The public’s right to know
The right of the people to know what their government is doing is fundamental to democracy. Not only do they have the right to know what decisions have been made, they also have the right to participate in making those decisions.
Some cities in California have enacted Open Government policies, often referred to as Sunshine Ordinances, which go beyond the minimum requirements of the Brown Act and the Public Records Act.
A clearly established policy of open meetings, easy access to public records and accountability will increase the public’s trust and confidence in government.
At the June 10 Encinitas City Council meeting, I proposed a citizen’s task force to work with staff to craft a Sunshine Ordinance. My colleagues, while admitting to past problems, said a Sunshine Ordinance was not necessary.
I disagree. Without a written policy it is too easy to ignore and abuse state open government laws.
We must send a clear message to the public that the city of Encinitas values open and transparent government. Furthermore, we must hold ourselves and the staff accountable to these goals.
The citizens of Encinitas deserve nothing less.
Councilwoman Teresa Barth
City of Encinitas
Another little piece of my heart … gone
I am deeply saddened by the course of events that took place during the discussion of the Pacific View property at Wednesday night’s Encinitas City Council meeting (June 10, 2009). For the council not to direct the staff to seek a qualified appraisal of the property and explore possible funding and/or exchange options with the Encinitas Union School District using one or more of the 126 properties currently in the city’s real estate portfolio is, I believe, contrary to the wishes of the majority of the people in Encinitas. Thank you Maggie Houlihan and Teresa Barth for trying to represent your constituents; shame on you Jerome Stocks and James Bond for you appear to care more about the developers who support you than the citizens who elected you.
The land between E and F streets and Third and Fourth streets was deeded to the Encinitas School District in 1883 by the town’s founder, John Pitcher, for the children of Encinitas. Now, due to declining enrollments and budgetary needs, the school district is giving the city of Encinitas the opportunity to purchase the site. Since the EUSD received this parcel of land without cost and given the historical significance of it, they should be flexible, accommodating, and negotiate in the best interests of everyone.
The city’s own Planning & Building Department in 2008 proposed a Historic Overlay Zone within the Downtown Encinitas Specific Plan area (which includes the Pacific View site) to “help preserve historic and cultural resources in the downtown area.” The city talks the talk, now it needs to walk the walk.
The 1883 schoolhouse has been saved and restored, and in the words of Ida Lou Coley in 2004, “we must also value the site’s land and join together to preserve that site, not just for today, but for future generations of children.”
If the city of Encinitas passes on this, it will never have the chance again and everyone loses.
Water protocol lessons learned young
Thanks Chris for reminding us of our place in the water in the June 11 “Sea Notes” column. I’ve been taking my son surfing since he was 3. After a winter without a wetsuit I knew his love of surfing was genuine (I didn’t have one either and should get some points in the parent bank for that). At the ripe old age of 7 he’s graduated to a legitimate board and wetsuit without ever having taken a surf “lesson” or attended a “camp.” He’s also earned the respect of other surfers for learning the “wave protocol” as we call your rules around our house. I’m happy to report that most of the regulars at our break will give up a wave for the grom. His are usually the really little ones anyway but the gesture is appreciated nonetheless.
We recently heard some guys yelling obscenities at each other over a wave. Real classy guys, thanks. My son asked if we could go to the north break to get away from them. “What a bummer,” he said as he paddled away looking over his shoulder at two grown men yelling at each other while others looked on. It did seem absurd to me, too. Don’t you people come here to let everything melt away? Don’t you see the beauty all around you? If not, get out. Really. Ungrateful surfers — locals, kooks, professionals, I don’t care who you are, just go home. And stay there until you have something to contribute to the experience. Or at least don’t take away from it. We have no place in the water. It’s a gift not a right.