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Encinitas City Council discusses election reforms

ENCINITAS — Should future mayors earn more than councilmembers? 

That question was discussed during a special City Council meeting on Wednesday dedicated to all things election.

Other issues that were mulled over during the meeting included the 2014 Encinitas ballot initiative to allow medical marijuana dispensaries and the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling.

In regards to the mayor’s salary, councilmembers and the mayor take home the same amount — $1,186 — every month, according to the city’s staff report. Councilman Tony Kranz said that being mayor requires putting in more time than councilmembers. For that reason, he supports the mayor being paid more.

Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer said she’s not in favor of increasing the mayor’s salary. However, she noted that the mayor has to attend more events than councilmembers.

If councilmembers find that the mayor isn’t being adequately reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses associated with city business, then they should consider increasing compensation, Shaffer added.

In the end, council gave direction to bring back more information, including whether mayors of other cities make more money than councilmembers, for a potential vote.

Several public speakers advocated for the City Council to pass a non-binding resolution to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling.

Due to the ruling, Super PACS and their affiliated 501 (c) 4s can collect nearly unlimited contributions from corporations, unions and individuals.

As a result of a unanimous vote, the City Council will consider adopting the resolution next month.

Pam Page, representing the San Diego wing of Common Cause, an organization that promotes open government, said that the resolution is symbolic, but sends a message to legislators.

“When it comes time for our congressional representatives to vote on the issue, we want them to look to their constituents … and look to Encinitas,” Page said.

She noted that 50 California cities, including the city of San Diego, have passed a resolution to reverse Citizens United.

In response to councilmembers’ questions, Glenn Sabine, the city’s attorney, said he’ll need to research how Citizens United affects campaign disclosures for those running for Encinitas City Council.

The city will also look into a separate inquiry regarding whether it’s possible to cap campaign contributions for city council candidates.

In November 2014, Encinitas voters will decide if medical marijuana dispensaries should be permitted in certain parts of the city. Councilmembers declined to take a stance on that ballot measure.

Councilman Mark Muir proposed that councilmembers issue support or opposition to the initiative at a future council meeting. However, the other councilmembers didn’t back that plan.

A similar measure failed to pass in Solana Beach and Del Mar last year.

Heidi Whitman said that the City Council should support the measure. She noted that the federal government has recently said it won’t interfere with cities that closely regulate medical marijuana. Whitman added that she herself uses medical marijuana; otherwise, she wouldn’t be able to eat due to injuries sustained from a boating accident.

Nancy Logan opposes the measure, arguing it will make it easier for teenagers to obtain marijuana.

“It’s not the sick people going in and getting it — it’s the youth,” Logan said.

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1 comment

Lynn Marr October 5, 2013 at 1:35 pm

I also agree it’s not necessary to raise the Mayor’s pay. The City Attorney informed Council there can be a “one time adjustment” so that one of the three open Council seats in 2016 could be designated for a two year term only. I feel as though the Deputy Mayor should continue to be a rotating position, but Tony Kranz, and Kristin Gaspar indicated they would prefer the “continuity” of a two year seat. But the deputy mayor will be selected by Council, not the future mayor. Current Deputy Mayor, Lisa Shaffer, made a compromise suggestion that the seat could continue to be selected by Council, yearly, and that the same person could be elected, twice, if the majority of Council wanted “continuity” and that person worked well with the mayor.

Another suggestion made by Councilmember Mark Muir was that the proposed Highway 101 Streetscape Plan, from A Street to La Costa, with five roundabouts, four of them one-lane, narrow diameter roundabouts with three way intersections only, NO cross streets, less safety features, which will cause lane elimination on our highway both northbound AND southbound, effectively changing a Major Roadway, primary circulation element, into a two lane street, with motorists bottlenecking at 15 MPH through the one lane roundabouts, rather than traveling at 35 MPH on our previous four lane highway, could be considered to be placed on the General Election ballot, in 2014.

There has been a huge amount of controversy, particularly amongst adjacent neighbors and local commuters, because we know the project would lead to slowing down already subpar emergency response times along the Coast and more traffic cutting through residential/recreational streets which provide access and egress from Stonesteps, Beacon’s and Grandview beaches west of 101, and a school zone, immediately east of 101. Muir suggested that since there has been so much division, from the beginning, and this is such a high ticket item, projected to cost at least $20 Million of our TransNet tax dollars, then the city should schedule the dissuasion for a future agenda item over whether this could be placed by Council on the General Election Ballot in November of 2014. Doing so would determine, accurately, whether there is or is not widespread community support for the plans, which many feel are ill-advised.

There was no vote, by Council last Wednesday at the Special Meeting, to say NO, as there was, specifically, for the Marijuana Initiative, that would have allowed dispensaries within our local zoning. Our Counci voted no, andl chose NOT to take a stand on that initiative which WILL be on the ballot. They should have done the same thing with Prop A, before! But Council now SHOULD allow further discussion of putting five roundabouts and lane elimination on the ballot.

We know most residents who are aware of the plans realize the bottlenecking which would result, particularly during PEAK periods, will cost delays in emergency response time and will cost lives. The project is NOT cost effective, and is not needed or wanted by a majority of Encinitas voters! It is being forced on us by special interests.

If Council and the Leucadia 101 Mainstreet Association feel the project, with five roundabouts and lane elimination, in both directions, from A St. to La Costa on Historic State Highway 101, has public support, they should encourage a public vote. The workshops held by Peltz and Associates had flawed methodology, which resulted in invalid statistical analysis. Just as the workshops and methodology by MIG had, before, re the General Plan Update, which was unsupported by the community and had to be “rebooted.” We will be allowed to vote on the GPU! Council, at the very LEAST, should set a future agenda item for discussion of putting five roundabouts and lane elimination on Highway 101 on the 2014 GE Ballot.

The way the Agenda was set up on Oct. 2, all things election were under only two agenda items, and we were allowed to give input for three minutes per speaker, for topics that Council took two hours or more to discuss with the City Attorney, the Clerk, and amongst themselves. Those private citizens who did speak, were primarily concerned with overturning the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, and advocating that the public should support dispensaries being allowed for compassionate, medical marijuana distribution within our local zoning, to enforce an initiative previously passed by the voters of our state.

Mayor Barth promised that all the different “sections” of Agenda Item number one would come back as separate agenda items. So we expect this promise to be kept, INCLUDING a separate agenda item for potential ballot measures to be set by Council, which should also include a preliminary discussion about putting roundabouts and lane elimination through Leucadia on the ballot.

Why should a total of 8 future roundabouts, including three on Leucadia Blvd (two already installed) and five on Highway 101, ALL be planned for the northern, coastal portion of our City? That is not wise, nor fair. There is only one roundabout any where else in Encinitas, on Santa Fe, and that one is graded improperly, so as to limit motorists vision. The Santa Fe roundabout has a history of many collisions and one death, since its installation, many more accidents than at the same intersection before it was installed.

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