Saturday, January 31, 2009

Trees vs. Views

Over a year ago, I took a few pictures of Orpheus park. I took the photos because I was going use them to make the case that we should cut down some of the park's trees. Much more important issues came up and it was not until the Highway 101 tree issue surfaced that I went back into my archives for the old photos. I planned to pitch the idea of making a sacrificial offering to the arborists to appease them. They take the Orpheus trees and we keep the 101 trees.

Notice that the Orpheus park sign has a sunset on it. The most important intrinsic attribute of this park is the panoramic ocean view. It is perfect for sunsets. I'm sure the sunset potential of the location was recognized when the park was built. They even put in this really cool bench at the top of the knoll so you can sit and watch the sun go down.

The problem was that the city planted a bunch of trees right down the center of the view corridor. These trees obstructed the richest part of the horizon. The most important natural feature of the park had been crowed out by trees.

I am for cutting down the trees right in the middle of the park. Take a look at these photos. The first is from 2007.

click to enlarge photo

This photo is from last night. Drew was sitting in the tree right down the middle. Once his tree gets cut down the views will be awesome. Take home message: Kevin C. does not want to save all these trees. Keep that in mind as you read some of the following burning questions.
  1. Does the city really have an agreement to keep the neighbors' views unobstructed?
  2. Since when does the city record important and costly agreements in their head instead of on paper?
  3. Was the public, or even the council, ever aware of the agreement?
  4. The neighbors were given some seriously valuable rights with the "agreement". What did the city get in return, and why on earth was that trade not documented? Was there something to hide?
  5. WHO has the authority to give the neighbors a view easement? I'd want the council to be involved in setting perpetual land use agreements.
  6. Why on earth did the city pay for the tree removal? Why not have the neighbors getting the fifty thousand dollar views pay to remove the trees?
  7. Since when does Dan Dalager care about the property values of park neighbors?
  8. Isn't Stocks famous for telling people that if they want a view they should have bought their neighbor's property to protect it?
  9. If there really was an agreement, why on earth wasn't that considered when the park was designed. Why were trees planted where they would encroach into the view easement?
  10. Is Barth micromanaging by questioning the process that resulted in the city paying to cut down its own trees for the benefit of the neighbors (who have no documentation of their view easement)?
  11. Do Jerome or Dalager ever question city hall management processes? When they do, is that micromanaging? There is a huge valley between oversight and micromanagement.
  12. How much is this protest costing taxpayers?
  13. Who obtains a VERY VALUABLE view easement without having it recorded? (Again, why the hell not? Was this just another good ol' boys agreement?)
I am fine with the end result. How this all went down has an odor that no one other than Barth seems interested in trying to eradicate.

7 points about the looming Leucadia 101 tree removal

The following was posted by Kevin C. in the comments section of this blog:

1. The three sets of opinions by the aborists were not fully consistent. There were a number of important differences in the recommendations.

2. Now, I have to admit I don't know what the arborists were asked to do. You can't tell by their analysis (or lack there of). Were they asked to do a risk assessment? Were they asked to do establish a health prognosis? Where they asked, "do you think we should cut those trees down? or, How can we save those trees? Actually, it is pretty clear they weren't asked the last question.

3. Sure, the justification looks good on the surface, but when you look closely at the reports they are pretty thin on providing justification for the immediate removal of the trees. There is no real risk assessment, no structural analysis, or real biological analysis which explained why the trees needed to come down NOW. I don't doubt that such an analysis could result in a conclusion that some of the trees should come down promptly, but I remain highly suspicious for many of the trees.

4.Why do each of these trees have to come down now? You won't find the answers in the reports. [The trees are a the number one asset on 101 and their great size makes L101 fairly unique. The city should make sure that question was addressed. ] That was worth repeating.

5. We have two reports. That doesn't mean that we have two reports that are good enough. The fact that the reports say we should cut down a tree simply because it has some dead canopy should make you want to see a complete analysis of the trees' prognosis.

6. Why do you say the trees are at the rear of their "life-cycles"? What is the evidence? I don't even think the tree trimmer made that claim.

