As you may know, Encinitas has three main street associations — Cardiff 101 Main Street Association (C-101), Leucadia 101 Main Street Association (L-101), and Downtown Encinitas Main Street Association, commonly known as DEMA. Most of us love all of the street festivals, parades, retail events, farmers markets, and other activities these organizations put on to build community and bring in visitors to our wonderful town.
We applaud them for that! However, I want to draw your attention to a recent occurrence.
The boards of all three associations voted, though not unanimously, to support council’s vote against Prop A, the Right to Vote initiative, which more than 8,500 residents signed and on which you will vote in the June 18 special election. These three organizations had the option of taking a neutral position on Prop A, yet chose not to do so. In taking a political stance, their boards demonstrated a complete lack of sensitivity toward those association members who don’t agree with taking a political position at all and toward those in the community who support the associations, but who disagree with council’s position. It also unnecessarily causes a rift between business members and those in the community who frequent their businesses, but who may not share the position taken by their association boards.
Another factor entering into the mix is the brochure, No on A, passed out at the Encinitas Street Fair, and the web site, EncinitasHOPE, created and backed by building industry supporters. EncinitasHOPE deliberately misrepresents the facts and presents only one side of the issues. This organization also used the names of our main street associations and their logos on the brochure and web site, without their authorization. C-101 and L-101 have taken steps to distance themselves from the No on A brochure and EncinitasHOPE.
DEMA, on the other hand, seems to have no qualms about embracing the No on A propaganda wholeheartedly, as evidenced by their blatant display of the NO on A sign in the DEMA office window and on their web site, along with many of the same one-sided No on A arguments. I wonder how at least one DEMA member, a nonprofit that relies on public donations, feels about being associated with this hard-to-justify position!
While DEMA may not be legally culpable due to their 501(c)(6) status, it is unethical and inappropriate for them to advocate against Prop A, given the fact that they, along with the C-101 and L-101 associations, receive a portion of their funding from taxpayer money through the city. Currently, DEMA receives $20,000 a year. This raises a related issue: Is the associations’ funding from the city jeopardized in some way if they go against council? Since council is not allowed by law to expend city funds to advocate against Prop A (California Code, Section 54964), are these associations their proxy for doing so? There is, at the very least, an appearance of impropriety.
You may argue, “Well, it’s just politics. There are always going to be shenanigans.” But give it a little more thought.
It is your town, your community, and your quality of life that are at stake. Shouldn’t you care who controls what happens here and take the time to hear all of the facts, not just those being fed to you by special interests?
Please, take the time to hear both sides and consider these questions:
• Should the Main Street Associations, which should represent businesses, property owners, and citizens of Encinitas, take political positions that serve to divide rather than unite us?
• Should DEMA ally itself with the building industry and with those developers whose main interest lies in profit with no concern for preserving the quality of life in Encinitas (i.e., backers of EncinitasHOPE and No on A)?
• Do you want taxpayer dollars that go annually to the Main Street Associations to go toward supporting political causes with which you may or may not agree?
Word to the wise: The EncinitasHOPE organization recently sent out a pricey, citywide mailer. On that mailer, all of the Main Street Associations are still listed among the groups, which, by implication, agree with the No on A backers and their deceptive arguments!
C.J. Minster is an Encinitas resident.