Thursday, November 30, 2006

Water rates increase; housing vote delayed

Encinitas approves water rate increase; most customers face 9 percent hike

*note the dirty trick tactic the city used.

By: ADAM KAYE - Staff Writer

ENCINITAS
-- The Encinitas City Council approved 9 percent increases Wednesday to the meter charges and usage rates for most of the San Dieguito Water District's 11,500 accounts.

Also Wednesday, the council listened to comments from an overflow crowd about a pending housing plan. Mayor Christy Guerin announced that a council decision on the plan would be postponed until Dec. 13.

Acting as the water district's board of directors, the council voted 5-0 to approve the rate increase.

*The increase came over objections from a resident who said a notice informing ratepayers of their right to protest did not make that point clearly.

Encinitas activist Kevin Cummins told the council that the notice the city mailed to ratepayers did not state that written protests submitted by a majority of the district's customers could have halted the rate increase. Ratepayers received the notice about six weeks ago.

"(Property owners) have the power to say no," Cummins said.

The mailed notice, which was included with the council's agenda, states that the water board would "hear and consider all protests" at Wednesday's meeting.

"It doesn't say that we can turn in letters," Cummins said.

Bill O'Donnell, a senior engineer for the water district, told the council that just one ratepayer had mailed a letter objecting to the rate increase.

Had the city's mailed notice informed ratepayers of their right to challenge the rate hike, "I bet you would have got more than one (letter)," Cummins said.

He added that a notice that the city of Poway mailed to ratepayers clearly informed them of their right to oppose a water rate increase in that city. Proposition 218 requires written notices of rate increases.

"We're extraordinarily careful to make sure we comply (with Prop. 218)," said Encinitas Councilman James Bond, serving as the water board's president.

Bond added that the increase completes the third of three scheduled rate hikes originally approved in 2005. Before then, the previous increase was in 1995.

To read the rest of this story click on the link at the top of the post.

Connecting the dots here is story from the San Diego Union Tribune, Lake Hodges too dirty, water authorities say

McCollom said his district is concerned about the urban runoff, algae, high carbon content, bromine and silt that end up in Lake Hodges.

“Probably urban runoff is the biggest problem,” he said.


We are now seeing how fragile the North County infrastructure really is.

31 comments:

  1. Last night there was an overflowing crowd at the council meeting. I have never seen so many people there. Around 30 spoke against ammending the Housing Element of the General Plan. All were very eloquent. Mayor Guerin announced beforehand that Agenda Item #9 was being continued until Dec. 13 because the state had not responded yet. Only one person decided not to speak. If you weren't at the meeting last night, be sure to watch it on cable. It doesn't get much better than this. Many thanks to J.P., Hometown Alliance, and all the other groups that helped to make such a successful turnout and effective presentation against the plan.

    And yet Mayor Guerin couldn't resist a long monologue, complete with crocodile tears, after the public spoke. I almost gagged on the phoniness of her comments. This is her last council meeting, although she said she may be back on Dec. 13 as part of the public.

    Stocks was speaking by phone from Hawaii and couldn't be easily heard. Maggie was beaming with a very big smile and looked great. Dalager scowled through the whole meeting and hardly said a word. Bond talked too much about the increase in water rates and the city financial status. The others finally shut him up. Had he indulged a little too much at the catered dinner beforehand? When is this man going to retire? Increasingly he is an embarrassment.

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  2. I turned in a letter to the City Council/SDWD Board of Directors on Wednesday morning protesting the water rate and fee increases. Was that my letter they gloated was the only one? Or did someone else protest and mine not make it to the council in time? I wanted to give my letter directly to the City Clerk, but she was out of her office when I went to City Hall. I had to leave it with the receptionist. I said I wanted it date stamped.

    Kevin Cummins is completely correct. We all should have been notified that we could submit a written protest. This information came too late. I think the city would have received a much larger number of letters. The Financial Flimflam continues.

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  3. I agree, last night's meeting was high entertainment.

