bike race in Japan make our City better and why is the soon to retire Chief going?

    Maybe with his years of experience, the Chief is going for Hondo’s benefit. If the Chief’s experience will help out Hondo, then let Hondo pay his way.

  7. tora tora toraMay 24, 2006 10:26 AM

    domo arogato mr roboto


    Godzilla say- Encinitas Sister city delegation must pay respects to GODZILLA!!!
    IF no pay respect, GODZILLA swim under ocean come up at Moonright Breach and begin to stomp frough downtown!!! Godzilla destroy everfing!! GODZILLA no touch Reucadia, nofing there to destroy, GODZILLA no waste his time!!!!


    GODZILLA say "Aaarrgghhhh"

  9. The Balls of the City are too big and must be castrated in the next election. Time for change

  10. J.P., This blog was a letdown. I agree with the Council that they need a vacation......a permanent one.

  11. I seem to remember that the last trip to Hondo included a freebee trip for then Mayor Houlihan AND her husband. And the entire contingent was a bunch of people!
    Is this petty crap the best we've got?
    Wa Kara Matsu!

  12. Dear tiny disgrace...
    This petty crap adds up 10,000 here, 12,000 there, 70,000 for dema, pay raises, etc. pretty soon you can't afford capital improvement projects.

    If these people want to vacation in Japan let them pay for the trip just like I do.


  13. Let's just hope this gang doesn't suffer another diplomatic "CAT-astrophe"!!

  14. It's 12,000. bucks. In the big picture that isn't going to complete anything and if necessary they can tap into Kerry's 100K/yearly discretionary fund. Stay focused on what's really important, Mainstreet Leucadia funding, the park, public works, Cardiff Mainstreet funding, a unified, diversified Encinitas.

  15. Plus J.P. does deserve an Akira action figure, hardly an unreasonable request for all his hard work on this blogsite.

    Still a great blogsite J.P

  16. Dear justaplumber,

    You won't get those things as long as this city council spends your money on this unneccessary crap. But maybe you deal with crap all day long so it doesn't bother you as much.

  17. Little things add up and cause problems for big things, but more importantly this trip shows how the Council operates. They had a "presentation" regarding the exchange trip last night. I was hoping they would at least try to justify the expense. Nope, not to any satisfaction.

    Things are not well thought out and adequately weighed. That is why we are in such a mess with the budget, the hall property, 101 storm drain, the public works yard...



    dude, where can I get that Chris Sjoberg red leather action figure?

  19. Our sister city should be Amsterdam and then we could all go on the trip and party. I want to smoke a brick of hash with Christy. I bet that girl loosens up after a few.

  20. We have been a sister city with Hondo since 1988. The current council was not sitting then, The city and it's councils have been doing the exchange thing for years. We don't discontinue exchange student programs because schools are crowded or because school funding is down. In a similar vein why would we discontinue a city official exchange program that goes back to city-hood. The Hondo presentation included a video clip and the thing that impressed me most was what a great city we live in.

    The Hondo presentation was the least important item open to discussion last night.

    Item #4 was the Youth Commission Applicants. The candidates made you proud of the youth of our communities.
    Item #5 dealt with the addition of 1.5 Community Service Officiers under our contract with the San Diego County Sheriff's office. One officier to work the downtown coastal corridor to try to alleviate the parking problems so we never have to resort to parking meters which no one wants. The items of discussion were; will the new position expand it's range so it stretches from La Costa Ave to Manchester, will the merchants not members of DEMA join in the cost sharing expenses associated with the new position, will the new position really help solve the problems with parking and security on the 101 corridor?
    The .5 officier addition is needed to handle the screening and paperwork associated with the city's red light cameras. Donna Westbrook wisely asked if the work done by a community service officier would hold up in court or be thrown out because it wasn't a regular badge officier. I don't know if she was still present when that question was addresses. The city checked with those concerned and as long as the badge reviews the video tapes and signs the ticket 95/100 times everything will be asseptable.

    Item #6 dealt with the Council giving staff direction concerning the public works yard, the Quail Springs Rd site, the Saxony site, and alternative locations. Adam Kaye's article today in the NCT deals with these issues.

    The regular council meeting adjourned about 9:35 PM.

    An last but certainly not least was the Joint Budget Workshop of the Encinitas City Council and the San Dieguito Water District. This was the follow up of the April 26th meeting waith staff reporting to three council questions dealing with:
    a) CIty Staffing Study
    b) Financing Instruments
    c CostAnaylysis Completion Time using pay-as-you-go vs long term financing COP's Lease Revenus Bonds.

    Personally, I think the is some of the best work done by staff in the last ten years and an insightful presentation by representatives of Northcross/Hill/Ach.

    The water is deep in these discussions and I strongly advise taping tonight recap so that you can review it over and over and better digest and understand our city's options. It would be unreasonable for me to discuss it now.

