Thursday, August 20, 2009

Council Meeting Report: Part I

I took some pictures of the council meeting last night. Gary Murphy was there and told the council that the Leucadia Boulavard/101/Vulcan intersection signal lights were stuck on flashing red recently. He told the council that traffic was improved over the normal signal control.

He suggested that the city evaluate converting the intersection to an all way stop as a way of improving Leucadia.

I give Garry credit for paying attention to what is going on and thinking of ways to improve the lamest intersection in Encinitas. That intersection is a real downer.

Was it always that bad? I don't remember it being that bad when I was kid.

People who live in my neighborhood avoid the Leucadia Boulevard intersection like the plague and we use all sorts of cut-troughs to avoid it. Going north, we bypass it by going down Union (I should note that northbound on Vulcan could have been worse).

A vintage Leucadian also addressed traffic issues (she is sitting in front). She wanted the city to put in speed bumps on Union, or something like that. I don't think anyone saw the connection between the lady's and Gary's issues.

If the city states its traffic objectives and determines how it will measure success I would support collecting some easy/cheap data to see if Gary's suggestion is worthy. I might suggest measuring changes in cut-through traffic :)

Speaking of traffic, last night the council gave traffic engineering company Austin-Foust a contract to produce the city's new traffic study, which will be a foundation of the general plan update. Dang, we don't want to get the traffic study wrong or adopt a dumb general plan. We could end up with worse intersections and more cut-through traffic!

Steve Gerken (above) and six or so other speakers (including me) recommended that the city not hire Austin-Foust for this linchpin component of the general plan update. Steve and a number of other engineers and technical professionals from around the city had reviewed the last traffic study that Austin-Foust produced. That report sucked.

The report was obviously troubled. The data was funny, the model was questionable, and it included policy foundations that citizens would be unhappy about. The public highlighted so many issues that the council majority made an unusual move. The entire council didn't want to (publicly) accept Austin-Foust's work, and they sent it to the traffic commission to be reviewed. The report was not salvageable. The traffic commission would not approve of the report. One commissioner called the work "junk".

The whole time Austin-Foust signed off on the report and tried to promote it forward.

Above is Jim Cowles. He reviewed Austin-Foust's data and analysis of traffic in east Encinitas. He had the same basic conclusion as all the other speakers. Don't hire Austin-Foust, instead put the contract out to bid. Did I mention that Austin-Foust did not have to go through a competitive bid process?

Jim explained why this traffic study could determine the future of our city. He said, "The traffic study is the heart of this whole million dollar general plan update process."

I recommended to the city that they put out an RFP and bring in a contractor that the citizens could trust. Even Councilor Jerome Stocks was willing to go to a competitive bid process for the $100,000+ traffic study. Even Planning Director Patrick Murphy all but directly recommended going out to bid for the traffic study. Murphy normally toes the line even if he has to compromise himself. Murphy probably realized how important the general plan update is and decided to put the city's future (and the $1million dollar contract) in front of the wrath of the council majority.

Murphy made it really clear that if the citizens have problems with the general plan update on day one the whole update process could be jeopardized (whatever happened with the Cardiff specific plan?)

Barth was clearly leery of hiring Austin-Foust because she had analyzed Austin-Foust's previous report and remembered the analysis the public had conducted. Because Bond was on vacation, it looked like it would be at least a 2-2 vote against hiring Austin-Foust. Jerome said he was for a competitive bid process, but that was before Mayor Houlihan spoke.

Mayor Maggie Houlihan went off. She said she didn't know what was wrong with the Austin-Foust report. Well. She hadn't analyzed Austin-Foust's report. She appears to just go by whatever staff says and her conversations with the consultants. She also blamed the problems with the report and its delay on city management of the contract. Nevermind that the public asked her to address that issue years ago and there was no public response from her, nor did she explain how that couldn't happen again.

During last night's meeting Houlihan asked staff if they knew of any flaws in the Austin-Foust report. She temporarily forgot that she considered staff responsible for managing Austin-Foust (and there weren't any city engineers at the meeting).

Houlihan did not ask any of the 7 speakers if they would inform her of the flaws. None had done so during their address to council because they had assumed the quality of the report was no longer in question (the report had been tossed years ago). However, Kathleen Lindamen had offered to share a letter that outlined some of the issues with Austin-Foust's report. Houlihan could have, but did not, request that the one page letter be read. She could have asked Jim Cowles or Steve Gerken. She did not.

Mayor Houlihan drove the vote to Austin-Foust and Jerome jumped behind the cover of the Mayor.

The Mayor could be 100% correct that they were only puppets of the city and Austin-Foust should still not be given a new contract. Austin-Foust was willing to sign off on the report and cover city officials asses (regarding the artificial delays).

Above is the guy who got the 1 million dollar general plan update contract. He learned two things last night:

1) Encinitas citizens and Barth won't tolerate manipulated or shoddy work, and
2) Dalager, Stocks, and Houlihan will.

