Saturday, April 30, 2011

Streetscape Alternate #6

Folks, it don't get any simpler than looking at the road maintenance budget to see if the city is taking care of core infrastructure and truly has a balanced budget.

At this week's budget meeting I pointed out, that once again, the city was not keeping up with roads maintenance. This means the future will have to pay for the maintenance that we should be doing now and it becomes more costly as roads get worse. It is sort of like letting a cavity go really deep and then needing a root canal. It would have been cheaper and more pleasant to not wait.

Here is what Jim Bond had to say (the issue was basically blown off otherwise):









Get Microsoft Silverlight



According to the Mayor, it seems that one way to calm traffic is to let the roads crumble. Running with that sort of thinking, maybe all we need to do is jack hammer the Leuadia 101 asphalt to fix the traffic problem. That would be a lot cheaper than the Alternative #4. I've sent Jim an email to see if he wants to clarify.

Jim's part about 9 mill/year being for a platinum roads system is nauseating spin. The 9mill/year is not to make the roads super awesome. It is to catch up the with old maintenance that has been ignored. The low level of maintenance that the city has been doing has already accumulated $17 million in deferred maintenance. That is indebting the future. I have no doubt that Jim knows exactly the score here, but maybe he'll surprise me.

Don't forget that the report shows the city has been (and is going to be) seriously underfunding streets maintenance is the same report they tried to keep secret. The city is still keeping secret its communications with the consultant (aka instructions to manipulate the report?).

From the City's report (regarding the status quo appraoch):
Scenario 1. Existing Budget ($1.15m/year, increasing by $50k a year)
In this scenario, the City’s existing funding level is $1.15m per year, with an annual increase of $ 50,000. As a consequence, the City’s network condition will drop from the current PCI of 73 to 69 by 2014. Also, the maintenance backlog will continue to increase from $17.8 m to $34.8 m. In addition, 65.8% of the network will be in the good to excellent condition category, and will increase from 0.8% to 4.7% in the “failed” category. While the drop in pavement condition is relatively small (4 points), the doubling of the backlog is much more alarming, and is of greater concern.
From the draft budget (the amount for street overlay):
Going from 1.2 to 1.5 is better than nothing, but it isn't balancing the budget. Its kicking the can down the crumbling road.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Public asks for time

A number of speakers asked the council for art mercy tonight.

Leucadia Goes EV

There was this red Nissan Leaf driving in my neighborhood and I thought it might be Jerome Stocks. It turned out to be one of our neighbors instead.

Leucadia is full of old longboarders, down-to-earth yuppies, and enviro's. The new leaf owners were the green type of Leucadian. They said this is the only new car they'll ever expect to purchase.  Carbon emission reduction was a motivation for their purchase. 

There isn't really much discussion in the local environmental community about compensatory usage of fossil fuels and supply side of petrolem equation (See here). An important green test question should be: if you take the bus (or drive an EV), will the Saudis leave that extra gallon of oil you "saved" in the ground forever? I'm pretty sure the Chinese will be happy to use every drop Americans don't buy. Yeah, I'm skeptical that electric vehicles will make a different for atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.



I think cars like this Leaf are part of Leuadia's future. A U.S. dollar on a crash course and dwindling easily extractable oil reserves means rising oil prices. People are busy and love to live in their single family homes because of all the great benefits that come with that sort of infrastructure. Most* of us aren't wealthy enough to opt to work part-time and have excess time to allow them to jettison their cars for more time consuming means of transport. Instead, I expect to see Leucadians trade their cars in for cheaper driving options. We are still going to need roads for people driving in cars.

*Leucadia is one of the few places where you can find people who have really given up their cars 90%+ of the time. More on them later.

Sevy Art

Monday, April 25, 2011

Separation of Surf and State

Devil or Angel?

“Good art or bad art, it’s still defacing,” Murphy said.

Beverly Goodman, who deals similar Lady Guadalupe art out of her store, Coast Highway Traders in downtown Encinitas, said she hopes it isn’t removed.

“It’s so beautiful and so well done that I wish they would take it to the (city) arts commission and give it a chance before they take it down,” she said.

Howard Whitlock, the city’s Assistant Superintendent of Public Works, said he’s received a few complaints about the religious overtones of the art piece on public property. He’s also gotten calls saying the piece should be kept.

More from the UT

Leucadia, the Next Soviet Poway?

FROM THE IN BOX (with a few brevity edits):
[Leucadia] is working like a made-for-south-poway-ghetto template.

All [Poway's government regulated housing] is highly concentrated in South Poway.
And the city is plunking these affordable housing projects near to or across the street from [our big box stores].
Hell, all the sidewalks end abruptly at Wal-Mart and yet the city says this is where people who are in wheelchairs can live independently etc.
So, the commercial environment is made for out-of-town shoppers with thir big rancho vehicles and yet the city keeps plunking residential low income projects there. Cheap workers for Wal-Mart!  They should be grateful to hear those delivery trucks unloading at 2 a m near their bedroom windows. It means jobs. We also now have a big shopping cart problem. All the time, at pretty much all the projects but the newest one.

