Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Fight for Net Neutrality is The Fight for Free Speech

The Internet is the ultimate tool of the free speech that our founding fathers fought and died for. If value your right to whine about Encinitas politics (among other things) then watch this quick video and then visit Save the Internet Dot Com.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Let's Tour North Leucadia (part 9)

click images for large view

On the corner of the south side of Grandview St is this funny little building that has had two different vehicles crash into it on two separate occasions.

I posted on Part 8 of the tour that we might want to think about putting a stop sign here. Left turns can be kind of hairy dealing with 4 lanes of obscured traffic.

I saw quite a few people get on and off the bus this day. Here we are in front of the Elite hair salon, previous home of The Buzz. I got my cut at The Buzz a few times by Richard and his chihuahuas. I haven't been into this new place yet, I've been making my wife cut my hair the last few years.

Sweet Airstream trailer!

The smallest used car lot on earth?

Leucadia!: Let's Tour North Leucadia (part 8)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

If only it were a little bigger

Last month the NCT ran this strange story in their science and technology section. I thought I had accidentally clicked on The Onion.

Losing Ground: North County's shoreline victim of natural process

By: DAVE DOWNEY - Staff Writer

NORTH COUNTY ---- If only Santa Catalina Island were bigger. The popular tourist destination off the shore of Orange County is 22 miles long and 8 miles across at its widest point. Even at its smallish size, its rocky bulk shelters beaches from Oceanside to Los Angeles from giant winter waves and helps them retain sand, according to a new study by scientists at UC San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Similarly, other Channel Islands get credit for the relatively wide and sandy beaches around Ventura and Santa Barbara.

Farther south, much of North County lies outside of Santa Catalina's shadow. Its beaches bear the brunt of brutal winter swells. Consequently, local beaches tend not to be as sandy as those elsewhere in Southern California, said Bill O'Reilly, a senior development engineer at Scripps who spearheaded the study, in an interview last week.

O'Reilly recently presented study findings to the San Diego Association of Governments' shoreline preservation committee, which is contemplating another sand replenishment project like the one in 2001 that beefed up a dozen scrawny beaches from North County to Imperial Beach. The committee has decided to shop around for state and federal grants to defray the estimated $25 million cost of dredging sand from the ocean floor and spreading it on six miles of beaches.

After the presentation, Steve Aceti, executive director of the Encinitas-based California Coastal Coalition and a committee member, joked that the panel's priorities might be misplaced.

"All these years, we've been talking about trying to get a grant for more sand," Aceti quipped. "We ought to be talking about getting a grant to make Catalina Island bigger."

Ha-Ha, that' great. We've now established that Steve Aceti is not a surfer because no surfer would choose to reduce our swell window even more. (Aceti is not a scientist either, he is a political lobbyist, so why is he quoted in the science section of the paper?)

The article spends a lot of time blaming Catalina and lagoons for our lack of sand and passes over man made structures like harbors and jetties.

If we are going to blame Catalina we might as well start blaming the moon. The moon affects tides and high tides can strip and move the sand around overnight. Aceti might as well quip that we need a smaller moon. Then Michael D Pattinson can write an op-ed piece about crazy moon lovers and their crazy moon loving agenda against sand.

It's funny, northern and central California have wide open swell windows, get 50 foot waves and lots of rain and storms. Yet, there are many beautiful sandy beaches in central and northern California. They also have massive kelp forest that dwarf anything we've had for decades. These giant kelp forest protect the beaches and coast by grooming the massive swells.

Maybe it's time north county politicos starts giving a damn about our local kelp beds, that's something we can actually make "a little bigger".

This image ran with the NCT story. It shows a swell model and the "shadows" the islands cast. This image doesn't tell the whole story because the angle and size of the swell is constantly changing. This image is of a rare big west swell.

To see this swell model in real time click here. Be sure to check out the other regions of California.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Sand, Kelp, Beacons Winter 2007

click images for large view

This photo and captions should help clarify to non-surfers why I feel we don't need a the full 1.2 million cubic yards of sand the Army Corps of Engineers wants to dump on the beaches. The California Department of Fish and Game and the National Marine Fisheries Service wants half that much, a much more sensible amount.

The surf spot in front of this seawall, known commonly as North Reef, does not break good until these rocks are showing. These rocks only became visible this winter. That means North Reef has not been good for 5 years.

I realize that many people want no visible rocks on the beach but that is just silly.