    Regarding the Housing Element, I was suprised after hearing all the public testimony, that the council did not direct staff to explore some other mechanism to solve the affordable housing shortfall. If the AHOZ is so disagreeable, what else ya got? It's not all or nothing. What have other cities done? No one asked.

    Secondly, to me, there are two parts to the Housing Element, the element itself, and the actual implementation of the plan. You can adopt a plan for the sake of the potential funding, but the actual implementation is another animal all together. We didn't make our numbers last time, we won't make them this time, and few jurisdictions ever do make them.

    Consider that Encinitas has been asigned our quota for this 5 year term, if we are successful, and somehow fulfill that quota, we will be asigned another quota next time, only larger. It's endless. The only logic for true quality of life and fairness, is to fail to make our numbers.

    Lastly, reality is that these housing units don't magically appear. The mix of new housing in this community is overwhelmingly market driven. Try as we may to obtain true affordable housing, often it is beyond any developer's proforma. Most of the successful affordable housing projects are joint ventures between a city and a developer. That truly is where the potential is.

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  4. We need a referendum to sererate the SDWD from the City of Encinitas. As long as this council can control both they will not be looking after the rate payers of SDWD.

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  5. Another part of the housing element that needs to be expanded is, how can we keep these affordable units in circulation in perpetuity. Speakers in last night's meeting touched on it, and it does need to be seriously adressed. Why should we go thru all the brain damage to obtain these units, only to have to replace them endlessly?

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  6. What is the proper vehicle to separate the SDWD from the Council? Surely I wasn't the only one last night that saw the folly in this arrangement.

    If it's a referendum, let's get the signatures, we're ready.

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  7. What is the proper vehicle to separate the SDWD from the Council? Surely I wasn't the only one last night that saw the folly in this arrangement.

    If it's a referendum, let's get the signatures, we're ready.

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  8. Our city has been and is the ultimate example of 'KEEP AWAY GOVERNMENT",the public hearing process is an exercise in futility.When an issue is too hot it's tabeled, to a future date when the opposition is manageable.All this reverse process comes from the public policy schools who train our civil servants how to keep control.The water company could be operated privately on a bid basis annually, period. Times up, never happen much to competitive,a threat to the civil service empire how dare us.

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  9. What a cast of...uh...characters last night. My evening began with Doug Long telling me that "The Press" would probably make me move from the table I was sitting at in the back room. I told him I'd been contacted by the LA Times to possibly do a comic story about small town politics. "Ever hear of them?" I asked Doug. Then Dalager walked by us and with a big grin on his face said, "Looks like we're going to be here until 11 pm tonight!" All the folks around me said, "Yep. I guess so." Seems to me that crack was more of a challenge than an actual observation. As the crowd grew in number, some guy yelled out, "Low income seating, anyone?" When Christy announced item #9 would "be continued" at another meeting on Dec 13, there was a loud groan from the audience. Oh, she remarked that she knew people had made time for this and she was sorry but they just weren't "prepared" to vote on it. I think this means they got a LOT of feedback about this Housing issue and it wasn't good.

    Then we were treated to a water district dog and pony show that was design to convince us why we need to raise our water rates. Power point presentation, lots of graphs, mathematical formulas, statistical manipulations, and the fellow talking was a good little robot who said the city only got ONE letter of protest. Gee, some people do need to get a life, don't they? Then James Bond droned on as to why we need to do this. Several people got up and spoke and Bond told the audience not to clap after each speaker. This was met with laughter. The Council voted 5-0 to raise the rates.

    Then at 6:40pm we got to see a special duel meeting between the City Council and the Water District. A nice female robot informed the crowd that the city made a lot of money with property taxes, $813,000.00 excess, to be exact. We also learned the average price of a home in Encinitas is $800,000. After that was over, Bond yammered about the Libraray, the Hall property and told us all we gotta is wait and everything will be OK.

    The best was yet to come. The General Housing Update Presentaion! Seems for 2 years there have been meeting and more meetings to address our dire situation here in Encinitas. Another power point slide show with graphs, and info. This was a boring robot who went on and on and on. I saw several people nodding off, their eyes closed, their faces weary. Dalager was looking away from the screen. Maggie looked tired. Bond was "acting" interested and Guerin kept staring at the crowd, and at one point interrupted the speaker and told people that "standing in the chambers is not allowed", and made 'em move to another room.

