Thursday, August 16, 2007

"That is not why I moved here."

Encinitas nixes bids for public works center remodeling

By: ADAM KAYE - Staff Writer

ENCINITAS -- The Encinitas City Council voted 4-1 Wednesday to reject bids for remodeling a former auto dealership to be used as the city's public works facility, after some council members complained that staffers did not fully reveal the condition of the building when the city purchased it one year ago.

Councilwoman Teresa Barth cast the dissenting vote. She said the former Mossy Chevrolet dealership on Calle Magdalena was sold to the community as being "move-in ready."

Barth was not on the council when the panel voted 5-0 last summer to pay $9.5 million for the 4.1-acre site.

"It was sold hard to the community," she said.

She said she toured the facility in January after she was elected.

"I was rather appalled at the run-down condition it was in,î Barth said. ìIt was not move-in ready. It desperately needed a lot of work."

The city has received bids ranging from $1.8 million to $2.2 million to improve the dealership's main building and a detached vehicle maintenance building. The bids included costs to fabricate outdoor storage bunkers and to install an elevator in the main building.

The council majority endorsed Public Works Director Larry Watt's recommendation to advertise for a job with fewer improvements.

"It's obviously not turning out to be such a good deal," said Leucadia activist Kathleen Lees.

Some council members, however, defended the purchase.

"It was never represented to me as being a turnkey operation," said Mayor James Bond. "It was represented to me as being a facility that had a number of the features we could incorporate as a public works facility. This one fell in our lap."

The work Watt is now proposing includes:

n remodeling the first floor of the main building, and adding public restrooms;

n modifying the entire building to be accessible for disabled people. The budget would allow for construction of an elevator shaft in the main building, but the elevator itself would need to come later. Watt said he did not know the extent to which the second floor could be used before the elevator requirement is met;

n installing a records storage vault with a four-hour fire rating;

n enclosing vehicle maintenance bays to create a repair shop; and

n building a locker room for employees.

In other business Wednesday, the council rejected a proposal to rezone 1.19 acres on La Costa Avenue for up to 20 residential units. The council voted 5-0 to keep the undeveloped property west of Interstate 5 available for a motel or other businesses geared toward serving visitors.

Stan Dotts, the developer from La Mesa who proposed the zoning change, told the council the long and narrow lot would be better suited for homes.

A commercial real estate broker, Joe Wadowski, added that he had been marketing the property for more than two years and that a good commercial project "would be impossible to build."

A good project belongs on the property, though, one speaker said.

Robert Nanninga, a nearby resident, told the council the site would be ideal for a small hotel complex.

ìThe sales and transient occupancy taxes generated would better serve the future needs of Encinitas than would the development of 20 apartments,î he said.

Another neighbor disagreed.

"I'd rather see residences than a Jack in the Box," said John Turk. "Thatís not why I moved here."

Earlier this summer, Dotts withdrew a separate proposal to rezone property on Manchester Avenue.

-- Contact staff writer Adam Kaye at (760) 901-4074 or


  1. Good for Teresa Barth and Maggie Houlihan for speaking out and calling Council on the boondoggle. Well, Maggie was part of it, but she said she feels she was misled.

    I guess I misunderstood James Bond to say it was not turnkey, not that it wasn't presented as turnkey. Dan Dalager went on and on about sleeping on the floor when he first purchased his home. He seemed real grumpy at the end of the meeting, too, implying it was too late at night to add any reports from whatever commissions or boards he gets paid to attend.

    I'll check out the rebroadcast tonight and see if I misunderstood James Bond. We all know it was pushed as turnkey. James Bond seems confused on a lot of subjects. With all due respect, it's time for him to step down come next November. 16 years is more than enough, Jim, but thanks for your service.

  2. The purchase of the Mossy site was certainly represented as a turnkey property. Dan Dalager was the head cheerleader for buying the property. James Bond and Jerome Stocks were right with him, along with Christie Guerin, now gone. Maggie Houlihan seems to be saying that she was not fully informed.

    There were warnings from the public, all of which were ignored by the council. I remember Kevin Cummins stating very clearly in public sessions that there were problems with the purchase. I also remember there were some strong supporters for the purchase on this blog. How wrong they were and how right Cummins was.

    The whole reason for buying the Mossy site was to save money by not having to build a new public works yard. It now looks like a new yard might have been cheaper. And where was our new city manager, Phil Cotton, formerly head of Public Works? It appears he didn't exercise good judgment. I am wondering about his competence to be city manager.

    The other shoe is yet to drop. A friend who works as a builder/developer of public projects has information that the library is once more (!) over budget and behind schedule. At some point this information will have to be made public. Where will it all end? When we throw the rascals out.

  3. I wonder why Robert Nanninga thinks that lot would make such a good motel location? I didn't know he had a background in tourism and motel development. I wonder if he will purchase that property? He sounds pretty interested in it.

  4. Interesting that Dan (after spending forever talking about the people who own the property just south of the property requesting the change in zoning) said that the City should wait until his friend's property came up for rezoning and do it all at once. Perhaps Dan hasn't driven on La Costa lately or hasn't heard about the hotel or time share on Hwy 101 and La Costa, or Carlsbad's plan to develop Ponto area. But then Dan thinks everyone should upzone because of their property rights I guess. (Nothing to do with greed)
    So the saga continues, it's all about the money and nothing to do with quality of life.


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