The one local school is now 50% kids on free or reduced price lunches.  All there performance data is WAAAYYYYY lower than the other schools. The city hires a PR firm to say that affordable housing does not affect schools or property values.
Some of the projects look decent. But the people are all low-income. So they don't have people with other resources to intermingle with or network with. They are very isolated in these projects. Some even are on private streets, so other people cannot come in to them easily.  There are some little tot lots, but they are only for the project kids, so they do not even intermingle with others on the playground.

Big issues are that the kids can't play with balls or out in front of the units. There are insufficient amount of play areas. Or nearby parks. Poway has very few parks and the ones they have are reserved for sports teams.
Poway has had long running management problems at these projects. Reportedly drug dealing, etc. There was a death in the back seat of a car at one last week. Not sure if it was a suicide or something less sinister. Some of the tenants do a lot of complaining. Some of their complaints are really without merit, but the people do not have a sense of being in charge of their own environment.
I remember once someone had some BIG stuff to tell me. It was that their board "illegally" used some fund to plant rose bushes.  Sheesh! Who cares. Rose bushes improve the place.
[There is also complaints that some people are allowed to cut in the housing waiting lists.]
I have heard legitimate complaints from people complaining that the sheriff does not respond to reports of drug dealing in the area. I have heard repeated claims of people finding drug paraphernalia and taking it to the sheriff and the sheriff not really caring. They don't want to fill out a report and make the crime rate increase.
[The sheriffs] don't want to fill out a report and make the crime rate increase.
...You know, they ripped down the Cabrini Green projects in Chicago and rebuilt units with market rate housing and the poor together in the same units. They thought they would have a hard time getting the non-poor folks to buy into it, but they sold the units right away. It was the poor who balked over the idea. They had to give them lots of help learning how to live in a non-project with regular people.  But Poway doesn't learn from anyone else's adventures. We are going with the build-a-ghetto concept. As long as it doesn't taint their north Poway schools or neighborhoods, they don't care. They don't even shop in Poway, they shop in Rancho Bernardo. So, they people who decide where to locate these projects don't have to live with it or deal with it.

 Chris Cruising Poway on a Segway

The South Poway Residents Association was formed in part  because their city was pushing all the low income housing into one area of their city and into semi-segregated complexes. The residents took action too late and too much momentum had formed. Some of the Association's founders moved.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Public Art

Situation Unknown

See the best public art in Encinitas before the art police removes the best piece of public art on display in the last 10 years (except for the shark that ate the Cardiff Kook)! You have to go see it for yourself. It is under the train tracks on Encinitas Boulevard.

GOSSIP UPDATE
1) Several connected local artists had no knowledge of this piece or that it was going in. They had not heard from the city or the NCTD that this was even being considered.
2) One blog reader says an "official looking" crew was out at the site last week "prepping" for the installation.


Gur. Art

Thursday, April 21, 2011

We Live in Vacation Land: Leucadia


$3000 / 3br - Magical Hacienda Estate in Tropical Garden Setting 4 blocks to ocean (Encinitas)

Date: 2011-04-20, 3:04PM PDT
Reply to: hous-wjkws-2337381362@craigslist.org [Errors when replying to ads?]


Tropical paradise in North County - Leucadia Beach Area. Del Mar Fairgrounds close by (5 miles). Vacation rental retreat with lush landscaped private compound 12000 sf with 2400 sf home, sleeps up to 12 Guests.

Rent the whole property for $3000 per week through June. July and August weekly rates $3650. Short-term monthly rates (main house and casitas) available after Labor Day.

Perfect location for family reunions, and guests coming to attend local weddings! Set in a private tropical garden -- 12,000 square feet of landscaped, lighted grounds with towering palm trees, amazing bird life, incredible indoor-outdoor flow, a main house (1800 sf) and casitas (700 sf) form a horseshoe in the classical Hacienda style. Designer restored and classic Leucadia beach bungalow style, with many paned windows. Private outdoor seating area and entry path for casitas if rented separately. See our calendar, reviews and more pictures at www.homeaway.com/135249

Our little town still offers enough to entice rich folks to vacation here. Its a great place to live. Let's not let those who would pillage, screw it all up. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Plastic Man at PEC

As an Earth Day celebration, Paul Ecke Central Elementary School will offer a presentation by Captain Charles Moore, one of the worlds’ most leading authorities regarding the problem of “trash in our oceans.” Captain Moore’s organization, the Algalita Marine Research Foundation (AMRF) is dedicated to the protection of the marine environment and its watersheds through research education and restoration. He will speak in the PEC auditorium on Friday, April 22nd (Earth Day!) at 7:00 pm.