Don't bury our recovering kelp beds under sand!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

In da Newz

Some recent Encinitas news stories:

Chamber insider gets Encinitas Planning Commission seat

Encinitas has missed an excellent opportunity to benefit from the skills offered by Lisa Shaffer; a resident who holds a doctorate in public policy and teaches courses on sustainable development at UC San Diego. Instead the council majority vote went to the politically correct choice of Caroline Thompson who sits on the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce's board of directors.

Encinitas OK's increased building heights

The Encinitas City Council approved an ordinance Wednesday allowing a performing arts building planned for San Dieguito Academy's campus to exceed the city's 30-foot height limit by 10 feet. The vote was 4-1, with councilwoman Teresa Barth dissenting.

The vote clears the school district to build a gymnasium up to 40 feet tall, although no such building is proposed. Classroom buildings, for which plans are incomplete, are capped at 34 feet tall.

"I'm just not comfortable with this request as it's brought to us," Barth said. "It's kind of overkill."

The gym needs to exceed the city's normal height limit because cheerleaders are getting taller and taller these days and the girl at the top of the pyramid was bumping her head on the ceiling.

Encinitas reports headway on pedestrian rail crossings

Construction of the Santa Fe crossing is expected to begin late in 2008 and last 12 to 15 months. Other pedestrian crossings are planned at Montgomery, El Portal and Hillcrest streets, and each is expected to cost $5 million (holy crap!)

The crossings would give pedestrians and cyclists a safe and legal way to pass beneath the tracks that cut a 6.1-mile north to south course through the city. Now those cute surfer crossing signs won't be so ironic (crossing the train tracks now can land you a $1000 ticket).

Sportscaster Lampley to be charged with violating restraining order

In what passes for celebrity gossip in Encinitas two narcissistic nitwits are having some sort of drama that is newsworthy because one is a B grade sportscaster and the other is a gold digger that was declared the hottest babe in California in 2003.

Watch a video about the roadside art banners.

Winter 2007--Most Sand Ever?

click photos for large view

Check out this photo of Swami's taken last night right after sunset. I don't recall ever seeing this much sand at Swami's in February. Usually all those reefs are exposed. Now you can walk on sand all the way around the point.

To recap, the Army Corps of Engineers want to dump 1.2 million cubic yards of sand from Encinitas to Solana Beach. The California Department of Fish and Game and the National Marine Fisheries Service wants half that much, a much more sensible amount. I personally believe we could skip sand replenishment in 2007.

Remember, it was the Army Corps of Engineers who blundered and ruined one of our best beaches, Seaside (see photos below) They are trying to fix their tragic botch job but I'm skeptical they won't just make it even worse. Read the Coast News column by Chris Ahrens Why Make Beaches Into Parking Lots?

The Sand replenishment pundits are saying that the beaches are covered with cobble stones and that cobble beaches cause bluff erosion, but the only significant amount of cobbles I could find are near Seaside Beach, the beach with no bluffs. The beach where the Army Corps of Engineers mucked around. Even here there is some sand.

This zone of beach with cobbles is still walkable. There is no parking here along the coast highway so this stretch of beach is mostly deserted. The cobbles are mixed with the rip rap boulders that hold up the coast highway. This beach will most likely replenish itself via the soon coming south swells.

There is much more sand at George's Beach and in front of the restaurants towards Cardiff Reef. The rivermouth at Cardiff is now open and flowing and has built up a huge sandbar in front of the Cardiff parking lot.

Why are we being told that there is no sand on our beaches? Could it be to promote a new tax? Click the link below:

Leucadia!: More holes in head, "Quality-of-life tax" proposed.

Previous related post: Leucadia!: Moonlight Beach Sand Check

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Moonlight Beach Sand Check

All photo taken Tuesday afternoon, Feb 20 2007
Click images for large view.

In this photo looking south towards Swami's we can see the 2001 sand built up at the base of the cliff, acting as a retaining wall. There is so much sand at Moonlight that the lifeguard trucks are leaving tracks and are able to drive the entire Encinitas coast on sand. This sand is a mix of the 2001 sand replenishment project and natural sand. What is interesting about this photo is the building built on the bluff with seawall and rip rap boulders. The experts tell us there should be no sand here, but there is.

Tourist enjoying our California winter, taking a stroll on our sandy beaches.

Talking heads in the media are telling us there is no sand on our beaches while people are writing messages of love in this non-existent sand.
The big base of sand at the "tourist section" of Moonlight Beach is a mix of natural, 2001 sand, and the remains of the god awful itchy rough sand they often dump there. It's much nicer to come down to the natural beach and enjoy the classic sticky gray and black Encinitas sand.

