Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Most Dangerous Jobs

Some of these peoples' discretionary incomes are entirely too low.

 From the HP.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ruthless Report - August 2012

We try hard to keep up with what's happening around town, but sometimes we're just skating to get a burrito, we turn a corner and suddenly there's 40 people checking out art in a nameless building just north of Le Papagayo. We stop in for a brew and view.  This is reason #867 why we love Leucadia.

Inside there are a number of paintings from various artists and a photo exhibit from the ever eclectic pro skater/actor/comedian Jason Lee. The proprietors of this unnamed gallery are a bit clandestine about their whole project, but we are glad to learn that it will not rely solely on selling art to exist. The proprietors are reluctantly glad to learn from us that they should be open this Sunday for Artwalk...

'Don't be cheap you bastard, buy some art' go the lyrics to this song by Jenk's Band, scheduled to play Artwalk from 11am-1:30pm at the Leucadia Glass stage. For a full schedule of Artwalk music, please visit the Ruthless Hippies Blog. If you are an unabashed cheap bastard, you can still follow us and like us on facebook. Like most of the events we get the word out on, it costs you nothing. We are unabashed self-promoters.

And on to the boring stuff you all love...

We attended the city council meeting last night. Here are some highlights:

-Encinitas will put off applying for the Beacon Award which measures a city's progress towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It won't cost the city much in the way of time or effort to apply and it's part of the Environmental Action Plan--but hey--there's no deadline to apply so we're going to chill on that one for a bit.  

-Leucadia's flooding issues will remain an issue. We can either micro-bore our excess rainfall right over the bluff and into the ocean (a method council member Bond has championed since the early 90's, but which is not cool with his 'friends in the environmental community'), spend nearly 30 million on railroad grade separation or just send out some workers to pump it over the bluffs each time it rains heavily (our current solution).     

-The guy who started the Rock n Roll Marathon wants to create a major 10 mile run event on a Sunday this coming February. The event will go from the Del Mar Fair grounds to the Cardiff Kook and back.  The council majority is stoked, while council member Barth feels that more community input is needed before considering such a major event that will shut down the 101.

-The council voted unanimously to draft new rules for private groups applying for temporary permits to display banners on city property. The new rules will aim to give the city control over content while placing the city at a low risk of being sued, should it choose to censor content. Danny Salzhandler of the 101 Artist Colony will be invited in on the subcommittee to create these ordinances. Council member Barth could not get a second amen to bring a motion to vote on lifting the temporary moratorium on banner applications. This moratorium has prevented both Leucadia Artwalk and Summer Fun on the 101 from displaying their banner ads on public property. The ban on banner applications remains and will not be lifted until the new rules governing content are in place. 

This has been your Ruthless Report for August 2012. There's so much more we'd like to say, but we won't.

More EDCO Casualties?

From the Inbox:

On trash day, this classic car (which needs a new paint job) was hit by a tall vehicle. It was on a street with very little traffic, near a tight corner where trucks have a hard time turning without hitting parked cars.

The height and seperation of the dents match up with EDCO trash trucks (the front rail and foot ladder).

According to the Encinitas resident who sent this, EDCO is unwilling to take responsibility for the damage without an eyewitness to the crash. The crash was a hit and run. Most people are happy with EDCO. Most people in neighboring cities are happy with their trash hauler, too.

Could we be happier with another hauler? Could we get a better a deal and reduce the high cost of living in Encinitas with a competitor? We won't know if the city never puts the trash franchise out for competitive proposals.

The only time perpetuity applies in Encinitas is when it comes to trash hauling contracts.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Leucadia Blvd & Vulcan Ave Update

FYI for the morning commute and dropping the kid's off at school: 

SDG&E has informed the city of an emergency gas leak and needs 10-12 hour window to fix the problem. SDG&E crews will begin work on the southwest corner of Leucadia Blvd and Vulcan Ave 7:30 AM tomorrow morning (Thursday). Eastbound Leucadia Blvd and southbound Vulcan lanes will be directly impacted. Please plan your routes accordingly to try and avoid this area if possible.

Raymond Guarnes
City of Encinitas
Traffic Engineering Division

Sent from my super groovy iPhone
JP St Pierre
CEO and janitor of the super huge mega corporation:
Surfy Surfy Surf Shop
974 N Coast Hwy 101
Leucadia, CA 92024

Sand update 2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Huge Tree down on Eolus Ave

Chris Lowry sends us these photos of this massive tree that fell over today, completely blocking Eolus Ave. Apparently an Edco garbage truck backed into it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Hard surfaces or gravel that is unpleasant to walk on or ride a bike? Is it an option? If this is all about runoff, how can those be options with no option in between?