7. How was the outside arborist selected? Did the city hire him or did L101 hire him? He seems to be a bit of a self-promoter and some sort of reinvented landscaper/broker. I don't know that he brings engineering skills or perspective or biological skills or perspective. That is probably fine for most of the things he works on, but if he is not producing an analysis and instead he is just creating straight practitioner's opinion, we should keep that in mind.

click image for large view
The report calls for 8 trees to be cut down, however the new word around town is that 16 Hwy101 trees will be cut down in February.

*I would like to add a point about the perceived danger of old growth Eucalyptus trees. At the last city goal setting meeting Jim Bond talked at length about how branches from Eucs will "go off like a gun" and fall without warning. This is true but, those branches are easy to spot in advance. If the city had any kind of regular maintenance schedule for the 101 trees fear of falling branches would not be an issue.

Also, Leucadia 101 has been the scene of many car accidents, including fatalities. Yet the city is slow to respond to addressing traffic safety on the 101. Why fear of trees? The city might tell us, "The Streetscape will solve traffic safety issues and we will replant trees during the Streetscape." The problem is that the Streetscape timeline is in limbo.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Enviro-Barney Climbs Wrong Tree

Leucadia-4:35pm, January 30, 2009.

Jobless hippy kid climbs "tree" in Orpheus Park in weak attempt to stave off tree trimmer's axe.

Apparently, Drew (the tree climber) doesn't read the Leucadia Blog.

At first I wanted to tell the kid, "Dudebro, don't you read the Leucadia Blog? There are trees that provide community value on L101 that are being cut down without adequate justification. Heck, the cypress tree is being cut down because there is some dead canopy and that is not a complete argument that the tree poses a liability or that it suffers from a terminal illness."

Then I realized that I didn't want this kid to have anything to do with the L101 trees.

Local media coverage:
Coast News, Protester goes to great heights
NCT, Tree-sitter blocks removal of park tipu tree
SDUT, Jru tree-sits, children chant as trees fall in Leucadia park

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Encinitas Uglification Committee Approves Ruining Historic Leucadia

The Encinitas Uglification Committee planning their vision for Leucadia's historic Hwy101.

The black arrows mark tiny dead trees that the city never watered in one of Leucadia's many neglected coast highway center medians.

The Encinitas Uglification Committee spent hours arguing what kind of weeds should grow in Leucadia's center medians.

The EUC's successful scorched Earth program at it's finest.

Locals and tourist alike love Leucadia's historic tree canopy therefore the EUC won't rest until every coast highway tree has been chopped down.

The Encinitas Uglification Committee, working hard for you since 1986.

North Leucadia Big Euc marked for removal

The large tree in the foreground of the photo has been marked for removal by the city of Encinitas. It is in the first center median at the northern entrance to Leucadia, across from Rebel Rents. I cant quite figure out which tree it is on the list of trees to be removed in early February.

click image for large view

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Send Mayor Maggie Good Vibes, Thoughts and Prayers

Encinitas Mayor Maggie Houlihan recently announced that she is battling a recurrence of endometrial cancer. Encinitas politics are divisive but please take a moment to send Mayor Maggie some positive thoughts and prayers. Thank you.

Mayor Maggie vs Cancer

Encinitas mayor says her cancer has returned
By Tanya Mannes
Union-Tribune Staff Writer

ENCINITAS — Mayor Maggie Houlihan announced last night that she is battling a recurrence of endometrial cancer and said that she doesn't plan to wear a wig when she loses her hair during five months of chemotherapy.

She fought the disease in 2006.

“I'm doing everything I can both traditionally and alternatively to beat this darn thing,” Houlihan said in a brief statement at the close of a City Council meeting. “So if you see the bald woman in town, or maybe walking on the beach with friends, it's me.”

Afterward, she was surrounded by supporters, including her husband, Ian Thompson. A friend presented her with a bouquet of flowers.

Houlihan, 60, was first elected to the council in 2000, and she was the top vote-getter in the 2004 and 2008 elections. Known for her “slow-growth” stance, she has called for more restrictions on development, such as buildings that would block scenic views. Houlihan also supports environmental regulations such as a pending plastic-bag ban. –T.M.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Home Depot Expo store off Leucadia Blvd is closing

The era of buying overpriced widgets with your easy money equity from your newly acquired McMansion is over, so Home Depot if closing down it's Expo store off Leucadia Blvd.