Looking north at Stone Steps. There is even enough sand here for people to walk to Beacon's and back. The birds are hanging out by the runoff from Cottonwood Creek.

By the way, there is a dead seal under the D-St stairs.

Previous post: Leucadia!: Cult of the Sand People

Thanks to a reader for remembering this previous post on a sneaky proposed sand tax: link

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Cult of the Sand People

Sand replenishment is becoming a hot topic around these parts. The usual sand suspects are showing up and throwing their political weight around. There must be a lot of money in being a sand baron, otherwise why would anyone push sand replenishment so hard in a year where it's shaping up to be unnecessary?

Sometimes our local beaches get stripped of sand in the winter and the beach is dominated by cobble stones. This is when it's time to consider replenishing the beach with sand from dredging projects.

But 2007 isn't looking like one of those years. We've had a mild winter surf and storm wise. There is still a chance we could get a huge powerful north swell that could gobble up our sand, but right now we have p-lenty of sand. In fact, for most of our good surfing reef breaks, we still have too much sand.

Most importantly, this year our local kelp beds are just now recovering from near devastation. Kelp needs reef and rock to attach too. Kelp grows fast in cold water and the water has been below 60 degrees most of the winter. If you visit the beach regularly you can actually observe the kelp beds expanding in size daily.

Steve Aceti is our local sand lobbyist who many of you will remember as the #1 advocate of the doomed fake clean water tax, Prop C. Aceti championed Prop R back in the day, a tax slapped on our local hotel and motels in the interest of sand replenishment.

Encinitas mayor Jim Bond is a player here and so is our supervisor Pam Slater (read Slater's editorial in the NCT about sand here).

Visit the KPBS website for their story and interview with Aceti click here
KPBS reports "A pilot project six years ago piled sand on several county beaches. Now that sand is gone." This is shoddy reporting, the sand is not gone. Scroll down for photographic proof.

Now, vile NCT columnist Michael D Pattinson is jumping on the sand bandwagon in his newest column titled Thank bureaucrats for sandless beaches. This is an odd title considering that right now our beaches are NOT sandless and all the bureaucrats are pushing for sand. In fact, it was the bureaucrats that gave us the huge sand project of 2001.

The bureaucrats like Aceti, Bond and Slater would have you believe that all the 2001 sand is gone (they convinced the meaty brained Pattinson). But a quick trip to the beach reveals a different reality.

Aceti, Bond, Slater and Pattinson are probably too lazy to actually visit the beach, so I've been taking photos for them.

click photos for large view

Here we are in the Cardiff campgrounds looking north towards Swami's point. As you can see there are indeed cobble stones on the beach. Cobble stones strike fear into the hearts of the bureaucrats. However, the cobbles are scattered and harmless. There is enough sand for people to walk the entire stretch of the Encinitas coast. The few cobbles will be covered up this spring and summer naturally when we start to get south swells.

These photos were taken last Saturday, Feb 17th in the afternoon at low tide. You can see the exposed reefs next to the giant sandbars. This is a natural and a good thing. We want to see those reefs. Tourist like picking through them and checking out the cool animals that live in the tide pools and surfers like surfing over the reefs because reefs make good quality waves. The bureaucrats must remain calm and not rush to bury these reefs under tons of sand in panic.

This is a good view looking south, you can see La Jolla in the distance. Obviously, there is more than plenty of sand to walk on. You can see people walking and people hanging out on their beach towels. There is a ribbon of cobble stones but they are not impedeing anyone's enjoyment of the beach. By the way, it was 77 degrees when I took this photo!

Here is Beacon's Beach an hour after the 6.6 high tide on Sunday morning, Feb 18. Even on this big high tide you can still see the 2001 sand at the base of the bluff is dry.(*notice that the south reef kelp beds have not yet returned).

Another view of Beacon's. There is a small ribbon of cobble stones but even on this 6 ft+ high tide there is plenty of dry 2001 sand to stretch your towel out on.

But what about Solana Beach you ask? I took photos there too.

Solana Beach bluffs at high tide. There is still enough beach for the lifeguard trucks to drive on. The San Diego Union Tribune did a story about sand and Solana Beach recently. They published a photo of waves crashing into the bluffs. The photo was taken on one of the rare 7 ft high tides we get twice a year. Click here for SDUT story. They make it sound like the entire coast of Solana Beach is cobble stones, but there is only one small section of cobbles and it is at the base of some private stairs further south.

Pillbox beach in Solana Beach, lots of sand here.
*If Solana Beach wants sand they can have it. Let's give them sand that would otherwise by dumped on Encinitas beaches.