Notice how the sidewalk in one project turns into gravel at the next property.

Better property values?

... But more runoff?

Monday, August 13, 2012

What's missing in this scene?

click to enlarge

Here's a clue: guess who's responsible.

Save Crest Drive! Save Leucadia too?

The council will hear an appeal of an engineering department decision this week. This is regarding a residential single home project where the Engineering Department want the owner to remove all the vegetation and trees on a one acre lot to replace it with curb, 7 feet of concrete and a 5 foot walk way, eliminating 12 feet of vegetation for 450 lineal ft! The property is on the corner of Birmingham Drive and Crest Drive. This is a RR-1 property (rural residential).

In the past, a few Leucadians have asked nicely. Asking nicely was blown off. Now a Cardiffian is taking his specific case to the Council. If the following press release is correct it brings up a bunch of curious considerations.

1.  Curb, gutter and sidewalks are hard surfaces and INCREASE runoff, so the city is rhetorically inconsistent when it says they have to uglify Leucadia like this. 

2. We've yet to see where they have made New Encinitas tear up their yards and create gravel swales.

3. Don't want curbs and sidewalks? Then you will be tortured by the City. Happens all the time.

From the inbox:

August 7th, 2012

On Wednesday, August 15 @ 6 PM, the Encinitas City Council will hear arguments against City Engineering Department mandates for Curb, Gutter and pedestrian walkway on Crest Drive, a rural residential subdivision of one acre lots within old Encinitas.

In the proposed single family home, the city originally asked for 8 feet of concrete pavers with curbs 450 feet long and a 5 foot walkway, eliminating 13 feet of natural landscaping and threatening old growth trees and vegetation along Crest Drive. All the land adjacent to the pavement would also need to be removed and graded down to the level of the street, thereby widening the street by over 26 feet when both sides are complete.

The City Engineering Department stated “ Our goal is to have curb, gutter and sidewalk on every home in Encinitas”. Furthermore, the director of the Parks and Recreation Dept. stated “The old growth trees along Crest Drive are compromised because of the power lines, therefor it is OK if they are removed”. The implementation of these seemingly arbitrary rules (normally associated with a new subdivision) will eventually result in the generic appearance we see across the country.

The imposition of city right of way improvements on individual homeowners as well as Parks and Recreation’s incomplete explanation on it’s Crest Drive tree removal policy, have raised more than a few eyebrows with Crest residents and supporters determined to preserve the unique and historic character of their community.

In an effort to impede this seemingly senseless destruction to our oxygen producing vegetation, Crest Resident and local Architect Kevin Farrell has worked diligently to help “Save Crest Drive”. To date more than 400 residents have signed a petition in support of this worthy cause.

“We don’t understand the benefit the city would get from this”, Farrell commented, “With so many people opposed throughout Encinitas, it would be a win, win, for the City to re-evaluate and leave our neighborhoods the way we want, not some Engineers personal preference. We have appealed the engineers finding to our City Council members for a final determination. We are optimistic the Council will assist in helping preserve our trees and vegetation thus maintaining the Community Character we love.”

Please join Mr. Farrell at the City Council meeting next Wednesday the 15th @ 6 pm and
help support this worthy cause in keeping Encinitas, the way it was. A presence in numbers will help to get our point across.

Comments: A couple years ago the Council reviewed some policy documents that did/could address these issues. It was a 5-0 vote to go with staff's recommendations. 

Be careful, as this is an effort to save Crest Drive, not to change policy, so it benefits all of Encinitas. If that is what it takes, I'm sure all will be happy, but that has not been the objective. Still, it is a good opportunity for Leucadia.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Letter from Bonde

August 11, 2012

Leucadia Blog;

The November election will be by far the most important one for the people and the community since incorporation.  I feel that the electorate is looking for guidance on the important local election issues and that the Encinitas Taxpayers Association is in a position to assume a leadership role in the process. 

With less than 60 days until the critical absentee ballot drop and ETA not yet involved, I felt that I could be helpful to my community.  Therefore, after being retired many years, I threw my hat back into the ring.