MSNBC: EXPO to Close San Diego Stores

I bought a kitchen faucet from there and the staff was helpful and friendly. Now we are going to have another huge empty building in our town. I vote for a multi-plex movie theater to replace the AMC that we lost. Not that anyone can afford to go to the movies anymore...


Below is a recent Reuters article on the state of the state of California. As usual they blame Prop 13 for the economic woes of the 8th largest economy in the world.

California's "train wreck" a golden opportunity?

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - With California facing a $42 billion deficit in the current economic downturn, a glum Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has warned that the Golden State is on the brink of insolvency.

More people have left California than any other U.S. state over the past year, some disenchanted with snarled traffic, scarce jobs and some of the highest taxes in the nation. Add the prospect of still higher taxes and fewer public services, and normally sunny Californians have little to celebrate.

Still, experts say the most populous U.S. state and the world's eighth-largest economy is well placed to rise again and that this crisis could spur major changes in the economy that will pay dividends in the long term.

Abundant natural resources, big ports, access to the Pacific Rim, a large, relatively young work force, entrepreneurial draw and tech-oriented industries augur well for the future, economists and historians say.

"The prophets of doom and gloom are just not looking at the reality of California," said Jerry Nickelsburg, senior economist at the UCLA Anderson Forecast.

"The government has created kind of a mess and that's a problem to be solved, but the negatives are actually fairly small. I think you can expect a lot of good out of California," he said.

The typically upbeat Schwarzenegger made international headlines this month when, instead of delivering his usual cheery "state of the state" speech, he issued a short, bleak message about California's roughly $1.5 trillion economy.


"California is in a state of emergency," said the former actor and bodybuilder, whose second term ends next year. "Addressing this emergency is the first and greatest thing we must do for the people. The $42 billion deficit is a rock upon our chest and we cannot breathe until we get it off."

Controller John Chiang then told Californians he would delay sending out $3.7 billion in tax refunds and other payments because the state was running out of money.

The dismal state of the state would have been hard to imagine in California's post-World War Two golden years, when incomes were rising, land was plentiful, homes were affordable and wide-open freeways stretched in all directions.

The good times came to a screeching halt with the 1973 OPEC recession, said Dowell Myers, a professor of urban planning and demography at the University of Southern California, and in some ways they have never really returned.

At the heart of California's problems, economists say, is the government's heavy reliance on personal income taxes, which produces wild swings in revenue as its coffers overflow in good years and dry up in leaner times.

California is a pioneer state famous for its entrepreneurial spirit. But an entrepreneur who might make $2 million in boom times could go bust in a recession.

A big reason for the state's reliance on income taxes is Proposition 13, a voter-approved change to the state Constitution that limits property tax increases and requires any plan to boost taxes to receive the approval of at least two-thirds of the legislature. read the whole article here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


The city hired a consulting arborist to review the trees already slated for removal by West Coast Arborists. Here is his report.

Arborists are a lot like realtors. There are good ones and a lot of bad ones, and they all have a license/certification.

I had tried to speak with the West Coast arborist who gave the city their first tree evaluation. I gave up after I saw their crews on Leucadia Boulevard working on Torrey Pines trees that did not need their assistance.

Here are some questions and recommendations:
Recommendation #1: Never ask the guy you pay to cut down your trees, "Do you think this one needs to go?"

I am assuming that West Coast Arborists get paid by the tree and don't have a blanket tree maintenance contract (Leucadia's trees have been neglected, why?)

Comment #1: After that first guy says the trees have to go, you box yourself in a corner that requires a lot of effort and expense to get out.

Question #1: How was West Coast selected to be the city's tree trimmers? And how were they selected to be the consultants who evaluated the trees?

Comment #2: The large Monterey cypress is slated for removal because, "This specimen has very little canopy left". That is not evidence or reasoning to justify removing this tree.

Question #2: Why does the Monterey cypress need to be removed? Why does it have to be removed right now?

Comment 3: I am under the impression that no new trees will be put in to replace removed trees. It could be a year or more before they are replaced.

Question #3: Why the rush to remove trees all of a sudden? Trees 1, 3, and 5 are small and don't appear to pose any particular IMMEDIATE risk of canopy failure. The new arborist does not say there is any immediate danger, so why not wait to remove these (or some) trees until a replacement plan is ready to be executed?