Since 1997, Captain Moore has made numerous research voyages, aboard the ORV Alquita, to the North Pacific Sub-Tropical Gyre - an area of the Pacific that is characterized by a circulating rotation of ocean currents. His area of focus has been a large area commonly referred to as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, due to the accumulation of vast amounts of plastic trash. His studies have resulted in a body of authoritative and internationally recognized research publications and data and educational programs.
Date: Friday, April 22

Time: 7:00 pm

Location: Paul Ecke Central School Multi-Purpose Room

185 Union Street Encinitas, CA 92024

Cost: Suggested donation of $5.00 (or more is good too!) Note – All money collected goes directly to support the research of the A.M.R.F., a non-profit organization.
Please email Darcy Lyons at kdlyons@cox.net if you are interested in attending.
Seating is limited to the first 300 guests. If you want to ensure a seat, arrive early!


Kevin C. Note: I spent years doing research in Southern California Salt Marshes, which is where the watersheds meet the ocean. From my anecdotal experience, cutting north county's plastic input by 90%+ would be less important that cutting just 10% from some Los Angeles rivers or the Tijuana rivershed. Those rivers are covered in plastic. Does anyone want to join me in going to those watersheds to help address this issue?

Here is the voice of San Diego coverage of the TJ litter:

A mile north of the border fence, Mexico's garbage stands five feet high in places, a pointillistic rainbow made of plastics. Royal blue oil containers. Green soda two-liters. Lavender fabric softener bottles.

There, in the Tijuana River basin, a wide channel that serves as the main drainage basin for Tijuana's storm water runoff, a stack of garbage stretches almost a quarter-mile long. The plastic bottles have washed across the border and gotten stuck in plain sight.

Deeper in the Tijuana River Valley Regional Park, on land owned by the county of San Diego, the litter dams up creeks, hangs from trees and lurks beneath muddy paths. Tires, two-by-fours and Styrofoam punctuate the mess.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

San Diego's Fairgrounds to be Improved

More from the in box:

In case you are wondering how today's Fairground expansion hearing went here is a report from Adam Kaye (Pam Slater-Price's office). Most disturbing to me was board member Adam Day's comment as to how few project opponents showed up to the hearing. This after numerous people mentioned the fact that the meeting was scheduled on a Monday morning and noticed only 10 days ago.
Jenny

April 18, 2011
Hotel dropped from fairgrounds plan
The Del Mar fair board today dropped a controversial, 330-room hotel from plans to intensely develop its 400-acre, seaside property.

The board also agreed that an electronic “reader board” sign along the freeway should be subject to additional hearings and public scrutiny, as should a lighted ball field proposed for the roof of a planned exhibit hall.

Board members welcomed a 100-foot-wide buffer along the San Dieguito River, even though they fiercely opposed legislation calling for the greenway last year. They said the greenway, however, would come only with the approval and construction of a new exhibit hall.

They also agreed to fast-track the study of restoring wetlands on land now used for parking.

With members Vivian Hardage and Michael Alpert absent, the board unanimously approved an environmental study that examines the consequences a development plan that calls for new buildings, parking lots, garages and other facilities.

The vote came after three hours of intense criticism leveled by nearly 30 public speakers. Many of them demanded that the board postpone its hearing because the public had been granted only 10 days to review more than 1,000 pages of newly-released paperwork included with environmental document.

Board members deferred to their attorney, who defended fairgrounds officials’ compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act.

The board seemed to run roughshod over the Brown Act, however.

Board President Barry Nussbaum didn’t seem to understand that state law prohibits a majority of board members from convening to talk about the district’s business. During the afternoon session, Nussbaum announced publicly: “We’ve been meeting at lunch, talking about it,” he said in reference to the morning session.

Dwight Worden, an attorney from Del Mar, shook his head in disbelief.

Worden said later: “I hope (the fairgrounds’) lawyers soiled themselves when (Nussbaum) said that.”

Note: The Del Mar Fair and Races generates a lot of Leucadia 101 automobile traffic in the summer. This report doesn't mention building a train station at the race tracks. It does mention building expensive parking structures.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Library to be Improved

From the in box:

"After spending $20 million and taking on decades of debt to fund a Taj Mahal library, the city is now acknowledging that they let the contractors get away with shoddy construction and the first repair tab for the still-new building is $143,000."

Andy

The council is discussing this in two days. Link to the council agenda: http://archive.ci.encinitas.ca.us/weblink8/browse.aspx?startid=664562&dbid=0

Sunday, April 17, 2011

More Fear of Community Subsidized Government Regulated Housing

From the in box:

Dear Friends,

Please read the staff reports item 3 through 6 http://archive.ci.encinitas.ca.us/weblink8/browse.aspx?startid=15764  and make your own thoughts known to our planning commission.  They vote on this matter this week.  To send a message to the planning commission email  dgay@cityofencinitas.org .

Thanks for caring about Leucadia,
Mr. F


 

Overview

8 Exquisite Beach Inspired Luxury Homes Coming Soon! Located only blocks from the beach in the coastal neighborhood of Leucadia in Encinitas. Pricing will start in the $1 Millions. Interest List Now Forming!

& no riffraff! 


Livability: When you live comfortably super far from poor people. 

More from the in box:

Dear Planning Commissioners,

PLEASE DON’T MAKE LEUCADIA A DUMPING GROUND FOR ALL THE CITY’S LOW INCOME HOUSING!

