Letters: Sept. 4, 2009

What’s really going on?
The Aug. 28 article about the city of Encinitas’ contract for a citywide traffic study (“Mixed review for general plan consultants”) described Councilman Jerome Stocks’ confusing actions. It correctly reported that Councilman Stocks said that he thought allowing competitors to bid on a $110,000 contract would be “appropriate.” The comment was even more appropriate when considering the last report issued by Austin-Foust contained poor data and analysis. Their report was never deemed acceptable by the council or traffic commission. So you might find it bizarre that Councilmen Stocks and Dan Dalager and Mayor Maggie Houlihan ended up voting to rehire Austin Foust, without allowing any other firms to compete for the contract. Only Councilwoman Teresa Barth said no to hiring a consultant who had stood behind shoddy work.
Why rehire Austin Foust? Consider the bombshell Mayor Houlihan dropped at the council meeting. Houlihan said Austin Foust’s last $100,000 report was years late because the city had manipulated the public review process. She said the delay was used to keep the traffic analysis from impacting the 2006 election (Dalager’s re-election). None of the other council members at the meeting denied or commented on Houlihan’s allegation. Barth wasn’t on the council at the time, but Stocks and Dalager were. Why the silence?
At the time of Dalager’s re-election, he was made aware that some citizens wanted to know why the traffic study was being delayed. The citizens’ concerns were shaken off. The public had been onto something, because the traffic consultants now blame part of the project’s delay on, “getting past council elections.”
Was Austin Foust rehired because they could be manipulated? Was the manipulation of the process condoned by Dalager? Well, I sent Dalager an e-mail a week ago asking him to comment on Houlihan’s public statements. He has not yet responded. If he ever does, I’ll post it up at www.theleucadiablog.com.
Kevin Cummins

Not all change is good
This commentary (“Give the streetscape plan a chance” Aug. 28) makes some incorrect assumptions and puts a “spin” on the facts. Over 60 percent of the people filling out the surveys at the last workshop were not in favor of five roundabouts in less than two miles. Public speakers weren’t then allowed, but when council later voted to award more money to consultants, who have already spent well over $500,000 for preliminary plans for the streetscape, from A street to El Portal, many speakers didn’t want roundabouts on Historic North 101, and didn’t want to reduce northbound traffic to one lane!
Logically, traffic would get clogged during rush hour, particularly in the summer, during racetrack season. Traffic isn’t moving too fast, then, anyway. It’s unfair that a few longtime commercial property owners would get substantially more parking, at the expense of the General Fund. Also unfair is that some businesses, such as Leucadia Glass, would have property taken away by city encroachments.
The owners of Leucadia Glass and Sub Palace have collected over 1,000 signatures in opposition to roundabouts and reducing traffic lanes. Many business owners oppose this plan. As an alternative, the city could put in one or two more stop signs, and u-turn lanes. Also the Sheriff could be more proactive in citing speeders.
We don’t want Encinitas to escalate city spending on high priced “out of area” consultants and contractors. With the money already spent, we could have planted thousands of trees, and flowers in the medians, and watered them from water trucks, if necessary, using reclaimed water. People who oppose the roundabout plans are not in opposition to all change. We want change that will enhance our quality of life, and that will not cause further traffic deadlocks, and force more cars onto Neptune and Vulcan, our residential neighborhoods.

Lynn Braun Marr

Walk to Cure Psoriasis
The Aug. 21 issue had a poignant article titled “Psoriasis can be painful, but it shouldn’t be embarrassing.” Given that I have had psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis since early childhood, I was very pleased to see the illness given some timely attention. Yes, August is Psoriasis Awareness Month! Psoriasis affected my life so dramatically that it led me to pursue a graduate degree in clinical psychology with a health emphasis, writing my dissertation on coping with the emotional and physical effects of psoriasis. I have been a very passionate volunteer for the National Psoriasis Foundation for many, many years. I currently chair the San Diego Walk to Cure Psoriasis that is scheduled to take place on Saturday, October 10th at De Anza Cove in Mission Bay Park. As the Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas authored article pointed out, there are as many as 7.5 million Americans with the disease, several thousands of them live right here in San Diego. The funds raised through our walk will work toward finding a cure in addition to helping those with the illness find the support and education necessary to cope with such a visibly stigmatizing illness. San Diego’s own Carol LeBeau will be emceeing our 1K and 5K walks that will include activities, entertainment and refreshments for all participants. We will have a BioBank table with licensed phlebotomists on site for interested individuals to donate blood samples for our international psoriasis research tissue bank. What a wonderful gift to give! We’ll have many vendors and sponsors, and I enthusiastically invite any and all to support a cause that receives very little government funding and causes significant shame and embarrassment. I invite all readers to join us Oct. 10.
Please visit www.psoriasis.org/sandiegowalk for more information.
Dr. Vickie Dowling, Psy.D., CGP

Revved up over motorcycle noise
The city of Encinitas has done a great job remaking its downtown, and it continues to hold itself up as being on the cutting edge of environmental consciousness. However, a recent visit to the Leucadia ArtWalk (Aug. 30) was very unpleasant due to the excessively loud noise of motorcycles.
Motorcycles do not have to be loud. The Environmental Protection Agency sets noise emissions standards for motorcycles at 80 decibels, which is 10 decibels louder than a car traveling at 40 miles an hour; so mufflers on new motorcycles are fairly quiet. All motorcycles are required to display two EPA labels — one on the chassis and one on the exhaust pipe. The label warns that tampering with the muffler system is in violation of federal law. Yet many bikers ignore the warning and install loud pipe mufflers. Riders often claim that “loud pipes save lives” because they are more likely to be heard by distracted motorists. This is a myth that even the American Motorcyclist Association dismisses. The association warns that noisy pipes actually impair good riding skills and judgment.
Not only do loud pipe mufflers cause noise pollution, they also pollute the air. Most motorcycles have a catalytic converter and when the illegal pipes are installed, that also removes the converter. One motorcycle with an illegal muffler can pollute the air far greater than a car per mile of travel.
Congress has given towns and states the authority to regulate motorcycle noise and the EPA label match-up program is an easy and effective way of doing so. It merely requires a simple visual check for the correct EPA muffler label. No sound level meters or special skills are required. Both the Sheriff and the city of Encinitas point the finger at each other when it comes to enforcement.
It is my hope that Encinitas will implement the EPA label match-up system and start fining bikers who have installed illegal mufflers. Encinitas citizens and visitors deserve to be protected from harmful noise and air pollution.

Tim Wright


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