I was elected President of ETA on July 26, 2012.  At that time, the board was made aware that I wanted the group to take a more active role in elections. I challenged the incorrect belief that because we were a 501c{4} tax-exempt organization, ETA could not support candidates or take a stand on initiatives or bond issues.  I also expressed my hope that membership fees could be reduced to attract more members.

The August 9th meeting was my first since becoming President.  I had no ETA lists or records in my possession.  To get the ball rolling, I prepared a meeting agenda that had only 2 business items on it.  The first was membership fees and the second was for the group to officially accept the fact that ETA could legally take political stands.  Everything else on the agenda was there for discussion or information.  A rough draft of this agenda was submitted to the secretary/treasurer for review and comment before he left on vacation and wasn’t finalized until the morning of the meeting.

Even though it is always difficult to get people together during the summer, two ETA board members and leaders throughout the community were asked to notify their groups about the meeting in hopes of a reasonable turnout.

I believe in open meetings where dues paying members can have a say. The ideas of some were voted down at the 9th meeting, but that is the democratic way.  Even though no two people ever think or act alike, I hope we can all learn to be respectful of other viewpoints.

I invite City of Encinitas residents to join ETA and help protect our community and its people from excessive new taxes and the likes of the majority on the City Council. 

United, we can make a difference.  History has proven that fact.

Bob Bonde

Founded ETA
Headed the successful 1986 Encinitas Cityhood campaign
Activist for community rights for over 30 years    

...but, most items on the "discussion" agenda, became action items after they were converted to business items.

There was no residual consternation over the results of some decisions made by the people present (long-time members, new members, and 2 from the ETA Board of Directors).  The big issue was how the whole thing played out, the surprises on the agenda, and how far afield the meeting was from ETA bylaws. The serious irony was that Bob created the bylaws to specifically prevent much of what happened on Thursday. 

Had there been an issue of sour grapes it would have been easy to pull out the bylaws, which were present in the room, and point out many of the violations which would have invalidated the whole meeting. 

As a note, Bob has been rallying folks, apparently based on some information that I've asked him to correct.  

He was sent a set of questions. It was clearly stated that answers to particular questions would be on the record (published yesterday).  Other questions were off the record, if he wished.

Bonde is confused as to who the secretary/treasurers are.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Encinitas Taxpayers Association Retrofit

I'm publishing this post because I owe it to several community members who have put a lot of effort into helping Encinitas. They are now very concerned that likely future events will get pinned to their reputation, unfairly. There are very unique circumstances (not discussed) around this particular issue.

As some of you know, I am for fair and open deliberative processes above all else in governance. I think the ETA should lead by example.

These questions arrise from attending the second half of the Thursday evening ETA meeting. This was an open public meeting, attended by members of the press.

10 Questions for the New (and Past) ETA President, Bob Bonde.

When you scheduled the ETA meeting:
Q1. Why didn't you send out an agenda to the ETA email list or even the board
of directors prior to the meeting?

A: I was never given a mailing list. I asked [Wagner (Outgoing President)]  and  Cheeseman (Sec/Treasurer) to notified the members since I was new to the group and had no records.

Comments:  It appears that most of the agenda was a surprise to most people, and certainly to Wagner (ETA Past President and the only past or current board member present other than Bonde). The agenda could have been sent out, at least to Wagner and the Board. A meeting notice was sent to the ETA email list, so the agenda could have been sent out in the exact same manner.

The ETA uses a modern method of handling their emails, in an email contact system. Bonde could have: 1) used this system or asked for the email list to be exported, 2) forwarded the agenda to the Board like he did with the notification for the special meeting to have sent out. 

I'm glad the Encinitas City Council posts (most) of their agenda items before their meetings. This way interested parties can do their research and formulate questions prior to the meeting.

It turns out that Bonde was sending out emails to select members of the community letting them know that he would be agendizing certain items, about a week prior to the meeting. There was plenty of time and energy available to include a notification to the ETA, or at least the rest of the Board of Directors (but see Bonde's defense below).

Q2. I don't think there were any board of directors at the meeting, did you
attempt to select a time to hold the special meeting which could include
their participation?

A2: I knew Cheeseman was out of town and that Eldon may late but since Ed notified the board, I thought the rest would have attended.

We put off the meeting for a week but felt that since time before the election was so short that it was important to proceed.  As you know, it is always hard to get everyone together during the summer.

Comment: Fair enough. However, they were notified after a date and time had been scheduled for the special meeting rather than ensuring that a time was selected that might fit in to more people's summer schedules. It is also fair to say that an effort to coordinate an optimum meeting time was not made.