    The speaker robot told us that if we don't act on this Affordable Housing Program SOON we'll lose out on "certain funds" from the State, such as transportaion. This was the good part. We gotta move on this, people. Hurry!! Emergency!!!! Anyway, the guy finished his talk, and Bond started speaking in that low montone of his. Man, was his face ruddy. He don't look so good and apparently was in a rotten mood. Guerin asked him to "wrap it up" and Bond snapped back, "I listened to your questions and now you're going to listen to mine!" Oooh, that made Guerin mad and when she finally got a chance to speak she started her comment with, "MIS-ter BOND....I voted against this, and blah blah blah". Talk about a woman scorned!!

    We took a break at 8pm. (Somehow, magically, all the other agenda items were shelved,) and at 8:15pm the speakers for item #9 were heard and there was a 100% negative response to this Housing Element scam. No one likes it and everyone knows this is a plan by the developers to screw each and every citizen in Encinitas. Most people asked for a public vote. My very favorite speaker was a guy who held up a report that gave the word "spin" a whole new definition. Every concern, whether it be Traffic, or Quality of Life, was put in the "No Impact" category, so this guy led the crowd in a chant-when he would read one of the comments, such as "...environmental pollution..?", he'd gestured towards the crowd and we all yelled out, "NO IMPACT! This went on for a bit and was very funny.

    I guess we were having way too much fun...the city manager and attorney glared at us and Dalager looked like he had a headache. I left after this nice man got up and told the Council that "...we are strong, we are organized and we are prepared. We want to be on your side, but we want you to be on our side too." Or something like that. He was very gallant. Robert Nanninga was spot on and brought up some good points and delivered his argument with an unusually cohestive cachet.

    Wish I could've seen those croc tears of Guerins', but I've seen 'em before, like when she helped stripped Sheila Cameron of her Mayor title two weeks before Camerons' term was over. I suppose I'll see 'em next week when Teresa Barth takes her place.

    What's not to love about this town?

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  10. I personally know that a least two of separate individuals turned in letters re the water rate raise.

    So at least one letter was not counted. Yes, the letters that were sent out by the Water Board should have notified citizens that written protests would be received and considered. When it says protests will be "heard," at the Council Meeting, it does not offer the alternative of written communication. The most important thing is that people are informed of their options, Mr. Bond, not that you did "what you had to" in order to comply with the law. The law is made to protect and empower the citizens, not government entities, at the expense of the taxpayers and ratepayers.

    Good "blow by blow account Jerry, and Mary. I'm grateful people are participating. No matter what else was said about the water issue, we are taking money from SDWD ratepayers and putting it into the General Fund, through the previous machinations of Kerry Miller, and Council, in setting up the overpriced Mossy Property purchase. That's another $10 million dollar "boondoggle," that the ratepayers are supporting by being forced to put 3.5 million into the General Fund for "rights of use" of the public works yard. No one I've spoken to things this is ethical or fair.

    Yes, the citizens need to take control of the government again, as was intended, originally. If Christy Guerin comes back, in the audience, she has to keep her comments down to the allotted time, like everyone else. Oh how many times has she interrupted those she doesn't agree with, while allowing others to go on and on?

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  11. Hoping for a change for the betterNovember 30, 2006 10:29 AM

    I'm glad Teresa Barth was there, in the audience.

    Can't wait for her to be on Council. I hope she makes a big differnece, and that she empowers Maggie to make some better decisions, too.

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  12. Doug Long continues to be such a jerk. First he was the sign police.
    Now he is the table police.
    No class, no sense, no brains. What an embarrassment. He should stick to being a plumber.
    He's just Dalager "light."

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  13. The housing vote was delayed because the State hasn't given it's blessing.

    If the watchdogs can prove that the water increase is funding something other than water, they will be successful in court requiring a refund, which just occurred in San Diego.

