Thursday, March 19, 2009

ENCINITAS: Council approves tree policy

Read the North County Times story, ENCINITAS: Council approves tree policy

Excerpt:

ENCINITAS ---- With a unanimous vote Wednesday, the Encinitas City Council formally declared that trees are an important part of the town's character and should be treated with respect.

The newly adopted urban forest management policy declares that trees are "an integral part of the city's infrastructure" ---- something that some residents have sought for years. The next step will be for city staff members to create guidelines for the pruning and removal of city trees.

The tree-care document should come before the council within 90 days, city Public Works Director Larry Watt said at Wednesday's meeting.

City employees also will have other tree-related tasks to handle in the coming weeks. They are finishing work on a heritage tree program that establishes a process for identifying noteworthy trees in town. And, they're looking into getting Encinitas declared a "Tree City USA" by the National Arbor Day Foundation, Watt said.

The mayor has sought to put a citywide tree management policy in place for years, but the project has taken on added urgency in recent months as various city tree removal controversies have surfaced.

19 comments:

  1. Bad law passed again by a City Council that has been the biggest violator of destroying the city's trees.

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  2. My worry is that once a tree is determined to be a "heritage" tree it will then require an arborist to examine the tree, who will then determine that the tree is old, has a disease, (which I imagine all old trees do), and as such should be removed.

    It's a liability issue for the city and the arborist. Better to have required a permit process for tree removal with public notification.

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  3. What the Council passed last night was a general "policy". The nuts and bolts will now be written by a committee of senior staff and citizen commission members. Then the results of that process will be presented to the city council for approval in 90 days or so.

    Stay tuned.

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  4. Who picks the citizen commission members?

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  5. Anon 11:14-Good question. Who knows? Bet you Peder Norby will be on it, as well as Steve Aceti.

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  6. The policy could be a wolf in sheeps clothing. Like when they said 92% of the hwy trees would be preserved for the streetscape, and then they immediately schedule 16 trees to be removed. What's that all about? Clear cutting. Then the interpretation becomes "Well, we meant 92% of the trees that remain when we begin the streetscape, not 92% of the trees we have now." What a crock.

    Nope, 101 is in trouble. The canopy we want restored may not happen. For one thing, there will be NO tree planting on the 101 until the streetscape begins - and that may be never. Even the 5 fire stations are not being built as planned. What are they gonna do with the extra 15 million dollars they borrowed?

    All in all, the council did the right thing last night. All of them. It's the interpretations and "hiding the marble" here out that concern me. Kudos to all the citizens who voiced their opinions. Was the chamber there?

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  7. The chamber sucks!!! Suck it Chamber!!

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  8. I think the council decided on having one person each from the Environmental, Planning and Parks commissions. My guess is each commission will get to select the person they want to represent them.

    Barth was asking for the final draft of the "nuts & bolts" document to go back to the Environmental Commission but couldn't get any support. If the right people from the commissions get in the working group, it won't matter.

    Staff will be working hard to come up with a plan that gives them pretty much free rein. They will need some push-back or we're destined to live in a town where the chainsaw rules.

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  9. a.j.foytunate,
    The nuts and bolts? Council approved the hammer and screws last night. The policy is controlling and written just wide enough for the city staff to interpret their way. Number #1 rule - don't let bad law pass. Now it will be a constant battle with the different city departments and that includes planning.

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  10. You are right about the constant battle. The City Staff want to minimize outside interference. But the policy that passed last night isn't really the tool. It is more like the pegs on the peg board, where Staff will hang the chain saws. The policy that will be presented to the Council again in about 90 days will tell Staff when it is ok to take the saws off the pegs and put them to work.

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  11. "Even the 5 fire stations are not being built as planned. What are they gonna do with the extra 15 million dollars they borrowed?"

    What????

    The city didn't borrow $15 million to build the fire stations. It borrowed $20 million to build the library when there wasn't enough money to complete it. Construction went over budget. Remember when Dan Dalager said the library was on time and on budget? Neither was true.

    Money was then shifted around for other projects, including the fire stations and the Hall property park. The new station on Orpheus is being built. It's not clear when the new station in Cardiff on Birmingham will be built, or even if there is the money for it.

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  12. There is no remaining money of the $20 million that council borrowed and increased our debt without going to a public vote. The only thing that went up in Encinitas was more crappy boxes and our DEBT.

    They chose to build a trophy library at the peak of construction boom and a trophy fire station. Grand total $20 million library and $6 million dollars for fire station, sleeping and workout quarters for 4 firefighters a shift and a garage (paramedics with big trucks).

    Don’t forget about the $15 million dollar total of our Public Works yard at the peak of the real estate cycle. Now you could get that property for about $6 million from what my commercial real estate friends tell me. From what I hear, car dealer’s lots are not doing so well these days. This was all too easy to see it was a huge mistake for anyone with an ounce of financial wisdom.