I supported the 2001 replenishment project. But, barring any major storm or powerful late season north swell we don't need to "replenish" this year. Maybe next year or the year after that. But right now with current sand levels and the fragile status of the kelp beds we don't need a big sand project.

Here is something I've wondered about, if the beaches do become once again dominated by cobble stones, would it be cheaper to remove the cobbles off the beach via bulldozers and then let sand naturally fill in?

The NCT published comments from bluff top property owners recently, read them here

Burning questions:

Who stands to personally make money from a 2007 sand replenishment project?

Why do the sand bureaucrats seem to believe that all the 2001 sand is gone?

Is anyone looking into other ways to stabilize our bluffs besides sand and seawalls? What about vegetation on the bluffs like deep rooted tomato plants?

Leucadia!: Sand

Monday, February 19, 2007

Encinitas 2006/2007

The following is from the January issue of Hoodlink

In the brief history of the City of Encinitas, 2006 is a year to remember: open and representative democracy made some headway here in our town. Congratulations to all of us!

In the past year Encinitas voters soundly defeated two ballot measures. Both were strongly supported, if not openly endorsed in violation of State law, by the majority of our City Council. The measures were promoted using large sums of money. They were spun as being fair and good for business, the City, as well as visitors and citizens alike. Supporting reasons were to the lowest common denominator: well-behaved civic-minded people will vote for them, bad people will not. Many proponents of the measures limited their efforts to making personal attacks against anyone who held a
different opinion on the issues. Our ex-mayor is one who questioned the integrity of all of the people who dared to offer a different opinion about the merits of the issues at Council meetings.

This characterization is neither a misrepresentation nor a personal attack against our former mayor: her actions should be accurately reflected in the minutes of the meetings. At issue are her tactics, as an elected representative, in support of her opinions. We were taught that people who focus their debate on attacking their opponents’ character or agenda rather than to debate the issues typically have poor reasons for supporting their position.

Perhaps our ex-mayor had good reasons to support the propositions. Perhaps her failure to garner support was due to her choice to use hoodwinking tactics and then to attempt to intimidate those who would not be hoodwinked. Regardless, the vast majority of the represented saw the empresses’ new clothes for what they were and both ballot measures were soundly defeated.

This progress here in our town will be short lived if we the represented believe that all the hoodwinking tacticians are gone from our Council. We need real progress, not just bad and/or expensive changes masqueraded in front of the public as progress. To achieve progress we need to reconfirm the civic and community goals rather than undermine them without regard for the represented. And regardless of one’s stance on an issue, or even the specifics of an issue, there is no good reason to accept the will of the represented being summarily dismissed, let alone openly or covertly thwarted, by our representatives.

But in Encinitas, that seems to be standard procedure.

We suggest that you go beyond reading their sanitized press releases of their varied accomplishments. Go further than listening to their offered public viewpoints which, when taken out of context, make it sound like these people are looking out for our best interests. Please check their voting record on projects which were opposed by
the represented but that have negatively impacted our services and infrastructure. After all that, go one step further and check the minutes of Council meetings for just how much respect our new mayor, Mr. Bond, along with Council members Dalager and Stocks have for the represented who hold differing views on issues. We believe you will find that the answer is “not much” to none at all.

According to statements made at his first Council meeting as mayor, Mr. Bond declared, in effect, that Council is only obliged to listen to the will of the people on election day. This from the man who will be leading the Council’s decisions to continue the acceleration of the overdevelopment of Encinitas. Overdevelopment which has been occurring for years without proper accounting of the impact the excess growth will have on the quality of life.

Again, we are not attacking our Council’s opinions, we are condemning their actions which are clearly intended to suspend examination of and feedback on Council’s actions except on election day. Governing is always easier for those who rule when their days are unencumbered by the trivial. No need for details such as understanding the basics of the U.S. Constitution or following State law which requires local governments to be quite forthcoming in matters of the public's rights to know and citizen interaction at times other than elections.

The five communities which make up the City of Encinitas have populations overflowing with smart, talented, creative, and busy people. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take an especially bright nor powerful political machine to take advantage of people’s busy lives in order to hoodwink them. And if the overwhelming results of the failed propositions, which were supported by our representatives, are any indication of shared goals, our City is being run by people who have hoodwinked the majority in order to get elected.