Q3. You clearly have done a lot of very good research on some of the issues.
Why did you not share this research or at least the language of the
proposals, or even the official summary,  of the initiatives, before (or at)
the meeting?

A3: As I said at the meeting the deadline for submitting the issues to the county is today (August 10).  Consequently, I did not have the language of the proposals.

I met with MiraCosta and San Dieguito and read what materials that were available and orally related my interpretations to ETA.   The items were put on the agenda as discussion items and then moved by vote to business items for action.

Comment: Not only were the ETA endorsed statements not available for discussion, the language of the ballot question, or even a summary, was not distributed at the meeting. The vote on these items was carried out by mostly unprepared meeting participants. Bob did present his perspective and gave his summary, orally. There was no evidence that people with other perspectives were invited to present their side prior to the meeting. 

Bonde had invested a lot time in researching these issues. Few people do this and it is unfortunate as our city would be in better shape if more people looked closely at the details (and the documents). Bonde's efforts in this regards are invaluable.  I also know how much Bob cares about the future of Encinitas.

I have very little doubt that he had the intention of putting all his issues on the ETA agenda with the objective of getting a vote to approve the opposition of the bonds. Why wouldn't he, after doing all the research and holding a strong belief that ETA endorsement/opposition makes a big impact on the voters? 

I think Bonde is saying he was submitting ballot statements a day after the meeting, but I don't recall him telling people this at the meeting. If so, why not at least let people read the ballot statements that they would be approving in the name of the ETA? He had been working on those for weeks but he did not include the Board of Directors in the drafting of those statements or seek input from the ETA membership. 

Bonde was certainly aware the he had not sought or received any feedback on ballot statements he was drafting. I have zero doubt that Bonde knew he wanted these issues on the agenda weeks prior when he sought and was appointed to the ETA Board to fill the Wagner's spot. 

Sending notice to the ETA members and Board that the bond issue would be on the agenda (and action ultimately taken) seems critical to maintaining an open governance structure of the ETA. If this had been desired it could have happened.

Q4. Why weren't  any other informed perspectives  solicited for presentation
at the meeting (or were they)? It comes across strongly that your positions
are selected and presented for validation, not for formulation of a
position. Nobody else knew to research and think about the issues to voted on because the agenda was given in advance.

A4: A rough agenda was shared with Cheeseman, who I believe shared it with others as he is good about that.  The only 2 business items on the printed agenda were the membership fee and 501c[4] corp. status and both were discussed at the previous meeting.

Cheeseman was out of town and I had to complete the agenda without his help.  It wasn’t completed until the morning of the meeting. 

Comment: There were a couple people present who had done extensive research on some of the items discussed. According to Wagner these people were not on the ETA membership list, but appeared to have been noticed through Bonde's solicitations for participation in the ETA votes at the meeting. That's okay.  Selected individuals were given notice of items to be on the agenda, while the ETA general membership was not notified of the gravity of what was to be discussed and acted upon. It would have been even better if the agenda had been publicly noticed. 

Cheeseman was brand new and has no experience and, according to Wagner, the Board was not informed even of the "business" items. Bob was aware that Cheeseman was new because they both were appointed as officers, to fill vacancies, at the same time, a few weeks ago.  

The real meat of the meeting and those things Bob clearly considered most urgent were not on the "business" part of the agenda. It was on the "discussion" part of the agenda. It might seem that its okay to not give advance notice of discussion items, but on each of these discussion items Bonde would call for a vote to move the item to a "business" item. All the items were actionable. There were important deadlines for submission to the county registrar of voters, the next day according to Bonde. 

It is gross when the city waits to the last minute to vote on something and forces a vote to go a certain way because of some last minute requirements. I saw parallels.  

Below is a copy of the agenda, which was a huge surprise to Past President Wagner when he arrived at the meeting.   

It is a weak farce to say that the "discussion" items were somehow not as important to give advance notice for. They were actionable items and, according to Bonde, issues that needed to be resolved before the following day.

We would not let our Mayor do this.

Q5. How did the process for developing the ETAs endorsements provide a better
means of representing the public than the process used by the current city

A5: ETA voted to retain the key ingredient of the last election; the  rating sheet and added endorsement on the bottom of the sheet after the evaluation was complete.  

 Comment: The votes to endorse and oppose ballot measures were made on the basis of the oral information presented by a small number of members. Bonde had researched and clearly solidified some positions. Nothing, including the language of the proposals, was available for review. There was no indication that alternative perspectives were solicited for presentation. 