Comment #4: The new arborist's evaluation does not appear to be independent of West Coast's evaluation. Given that, if the city was trying to save the L101 canopy, it could have required the trees be evaluated for relative risk of immediate removal, delayed removal, and sustained maintenance. The arborist also noted that he only did a visual inspection and did not identify the species of fungi infecting some of the trees.

Question #4: Given that no new trees will be planted anytime soon and L101 will look be even more uninviting with fewer trees, why weren't the larger Euc's evaluated for their short-term prognosis? Why not wait for the fungus to be identifiable and why not check the wood for the level of decay already experienced?

Question #5: No arborists are claiming that all these trees need to come down immediately. What is the rush?

Question #6: Why didn't the city want me to have the arborist's report until after a decision was made?

Question #7: Who made the "final" city decision?

Encinitas Taxpayers Assoc Newsletter Jan '09

The Jan 2009 ETA newsletter has lots of juicy info and tasty charts and graphs.
ETA Notes
PDF link to Jan Newsletter

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More Leucadia Big Trees to be Removed

All of the big trees in the center median in front of Scott's Automotive are posted for removal. As you can see from this photo the city has not been trimming branches or taking care of these trees so they look a bit raggedy (the one in the center looks pretty good). The city says it is going to plant replacement trees but nobody can tell you when or what kinds of trees. The iconic Leucadia Hwy 101 tree canopy is going to completely gone soon. *sigh*

I heard that the big Torrey Pines in front of the Cardiff library are getting cut down this week. Efforts to save them from disease didn't pan out.*
*Correction: the Cardiff library Torrey Pines were not diseased, their roots had been cut when the library was built which led to their doom. I also hear that new trees will not be planted. Bummer.

No More Bush $25

LOL, classic Leucadia. Thanks to Fred Caldwell for sending me this.

Are You Homeless?

According to this North County Times article:
REGION: Report on homelessness shows large North County population there are 530 homeless people in Encinitas.

"I was somewhat surprised at the number for North County," said Laurine Pause, director of the Community Resource Center in Encinitas. "I think the increase in numbers really were from migrant workers."

Of the 530 homeless people counted on the streets in Encinitas, Pause said she suspects about 80 percent were migrant workers.*

Of those, only 10 percent usually seek assistance from the Community Resource Center, she said.

Pause said she does not think there has been a change in Encinitas' population of chronically homeless, which includes people with mental illness or addiction.

But Leslie and Pause said there are more new homeless people who may be living in their cars after being displaced because of the poor economy.

Those people may be missed in homeless counts, conducted between 4 and 8 a.m., because volunteers usually go to parks or other areas the homeless are known to be found rather than side streets where a family may be finding shelter in their car, Pause said.

Related: The Encinitas Library is hosting a session on what to do if you are facing foreclosure. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Source.


Who are the 400 odd migrant workers living in the bushes of Encinitas working for?

Are they living and working in Encinitas, or are they mostly commuting to work in Rancho Santa Fe, our wealthy neighbor?

Do you employ migrant workers?

If yes, do you pay them cash under the table?

What do you pay them per hour?

Regarding the homeless mentally ill in Encinitas, are there any local resources to help them get well?

Is helping the homeless a job for the government or a responsibility we must all take as a community of private citizens?

Does the city of Encinitas have policy regarding homeless people?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dawning of a New Era

Swearing in, originally uploaded by jessicafm.

The next 4 years it's all on you as an individual. Work hard, do what you do and do it well, take care of and love your family, eat healthy food and drink plenty of water, surf as much as possible and ride every wave with commitment, dignity and stoke. See you in the water and around the greatest town on Earth, Leucadia!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Presidential Inauguration Live


Tuesday: Obama Inauguration Day/Encinitas Goal Setting Day

8:45 a.m. Obama sworn into office as nation's 44th president.

9:00 a.m. The new president's inaugural address.

3:00 p.m local: ENCINITAS: Artist plans eclectic Inauguration Day march along 101

Marsha Lindsey, a board member of the 101 Artists' Colony, has put out word on the Internet about the procession, which will leave Swami's beach around 3 p.m. The group will walk mostly alongside South Coast Highway 101 before stopping at Stone Step's beach.

