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General plan draft draws criticism

ENCINITAS — The vision of the city’s five distinct communities was released in draft form and delivered to the City Council Sept. 14, but over a dozen speakers expressed dissatisfaction with the contents of the massive document.
Earlier in the week, Mike Andreen, executive director of the New Encinitas Network, sent out an e-mail blast to approximately 1,800 recipients, railing against the draft plan, calling it “flawed.”
Specifically, Andreen criticized the possible changes in land use along Encinitas Boulevard and the El Camino Real corridor. In a November 2010 public workshop, the planning department, along with consultants from MIG, Inc. explored the idea of increasing residential and mixed-use into those and other areas around the city.
Andreen asserted that changes in the commercial zoning had not been “professionally vetted by actual business people, as to its potentially significant financial and cultural impacts on New Encinitas and the annual income stream for the city of Encinitas annually.
“As we all know, traffic in the New Encinitas areas is already a challenge and further degradation of services as the potential and additional 2,200 homes will only make it more difficult for customers to reach/visit the shopping centers, businesses or services that currently generate an enormous amount of sales tax revenue that literally underwrites our local government,” he stated in his e-mail.
Beginning in January 2010, a general plan advisory committee, along with city staff and a consulting firm began the first phase of updating the general plan. Over the next six months, the group facilitated five community specific workshops and a citywide workshop on May 1. Additional public workshops have been heavily advertised and well attended. It’s unclear how many of the 16 speakers at the council meeting were in attendance at any of the general plan workshops.
The general plan should be updated within a two-year period, according to Planning Director Patrick Murphy. The city’s blueprint will be updated to address new policy issues such as sustainable and healthy communities, green building codes and storm water cleansing.
Deputy Mayor Jerome Stocks expressed concern over the way city staff introduced the draft document, saying that employees should issue a “fairly large disclaimer” every time they talk about the document at public events. “It is simply a draft at this point and will likely see significant revisions in the months to come,” he added.
While the City Council and the Planning Commission have not reviewed it yet, both will host public hearings.
Patrick Murphy, the city’s planning and building director, said staff members have scheduled four months of public comment before the official hearings begin, to allow people significant time to read and comment on the document.
For more information, visit Encinitas2035.info.


to tcn September 16, 2011 at 9:11 am

Many of the speakers have "participated" all along. We have been herded like cattle. There was never any doubt about how the important elements of the update would turn out. The workshops are just a facade.

MIG Fraud September 16, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Daniel Iacofano of MIG needs to return the millions of dollars that he billed the City of Encinitas for his company’s involvement in this unwanted and obsurd plan.

He started off at the first community meeting stating that we lived in Eden and also that people in our 5 communitites wanted to keep our communities the way that they are. Enough said. Throw out this piece of garbage and give us back our money!

This is like a second round of the Cardiff Specific Plan! What a fraud.

PATRICK OCONNOR September 17, 2011 at 1:07 pm

How much consultant cost is involved in the study? We have all the "experts" on staff to prepare a study on going as part of in house staff job responsibility . This report could be annualized and be a part of the state of the city .yearly report. Please no more expensive out of town consultants.Also the mixed use is a non starter,lenders are not able to wholesale these loans and are a poor yield investment.

Over 2 million September 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm

In answer to Patrick’s question of how much these consulting services cost, I believe that the article above "General Plan Update Consultants Get Mixed Review," suggests that they were paid over 1 million dollars 2 years ago. The planners asked for another million dollars a few months ago, so it is already more than 2 million dollars that went to a firm in Berkely. And for what??

Why not stop spending money on the most expensive consultants, and instead, hire planners who have the prefered professional credentials of the field like a Master’s in Urban Development. Over half of the people in Encinitas planning appear to lack minimum credentials for the profession!

They seem to hire people who need money and will go along with anthing to keep a job instead of professionals with appropriate higher degrees! People who have the ability to get into graduate programs and who complete the work seem to have higher standards than those who fall into a great opportunity to have a well-paying job with benefits with only a BA or a BS–assuming they are willing to do what they are told and not try to improve themselves by getting actual credentials that the industry respects!