As for how the ETA will work in the council campaign, I'm glad that enough people realized how over-the-top it would be to have endorsed Kranz and Schaffer before criteria developed, before they were interviewed and  before all the candidates became public (see agenda item C).

I'm for letting voters make educated decisions. I've always been for the ETA creating information sheets on candidates and have never supported grading those responses (I've been involved with that, because my view on this has not been in the majority). On top of that, an ETA endorsement does not appear to be that valuable. In some cases it can be harmful.

6. There must be about 200 people on the ETA membership email list by now.
Many of these people have been very active and supportive of the ETA in the
last few years.  Will they be included and invited to renew their membership
prior to the new election? I am pretty sure the ETA still has a big box of
board of directors approve official ETA renewal envelops. Those can be sent
out and provide an easy way for members to renew.

A6. I found out about the mailing list from Ed at the Thursday meeting.  One of ETA’s objectives is to achieve a membership of at least 300 by election time.  Thank you for your suggestion. 

 Comment: Does anyone believe that Bonde didn't know that the ETA had an email list? It is also inconsistent with other responses. Will former ETA members be disenfranchised? 

Q7. Why would you push for endorsing kranz and schaffer (Agenda Item C) even
before they filed for candidacy? Why wouldn't you wait until at least all
the candidates filed? Why would you propose endorsing any candidate without
first issuing a questionnaire or holding interviews.

A7. They filed at 5 P.M. on the 9th.  Their endorsement was only
 on the agenda as a discussion item.  ETA did not move it to
 a business item, so no endorsement was made.

Comment: See the agenda. Items on the "Discussion" agenda were actionable, and most resulted in action taken. 

Q8. Related to 7. Agenda item H1 was a discussion interviewing candidates.
Why would any candidates agree to be interviewed if the ETA already issued
their endorsements of Kranz and Schaffer (BEFORE they were even interviewed
and before criteria for endorsement was even developed?).
A8. I saw the last evaluation sheet for the first time at this meeting.  I see it as a tool but not an end all.
Comment: The answer does not address why the specific endorsement of Kranz and Schaffer were placed on the agenda prior to the discussion of candidate interviews. It was an order that makes no sense if the ETA's endorsements weren't to look predetermined.  I can not ignore that Bonde selectively solicited active campaign supporters of Kranz and Schaffer to get them to attend the meeting. In an email that has since been forwarded to me, Bonde wrote: 

...We are blessed to have two fine city council candidates and their functioning election committees that are working hard in our behalf but they can’t accomplish the goal alone I need your help.  On Thursday the 9th of August, at 7 P.M. at the U.S. Bank, community room in the Trader Joe’s, CVS Pharmacy shopping center off of El Camino Real in Encinitas, I will hold my first meeting as the new president of the Encinitas Taxpayers Association after many years of being away.  I want ETA to take strong stands, endorse candidates and oppose bond and the elected Encinitas mayor issues, but unfortunately some current members aren’t sure that’s the best approach.  My feeling is that the electorate wants and needs the direction that only positive leadership can bring...  

9. It is my understanding that you went to the Schaffer support network to
get them to turn out to the ETA meeting last night.  Is this true? How does
the ETA represent "the people" if the votes were actively stacked with
Schaffer supporters? Is it true that they were told that the issue about
endorsing Kranz and Schaffer would be on the agenda for them to vote on (and
that the board of directors were not told this, nor was the ETA membership
A9. The only people at the ETA meeting that I recall seeing [Schaffer Rallies] were Ed and Kathleen Linderman. Can’t call that stacking the meeting can you?

I put out the word about last nights meeting to anyone I thought had an e-mail list, as I am committed to make ETA as significant as possible and we need memberships to do that.  

Comment: He didn't answer the question about going to a network of people who are openly campaigning for Kranz and Schaffer with more information than was given to the general ETA membership. 

The ETA has an email list. The ETA email list was NOT provided the information that was given the selected groups, who all appear to actively support Kranz and Schaffer. 

Further, there were way more than 2 people who have participated in Schaffer and Kranz rallies at the ETA meeting, however it should be a significant message to Bonde that many of those folks he solicited made a decision to not show up. 

I had always hoped that the ETA would develop into strong organization with a solid mission to be inclusive of all perspectives. It makes it hard to recruit people who don't think that Kranz and Schaffer are the bomb if there is a sense that membership is crafted to be dominated by active Kranz and Schaffer campaigners. Encinitas residents are super tolerant of other peoples' views and would support organizations that engage diversity.   