    As for "being in such a mess," only the storm drain project was a boondoggle, the public works problem has to do with no zoning for Industrial/public works in the original zoning matrix, the Hall property is a very major undertaking for the city, and the financial health of the city isn't red ink, just a lot of capital projects all on the table at once in a period when construction costs are almost as runaway as oil prices.

    Please watch the replay of the meetings last night and stay informed and provide input.

  21. Gil,
    DEMA wants someone to come downtown and ticket those who park over 2 hrs. So the city council hires 1.5 sheriff's deputies ($107,721) soon to be ($119,839). DEMA contributes $20,000. (and DEMA's $ comes from the city) Why not help all of 101 with parking problems. $20,000 should not BUY you this kind attention.

  22. Seems to me that if DEMA is so adamant about this, they could come up with more than $20,000 or better yet, build an underground parking area so that we don't have to hire any more City employees. Don't forget it is not just salaries that they get. Also, pensions, health care benefits, Fridays off, etc.Seems like too much money to benefit a few.

  23. Nice Sjoby reference, heh.

  24. Please enlighten meMay 25, 2006 7:25 PM

    Could someone enlighten me as to why we have a "sister" City anyway. What are the benefits to Encinitas, besides encouraging people to run for City Council so they can go on junkets? I'm sure there is a good reason, but I am clueless.

  25. It does bother me that DEMA recieves more than 20K from the city each year and then gives that $ back to the city for enforcement. The 120k is for 1.5 CSO of which part comes from the red light tickets, some comes from the cities administrative towing fees, some from DEMA, although the committment was only for one year.
    We need to pressure the council to increase the sphere of influence from La Costa Ave. to Manchester not only for the merchants but for campers that can't get into the San Elijo campgrounds and then dump their waste on the streets and therefore into the ocean. It needs to include Leucadia so that the merchants and 'Funky' haps there are inviting to the summer crowd. The sales of the local businesses should pick up and the sales tax revenue should help defer the cost. With the new Contel at the end of La Costa paying their TOT taxes some of that $ could also help defer the costs. In the Old Encinitas downtown area, so many mornings I see Coaster riders finding the coaster lots full and parking their cars all day in the 101 Corridor parking spots. It is only going to get worse as the $ of gas pushes more and more folks onto the coaster. The coming Hwy 5 widening is going to push even more people onto the coaster and there won't be a parking spot left downtown. If those who do ride the coaster and park in the corridor parking spots, return and find their cars towed a few times they will pressure the NCTD to complete "Lot B", which will provide an additional 140 spaces in the immediate downtown area. If you have a better solution to a tough problem blogit unless it has to do with parking meters, which I will never support.

  26. Now in the North part of the corridor we will get 100 new underground parking spaces, because that was part of the rotten deal on the Contel approval at the base of La Costa Ave.

  27. As for a sister city - Why not? It's a cheap cultural exchange program and because it goes both ways. I wouldn't be surprised if the amount of $ their contingent spends here when they visit dwarfs what ours spends there. Traditionally, the Japanese are an industrious, innovative people and there is much each city can learn from the other. This year our officials can explain the difficulties involve in merging communities. We joined four when we became a city, they are merging nine. 12/k seems like a reasonable expense for the opportunity to examine how they deal with congestion. What if they have an innovative way to get people out of cars and onto bikes? What if they have an innovative way to deal with public works? What if they have experimented with a low maintainance sod for parks and sports fields? If we don't expose ourselves to What ifs how would we know? Remember, someone had to say "What if bread mold is medicine?"

  28. What if they learn from books, the internet or on their on dime. A city exchange seems alittle perky. I still dont understand the value to the Tax Payers. Gil are you lining up for a future Japan trip?

  29. Gil you should give them the 12,000 if you think paying for their vacations is reasonable.

  30. If I make a future Japan trip it will be because I think my wife's art would be appreciated there. I am not lining up for a future city perk trip. As I tell everyone who asks, I am not, can not be run for council. I do not reside in the city anymore since the Farm Bureau pres. asks me to place myself in a position where I could vote on the county 2020 plan when it hits the ballot. In addition, I would no longer be able to appear before the Coastal Commission as a coastal access/preservation advocate and I promised the CC that I would not give up the ship until they were shoveling dirt in my face. As for me giving the 12k to the city for their junket, I'm tapped out from my out of pocket expenses for Prop. A. Sorry.

  31. Cut Gil some slack jack.

  32. Am I the only one baffled by some of Gil's comments? He was outstanding on Prop. A. I sometimes feel he is moving to the dark side. Is he morphing into Darth Vader?

  33. Gil usually says and writes in the ballpark of what I am thinking. Most of his points under this topic I agree with, at least in spirit.