Encinitas’ short city history is filled with representatives who routinely and rudely dismiss the input of concerned citizens when said citizens offer reasoned and substantial opposing views on City staff’s negative impact declarations. In turn, Council minutes and voting records are filled with Council’s guided endorsement of overly dense development in areas already suffering from infrastructure issues. Staff’s recommendations are nearly always that, on whole, the specifics of an additional development will have no negative impact on existing services or infrastructure. Strange how all those projects, which were declared to have no negative impact by City staff and passed by our representatives, added up to a whole lot of trouble.

Some 8,500 voters in Encinitas, most who had never heard of her before the summer of 2006, elected Teresa Barth to a seat on the Council. We believe that Ms. Barth’s election was the third small step toward making Encinitas City government a more open and responsible representative democracy. She can not make the changes necessary for progress alone. She needs the help of every citizen who, regardless of viewpoint on a specific issue, wants an open and fair examination of all the issues that face our young City.

Together, let us make 2007 another year of real progress for the businesses, citizens, and visitors of our City. Tell our Council representatives their freewheeling hoodwinking days are over

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A Real Estate Blog Understands Leucadia?

Check out this real estate blog, the comments about Leucadia are right on. It's refreshing to find a real estate agent who doesn't come off like a total whore. The real estate agent makes some good observations about Leucadia. For example,

Leucadia, on the north side of Encinitas, borders on Carlsbad, and for me is the most appealing area of this seaside town. It bears many reminders of its surfing roots, yet at the same time is undergoing a renaissance of sorts, with many new and expensive homes, disappearing nurseries, and more upscale dining and shopping. Yet, it retains much of the rustic, quaint seaside charm that has attracted so many residents and vacationers over the years, despite the move into the 21st century.

Leucadia slideshow with captions click here

read the rest link

Let's Tour North Leucadia (part 8)

As we continue our walking tour of North Leucadia our traditional sidewalk ends, turning into more of a path. We also approach our first public beach access, Grandview St which leads to the surf spot aptly called, Grandview.

But first we encounter the classic little Log Cabin Apartments.

The Log Cabin Apartments have cleaned up over the last few years. They have a nice courtyard shaded by beautiful full grown trees. There is a good sense of place here and the Log Cabin Apartments symbolize your entry into "funky" Leucadia.

You still encounter little communities like this in central California, but in an increasingly gentrified southern California the Log Cabin Apartments are a rare bear. Through my work I meet a lot of travelers from Europe, Japan and Australia and they always comment on the Log Cabins when staying in Leucadia.

This section of Leucadia has a lot of people out jogging, walking dogs, etc. There is a lot of traffic here as Grandview is a popular surf spot. Don't kill me for saying this but I think sooner than later we are going to have to put a stop sign at Grandview. It's hard to make a left turn from Grandview and all day long the residents and visiting surfers struggle to cross four lanes of oncoming traffic.

It's cool to look back from where you walked and see all the nice big trees. Leucadia is a true beach/surf town and reminders are everywhere.

This little commercial building often rotates tenets. The minimal parking is tough. I wonder if a stop sign would help draw in customers as well as allow left turns? Maybe this space should return to housing and not retail?

Leucadia!: Let's Tour North Leucadia (part 7)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Mayor Bond does his his level best to eat that elephant in a cost-effective way

Encinitas approves budget adjustments

By: ADAM KAYE - Staff Writer

ENCINITAS -- Encinitas expects to end its fiscal year with an $11.6 million balance in its general operating budget, nearly twice as much as projected when fiscal 2006-07 began July 1, finance department staffers told the City Council on Wednesday.

A 94-project capital program, however, could easily lay claim to much of the windfall.

"We have an extraordinary capital budget before us," Mayor James Bond said of a program budgeted at $101.7 million through fiscal 2006-07. "We're doing our level best to eat that elephant in a cost-effective way."

The City Council approved midyear budget adjustments by a 5-0 vote.

The adjustments show revenues projected to total $51 million, a $1.2 million, or 2.4 percent, increase from the original estimate of $49.8 million.

Finance director Jennifer Smith attributed much of the increase to property tax income that has exceeded projections by $2.2 million. Property taxes comprise 55 percent of the operating budget's revenue.

Brisk home sales coupled with the sale of large commercial properties contributed to the higher-than-expected property tax receipts, Smith said.

Unanticipated revenue totaling more than $200,000 came from state reimbursements and other taxes.

Some revenue sources, meanwhile, haven't produced as much as finance officials had expected. Investment earnings were $275,000 less than first budgeted and charges for services now are budgeted at $690,000 less than anticipated.

On the spending side, Wednesday's budget adjustments included a $203,000, or 0.3 percent decrease, to $41.8 million.