A strength of the ETA in recent years has been that its membership and board are highly diverse in their views. In some cases, that has explained why the ETA did not step into certain issues. Consensus among a diverse group could not be reached. Bonde has expressed his view that this was a sign of weakness. It wasn't. It was a sign of the strength which could be brought to the table on those occasions when a consensus of unlike minded people could strongly agree with a position. That would be an important reflection of the populace.

The ETA is at great risk of becoming a reflection of an even more lopsided subset of Encinitas residents. 

Many people are happy that they are now able to make a clean break from the ETA without feeling guilty that they are letting down the community. This post is an unfortunate response to some people feeling cornered and necessary action for cutting away from a drama.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Functional Signage Very Symbolic

Cities like Santa Rosa and Solana Beach make a big effort to avoid sneaking up on the public. Public projects/discretionary projects/large projects that will impact neighboring properties (e.g. storm water runoff, parking...) are given a good public review. Interested parties are aware and ensure that nobody cheats or gets special favors that cost neighbors or the public. The simple act of requiring sincere signage goes a long way.

All too often people in Encinitas are first alerted to some sketchy project when the building starts. Just as often that's how people find out that they live next to a lot zoned high density or commercial. In that case, they blew it by not checking the zoning before moving in.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Missing photo

Making leucadia more affordable and better

New urbanist smart growth on Hermes 

Barbara Yost's Platform

Notes: Barbara Yost's interest in a council seat is public record. Emails with content like that below are circulating around Encinitas. This one was in the LB inbox. We apply the Welborn Protocol .

From: Studs
To: leucadiablog@gmail.com

Barb Yost asked me to give you advance notice of her candidacy for the city council before the public announcement is made. She expects to file and announce the beginning of next week. Barb is President of Encinitas Neighbors and is the driving force behind its rapid growth.

Barb's an east-sider - a resident of Village Park. As an avid dog lover, she and her companion, Emily, are well known and highly regarded among the "dog crowd" - those who regularly bring their canines to off-leash dog parks. ( fair disclosure: Emily and my dog, Jay, are in a relationship! ).

Barb will campaigning on a platform that advocates bringing integrity to city hall; fiscal responsibility; and neighborhood self-determination. Below are her positions on a number of critical issues:

1. Integrity, intelligence, accountability and transparency in city government.

2. Fiscal responsibility, including: a public accounting of future financial obligations; pension reform; independent review and audit of contracts in excess of $200,000 and adherence to competitive bidding guidelines; public accounting of funds received by the city from non-city sources; multi-purpose use of city buildings such as firehouses to maximize value of capital improvements. Eliminate city's $250,000 a year in contributions to merchants associations.

3. Neighborhood self-determination - intrusive city projects of a certain minimum size would require approval by a substantial majority of people in effected neighborhoods.

4. Encourage and support neighborhood and town identities, characteristics, cohesion and spirit.

5. High priority for reducing Leucadia flooding.

6. City council members required to vote the "will of the people" rather than their personal views. "Will of the people" to be determined, on substantial issues, through polling supervised, audited or conducted by an independent professional market research firm. Council Members are responsible for encouraging community controversies be resolved through conflict resolution. Place substantial controversial issues that cannot be resolved through mediation before the electorate for decision.

7. Require the General Plan and significant modifications be placed before the voters for a "yes/no" vote. Require the Strategic Plan be separately placed before the voters for a "yes/no" vote.

8. Increase staffing for citizen commissions;  give them the authority to hold public hearings; appointments to be made on a merit basis (point system for skills, experience and other credentials relevant to the specific commission for which they apply); and establish a Human Relations Commission with, among others duties, the responsibility to introduce prejudice reduction, conflict resolution, collaboration and coalition building skills into the community.

9. Mandate a 5 minute emergency services response time for all areas of the city.

10. Survey Encinitas residents every three years as to their demographics and psychographics; and those needs, priorities, interests and preferences relevant to municipal government. Study to be conducted by an independent professional market research firm using methodologies that assure results are projectable to the entire city population. Require the results of the study be the foundation for the General and Strategic Plans; and the basis upon which all city elected officials, employees and departments are evaluated.

11. Give high priority to the preference of Encinitans to leave the city and its towns the way they are. Assess whether the Planning and Building Department headcount should be reduced based on community's preference for less intrusion.