The vote was Barth against, and Dan Dalager, Jerome Stocks, and Houlihan for giving Austin-Foust a new traffic study contract.

The vote was unanimous to give MIG the overall general plan update contract.

See Also: Encinitas Council Back from Vacation.


  1. where was Bond? guess he wasn't needed for a consensus as Maggie has gone over to the evil side. shame.

  2. Is that a toupee on Dan, or a squirrel cap?

  3. Gary Murphy is 100% correct. Every time that F'd up signal goes to Red flash mode, it works 1000% times better. The City should give it a test for a week and gauge the results. I know it works better.

    Thanks Gary!

  4. Bond as on vacation which is interesting since they just took a 3 week vacation. Perhaps Maggie's chemo is making her think less thnt before? Sorry she has it but should she really be making decisions? Term limits are the only way even tho I don't really like the idea. They all eventually seem to go to the staff side.

  5. Since it would appear that most citizens in Encinitas are probably too busy or don't care about this city, that term limits are the only way to go. If we leave it up to the citizens who don't care, we may be stuck with al of them . Maggie probably stays because of health benefits she gets.

  6. anon 6:36,

    Maggie is as energetic as ever and her behavior is nothing new. The contrast between Barth and Houlihan shows that Maggie doesn't have it where it counts. In her actions!

    Maggie has been undermining Barth for years.

  7. Since it was asked, here is the link to the Cardiff Specific Plan.

    It is a perfect example of how sideways and misguided a planning document can get when you let regular folk, pissed-off about everything, though well meaning, hijack what is actually a complicated document, (like this proposed traffic study). Watch it be revised and watch the lawsuits coming as properties are down-zoned and strip mall development is encouraged.

    Encinitas has the peculiar quality of not trusting anyone about anything. Experts are instantly debunked consistently in a knee jerk fashion. This typical scenario always amazes me because we actually have a very educated population. Apparently we live in a town of experts. The results are always dumbed-down and uninspired.

  8. The link was cut-off for the Cardiff Specific Plan;

    If this doesn't work you can go to the City of Encinitas website, go to planning, then go to advanced planning and you'll see the plan has a link.

  9. I wish they would try flashing reds for a couple weeks. When it does happen the intersection is more smooth and civil. Also, folks slow down well beforehand. Now, about those metering lights on freeway on ramps...

  10. Encinitas has the peculiar quality of not trusting anyone about anything

    thats what happens when the council in staff constantly lie and manipulate

  11. All anyone needs to do to examine Austin-Foust's work is to link to the 2004 graph showing the projected 2030 traffic volumes and compare it to the 2007 traffic counts [both should be on the City's web site]. If anyone had bothered to do that, it would be obvious that Austin Foust's projections in 2004 for 2030 are wildly inaccurate. Check out La Costa - the projected 2030 traffic volume almost matches the 2007 actual count and this without the proposed Ponto project [which adds 5000 ADT per Carlsbad's traffic report in the EIR]. This is just one example of the total lack of value we received for our $100,00+. Austin Foust's OWN WORK shows that they should not be rehired [and believe me, this isn't the only example].
    I was also surprised that the Council was willing to admit that the traffic report commissioned in 2003 had been delayed not by Austin Foust, but for political reasons by the ex-City manager. Easy to blame him- he's gone. Does this not point to the fact that the report was not acceptable and the public would take action against the incumbants in the pending elections? If the Council held back the Austin Foust report because they feared the repercussions, how can they now vote to use Austin Foust again?

  12. "Experts are instantly debunked consistently in a knee jerk fashion."

    Really? The public did an ANALYSIS of Austin-Foust's work and found it to be lacking. They brought the ANALYSIS to the council and it was so overwhelming the COUNCIL had the knee jerk reaction to toss the report like a hot potato to the traffic commission. The traffic commission spent weeks reviewing the study and AGREED with the PUBLIC ANALYSIS and did not accept the report.

    About the Cardiff Specific Plan.

    Are you willing to put your name out there to say you supported the first planning document put out?

    Is anyone? The city tried to sneak that document through and the document was so ugly the council wouldn’t approve it when the public was watching.

    The council, NOT the public, voted to dump the first plan. Thank the public for CORRECTLY identifying crappy work coming out of the city.

    As for downzoing Cardiff, there is no chance that the current city council is going to vote to downzone Cardiff. Don’t be melodramatic.

  13. anon 728,

    Can you address anon 832's question?

  14. Anon 7:28: Yes, we have a well educated community and actually do have a town of experts. The problem is staff nor council listens to any of us. The only non-experts seem to be most of the Council and Staff. Time for citizens to take control of this city.

  15. Well said 8:38 and 8:35.

    Multiple workshops were held with stakeholders in Cardiff (residents, land owners, business people) prior to the consultant's specific plan. The consultant summarized what was said, and wrote a specific plan that had zero correlation to what was said.