Hiring good people who can do the work without consultants would be my preference!

Irrelevant Dept. September 19, 2011 at 9:16 am

With the Planning Department spending so much on a consulting firm to come up with a universally reviled plan that dismantles most of the protections against bad development that the City has had in place for the past 25 years, why do we need them?

Instead of Planning Department managers doing their jobs and standing by the current zoning in our General Plan, they break their own rules and give special favors to developers. As citizens have discovered the selective application and bending of rules for developers, these special favors boomerang to make planners appear inept and unable to follow their own rules.

So instead of looking at themselves to seek improvement and consistency in their decisions-making process to PROTECT our community, their approach has been to dramatically loosen rules so that almost ANYTHING is acceptable. For a department that is so incapable of conducting valid citizen participation methods that are not abusive to the participans, or applying professional judgment in making ridiculous concessions for builders, why do we need this Planning Department in the first place?

If this plan passes, the planners will be able to throw their hands up in the air and say that there is nothing that can be done because projects are zoned for RR 50! It appears that the real intention of the plan is for members of a department to avoid any responsibility or demonstrate any standards for the work that they approve.

If the resulting plan would have been an honest reflection of what Encinitas residents communicated, maybe it would have been worth it to pay $2 million to MIG—and who knows how much more for advertising and other expenses. However the resulting end product could have been done for free by getting a bunch of people who wanted to take away the protections of community members and individual property owners at the expense of big development, and lower the professional standards for Encinitas planners, so that they would be held to even lower levels of accountability than they are now.

I say that if this plan passes, that the City Planning Department should dismantled and that planning functions should be contracted out to a vender since there is no evidence of professional expertise, accountability, or a desire to serve the majority of Encinitas residents or businesses in this piece of work!

Rubber Stamp September 19, 2011 at 9:49 am

After spending over $2 million on an unaccepatable Draft General Plan that shows absolutely no regard for multiple significant impacts, they are going to allow Scott Vurbeff to conduct the EIR, so that he can provide similar results to the work that he has done on other projects.

"The city also is doing some of the work in-house, saving about $200,000 by having a city environmental planner do the environmental impact report, Murphy said."

Find a competent environmental firm to tell you what Encinitas citizens and business owners are saying. This proposed plan as is, would be devastating to our environment! It is not to save money that they are doing this in-house, but to rubber stamp this garbage the way that they pass through developers plans with no concern for the environment, local residents, nor future impacts.

This is completely unacceptable on every level!

Where's the Refund? September 21, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Encinitas citizens are owed a refund from MIG for what they are passing off as ‘consulting services’. Their ‘plan’ has managed to offend almost everyone from both sides of the political aisle, and members in all of the 5 Encinitas communities.

They are not consultants because the entire process used invalid methods from beginning to end. I think that Planning must have thought they were buying a way out from always looking dishonest or unaware of their own rules when citizens find out about the special favors they grand developers, but what citizens PAID for was a set of flawed surveys and an elementary school clock image with clip art placed over the 12 clock numbers, to represent 12 of the elements in the Updated General Plan.

I’m sorry to disappoint those who are so proud of that image, but I am sorry to tell you that other cities also have this image when vendor MIG sells THEM their tool kits.

When time and money are wasted in this outrageous manner, it is not only the time and money wasted, but the loss of how it COULD have been gainfully used for the benefit of Encinitas citizens, not for Daniel Iocofano to purchase a 3rd expensive home!

Not Our Plan September 30, 2011 at 7:04 pm

This is not our plan! There is nothing worse than involving residents and telling them that their participation is the basis of the update to our General Plan. WE were not the ones who changed it from The Constitution, which implies the highest law of the land, to a "blueprint," which implies that they can change whatever they want. None of this is ours, and we are insulted by the lack of professionalism shown by the Planning Department and the consultants who they have hired to split up the task and steal our money.

In spirit, they have attempted to act like investment bankers, but they have ended up putting on public display, their lack of ability and poor personal standards! If the only purpose of the Planning Department is to take away any standards that protect Encinitas citizens or that hold them accountable, they are proving that they are not up the the job. Close up the Planning Department!

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