Community Commentary

In bed with, or just dating?

As you may know, Encinitas has three main street associations — Cardiff 101 Main Street Association (C-101), Leucadia 101 Main Street Association (L-101), and Downtown Encinitas Main Street Association, commonly known as DEMA. Most of us love all of the street festivals, parades, retail events, farmers markets, and other activities these organizations put on to build community and bring in visitors to our wonderful town. 

We applaud them for that! However, I want to draw your attention to a recent occurrence.

The boards of all three associations voted, though not unanimously, to support council’s vote against Prop A, the Right to Vote initiative, which more than 8,500 residents signed and on which you will vote in the June 18 special election. These three organizations had the option of taking a neutral position on Prop A, yet chose not to do so. In taking a political stance, their boards demonstrated a complete lack of sensitivity toward those association members who don’t agree with taking a political position at all and toward those in the community who support the associations, but who disagree with council’s position. It also unnecessarily causes a rift between business members and those in the community who frequent their businesses, but who may not share the position taken by their association boards.

Another factor entering into the mix is the brochure, No on A, passed out at the Encinitas Street Fair, and the web site, EncinitasHOPE, created and backed by building industry supporters. EncinitasHOPE deliberately misrepresents the facts and presents only one side of the issues. This organization also used the names of our main street associations and their logos on the brochure and web site, without their authorization. C-101 and L-101 have taken steps to distance themselves from the No on A brochure and EncinitasHOPE.

DEMA, on the other hand, seems to have no qualms about embracing the No on A propaganda wholeheartedly, as evidenced by their blatant display of the NO on A sign in the DEMA office window and on their web site, along with many of the same one-sided No on A arguments. I wonder how at least one DEMA member, a nonprofit that relies on public donations, feels about being associated with this hard-to-justify position!

While DEMA may not be legally culpable due to their 501(c)(6) status, it is unethical and inappropriate for them to advocate against Prop A, given the fact that they, along with the C-101 and L-101 associations, receive a portion of their funding from taxpayer money through the city. Currently, DEMA receives $20,000 a year. This raises a related issue: Is the associations’ funding from the city jeopardized in some way if they go against council? Since council is not allowed by law to expend city funds to advocate against Prop A (California Code, Section 54964), are these associations their proxy for doing so? There is, at the very least, an appearance of impropriety.

You may argue, “Well, it’s just politics. There are always going to be shenanigans.” But give it a little more thought.

It is your town, your community, and your quality of life that are at stake. Shouldn’t you care who controls what happens here and take the time to hear all of the facts, not just those being fed to you by special interests?

Please, take the time to hear both sides and consider these questions:

• Should the Main Street Associations, which should represent businesses, property owners, and citizens of Encinitas, take political positions that serve to divide rather than unite us?

• Should DEMA ally itself with the building industry and with those developers whose main interest lies in profit with no concern for preserving the quality of life in Encinitas (i.e., backers of EncinitasHOPE and No on A)?

• Do you want taxpayer dollars that go annually to the Main Street Associations to go toward supporting political causes with which you may or may not agree?

Word to the wise: The EncinitasHOPE organization recently sent out a pricey, citywide mailer. On that mailer, all of the Main Street Associations are still listed among the groups, which, by implication, agree with the No on A backers and their deceptive arguments!

C.J. Minster is an Encinitas resident.


Lynn Marr June 8, 2013 at 3:01 am

Excellent commentary, C.J. I don’t feel any of the newly rebranded 101 Mainstreet Associations should be getting direct City funding, subsidies, as they have been. They are acting as lobbyists for redevelopment interests, without reporting those activities on their tax forms, as non-profits, as far as I can see, after making California Public Record Act requests.

Other Cities have business organizations, such as chambers of commerce, that do not receive these special “entitlement” subsidies. We support our business community, but not as re-organized, gentrified, generic, “mainstreet associations,” that are given far more money than those community non-profits that are actually doing charitable work, and which must compete for about $30,000, total, Community Grants, which grants have been matched, in years past, by a private family. Peder Norby’s salary is another subsidy to the 101 Mainstreet Associations, along with several other subsidies, such as rents from the Farmers’ Markets.

We do support our businesses, and patronize them, but we feel these biz associations have become “far too big for their britches,” and are pushing for redevelopment which those living adjacent to the N101 corridor have not wanted and still do not want!

These groups ARE “in bed,” with politicians and public officials. Passage of Prop A will allow the “little guy,” you and me, to have a voice in whether we want to keep expanding at a rate that goes beyond what was envisioned by our founders and our General Plans parameters of 30 ft. and two stories, a MAX not to be exceeded, without a vote of the people!

All of the lies in the NO on A fliers are disturbing, misleading and inappropriate campaigning coming from City subsidized non-profits, when the City is only permitted to do non-partisan “educational outreach,” according to Government Code. A glaring example is the recent inflammatory Coast News ad placed by Encinitas 101MA, aka DEMA. Bogus!

None of the historic structures depicted in DEMA’s ad, shown with giant feet coming down on them, are threatened by Prop A. On the contrary, passage of Prop A will protect these historic structures as being a unique part of the character of our small beach town community. A minor or major use permit would allow one of the boathouses to become a museum, as already promised. The City of Encinitas, through affordable housing funds, has subsidized the Encinitas Preservation Association over $840,000! Doug Long is the current President of the Board of Directors of the EPA, with Peder Norby and Paul Ecke III also on the Board. California Community Bank, which disgraced former Mayor Dan Dalager formerly worked for, without properly disclosing that association, was the bank that gave a loan to the EPA foundation.

Contrary to Doug Long’s misrepresentations, through the No on A liar-fliers, all pre-existing development would be grandfathered, with legally vested rights, according to our own Planning Department, after passage of Prop A. Repairs and remodels are to be allowed, as always. Passage of Prop A will not put residents into an HOA, unless they are already in one!

This weeks San Diego Reader had a piece in Neighborhood News describing how in SD, in 1962, an initiative was passed to limit height to 3 stories, west of I-5. There are some exceptions, such as Little Italy. No developer sued there and no one has sued in Encinitas, where the General Plan already says height limits are not to exceed two stories, 30 ft, with certain exceptions. No developer has sued attempting to claim that lower set height limits must be raised. Doug Long and Glenn Sabine are telling outright falsehoods.

The pro-development impact report was inaccurate, designed to plant doubts, fears and confusion in the minds of our newbie Council and the public. City Attorney, Glenn Sabine’s “impartial analysis” also contained untruths, that go beyond speculation and conjecture, lies, both with respect to height limits, and the effects of possible Coastal Commission review, which staff has stated would not be necessary in a memo from Jeff Murphy our brand new Planning Director to the Coastal Commission.

Council chose to believe the lies rather than to think for themselves, and trust “old-timers” like Pam-Slater-Price, Bob Bonde, the Father of Encinitas, and many more community experts. We’re voting YES!

We elected Council to represent us, not cater to business/redevelopment interests, at the public’s great expense. What a huge disappointment our “new council” has been to those of us who campaigned for them, with all our hearts, donating time, and money. Voting YES on A is a wonderful opportunity to take back local control, to give individual voters a voice in creating a better, more equitable future, protecting our community character and quality of life.

Innercitysurvivor June 8, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Many of us have firsthand experience with the down side of increased urbanization whether it’s an inner city in the mid west or on the east coast. Increased urbanization was the result we were trying to avoid with incorporation. Vote Yes on A if you want your voice heard and are averse to 3,4, or 5 stories.

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