This email serves as a protest and to voice a strong recommendation  not to approve staff recommendation and allow the conditions of the developments to dump all their low income housing at the Vulcan Townhomes or any other site in Leucadia. See reference staff report at http://archive.ci.encinitas.ca.us/WebLink8/DocView.aspx?id=675882&dbid=0 .

Leucadia already has a higher percentage portion of low income housing than the other communities in Encinitas.

The low income housing should remain where the density bonus law intended, with the proposed new development.  The law was not intended to maximize profits for the developer and encourage blight in another locations.
If the developer want to cluster their low housing in one location, I suggest they propose a location outside of Leucadia.

Please vote NO to Staff’s recommendation on these cases.  Their current recommendation is good for the developer and bad for Leucadia.  It’s that simple.

Mr. F

Ducky Events


In the ongoing battle to keep Leucadia funky, Ruthless Hippies have teamed up with BFD shows to put together two awesome benefit shows for Ducky Waddle's Emporium...

4/19 - Gaux Nu Vaux (acoustic) and Starfish live @ Ducky Waddle's, doors at 7 PM all ages cost: FREE if you donate a book, cd, dvd or piece of art that Jerry can actually sell...giveaways: earn free tickets to Mad House VI by spending $10 or more at the Duck...hmmm...methinks that's a good deal since the event only costs $10 to begin with...more

Next Ruthless poetic event:

4/27 - Poerty Ruckus @ Ducky Waddle's - Featuring Jim Babwe you know the drill, keep it under five minutes and RSVP to read ruthlesshippies@gmail.com, doors at 7 PM, poetry 7:15-ish

Click all of these links, they lead to more info and eternal happiness.


Stoked,

Michael
Ruthless Hippy At-Large

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Fed's and Union Keep Violating Privacy Rights

This just in: FAA Brass and Union Chiefs acknowledge another unbecoming performance by air traffic controllers. Results in consented that is certain to publicly end in policy and practice changes. Air travel safety to improve because the errors were not swept under the rug.

In With the New

A Home Up

Zoning for Housing Justice
“We feel that all residents, all segments of L.A. should be able to enjoy the benefits [of the improvements in downtown],” explains Hurd. “These are the people who have to service you. Why can they not live beside you?”
That kind of economic integration is exactly what proponents say inclusionary housing is all about. 

Alan Mallach, research director of National Housing Institute, defines inclusionary housing as anything that fosters integration of lower-income and market-rate housing and/or uses the “power of the marketplace” to generate resources for affordable housing. And although economic integration is the primary objective of inclusionary zoning, racial integration often becomes a focal point in the deconcentration of poverty as well. 

Proponents of inclusionary housing hope that it will mitigate the effects of poverty by giving lower-income families access to better schools and job opportunities in less economically disadvantaged areas. Inclusionary zoning, the most common type of inclusionary housing program, builds affordable housing requirements into the zoning code. Developers who build in an area governed by inclusionary zoning usually receive a density bonus which allows them to build more units than normally allowed by zoning laws. First tried in 1975 and used frequently throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, inclusionary zoning has experienced a surge in popularity throughout the last decade. 

Will Affordable Housing be Abolished?
In 30 years not a single person has been able to explain why "poor people" -- many without a high school diploma and who self-report to the Census they can't speak English -- are entitled to enjoy the most expensive consumer product in society -- a brand new home or apartment. Or why housing for the poor should cost more than double the housing occupied by most self-supporting renters. After all, the overwhelming majority of people have never lived in an expensive brand-new dwelling unit.

The latest U.S. Census report indicates that 14.8 percent of adults over 25 in San Diego do not have a high school diploma and 15.6 percent cannot speak English well (some of whom are represented by interpreters at affordable housing hearings). If you're not motivated to get an education and can't speak the language, chances are you'll not own a home and may struggle to pay rent.

Even acknowledging the importance of education and speaking English, the majority of low-income households will not be low-income in 10 years as documented in several studies. See: By Our Own Bootstraps, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. (dallasfed.org/fed/annual/1999p/ar95.html) In a 10-year study 95 percent of the people move up the economic ladder from the bottom quintile. Why should they be entitled to leapfrog years early over those earning their way up the ladder of success? [Do they get to stay in their low income homes if they get a raise?]

The San Diego Housing Federation's Susan Tinsky writes (Union-Tribune, Feb. 27) that "56 percent of renters in San Diego County are unable to afford the $1,324 per month average fair-market rent on a two bedroom apartment." The average rent however, includes Mission Beach, La Jolla and Del Mar. Last October the Census reported the "median" San Diego rent as $1,224, meaning half the rents are less. Also, nearly 70 percent of tenants pay less than $1,499 per month and 146,000 renters (34 percent) pay less than $999 per month. The private unsubsidized market provides substantially more housing for low-income tenants than government programs. However, it's true it's not brand new or among the most expensive apartments in all of San Diego.

