At this point all the arguments surrounding prop A have been laid bare with the real, unreal and just plain fantastic rationale laid out for you to believe or not.
Just in case you need a refresh let’s divide up the soup and take a look at some of this information and the dynamics that are at work.
On the pro “YES on A” side we have a group of educated, informed and concerned residents who are looking out for their own interests, interests that typically align with those of the majority of people who live here, in this case preserving the city’s character and quality of life.
On the “No on A” side we have the city council and the development community. In the case of the developers, they are also looking out for their own interests, interests that are typically financially based, in this case increased project density and higher elevations for buildings leading to improved profit margins.
As for the city council, puzzling at best. A team that the residents put together to protect their interests but which has now come up with a variety of “No on A” arguments ranging from a fear of lawsuits to onerous intervention by the Coastal Commission.
All of their arguments have been surgically rebutted not only by the “Yes on A” folks but also by the likes of a former member of the Coastal Commission who is now a leading expert on the application of the Coastal Act. The fact that the council is holding to their unified decision without a single member reconsidering their stance in the face of their arguments being academically debunked is a disappointment. I personally hope for more informed leadership from this team as they mature as a council yet show that individually they can be independent thinkers.
What tactics are we being subjected to in order to sway our votes? On the “Yes on A” side we have residents walking the neighborhoods handing out leaflets, standing at intersections waving signs and donating their hard earned money for postcards and newspaper ads. On the “No on A” side we have, for the most part, a faceless group called Encinitas HOPE, an organization managed by a professional consultant John Wanio, a political consultant, whose client list includes the Building Industry Association of America, developer Barrett America and Accretive Capital Partners.
The latter two have had or continue to have ongoing development interests in Encinitas. This is the shadowy group that is putting out the glossy mailers featuring the photographs of council members, without their permission, along with claims that the Leucadia 101 organization, the Leucadia Main Street Association and Cardiff 101 are all against prop A. Stands that these groups to this day deny they have ever made. Is there a trust issue here?
When my late wife Maggie Houlihan was on the city council she sponsored an initiative called the Community Character Implementation Program, the underpinnings of which were the same as Prop A. The council majority at that time, Jerome Stocks, James Bond and Christie Guerin, all leveraged by campaign contributions from the development industry, ultimately quashed the initiative using many of the same scare tactics as you see today.
As a result, we now have incompatible 3-story development starting to dot our landscape, the Pacific Station project, the Moonlight Lofts on 101 and the live work units next to Caldwell’s Antiques. Of note is that James Bond and Christie Guerin have recently sent out robo calls attacking Prop A.
The question before us is a simple one. After all of this rhetoric, whom are we going to trust to shepherd Encinitas through its final phase of build out? Who is the best bet to ensure that the finished product will be a city that has the kind of quality of life that drew us here in the first place? The result of your choice will be very predictable.
You can vote against prop A and leave the city in the hands of a council that for the past 12 plus years has been leveraged by developer election campaign contributions coming from within and from outside the city, or you can determine for yourself, by voting Yes on A, to retain your voice in what kind of place Encinitas is to become.
Would you prefer we grow to look more like Pacific Beach, or hold on to our essential character as the inevitable growth ahead is integrated into our town?
I know how I am voting and I’m pretty sure I can guess how Maggie would have voted. In the future, I’m sure I’ll find myself in Pacific Beach or Mission Beach and I’ll probably enjoy the visit but I can guarantee that if Prop A passes I’ll sure be glad that I live in Encinitas.
Please join me in voting Yes on Prop A.
Ian Thompson is an Encinitas resident.