12. Hire an Environmental Affairs specialist. Establish the principle Encinitas will be an environmentally-forward community.

13. Hire a Conflict Resolution specialist.

14. Make the process for community-based initiatives as simple as responsible within state regulations.

15. Evaluate the cost-efficiency and value of law enforcement through the county sheriff's dept. vs. contracting with the Carlsbad police or operating our own police force.

16. Develop a Strategic Plan. Strategic Plan to in corporate a Values Statement; Quality of Life Standards; People Usage Plan - standards relating to how people prefer to move around the city and use its facilities and infra-structure; and General Plan.

17. Provide easy and efficient means by which residents can communicate with city government via the internet. Provide for online webinars as alternatives to physical workshops to get public input.

18. Require all city communications be worded in such a way as to be understandable by the citizens.

19. Eliminate the position of Coast Highway 101 Coordinator.

20. Eliminate neighborhood traffic circles that are determined by qualified traffic engineers to be more dangerous than alternative methods of intersection traffic control.

21.  Formally establish minimum qualifications for city employee positions based on peer city public administration employee policies. Reassign or relocate employees who do not meet minimum qualifications.

22. Place high priority on seeking the funding and approvals to underground or overground the railroad tracks at the Coast Hwy. 101/Leucadia Blvd. intersection.

23. All city projects to have a clear and publicly stated, measurable objective before planning is initiated. Objectives must support the strategies and objectives stated in the Strategic Plan and results of most recent community study.

24. Place high priority on limiting and reducing traffic congestion.

25. Encinitas Community Park: cease planning until a way to fund the project without adding to the city's debt is found. When park development begins, build a tall acrylic tower containing all the park's toxic waste. Drop public officials determined to be expendable into the tower so everyone can actually see the effects of toxic waste on humans.

26. Halt Streetscape pending development of a specific measurable objective; comprehensive review of alternatives that would meet the objective; and an opinion survey of the adjacent neighborhoods.

27. Establish an independent commission to investigate whether any city official or employee has engaged in any activity deemed to be illegal or in conflict of the community's interests. Report findings to the public.

28. Require dog off-leash park needs be met as part of the parks and recreation dept. needs assessment on which its plan is based.

29. Establish public memorials for Maggie Houlihan and Bob Naninga.

30. Provide non-monetary encouragement and support for creative arts and innovation.

31. Encourage civility and courtesy in public affairs and as community values.


Bob Aronin
Encinitas Neighbors

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Hall Park Bonding? Encinitas Staff Thinks, "Oh Crap!"

Why would the city consider cannibalizing top priority, previously funded projects? What kept our "borrow and spend" council from just borrowing the whole enchilada?

Encinitas will be borrowing up to and at the edge of its cushion. A cushion granted by the fact it is a young city, not because of frugal financial stewardship. The cost of the new debt service will make it harder to find money to give raises to staff and will put us at greater risk of being more like Long Beach.

For a decade Long Beach "haters" and "whiners" proposed pension reform as a means of blunting the eventual impact of poor LONG-TERM ( > 6 years) financial decisions. 

Here in Encinitas, "whiners" opposed massive retroactive pension increases (also opposed by Council Member James Bond) has contributed to the increased cost and underfunding of the city's pension fund.   "Whiners" have called for fair and conservative pension accounting, so our generation does not leave the next generation with a burden so large that it will be paid back by ruining Encinitas.

Instead of protecting the future, the City dug in deeper, with a 15%  pay raise (over 4 years) for all staff, right through the Great Recession (Y-Stocks, Bond, Maggie, Barth), and the recent adoption of Orwellian "Pension Reform", where the City Council (5-0) approved a small increase in amount staff contributed to THEIR share of the pension contributions, but offset that contribution with a raise! This increased staff's lifetime pension payout while flatlining their current take-home pay. This did nothing to address the structural or ethical issues with the Pension system.

This all went down during a stretch of time where Encinitas city staff were already nicely compensated, plus had every other Friday off, many with "flexible" schedules. Over much of the same period, other cities have been cutting back on salaries and positions. 

Where does Long Beach fit in to this? Long Beach is a pretty good example of what happens years and decades after making poor long-term financial decisions. 

Faced with a $17.2-million budget shortfall, Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster called Wednesday for consolidating departments and outsourcing services, and pledged to push for pension reform against a union he called "intractable."