Lindsey said hoop dancers and other performance artists would be part of the mix. Participants can express themselves however they choose, she said.

"Drums would be welcome," Lindsey said Monday. "Positive energy, flags, signs, whatever. Anything festive. Anything that shows you're happy."

4:00 p.m local: Goal Setting - Encinitas City Hall

Update on previous goals and work tasks
Economic update
City's fiscal strengths and challenged
Presentation of management's CIP prioritization results
Public Input
Next week, Jan 27, will be council discussion

*Many locals have expressed that they are upset that Goal Setting is on Inauguration Day.

*Our congressman Republican Brian Bilbray is not attending Obama's historic inauguration because he says it will be too cold. "It's just too cold for a California kid. The only time I get that cold is when I surf in January."
Bilbray hasn't surfed in years and it was 84 degrees today. MEH.

Source: REGION: GOP Congress members will attend inauguration, but not parties

We've Been Busy

Why we love to live here:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Shatto 2009 Calendar

Jim Shatto has been producing these airbrushed calendars since forever. I always liked the handmade aspect of his paintings and they have a kind of unique retro look now.

Mick Pattinson's Blame Game

Interesting story on developer Barratt American's CEO Mick Pattinson, Even in Bankruptcy, Builder Tries to Browbeat Foes

Stray Observations:

Just 2 years ago Barratt American boasted about record profits, now they are in bankruptcy and their CEO Mick Pattinson blames the banks and wants the government to give his company bailout money.

I have to wonder, how much money did Barratt spend on lawyers and lawsuits fighting the government over every little thing, instead of just concentrating on building homes?

What kind of bonuses did Barratt executives pay themselves before laying off 100 workers, stiffing their subcontractors and filing for Chapter 11?

Pattinson often used his North County Times editorial column to rant against political activist and protesters, but now he is one.

Pattinson hated NIMBYs above all else, even though sometimes he was one too.

"He's assembled more than 160 builders nationwide to push for government intervention and regulation for banks." This is from Mr. Anti-Regulation himself. hmmm...

Mick Pattinson famously wished that California was more like China.

He is not mentioned in the Voice of San Diego story, but it's worth noting that local market dude George Chamberlaine has been a big Pattinson supporter and his "news" stories featuring Pattinson were thinly disguised propaganda pieces for the building industry even when it was clear the trends were unsustainable and heading for collapse.

Did Pattinson truly believe that ticky tacky faux east coast style McMansions were really worth over $1 million dollars, and would continue to go up in value?

"We knew it was going to end," he said, quickly revising his own words. "I say 'we knew'-- that's an overstatement." Again, hmmm...

What if developers like Barratt American had embraced more cost effective and futuristic homes like the Dwell prefab homes?

Under no circumstance is the CEO of a company ever to blame, it's always someone else's fault.

"I am not one who is at all embarrassed of what I do for a living," he said.
Yeah, no kidding.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Local Sea Life

Our beaches are an important resource for our quality of life, especially if your family life revolves around the beach. (I recently had a sand lobbyist suggest I go to the beach more often so I could see the sand levels for myself <- Bwahahaha!). Leucadia isn't exactly known for its tide pools and what we have for finger reefs are frequently covered in sand these days.

In search of tide pools we head south to Swamis.
Until the recent storms, the Swami's reef was completely covered in sand. Much of the shallow reef is still covered.
The campground reefs are covered too. I might add that the excess sand is not helping my favorite campy reef breaks one bit.
Frankie Hejduk chose a pro soccer career over a pro surfing career after his favorite reef break filled in with sand (M#$*s hasn't really broken since Hejduk started playing in the pros).

I can't remember so much of Cardiff Reef being covered, even though Georges and Seaside had high sand berms for people to hang out on back in the day. Was there really a greater volume of sand back then? Was the characteristics of the sand different than today?

I think we are fortunate that there are still some reefs that haven't been covered in fine sand.

Great family fun.

Our reefs bring people to the coast year-round.

Below are pictures of my family's second favorite beach. We recently spent three days at this secret spot. The abundance of cobbles did not create despair and disappointment for my children.