On May 15, a group associated with the development industry mailed a tasteless smear-campaign flier, in opposition to Proposition A, to every household in Encinitas.
The flier, paid for by development interests, is full of half-truths, distortions and outright lies. It was put together by a small group of opponents, including controversial Christy Guerin, a former police officer and City Councilwoman, in association with legal/political lobbyists, who together are doing business under the fictitious name of “Encinitas Residents, Businesses and Taxpayers Opposing Prop A,” registered April 25, 2013 for this purpose only.
Make no mistake; they do not represent the average resident or taxpayer of Encinitas. The flier also claims that the entire City Council endorsed the false innuendos made in this hit piece.
Since then, Mayor Teresa Barth, Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer, and Councilman Tony Kranz have publicly denied that they endorsed this flier. I leave it to the reader to figure out who was behind this. Nevertheless, we find it disconcerting that our mayor, deputy mayor and Councilman Kranz, have chosen to align themselves with the deceptive arguments made in so-called independent studies by so-called experts, while entirely ignoring the well thought-out statements in Prop A made by the citizen’s land use Attorney Everett Delano, who drew up the Initiative, and by former Planning Commissioner Bruce Ehlers. Both are respectable and knowledgeable gentlemen who have studied the City’s General Plan and Zoning Codes for decades and know them inside out.
The “independent legal analysis” made by the pro-development legal firm, Rutan & Tucker was full of distortions and full of “unintended probable consequences,” and was anything but independent. Their unintended consequences of Prop A are highly hypothetical and mostly fictitious. They have nothing to do with Prop A, and they could occur through misinterpretations of the present codes as well. Similarly, the so-called “impartial analysis of Prop A” by the Council’s Attorney Glenn Sabine is anything but impartial.
Sadly, the two new council members and the mayor, who had not been bought by development interests, swallowed the distorted truths and hypothetical “unintended consequences” in the biased analyses hook, line and sinker. Many of our citizens who voted the two into office view this as a betrayal.
Here are a few of the erroneous statements made in the flier and by Council members (CM), followed by factual counter arguments:
CM Lisa Shaffer: “I think the initiative could lead to more development.” “The harder we make it for property owners to build…, the more likely they are to use density bonus law to circumvent our constraints.”
Counter: Developers always ask for the maximum to maximize their profits. Without Prop A in place, Council can approve a density zoning increase of 1,000 percent, and the developer will still insist on an additional density bonus. Even if the developer does not choose to take advantage of the density bonus, he has made out like a bandit. With Prop A, he will have to ask the public for the up-zoning, who may not grant it to him.
So he stays within his zoning rights and asks for a 40 percent increase in density bonus. Would you rather let the Council give him a 300 percent to 1,000 percent increase in density or would you prefer to grant him a 40 percent density bonus? CM Shaffer’s argument is not logical.
CM Gaspar: “Prop A could prevent you from improving or restoring your home.”
Counter: Prop A does not interfere with the Zoning Code that gives a home owner the right to improve or rebuild his home, as long as he stays within present zoning codes. Even if the home is presently non-conforming, he can rebuild within the previous non-conforming envelope. And he can measure new building height from a previously approved reference level.
Flier: “Prop A redefines how building height is measured, leading to taller structures.”
Counter: This is a fabricated lie. Language in Prop A regarding maximum building height is identical to the language in the General Plan. It also does not change other specific building height limitations in the Zoning Code which, e.g. limit maximum residential building heights to 21 plus 4 feet, or lower if on steep slopes.
Flier and CM Muir: “Prop A could cost taxpayers millions of dollars for expensive citywide elections (and possible law suits) impacting police, fire and emergency services.”
Counter: Under Prop A, a citywide election will only be triggered if developers do not want to follow the law and instead ask for the moon. The developer, not the taxpayer and not the city, will have to pay for the election. More developers will stay within the law, keeping community character intact.
There is no credible analysis in the independent reports that predict more lawsuits under Prop A than under present rules. The latter are largely kept untouched by Prop A.
Our City Council and staff are opposed to Prop A because they do not want to relinquish even a small amount of control over urban development and associated payoffs.
Take control over your community back. Vote Yes on A!
Dietmar Rothe is a Cardiff-by-the-Sea resident.