While spending for facility maintenance, art programs and "nondepartmental" costs were budgeted to increase in varying degrees, the city will spend nearly $400,000 less than it had expected to pay for library and law enforcement costs, financial documents show.

In approving the budget adjustments, the council authorized an immediate, $588,000 transfer from its operating budget to the capital improvement program.

Projects receiving money from that transfer include: Leucadia drainage; Leucadia 100-year flood study; downtown parking lot; Santa Fe Drive improvements; engineering design manual; Olivenhain Road project; downtown streetscape; Moonlight Beach pump station; traffic signals on Encinitas Boulevard and El Camino Real; Sun Vista Park habitat monitoring.

It's interesting that the city is now hyping it's budget after complaining just the other day that there isn't enough money for lighting and landscaping. Funny, how the city created a lighting and landscaping account and then underfunded it. Then it was funny when the city tried to scare residents into voting for a lighting fee/tax increase to fill the purposely underfunded lighting budget.

Leucadia!: Dim Forecast for Lighting Budget

Enjoy that elephant.

Area Yokel Sets Off Bomb Scare

An area yokel walking by the San Elijo lagoon mistook a lost buoy for a World War II mine. story, Buoy sets off Encinitas bomb scare

Somebody has seen that episode of Gilligan's Island too many times (the one in season 2 where Gilligan is fishing in the lagoon and he pulls in that old World War II mine and then he gets scared and runs across the water like Jesus).

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Dim Forecast for Lighting Budget

*notice my superior headline to the NCT headline below, hee hee

Encinitas' lighting bills are outta sight

By: ADAM KAYE - Staff Writer

ENCINITAS ---- Encinitas is running out of money for streetlights and landscaping maintenance, city officials said Tuesday, and they have only a few alternatives to keep the program solvent.

The city can trim costs by reducing services, find ways to increase revenue, or subsidize the maintenance fund from the general operating budget, said Jennifer Smith, finance director.

An analysis of the Encinitas Lighting and Landscaping District's fiscal condition is heading to the City Council tonight as part of a midyear budget review.

The district began the fiscal year July 1 with income projected at $1 million and expenses estimated at $1.1 million.

"I don't see turning off the switch as being a solution," Councilwoman Maggie Houlihan said.

I wonder if a $20 million dollar library and a $35 million dollar park have anything to do with this?

Not to be a Debbie Downer but I'm sure this is a sign that the promised sidewalks and landscaping for coastal Leucadia will be nixed.

Go back 2 years and remember former city manager Kerry Miller and current council member Jerome Stocks both constantly saying the city had plenty of money; while simontaneously trying to sneak fee and tax increases by us.

Monday, February 12, 2007

NIMBY Michael D Pattinson faces worst nightmare in Santee

Michael D Pattinson is the CEO of Barratt American, a large development company that specializes in mass market McMansion style projects.

Michael D Pattinson writes a bi-weekly opinion column for the North County Times. His column appears every other Tuesday. You can read them on the website click here

Pattinson and Barratt American are very aggressive politically and together they are good at cozying up to local city councils.

Pattinson dedicates most of his columns to attacking anyone who opposes his company's projects. He is especially fond of the word NIMBY, an out of date acrynom that stands for Not In My Back Yard. Originally, NIMBY was a positive term that referred to people who were good citizens and kept tabs on their neighborhoods and watched out for each other. Now the term NIMBY is mostly viewed as a negative, describing nosy busybody old ladies with nothing better to do with their time than to hinder progress.

It should be noted that Michael D Pattinson is not an American, he is from the UK. His backyard is across the Atlantic Ocean.

One of Barratt's more controversial projects is the 2,600 acre Fanita Ranch development. Fanita Ranch is located in the Santee back country. Barratt has carefully been crafting their Fanita Ranch project politically, winning the favor of the Santee city council and becoming a major advertiser on the conservative talk show, The Roger Hedgecock Show which is broadcast on KOGO AM 600.

The meat and potatoes of Roger Hedgecock's program are illegal alien issues. Hedgecock is against illegal aliens which makes him and Pattinson/Barratt odd bedfellows. The building industry is the biggest employer of illegal aliens in southern California; surpassing even agriculture and the service industry (hotels, restaurants).

The big builders of southern California like Barratt have a sneaky way of washing their hands of illegal alien labor, they hire sub-contractors. This way companies like Barratt and people like Michael D Pattinson can benefit from the cash-under-the-table labor that illegal aliens provide. By hiring sub-contractors that use illegal aliens, the savings from not having payroll taxes and workers comp insurance are passed on to Barratt American. If you are an honest sub-contractor who writes paychecks and takes out taxes and pays workers comp insurance then you are not going to be able to compete on price on bids with the other sub-contractor with all the illegal aliens in the back of his work truck.