Leftcoast Comment
This proposal is so wrong both morally and ethically. To move the affordable units from (4) "for sale" projects into a single "for rent" project on Vulcan, is in the name of greed only.

There is no benefit to the City, we already have an inventory of 138 rental properties available for Low Income families. What we need is affordable "for sale" homes.

There are 4 properties in this deal. All 4 were density bonus projects. They all received 15-20% more units than the zoning allowed. They also received numerous concessions from the zoning code (lower lot size, lower setbacks, private streets, etc.). All these substandard, bloated projects were granted approval because of the "Affordable units". The City could do nothing about it, it's a state law.

So now, the developer strips away the affordable units, confines them all to a 21 unit apartment project on Vulcan North of RCP, and gains 20 new market rate homes for sale. I believe this is a new strategy for development. Bait and Switch at it's best. It truly makes a travesty of the approval process.

There is much more to this story, none of it good or honest. I'll be there next Thursday night to speak, I hope you will also.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Learn from the Pros

The city is offering to shred all of your sensitive documents that you don't want anyone read.


Low Income Dumping Ground



Photo of the Coral Cove Site

From the In Box:

For those of you who don't know Shea Homes has taken over the developments at Saxony Road (Bahlman project), Ashbury (Coral Cove) and Andrew and Sheridan Road (previously Nantucket now Seaside). Their plan is to move all of the affordable units from Saxony and Andrew to a new complex they are building on Vulcan. Some of the affordable units from Coral Cove will be moved there and some will remain in the project at Ashbury. All three of these projects and this change to the density bonus requirements will be discussed on Thursday (date=?) at Planning Commission.

Correction Edit: The location for the low income homes is Vulcan Townhomes.

Flickering question: That was an old greenhouse site. Did the city make them bury their contaminated soil?
From the agenda (click to enlarge):





Create a pdf of the staff report somewhere in here.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cyclist Fatality

Here are a couple articles.  It happened early in the morning on Sunday.  The driver has since turned himself in...

http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/encinitas/article_52c35d8c-2732-50e0-8ca6-e965abfa164d.html

http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/encinitas/article_36e74efa-f5d1-521f-84f1-12783ffa948e.html

Cheers
J

Encinitas Managment Watchdog Update

Encinitas Firefighters Union Addresses Misconduct
Steve Meiche

In the absence of Fire Department management taking a leadership role in addressing the acts of gross negligence and misconduct, the President of The Encinitas Firefighters Association met with me to address the misconduct outlined in a blog post last week on the Leucadia Blog.

The president confirmed that all of the accusations were true and clarified a few of the exact details. He stated, “Yes, those incidents did, in fact, happen.”  In additional dialogue, he made it clear that corrective action was taken. The full details and extent of the corrective action were not given.  The union president had no documentation of the investigations, corrective action taken or measures taken to prevent them from happening again. 

In a modern and open government there should be a systematic approach to investigating acts of misconduct or personnel complaints involving public employees, and fire department-sworn personnel in particular.   For Instance, in the City of Los Angeles, the fire department responds to over 300,000 emergency calls per year with 3500 sworn personnel serving 4 million citizens.  In emergency services, accidents and mistakes happen, it's a given.  In LA, all complaints or acts of misconduct are investigated via a standardized process and ultimately documented and reported to an oversight committee. Then, the corrective actions taken are published for the public to read.

As far as the public can figure out, the City of Encinitas has no system to process personnel complaints, and it is possible that the misconduct was never properly investigated, thoroughly documented or properly reported.  I am interested in knowing what disciplinary guidelines were used.  What is the actual investigation process for city employees in Encinitas? 

In December of last year, I tried to file a complaint with the City against the Parks and Recreation Department Manager, for making false and misleading statements and falsifying a department report. Ultimately, his false statements and documents lead the City Council to vote on a revision of a city ordinance. When the evidence of false and misleading reports and statements were presented to the City Manager, City Council and City Attorney, it was ignored and I was told that the city has no system of investigating personnel complaints and that the City Attorney could only investigate at the direction of the City Council.

In researching the City's policy on ethics, I accessed a little known and hidden manual called, “The City’s Administrative Manuals."  I could not find any policy on personnel investigations or disciplinary action.  The only documents I found closely related were Administrative Manual Policy P-25 Code of Ethics and G-26 Public Inquiry Policy.  The Code of Ethics Policy was 23 years old, and the Public Inquiry Policy was 19 years old.  Nether reflected any revisions or updates. Shouldn’t a modern city have updated ethics and public information policy to reflect current trends?

Code of Ethics Policy link-

Public Inquiry Policy link-

At this point, with regard to fire department misconduct, the Fire Chief, City Manager and City Council refuse to acknowledge or comment on the misconduct.  I thank the union president for stepping up to the plate and clarifying some of the issues, although there are many more.  It took leadership for him to step up, and as a professional firefighter myself, I admire it. 

The union president is in a tough position.  In a city that harbors nepotism, cronyism and favoritism in pursuing career advancement, one shouldn't make waves or step on anyone’s toes.  The city firefighters are beginning negotiations for a new contract in July.  I’m sure they are interested in increases in benefits and wages.  As generous as our city is with wages and benefits (City managers as an example) the firefighters are likely to succeed regardless of poor management or department performance.