In releasing the city's proposed budget for the next fiscal year, Foster said that a number of positions would be eliminated through attrition but that Long Beach would still face layoffs given the stagnant economy and considerable pension costs, which officials say account for 20% of the payroll.

He applauded police and fire unions for agreeing to pension reforms in late 2011, a savings of about $6 million that officials say reduces the shortfall. But the mayor singled out the International Assn. of Machinists for what he said has been an unwillingness to accept similar concessions.

For two years, he said, the city has tried to negotiate reforms with the union, which represents the majority of non-public safety employees. "Each year of delay costs our residents $12 million in services and much more in future unfunded costs," Foster said. "If IAM continues to be intractable, I will place a pension measure on the ballot."
A machinist union representative could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Anemic tax revenue and spiraling labor costs have put a squeeze on municipal budgets throughout the state, pushing at least three California cities to seek bankruptcy protection and sending others to the financial edge. That has emboldened political leaders to become more openly critical of employee unions as they try to stave off insolvency with wage and benefit cuts.
Pension reform comes to Long Beach AFTER the crisis hit. Why can't we be more like other cities that think ahead? Even Carlsbad took on mild pension reform before they had a crisis.

Encinitas' borrowing (again) to build the park moves Encinitas staff closer to the hot-seat. Let’s hope that when the crisis happens, senior labor leaders and the council don't screw junior staff members or young people just entering the job market. Many of these young people would be HAPPY to work hard for fair compensation. They know first hand that we are entering the age of the real economy and will be burdened by generational debt.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The Encinitas Council Candidate List Grows

According to the Leucadia Blog sources, these people are circling city hall:

Bryan Ziegler, 
Loves the Occupy-Tea Party

Kevin Forrester, 
Loves Jerome Stocks

Mark Muir, 
Loves getting huge pension checks for being an under-qualified former fire chief, who was good buds with the council before getting promoted to chief.

Tony Kranz,
Loves open government and beer 

Lisa Shaffer, 
Loves being green and sunset walks on the beach

Barbara Yost, 
Loves dogs

and Shoja Naimi,
Loves falafel burgers

Dare you to share this list without citing the infamous Leucadia Blog. Remember don't believe anything you read on a blog. Do your own research. Do a public records request.

Plenty of time


We've had lots of victories in the past few years. Just writing and speaking words changed the course of Encinitas history! We've lost more than a few too. We were dismissed by people who believed what city hall told them to believe. Stuff like, the city had the resources to build the hall park, even though the city had already spent too much of the money that was borrowed to build the Hall park. 

It is Super Funny. Was the plan all along to borrow TWICE to build the Hall park? He he he. It is actually funny, if you don't live here. 

We all know borrowing twice was not the plan. They borrowed $20 million for the park, PWY, library and firestations. Remember, the fire chief said we had to rebuild the 3 fire stations RIGHT AWAY or it would cost the taxpayers too much money to maintain old stations. Was that bullshit? Or, are we putting parks in front of public saftey? If you didn't catch on, the hall park is so underfunded that they are going to use fire station funds for the park.

A lot of people were told by male members of the council over the years that those NIMBYs and Barth continued to stall the park. Those NIMBY's had super powers. Even council candidates who ran on a "let's open the Hall park" platform were surprised to find out that financing the park was a problem. 

Nothing about millions of dollars and our city's crown jewell should be a surprise to the public, no?

It was no surprise to anyone who did a little homework (listing to propaganda doesn't count, do your own public records requests, please).  People who actually asked for documentation of the reasons behind the delays came to different conclusions, or at least a Hefty dose of skepticism and the realization that the city was not being transparent. The city refused to release key documents to the public. The public was kept in the dark.

Now we know why.   

Since at least November 2011, the City of Encinitas has been laying the groundwork to go to the bond market, AGAIN. That's huge. All signs point to staff scrambling for years to figure out how create a plan that gets the park built, but the public wasn't included in this process. The council can't credibly blame NIMBYs for poor financial decisions, so it was better to be hush hush.

Did it matter that the city sat on the issue of bonding? Yes. By keeping it secret and delaying the council discussion beyond the point where alternative options became unviable, they manipulated there way to a smooth and victorious decision. One that left us with a more risky financial plan than some of the alternatives.

Isn't it all so ironic?

There were the MANY years of delay to the construction of the fire stations.  Artificial delays? Recall, the council refused to program the construction of the fire stations or have much of a discussion in open session about the PLANNED delays to the station construction. That kinda looks  like they had made some decisions behind closed doors, in hindsight.