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  14. The water increase is funding, in part, the $10 million dollar cost of the new public works yard, which is coming out of the General Fund. It is not right that the Water Dept. must pay $3.5 million INTO THE GENERAL FUND for right of use of the new public works yard, which includes over $500,000 for renovation. SDWD also loses substantial rent from the City, but is only compensated $1,040,000 for the former SDWD headquarters, which we, the ratepayers owned outright.

    Essentially, because Council is the Water Board, too, they did an "eminent domain," on the water district, and shuffled the ratepayers money into the general fund to pay for the Mossy project, and many others, too. We can figure this out; we are not morons.

    Now the City lies to us, and stating, as was printed in the NCT, that only one letter of protest was received.

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  15. Previous poster is correct. I called up and spoke to Bill O'Donnell, who was identified in the NCT as the senior engineer from the Water District who said only one letter had been received. It wasn't ours, but was Jerry Sodomka's letter which he turned in Wednesday morning. We turned ours in on Tuesday morning.

    We personally had our letter, with two signatures, file stamped; we provided it to the clerk: Attn: Council Members and Water District Board of Directors
    "RE Increase in Water Rates" including our parcel number. It was totally ignored.

    I have our file stamped copy to prove that it was received by the City Clerk on 06 NOV 28.

    We are upset that we are being disregarded and ignored, as usual. I called Adam Kaye to tell him, too. I hope he follows through. Who knows how many other letters were "misplaced?"

    Once again the ratepayers are lost in the shuffle. The letter sent to inform us of the raise in rates should have also informed us that we could protest in writing before Nov. 29. Many more letters might have been sent if this had been made clear. James Bond saying the City is within the law might be right, but he is not listening to the ethical concerns of his constituents. The law always has loopholes for those lawyers who write the laws.

    It is incumbent upon our representatives to represent our wishes and to acknowledge our letters of protest

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  16. More dirty tricks by Council, the so-called "Water Board" (Council) and staff.

    I wouldn't be surprised if they ignored twenty letters because they got put in Council's mailbox, and they didn't read them; the Water District engineer didn't ever get them.

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  17. LeftCoast is right:
    "...and the actual implementation of the plan. You can adopt a plan for the sake of the potential funding, but the actual implementation is another animal all together...
    The stupid housing element won't approve a single project or even an individual house. It meely shows the state how a city could "potentially" meet a "fair share" of regional growth. As a retired planner and professor I can assure you good folks that based upon my watching of the testimony at the meeting, many people were mislead about what was really being considered. But it's obvious that this blog's owner won't do a post about bad faith activism!
    In reality, the housing element update isn't controversial or general plan changing, it is just business as usual being manipulated for political reasons unclear to me. Was Ms. Barth behind this misrepresentation? She got one hell of an applause upon being introduced by the Mayor...

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  18. The anonymous poster claiming to be a retired planner and professor arouses my suspicions. This person needs to put his name and bona fides on the blog, otherwise I will consider him a shill for the city. Saying that the proposed housing element does not approve a single project or even a single home is extremely deceptive. The proposed housing element will put in place the legal basis to do this with an unprecedented ease and at a higher density than ever before.

    The citizens were not misled. They know exactly what the city, with the help of a slick consultant, is trying to do: upzone and increase density for the benefit of developers and the city's revenue stream. Part of the proposal is to allow a simple majority of three on the council to make any zoning changes. Now it takes a vote of the public or a super majority.

    The throwaway comment about Teresa Barth and its implied criticism suggest that "anonymous" may even be the hired consultant himself. The consultant didn't look too happy on Wednesday night under the barrage of criticism from the public. His glibness and slick presentation failed.

    J.P., please don't give in to his baiting of you. You are completely correct in asking him what he means.