Oh, I might mention that historically, Encinitas City management receives the same pay and benefit increases as the rank and file. Management says the department has done such a good job we need to give them and ourselves a raise!  The Fire Chief certainly benefits by covering up mismanagement while padding the $170,000 a year pension he will receive for the rest of his life. 

Steve Meiche
Leucadia Resident
Firefighter
Board Member, Encinitas Taxpayers Association

LB NOTE: The Leucadia blog will happily accept and publish submissions from the city council, city administration, or the EFD or the regular peoples.  Put your name on it and it will run.

Developer Thinks Neighbors R Crazy

The Hymettus developer started talking to the press. None of their workers have gotten sick. They don't dress in contamination suits or anything. Burning Question: Why haven't they gotten sick?

The NCTimes also reports that air monitors never detected contamination. Apparently they were on the site the whole time and the county air monitors have been copiously inspecting the site. Burning Question: was that before or after the complaints started?

Now we know why we're not getting responses for more information from the neighbors. They've all clammed up because they think they have a better chance of winning a lawsuit if they don't talk publicly. Burning Question: Does this mean they think they have a limp case?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Leucadians Sail for Leukemia

Ahoy Again –
Rob Murphy and I will be racing again this year in the 2011 Border Run. Here’s our photo from last year ->
We are racing again this year to help raise money for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society (LLS) in their fight against cancer. We feel great about being able to participate in this charity regatta so look for us out on the ocean April 9th!

Please donate any amount (it's 100% tax deductible!) by going to the Leukemia Lymphoma donation page. Activate this link by holding down your Ctrl key while clicking: http://sdhi.theborderrun.llsevent.org/ (but if that link does not work please copy and paste as we really need your help).

If you have already given, THANK-YOU!!

Just put our boat name USA 56792 on the donation form. With your help, our team can be a part of the fundraising effort to help the many who have this deadly disease.

Please forward this email to family and friends for their help too. For your generous effort, you are invited to join us at the Send Off party at the Harborside Pavilion in Newport Beach and the Trophy Party at the Southwestern Yacht Club in San Diego. Live bands and fun for all! Go to www.TheBorderRun.org for all the party details.

Thanks and good sailing!

Walter

Monday, April 11, 2011

Floodgate-gate

Gary Murphy has passed the torch after 16 years of advocating, speaking out, working with staff and council, and conceiving and implementing plans. Now that he's figured out how downtown Leucadia's sources of blight all lead back to one point, it will take a different personality to get the torch across the finish line. He says Leucadia's flooding and political intrigue are all tied to one geographic spot. That spot is the gate valve underneath a manhole cover across from RCP Block and Brick.


Gary says that on December 21, 2010 the gate valve was closed during that day's storm. There was no flooding of Leucadia 101. Once the gate was opened, the Leucadia 101 corridor flooded. So it looks like the 101 corridor's flooding is determined by a human decision to open or close the gate. According to Gary the original design for the nuisance drain didn't include this gate valve, because it wasn't conceived to drain the area upstream of the gate valve. There was also a human decision to draw all that extra water north, rather than south toward Cottonwood Creek.

So, if Gary is right that the person in charge of the gate valve is in charge of Leucadia' flooding it has huge ramifications. Remember that the redevelopment district was all predicated on Leucadia having a serious flooding problem. Blight. Who has been in charge of the gate valve? It all lands on Phil Cotton.

According to Gary, the city is also pumping water over the bluff at Beacons during storms using a water discharge permit that requires a situation to be declared an emergency by the Fire Chief. It is only legal to pump if there is an emergency. How does that jive if the city is making the 101 flooding happen?

Are we to believe that Gary is off-base and he is full of crazy talk? That is how a lot of citizens have been painted and like with other citizens, it was only later discovered that they were saying the exact same thing the city's own high-paid consultants were telling the city. Did we pay millions for crazy talk reports?

Here is an excerpt from a document which was not widely distributed, which coincides with Gary's conclusions. Gary had a "bingo" moment when he read the city's hydrologist's statement that said:
Although the orifice plates enhance the performance of the existing storm drain system, runoff still ponds in the sump areas during storms, resulting in potential inundation of streets and other properties. The City addressed the extent of flooding on Vulcan Avenue near Union Street with the installation of a sluice gate/orifice plate in the storm drain system. The orifice plate serves to restrict flows from crossing under the NCTD right-of-way during the storm event, and the sluice gate can be opened to expedite drainage of the stored water after the storm when the downstream facility is no longer overtaxed.
The city's hydrologists/engineers expect the gate valve to be left closed until after the storm passes.


Photo of the downstream facility being overtaxed. Gary says the city's very directed practice has been to leave the gate open during storms.

Gary leaves us with a number of questions:
Why hasn't the city been following the advice of its own high-paid experts, and thus flooding the 101 corridor?
Who knew about this practice and how far up did the approval go?