(For some reason I never hear Hedgecock mention the burden of high payroll taxes and workers comp insurance rates on Calfornia business owners. All he ever mentions is the city services that illegal aliens use. I've never heard our congressman Brian Bilbray, a frequent guest on Hedgecock's show, mention worker's comp insurance or payroll taxes either. Bilbray had made a career of being an anti-illegal immigration guy, you think he'd bring it up every once and awhile.)

Pattinson recently dedicated one his North County Times columns to illegal alien labor. Some of his sub-contractors, a fence company, were busted hiring illegal aliens. Pattinson really liked the irony of a fence company hiring people that jumped a fence to get here. He then blamed the US government for letting the illegal aliens cross to the country in the first place. Apparently, Pattinson believes that if you leave your front door unlocked then you only have yourself to blame if someone walks in and steals your stuff. In Pattinson's eyes the thief is off the hook and you are too blame. He doesn't believe his sub-contractors (and himself from a safe distance) did anything wrong by hiring illegal aliens.

Read Employers stuck in border bind here.

You would think that Republican radio show host Roger Hedgecock would be wary of doing business with Michael D Pattinson and Barratt American, but the opposite is true. Roger reads the Baratt American ads on air personally and passionately. It's a sweet deal for Roger if you think about it. He gets good ratings by ranting against illegal aliens. Good ratings attract advertisers. Roger gets paid no matter if his advertisers employ illegal aliens or not. In fact, if the illegal alien problem was solved it would mean the end of Roger's show. Roger is benefiting from illegal aliens on several levels.

Michael D Pattinson, CEO of Barratt American hates NIMBY's, we've established that. So it's incredibly fascinating and hilarious to watch Pattinson and Barratt spin their tops when it was announced that a major electrical power plant is going up near Barratt's Fanita Ranch project.

Pattinson and Barrat are in a real bind, they can't come right out and protest that a freaking power plant is going right into the backyard of their 1,400 home project that has been in the works for years and sells an image of life among quiet preserves.

So, Barratt and Pattinson's only move is to let the local politicians be their shills and do the NIMBY style whining for them.

From the San Diego Union Tribune:

“Everybody's kind of stunned,” said Santee Mayor Randy Voepel. “You wake up and read that in the paper and it's not going to be a good day for you.”

City officials said they intend to get answers, and if necessary, fight the proposal. Councilman Jack Dale said he's concerned about the possible health effects on residents and the lack of notification.

“We're going to protect our city and our residents,” Dale said. “We're going to find out everything there is know about this . . . We're not just going to sit still and say, 'Hey, whatever you want to do.' ”

Read the whole SDUT story, Plant plan surprises developer and city here.

Yep, you would think that a guy like Michael D Pattinson would be less grouchy and embrace a power plant, afterall his 1,400 Fanita Ranch homes will use electricity. And, Pattinson did say that California should be more like China. In China, NIMBY protesters of power plants are usually jailed and sometimes shot to death.

Pattinson also once wrote a creepy and bizarre column titled Too many choices hinder democracy so I assume he won't mind not having a choice in this matter.

The people who have opposed Barratt American's Fanita Ranch project have been described as NIMBY's and yes, even communist. Maybe they can all go out and get a couple of beers together and laugh and laugh.

Check out the Save Fanita blog (it has lots of videos to watch)

It's amusing to watch Pattinson join the NIMBY crowd, even if he is more of a NUMBY (Not Using My Brain, You?)

Sunday, February 11, 2007


Pam Slater-Price is a San Diego County supervisor on the board's Clean Water Subcommittee and SANDAG's Shoreline Preservation Committee. Her 3rd District includes the coastal communities of Pacific Beach, La Jolla, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Cardiff, Encinitas and Leucadia. She has an editorial in today's North County Times about sand replenishment.

Answers must go past Army Corps solution

For decades California's many jurisdictions have had an uncooperative agreement with Mother Nature. They have not been able to figure out the puzzle of our beaches. Beach sand retention and replenishment is the Rubik's Cube of preservation efforts.

Years of interference and neglect have hurt our coast. A lack of understanding, false starts and even faulty science have gotten us to where we are today. It doesn't mean we didn't try to do it right. California just didn't know how.