    Bottomline- Council led by Jerome Stock chose to build and buy at the peak totaling $41,000,000.00 plus. Today you could get the same results of all the trophy projects for $20 million. 50% the costs and 100% lack of leadership. I would call that lack of wisdom, lack of leadership, and lack of common sense. Dan Dalager was all with the program and only offered a few nice stories about his youth in Encinitas. No vision and as usual only looking backwards not forwards.

    If council was “smart” ( a big I WISH). They would choose to build big projects now in the low period with contractors starving. I knew, my neighbors knew, any one with a half of a brain knew what was coming 3 years ago.

    Build the projects now. Council should compromise and build a realistic park at the Hall property with the community. Quit paying those huge attorney fees, and build us a reasonable park at the Hall property in the next 2 years. Build the streetscape along N. Coast Hwy 101 while the contractors are starving. Quit paying for huge pensions and let’s see some results for our community.

    Put the big items to a public vote like the Hall Park. Our council surely doesn't have the smarts of the common Encinitas resident.

    Get with the program and let’s do some good for our town.

    Remember- Campaigns for the 2010 elections will be kicking off here in under a year. Let’s hold Council to their past actions and their vision for our future.

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  13. anol 9:57

    Sure is easy to play the arm chair quarterback. No one wanted to spend more money on the Library, it just happened. get a grip

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  14. Spending more money on the library didn't "just happen." The same with the public works yard. There was a series of bad decisions that led to a predictable result. The council was warned by citizens, but chose to ignore the public input. The same thing happened with the 4 year raises approved by the council. It's all on the record.

    The citizens who warned the council went to the trouble to speak directly to the council in a public meeting. They were not armchair quarterbacks.

    I agree with the long post above. Now is the time to wisely spend money on big projects, such as the Hall property. The prices are right. Unfortunately I don't think the city has the money to do it. The city can borrow money, but it would be foolish not to put this to a vote and have the public approve a tax increase.

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  15. That was the opposite from arm chair quarterbacking. The public was constantly tell council the same thing well before they acted.

    I call that not listening and acting with good common sense.

    Stupid but unfortunately Typical.

    I say send the Hall Project to the public vote for final approval and money. Its the only way it will get built.

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  16. 5:27

    The city borrowed $20 million to build the 4new stations. They built one. The others are in limbo. Where's the extra $15 m was an accurate question. The $20 million borrowed for the library is not the same $20 million as borrowed for the Fire Stations.

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  17. The Council and staff are some of the stupidest people on the planet. Everything they do is way over budget or not needed. We don't need fire stations that look like mansions from RSF. A steel building would work fine. at 1/5 the cost. The public works yard was never worth 10 million with another 1.5 million in improvements. (supposed to be turn-key) Because of these idiots we are doomed to no new projects, no intrafracture repairs, barely any maintenance but plenty of money for salaries, medical benefits, paid days off, lavish pensions and bad expensive service from the city.
    The council loves being in power as they get medical benefits and a retirement like the rest of staff.
    They just go through the motions trying to please as many as possible in public and taking care of their so called friends behind our backs. Sound financial footing is the last thing on their minds.

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  18. The city never borrowed money for the fire stations. It's easy enough to check this by going into the archive on the city website. All the borrowings are listed.

    The city has only borrowed money twice since 2000. $23 million in 2001 to buy the Hall property and $20 million for library construction in 2006.

    It's confusing because the original proposal for Lease Revenue Bonds in May 2006 was to use the $20 million for the Hall property park, the fire stations, and the library. These plans got derailed by a State Supreme Court decision in July 2006 that closed the loophole in the law that allowed bonds to be financed through water and sewer districts. This was how the Hall Lease Revenue Bonds were done, making the SDWD responsible for bond payment.

    The city decided it was easier to sell the idea of library bonds to the public. Who's against books and reading? All very cynical on the city's part. Lease Revenue Bonds require the money be spent on the designated project. This was done.

    Then the city shifted money previously set aside for the library into other areas. This is where the problems start. It's impossible to find out how this money is shifted because the city isn't required to account for internal movement of money not designated by law for special funds, like the sand tax.

    Jerome Stocks calls this adjusting priorities. Nothing wrong with this if done transparently and legally. However, our city is very opaque, often tries to hide what it is doing, and ex-City Manager Kerry Miller may have crossed the line into illegality.

    Where's the $15 million (if that's the shifted amount)? One can only guess. Some was probably used for the cost overruns on the Mossy property, for the unfunded pension obligations that had to go on the books last year, to pay the salary increases, and to plug other holes in the budget caused by falling revenues.

    Not a pretty picture. The upcoming budget workshops will give us a better idea. Watch the 3 men on the council carefully.

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  19. Here's the link to the city website page listing borrowing. Note that the bonds sold since the year 2000 have not been voted on by the public.

    archive.ci.encinitas.ca.us/weblink7/Browse.aspx

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