    The citizens's committee had several contentious meetings, but the final plan was well supported by the committee and community members who participated. This committee consisted of residents, land owners, and business people. All came to a concensus plan that DID NOT down zone at all. In fact, it up zoned, allowing limited mixed use, and smaller set-backs.

    7:28 - Please review current zoning and the proposed Cardiff Specific plan. You will note no downzoning.

  16. How wonderfully refreshing and informative to read this comment thread. Intelligence and respect go a long way . . .

  17. Sometimes knee-jerk reactions are righteous. Like this time.

  18. 7:28 said: perfect example of how sideways and misguided a planning document can get when you let regular folk, pissed-off about everything, though well meaning, hijack what is actually a complicated document, (like this proposed traffic study)...

    Are you saying this public is incapable of understanding a complex idea, much less a document? May be true in East Bum Fuck, TX, not in Encinitas. We are fortunate to have a highly educated and/or highly motivated articulate community of folks. Attacks on the "public" are simply self-serving. What the Cardiff public did is outstanding. Too bad it will be tsunamied by the Council.

  19. Set Leucadia Light to flash for 5 days and lets see how it performs.

    Common on. it can not get worse than it is. We've see it. Its much better.

  20. Why doesn't Dan say anything useful? Does Dalager even read the reports?

  21. Dan only reads if there is a rodent involved.

  22. Have you noticed how Dan is obsessive these days about calling the motion? A few months ago he had to have assistance to articulate the simplest statements. Now he seems to grab the opportunity to frame the decisions via the motion statements. That seems to be the only rehearsal or homework he does. Another aspect of this homework or preparation for the meeting is this, does anyone else think the mayor and the men focus on minutia rather than substance in their questions. It has always seemed to me to be a show - of appearing informed rather than honest inquiry.

    Give us several more Barth-types who come informed for real debate please.

  23. Regarding council votes based on those rambling, babbling stories of one's youth . . . (I'm talking to you Danny, Jimmy and Maggie).

    Anecdote with statistical/scientific substantiation is compelling analysis. Analysis derived from anecdote is conjecture.

  24. Yes, what ever did happen to the Cardiff Specific Plan? Inquiring minds would like to know.

  25. My fear is that the staff is fiddling with the document to give certain influential property owners the upzoning they want. This would allow increased density, reduced setbacks, and mixed use. All would gain a big financial benefit. Then the public gets stuck with all the infrastructure costs needed because of more traffic and less parking.

    It is a lie that the CSP is about downzoning. It is exactly the opposite. It's also an insult to say that the committee was incompetent. They worked hard to deliver a document that was better than the paid consultant gave. It reflected the input from the community workshops and didn't cost $100,000.

    There is an easy solution to the controversy: junk the plan and leave things as they are.

  26. Besides Barth, the Encinitas City Council acts more like they belong in Lakeside. They are a complete sideshow and backwards.... They might make a good reality show.

  27. 9:06 - I don't think you're right (but you never know with city staff). Staff says they are waiting for some sort of "climate change" report or assessment. This is a formality that is now required (probably a good thing to ensure zoning does not have bad climate change impacts - but that is a whole separate issues).

    Once the assessment is in, the CSP goes to the planning commission. Since 2 of 5 commissioners were on the committee, I would hope it would go to council with minimum changes.

  28. This blog has made a difference. Small steps DO add up. Thanks JP and Kevin.

  29. Isn't that guy at the top a tweeker and drug runner?

  30. No Just a nice Leucadian that cares about his town... and if you get out of line in the lineup, he will put a hurting on you like you deserve.

    F'ing idiot.

  31. Put the signals to the all way stop mode. It works much better!

    Check it out. Everytime it happens the worst intersection in Encinitas becomes the best intersection in Encinitas!

    It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see something logical that just makes sense.

  32. No. But don't forget. Even rocket scientists' rockets unintentionally plumet back to earth sometimes.

  33. put the signal back to all flash. It works good.

  34. 12:56

    It works damn good. And keeps people in practice on who gets the right of way.

  35. speaking of right of way,
    hello leucadians, you must yield when turning left into an intersection with oncoming traffic even if the oncoming traffic is turning right in the direction you with to go,
    sit at the light at orpheus and leucadia blvd and watch the people turn left from orpheus heading toward the 5 not yield all day long

  36. speaking of right of way,
    hello leucadians, you must yield when turning left into an intersection with oncoming traffic even if the oncoming traffic is turning right in the direction you with to go,
    sit at the light at orpheus and leucadia blvd and watch the people turn left from orpheus heading toward the 5 not yield all day long

  37. "speaking of right of way,
    hello leucadians, you must yield when turning left into an intersection with oncoming traffic even if the oncoming traffic is turning right in the direction you with to go,"

    Until the next set of cars of course.


Thank you for posting on the Leucadia Blog.
There is nothing more powerful on this Earth than an anonymous opinion on the Internet.
Have at it!!!