What does/did the city have to gain by flooding Leucadia 101?


See Also: Phil Cotton has authority to fix Leucadia's flooding.

I'm sending the city manager an email so he can give his side to all this. Given that we can't find a response to the Coast News editorial and city management's recent history of obfuscation, delay, and ducking questions we might have to wait a while. We'll keep track of how long it takes.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

City Playbook No Surprise


A Leucadia Blog double agent has turned over the City of Encinitas P.R. playbook. It is most important document at city hall, because its the only document actually followed by management. Page 3 deals with how to deal with sensitive issues.

Duck
Don't say anything. The problem will go away most of the time if you just don't say anything about the problem. Definitely, don't talk to the press. This works 95% of the time.

Deflect
Make the problem into a wedge issue that is only tangentially related to the problem. The public will get confused and will only follow the easy sound bites. Watch out for the reporters who keep their eye on the ball. Call their bosses and complain. Just wear them out.

Detonate
If citizens keep bringing up the problem, continue to ignore the issue but disparage the citizens. The public won't even listen to the message if they don't like messenger. Encinitas residents know they can trust elected officials and city staff more than citizens with nothing better to do. Try to recruit and befriend a few political hit men that you use for this task.

Deny
Just lie. 90% of the time no one will notice, care or remember. The press won't follow the story for long if you get caught and the public won't remember. How many times did Dalager misrepresent the library and Hall park projects? Don't remember. You see the point.

Toxic Soils Not Funny

Parkwood Ave is adjacent to the toxic soils ground zero.

Here is what the neighbors along Parkwood are saying.

Several families have evacuated their homes. This is a big commitment and not done lightly. One person became seriously ill, several others developed lesions, and at least two others complained of feeling ill.

We got this almost two weeks ago from J. McGill:
We have had to move out of our home on the advice of Poison Control, my children’s pediatrician and a toxicology specialist.  All of our neighbors who were home at the time of the grading have been affected as well but we have not gotten answers from the developer, City Ventures, their environmental consultants, Stantec, the City of Encinitas, the SD County of Environmental Health or SD County of Air Pollution Control.  The standard response is that there is no data that indicates that we should be affected and suggest that we are just worried because of the health advisory sign posted at the front of the development.  That is not the case.  We are following up with our toxicologist this week and are looking to get our property tested as I fear it was contaminated with Dieldrin (found in high concentrations in various parts of the property) and possibly other pesticides that blew over during the grading process. 



So, you still think all these folks are hysterical? There was a plan in place that was approved by the county and the city. How could they get sick?

The builder was not watering all the soil that was being moved and the neighbors say the site was a dust bowl, with clouds of dust visibly drifting off-site, according to the neighbors. Well, so far we have not been able to get photos of this dust bowl, but the neighbors say the evacuees took photos. We're working on getting a photo.  



QUESTION. Who was responsible to ensure the contractor was following the rules? It is a pain to find certain documents on the city's website, so we looked at the Hall park EIR for an answer (click to enlarge):


 ANSWER. Looks like the city.


The city and developer should hold a public meeting to tell the neighbors what has happened, and if there is a reason to act, what the plan of response will be.

That's not likely to happen. The city turned a blind eye to the contamination of the Hall property, until the neighbors paid for an independent environmental assessment. Dalager and Stocks were strongly dismissive of the soils contamination. Worse, the city didn't do its homework or adequately disclose to the public all the problems with the Hall park before they bonded and overpaid for the property. There is one major public relations reason to blow off Parkwood residents.

Thou Shall Discuss Numbers in Public

The LA Times is serious about open government. They have a decent hub for public documents here.

From the LA Times:
Since the pub­lic cor­rup­tion scan­dal broke last sum­mer in the city of Bell, hun­dreds of read­ers have voiced con­cerns to The Times about po­ten­tial prob­lems at the gov­ern­ment agen­cies in their com­munit­ies. The Times en­cour­ages read­ers to share gov­ern­ment re­cords you con­sider news­worthy or in­ter­est­ing. Send us doc­u­ments and a Times staffer will re­view them and post them to this site, which also in­cludes files ob­tained by our re­port­ers.

Notice how the times says, SINCE the story broke in the city of Bell concerns have poured in. The same thing happened at the Attorney General's Office. According to public affairs officer the AG was sent over 1000 complaints. Apparently, the public did not believe the AG (or the LA Times) were that interested or motivated to investigate possible problems. Investigations take much more effort than printing press releases of celebrities and politicians.

The elected officials and, increasingly, the public servant corps are happiest when the public is absolutely ignorant of what is happening in government.

What the LA Times is doing is great, but you can't share public records if the city keeps the records a secret (ex roads reportapplications, disciplinary reports).

