ENCINITAS — The past two months have seen no shortage of mailers and “robocalls” to sway voters for or against Proposition A, the land-use initiative headed for a June 18 special election.
Yet the campaign materials don’t readily list the individuals running the groups or who is funding them. Additionally, residents and city officials have said some of the mailers used quotes or logos from city officials without permission.
Three organizations, two against Prop A and one for, have been active leading up to the election.
The first group vying for “no” votes: Encinitas Residents, Businesses and Taxpayers Opposing Proposition A. The organization has brought in $18,300 as of June 5, according to campaign contribution reports filed with the city.
Christie Guerin, former mayor of Encinitas and principal officer of the group, said the organization has placed calls and sent out mailers to let voters know about “the drawbacks of Prop A.”
“We think it’s important voters are educated,” Guerin said.
Namely, the group has sought to highlight a report from the Orange County-based law firm Rutan and Tucker that was largely critical of Prop A.
Guerin, who left the City Council to serve as district director for former Rep. Brian Bilbray, noted that Tom Shepard, a veteran political consultant, is advising the group. Shepard, who helped elect San Diego Mayors Jerry Sanders and Bob Filner, did not return phone calls for comment.
The group’s two largest contributions have come from Encinitas Town Center, LLC, giving $7,500 and from the National Association of Realtors Fund, a political action committee based in Chicago that contributed $8,300.
On the other side, the Encinitas Project has advocated for Prop A. Bruce Ehlers, spokesman for The Encinitas Project, said his group is up against developer interests only interested in their bottom line.
“The building industry doesn’t want this initiative to pass,” Ehlers said.
Ehlers noted the Encinitas Project has sent out a mailer, advertised in newspapers and licensed a robo-call. This year, the group has raised more than $7,200.
North County Advocates, a Carlsbad group that fights developments it deems excessive, contributed $2,000 — the single largest donation to the Encinitas Project. Among others, Ehlers kicked in $1,000, and former Encinitas Mayor Sheila Cameron gave $1,200.
Additionally, Jim Kydd, publisher of The Coast News gave $1,900 as an in-kind contribution for advertising space to the Encinitas Project, according to the city documents.
Homeowners to Preserve Encinitas, the second organization opposed to Prop A, has secured $31,500 in contributions. With a $10,000 contribution, Encinitas Town Center, LLC is its biggest donor. Other contributions included $2,500 from real estate agent Douglas Harwood and $5,000 from resident Lita Weston.
Doug Long, a local business owner, is listed as the principal officer of Homeowners to Preserve Encinitas. Calls to Long for comment went unanswered.
With a combined $49,800, the two organizations opposed to Prop A garnered seven times more than the contributions of the Encinitas Project.
Some of the mailers left the impression that the Prop A groups stood with city organizations and councilmembers. But that’s not necessarily the case.
Homeowners to Preserve Encinitas distributed a mailer using a quote and the logos from the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce and all of the Encinitas mainstreet associations, which have come out against Prop A. However, representatives from the organizations said they didn’t give Homeowners to Preserve Encinitas permission to do so.
Bob Gattinella, president of the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber is indeed against the initiative. However, Homeowners to Preserve Encinitas never contacted the chamber about the use of its logo or using quotes.
A mailer from Encinitas Residents, Businesses and Taxpayers Opposing Proposition A displayed councilmembers’ images and quotes. Because the council has unanimously opposed the initiative, Mayor Teresa Barth said some mistakenly believe that councilmembers sent the mailer.
“They took statements we made in public and put it on the mailer — unfortunately that’s fair game,” Barth said.
“It’s frustrating that campaigns resort to that,” Barth added.
In a statement several weeks ago, Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer said: “The fact that other people have come to the same conclusion that Prop A should not be adopted does not mean there is any connection between them and me.”