Sand that once flowed freely to replenish all our county's beaches bottlenecks at points along the coast and leaves many beaches sand-starved. Since the 1970s, governments constructed debris basins to collect sediments, installed breakwaters and jetties that trapped sand, built sea walls that cut off sand supply for our eroding bluffs, and concreted river channels preventing sand flow to the beaches. For decades, sand mining and development impeded or prevented the flow of sand.

What humans have caused, humans must now correct.

It is imperative that local governments work cooperatively to adopt SANDAG's beach sand replenishment plan, tailored to our region. And we must put in place the latest technology to keep that sand on the beach. Securing our fair share of federal funding should be a regional priority. Since East Coast states are relentless in their quest for beach funds, we too must work harder in Washington, D.C. We must also purchase a dredge with Proposition 84 money. Additionally, we need to plan and implement phased retreat from the bluffs to undo the mistakes of the past. Hardscape sea walls must be avoided as much as possible, and keeping sand on the beach provides a superior solution to bluff failure.

As late as 2005 the Army Corps of Engineers said its optimal plan is beach nourishment with notch fills. Good plan, but it's clear that local governments must think well beyond that effort or the region will continue to play catch-up to maintain our beaches.

Four million tourists use our beaches annually. Weather and beaches are the region's No. 1 draw. Perhaps hotel room taxes should be raised on those 4 million visitors. A percentage should be directed to beach sand replenishment and retention.

Clearly, those who ignore the past are condemned to repeat it. So we must go directly to the source to stop erosion, say no to coastal projects that will deplete sand, make sand retention a priority, and increase fines for overmining of sand.

Through hard work this region can reverse the damage decades of interference and neglect have caused along our coast. But it will take a concerted will to get it done.

The die was cast long ago. It is past time to set things straight.

I get nervous when the government starts playing around with the beaches. The Army Corps of Engineers already destroyed Seaside beach once and it looks like they are doing it again. Sand replenishment programs are often a joke. Sometimes we get horrible quality sand. Sometimes the reefs and kelp beds are simply smothered under a blanket of sand, destroying them.

All the jetties and harbors and development of the coast have mucked up the natural sand flows. Now we have to spend big money dredging and pumping sand to keep sand on our beaches. Sand is still the best way to reinforce the bluffs so that they don't fall. But we must be mindful of the way replenish our beaches.

My number one concern is our fragile kelp beds. The kelp is just now making a comeback. Ideally, the kelp should stretch the entire coast of Encinitas and should be thick and wide. The kelp forest provide a nursery habitat for fish and lobster. The kelp beds groom swells and increase the quality of our local surf spots by keeping the waves clean and glassy all day.

Kelp needs to attach itself to rock and reef, it won't attach to a sandy bottom.

Since this photo was taken the kelp beds have grown in size but they are still not complete. The majority of the Leucadia coast should have nice thick, wide kelp beds.

In Australia the government worked with the local surfers to create these epic long sand points for their dredging projects, creating perfect waves. If we were smart we would do the same thing here.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Let's Tour North Leucadia (part 7)

Next to the new Mobile station are the Sea Bluff condos, our only coastal gated community.
I must admit, I don't like gated communities. I think they scream "I'm a paranoid freak who is terrified of the world" or "I'm doing creepy things behind these gates."
Sea Bluff has their own beach access stairs. I used them quite often in the 80's before the Grandview stairs were rebuilt because I had a few friends living there. At the time most of the owners of Sea Bluff were the local shady small time drug dealers. I hope it's not that way anymore.

Sea Bluff was the epicenter of the short term rental drama. Tempers are still pretty hot about that. See Leucadia!: Limitation, not ban, urged for Encinitas. Mayor Guerin's blood boils

Factoid-Before Sea Bluff was built the bluff was covered with tomato plants and the surf spot out front was called Tomato Patch.

Status: Funky despite their best efforts.

Now we are really cruising down the sidewalk as the highway swooshes by us.

As we leave the Sea Bluff condos we approach the Pacifica Apartment/Condos and encounter more activity. Here on our coastal walk we see more pedestrians, joggers, surfers, moms with strollers and dog walkers.

The Pacifica Apartment/Condos are basic pop-out style architecture.

Pacifica provides a lot of housing and the residents here seem to enjoy the neighborhood. Everyone I passed was friendly. Most of the cars parked along the sidewalk had Leucadia pride stickers on them.
Status: Harmless
See Leucadia!: Apartments vs Condos in Leucadia

Blogger sez: All this place needs is an updated paint job. Paint over that sickly pink with some cool earth tones.

Leucadia!: Let's Tour North Leucadia (part 6)