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  19. Was the anonymous retired planner at the same meeting? Bruce Ehlers clearly pointed out that language in the proposed housing element was changed because it eliminated the majority vote on rezoning but the current plan allows for a majority vote. Even sorry ass Jerome Stocks pretended not to know about the elimination of the super majority and /or the elimination of the majority vote.Another speaker indicated that the planning department misinformed him about the consequence of the proposed council vote of 11/29/06. Face it Mr. Planner, the planning manager Patrick Murphy looked like he got caught with his pants down with Mr. DeCordova's hand on his d--k. Finally,the retired planner knows that the most planning departments are nothing more than a rubber stamp for the developers. Hey retired planner, does Negative Declaration ring a bell?

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  20. Adios from retired plannerDecember 02, 2006 1:27 AM

    Such a sad uninformed agry crew are you. All of this is a "neg dec" BECAUSE a housing element update does NOT approve a single project, thus it is not a project, and specifically is not a project that would "change the physical environment" (CEQA) thus it does NOT trigger an EIR!! Which means the "longterm Leucadian" has it right. The city can in theory come up with a plan on paper that shows the state how "in theory" they can accomodate the psycho numbers dictated by the state and still not approve a single project.

    j.p.: I mean: Operating under an assumption that whoever decided recently to crank up the community on this issue which has been in process for over two years is not a moron, they are acting as "bad faith" activists using what they know to be false information to frighten people into action. The name on the registration of the web-site of the flyer that was distributed is different than the name for the same address on the voter roles (public info, folks!) and the phone number on the flyer was Bob Bonde's... You figure it out...
    I'm going surfing.

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  21. The retired planner is a wolf in sheep's clothing. He obviously has a stake in upzoning and low-income density bonuses. All of this means big profits for the developers, especially when they retain ownership of the low-density units and later sell at market prices. A sweet investment!

    There is little long-term benefit for the citizens of Encinitas. All low-income housing created eventually disappears and has to be recreated. A bad deal!

    Now that Charlie Marvin has been unmasked as the Roadside Park Bum, has he taken on a new persona as a Retired Planner? I doubt he's going surfing.

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  22. I accept e-mails from all sides of the issues and if they are coherent I will post them up as main topics. So if you feel that this blog is slanted feel free to e-mail your position to me. funkyleucadian@gmail.com

    You must remember, I am not a member of the Usual Suspects or the Usual Scoundrels.

    I know this, the way this city and staff goes about things, it always leads to confusion. Confusion leads to fear, fear leads to anger. If the city was less deceitful about what they are trying to do they would have less problems with the public. The atmosphere in this town is toxic for a reason.

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  23. "The name on the registration of the web-site of the flyer that was distributed is different than the name for the same address on the voter roles (public info, folks!) and the phone number on the flyer was Bob Bonde's."

    Whoa! Sounds like a lot of people are involved in this. Not just Bob Bonde.

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  24. Professor,

    I wouldn't mention public records on this blog without realizing that you are going to touch a nerve.

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  25. Professor,

    If the Housing Element Document was a no stakes or low stakes event why did the Building Industry Association (BIA) send their paid employees to take part in its drafting? We know how important it is to the BIA to not waste any money on useless governmental activity.

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  26. Professor,

    This is very very important. You write, if the Document is adopted the city can "still not approve a single project."

    Can you explain how the city can ethically or legally tell a developer that they can't build a project? How about if it meets the guildlines set in the adopted document?

    Explain that.

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  27. Why is an independent consultant who is suppose to be working in the interest of the public framing questions about people like Bonde. Sounds like he is going after the messenger.

    It would be better if he did something like write a nice informative post that JP will publish on this blog, which still maintains a wide readership even after the election!

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  28. JP's correct, as usual. Anger is a mask that fear wears.

    The situation in this town has people feeling bitter, angry, afraid, because many of us feel we cannot trust our elected officials and our public servants to fairly represent our best interests.

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  29. The situation in this town has people feeling bitter, angry, afraid, because many of us feel we cannot trust our elected officials and our public servants to fairly represent our best interests???

    Well that's your issue to resolve isn't it.
    All information regarding the city is A) public information, and
    B) for the most part on the city web site.
    Go hate your mom for being indifferrent or your uncle for whatever.

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  30. Last poster is new to the city of encinitas because: 1) A majority of city public records are not on the web and 2) the city likes to violate the brown act and the california public records act.

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