    I can’t image that there is any resistance to the idea that the council should feel obliged to provide public justification for any expenditures, especially one that might be considered only a perk some citizens. I have expressed this same concern numerous times before, even when I agree with direction the city is taking.

    The video they put together did give us a reminder of the reason we care so much about Encinitas, although I don’t think we really need a reminder. I’ll bet everyone willing to take the time to come down to city hall haven’t forgotten how great Encinitas is. We also know that keeping it a great place to live is not automatic and that participating in city government is necessary if we are going keep it a wonderful place.

    The video which they plan on showing in Hondo was a great opportunity to showcase some of the returns from the sister city program. I didn’t watch closely, but I don’t think they pointed out any realized benefits of the program. The program has been around for a while so we should hope to have seen some benefits by now.

    Yeah, possibly there are the less tangible benefits of making our council more sophisticated, open minded, knowledgeable, or willing to think outside the box, but shouldn’t we just elect people that start with that disposition? (Did we send the right councilmembers to Hondo?)

    My big point is that they did not adequately justify this expenditure. Maybe they don’t think they need to, but since this program has been around for a long time you would think that it would be easy to develop a compelling justification. Instead they left it in the air and took a retiring fire chief with them, when they could have taken the new chief who will be able to put all the new things he learns into action.

    There were bigger things on the agenda this week. The public works yard for instance. That item being on the agenda does represent a blunder. The city has wasted way too much time and money zeroing in on two sites that are poor choices. Are we now going to go through the whole site selection process again? Lets not forget that in 2003 THIS council decided that the Quail Gardens site was the best location for a public works yard.

    Without details, some of the council are now saying that the former public works director (by inference) was the reason THE COUNCIL picked the quail gardens site as the best location. Now she is gone and the Quail Gardens site is no longer a viable site? Any way you slice it, that doesn’t smell right.

    I didn’t go to the meetings where they selected the Quail Gardens site but I have looked at the staff report. The staff report was thin (as is typically acceptable to this council). Maybe if they had forced a clear and well thought out justification two things could have happened: 1) they would have realized what they “now know.” That is, the Quail Gardens site should be used for something other than a public works yard, and 2) they would have a record showing that their 2003 decision was diligent and made in good faith. I think now they are going to half to say that the process leading up to the selection failed and their 2003 decision was poor (thus, the need to blame a public works director that moved on to a better job).

    If it was a solid decision in 2003 how can they completely flip-flop now, when there are even fewer opportunities? Which part of their 2003 assessment of the site was incorrect and why? A clear record of their justification in 2003 and for their flip-flop now would put them to the test and keep people from WONDERING if the selection of the Quail Gardens site was partially motivated by the coming Ecke land swap and posturing for Prop A.

    K Cummins

  34. As to my morphing into Darth Vader, I assume that means moving to the "dark side". Really, the only side that I am on is making Encinitas, our little corner of the world a better place to live. I try very hard not to be political in my positions or actions. Rather I am issue orientated. I work with what ever council, you the voters, seat. I intend to continue to do the same. Those of you who blog this site advocating a change in council members, that is your task. My task is to work with whomever you select. If you impeach the lot of them and replace them I will address your new choices. If you retain the current members I will still be in their faces. It's the hand I have delt myself.

  35. As for Kevin's blog the item on Hondo that he points out that I too have some questions about is, "Did we send the right city representatives? It used to be that we had an independent sister committee that directed the sister city program. It seems that concept have been left somewhere along the wayside and that disturbs me. I personally would have liked to included an Artist from the community. Perhaps the editor of our truely local newspaper the Coast News. Perhaps Joe from VG's donut shop, a true local landmark. Perhaps someone from SRF, another local landmark and institution.I would like to know what happened to the sister city committee. I have no way of knowing for sure but it appears that it has been hi-jacked by the mayor and I think that is a very baaaddd thing.
    As for the public works yard I am on record as opposing both of the locations that the council, will the exception of Maggie, decided to still leave under consideration. I am against the Saxony site because it is not what we agreed upon when we agreed to let the Ecke's change our community forever, and I am against the Quail Springs site because that property was never zoned for a public works yard or for homes or for a library. And again I am on record as to where I thnk the Public Works Yard should be located, but none of the council members want to entertain such a suggestion. As I said to all of them at the last meeting, "I understand, it just makes too much sense."

  36. The Hall property isn't zoned for a public works yard either, if that is going to be the criterion. Where does that leave us? Perhaps we should consider scattering the public works yard around the city in several smaller parts. After all the four properties mentioned at the May 24 meeting (Saxony, Quails Garden, Hall, and Pacific View) are all in the southwest section of the city. A more central location or several scattered sites make more sense, if the properties can be found or even exist. A good solution doesn't seem to be available.

  37. Just thought i'd put you straight. I live near Hondo (about 30 mins drive away) and there IS surf here.


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