The times does remind us about:

Cit­izens keep an eye out for per­son­nel eval­u­ations con­duc­ted in closed ses­sions. Jen­kins said fre­quent or on­go­ing eval­u­ation of a top staff mem­ber, such as a city man­ager, would be un­usu­al. New­ton said that any time a body moves to make an ap­point­ment or to hire a new em­ploy­ee, there must be a pub­lic dis­cus­sion of that per­son’s com­pens­a­tion. “There has to be an open and pub­lic dis­cus­sion about com­pens­a­tion,” he said.
Leucadia to Council: We expect to hear a healthy dialogue on staff compensation in the coming months, otherwise we are going to wonder if the real deal had been worked out at some backyard BBQ. That would be against the law.

Hidden Leucadia

Saturday, April 09, 2011

More Woosies Avoiding the Press

Complaints of illness spread across Leucadia.


Channel 7 is running coverage of the Hymettus development. Watch the crack reporting here. 


If you were a middle aged two-bit divorced male developer would you return her calls? All this concern about toxic dust sounded totally koo-koo until the developer started running for cover and hiding from the press.

Leucadia was home to dozens of greenhouse operations.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Workers' Privacy Rights Trampled by Fox News, Department Heads

Fox News reports that the FAA Chief has shown command deficiency and totally disregard for employee privacy.


The nation's top aviation official says he has suspended a control tower supervisor while investigating why no controller was available to aid two planes that landed at Washington's Reagan airport early this week.

Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Randy Babbitt said Thursday in a statement that the controller has been suspended from his operational duties. He said he was "personally outraged" that the supervisor, the lone controller on duty in the airport tower at the time, failed to meet his duties.

On condition of anonymity, one FAA employee stated, "the staff is outraged at Babbitt for confirming this incident happened because he has started an unfair precedent of being open with the public. If the public finds out how often this happens, we'll have to start sleeping at home."

Leucadia Action

Even the kids in Leucadia empower themselves to take action to help out fellow humans.

Bake sale to help Japan.

Credit: Chris

Public Health Issues Always Dismissible

This is Leucadia and everyone in Leucadia is crazy. This is Encinitas and everyone knows that city hall likes to bury their problems.


SD City Beat Greenhouse Soil Blamed by Neighbors for Illness
What they didn’t foresee was the danger of building on land steeped in pesticides. It was widely known that the soil contained high levels of dieldrin, an insecticide. City Ventures proposed to bury the contaminated earth. The city of Encinitas conducted an environmental study and determined that, with City Ventures’ remediation plan, the project “will not adversely affect the health, safety or general welfare of the community.”

However, during the last two weeks, as many as 16 people in the neighborhood have come down ill, complaining of a variety of symptoms that are consistent with exposure to dieldrin. 

“Dizziness and disorientation, sore throat, blisters and rashes, vomiting, severe headaches and nausea,” says Frank Delahoyde, an analyst at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, whose home backs up to the project, in an emailed statement. “And it is the ones that stay at home that have become the sickest. I’m gone for most of the day, but have experienced unusual coughing in the mornings before I leave for work.”

He adds that one of his dogs stopped eating and began experiencing seizures. His family—and his dog—have temporarily moved to alternative housing, along with several other residents. Maria Lindsay, another resident, tells CityBeat she has moved to a hotel after testing positive for dieldrin in her body.

 See Also: Buyer's Delight

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Historic Leucadia Buildings

The Encinitas Historical Society ran an article on one of Leucadia's oldest and coolest homes in their Spring edition of Little Oaks newsletter.

The log cabin home is found on Hymettus Ave.

It was built in the mid 1920's using cedar telephone poles. It was built by Miles Kellogg who also built the boathouses. In 1930, the owner cut down 30+ eucalyptus trees and plants and orchard of avocados. Those trees were still productive until at least the 90's, and if root rot hasn't gotten to them they may still be productive today.

Buildings, and history, like that bring value to the Hymettus neighborhood. They are symbolic of who we are.

If you are not a member of the Encinitas Historical Society, membership is a bargain. Sign up here.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Library Comment

Libraries have taken on many roles these days. The Nixon library is as much a monument and museum.

The LA Times just ran an article on the the new exhibits at that library that remind us that even those in the highest power can't always be trusted to do the right thing when seeking to maintain personal power.

The library is a giant lesson in the mistake of trying to cover up errors. Nixon, "Its not the crime that kills you, its the cover up." While the deed may have only implicated a few, cover ups often require a much broader group of people to act, even if only by omission.

The new Nixon exhibit is titled dirty tricks.

More important than going back over Nixon's misdeeds is telling this part of the story, ran by NPR.

That scheme, and many others hatched by Nixon, never happened, says Naftali, because people in the government said no, "people who received orders that they would not, could not implement.

"That is a story that must be remembered. That is something that we have to teach students and future members of our government," says Naftali, "that you can say no when you're asked to do something that is unconstitutional or illegal [or unethical]."

That mostly untold part of the story is the part of those who put doing the right thing ahead of their fear of being kicked out of the political crony club. In hindsight, they must realize that they even their own personal interests were improved because they would have been caught up in the Nixon scandal.

The public and public employees should seek to foster and promote checks and balances in the system to make it harder for elected officials to even consider putting the public interest second to grabs at personal power. There are lots of ways to do that at the local level.