Letters to the Editor/Opinion July, August, September, October 2022
July 15 issue:
Change is upon us. New county budget helps Encinitas prepare
BY COUNTY SUPERVISOR TERRA LAWSON-REMER
If you told me three years ago I would spend weeks on end isolated at home, gas would cost $6 a gallon, I’d be watching a war in Europe, and reproductive freedom would be illegal or close to it in a majority of the nation, I wouldn’t have believed you.
But the reality is that our world has changed — and this change is being thrust upon us from all directions. With the right planning and investments we can weather that change — and create a stronger, more resilient San Diego County.
This was my goal when I voted last month to approve the County of San Diego’s new $7.35 billion budget. It’s a resiliency budget — an investment plan to make sure that San Diego is ready not only to respond to the change we’re experiencing but to enact the change we need. It furthers the work we’ve done, and continue to do, to make County government more equitable, sustainable, responsive, and representative of our communities.
As we feel the heat from rising temperatures, this budget invests $100 million to fight climate change, expand County parks and community gardens, acquire land for the preservation of natural habitats, plant trees, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and set up “cool zones” around our region for you to enjoy air conditioning for free.
As we grow more concerned about sewage in our oceans, this budget invests $40 million in improving our stormwater infrastructure to keep pollution from our cities from flowing onto our beaches.
As we see people struggling on the street, perhaps talking to themselves, this budget pays for new Mobile Crisis Response Teams staffed with trained psychiatric clinicians to respond quickly — allowing our sheriffs and police officers to focus on fighting crime.
As we are squeezed by inflation and need a little extra help to make ends meet, this budget will fund new resources to help residents access food and healthcare through programs like CalFresh and Medi-Cal.
As we witness wildfires more frequently threaten our homes, this budget bolsters our firefighting fleet with a new dual-engine helicopter with the ability to fly at night and carry more water and emergency responders. But we’re not waiting for danger to arrive at our doorsteps — we’re also investing $2 million to reduce the risk of wildfire through vegetation management, improved evacuation routes, and fire breaks.
And as we venture out more to reconnect with our neighbors, you can experience the millions of dollars in grant funding set aside in this budget to support vital programs. This is in addition to last year when my office championed $1 million for design and environmental review for the Encinitas Landfill Park conversion project, $1.25 million to complete the Pacific Promenade and Bamboo Garden at the San Diego Botanic Garden, and more.
If you know an organization that is doing important work that should receive funding, please have them reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are a resilient region — and this budget reflects that spirit. We can’t always control what comes our way. But we will continue to work hard locally to be prepared for winds of change, no matter where they come from, so we can chart a better future for us all.
Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer represents San Diego County’s Third Supervisorial District, which includes Encinitas.
July 29 issue:
Cardiff School rebuild: A different perspective
Reflecting on the winners and losers of the Cardiff School rebuild, I’d like to offer a different perspective than that offered by Save The (View).
Winners: The children of Cardiff who will have a safe and modern school. The Cardiff School District board who did not sacrifice either student safety or student learning experience because of a small group of litigious neighbors.* (*We have to assume the plural “neighbors” instead of simply “neighbor” as the membership of Save The (View) is unknown, and it is likely that several early members distanced themselves from this lawsuit-at-all-costs group long ago.) The taxpayers of Cardiff who will finally get the school they overwhelmingly voted for years ago when they passed the bond measure with a near super majority approval.
Loser: Save The (View)
Rather than waste any more energy, or newspaper print, on Save The (View), the group who attempted to gaslight everyone into thinking that this was about saving a park (and without whom the project would have been completed on time and within budget long ago), I instead prefer to focus on Cardiff School and the amazing Cardiff community. The community that was involved in the process and overwhelmingly supported the project; the community that has sent and will send their children to this amazing school; the community that will enjoy a contiguous ball field and modern playground; the community that will enjoy Ice Cream Socials and Boos-by-the-Sea in a multi-purpose room deserving of such a great community; and, finally, the community that knows “Lawsuits Are For Kooks”.
Re: “Cardiff School resolves land grant issues, construction to resume.”
The article frames the Cardiff School Board “ceremoniously” cutting the plastic off the new multipurpose room on campus. I couldn’t help but muse if the celebrants also celebrated the: defamation, vandalism, and outright disregard for the letter of the law that took place in “resolving” the grant issue. Also, a hearty congratulations to the School Board President in her attempt in the article to somehow tie the recent Texas school massacre to our local issue. Clearly with adept political skills such as this she has a wonderful career ahead of her.
James G. Carroll
Gas ban is hot air
The Encinitas City Council has recently banned the use of natural gas in all new construction. Why? What does this “climate legislation” accomplish? At .34 per kWh, Encinitans already pay higher than the state electricity average and more than double the U.S. average. Reducing access to natural gas, the state’s primary source of power, reduces choice and will result in even higher energy costs. California already imports 30% of our energy consumption. By increasing electricity use in lieu of lower emission natural gas, we are forced to import more high-polluting coal and biomass energy from other states – at least 10% of energy imports, along with another 5% of in-state coal and biomass, according to the California Energy Commission. Brilliant.
And since it only affects new construction, why pass it at all? Is it just cynical virtue-signaling? It’s certainly elitist, as it will mostly affect future residents of lower income housing to be built. Our mansions can continue to enjoy their grills, fire pits and BBQs. It also discourages new business formation in our city. Future residents can request an exception, but those are narrow in scope and subject to the whims of the City’s permitting generosity.
Since “global” warming is global, two inconvenient facts loom large. First, consider that Encinitas’ 24,000 or so households require 30-50 MW to run, depending on the type of fuel. In 2020, China alone built new coal plants generating a thousand times the amount of energy Encinitas uses, with another 100 coal plants under construction or in planning stages. Today, fossil fuels are unfortunately still 84% of global fuel consumption, and demand is rising about 4-5% annually, mostly in Asia and Africa, where people want the same access to electricity we take for granted. The impact of Encinitas’ gas ban on global emissions is not even measurable. Power for USA reports that, to get to zero emissions in the U.S. by 2050, the buildout of solar and wind power would have to be 6 ½ times everything that has been built since 2000 – each and every single year to 2050. The footprint needed to do this would take vast amounts of open land, and the transmission, storage and waste issues have not yet been resolved.
If we’re serious about taking on global warming and running a modern economy, we need reliable baseload power with minimal CO2 emissions to complement our renewables. For the foreseeable future, this includes natural gas. No matter how you look at it, the City Council’s restriction on natural gas fails on every front imaginable. It should be repealed, and the Council should refrain from its pious posturing and refocus its efforts where they can have a meaningful impact on the lives of Encinitas residents.
Editor’s Note: The gas ban was approved last fall.
Aug. 26 issue:
Cardiff School District takes a $6.6M victory lap
My February 2018 email to Cardiff Superintendent Jill Vinson read: “… regarding taking a conservative approach to anticipating and avoiding potential legal challenges to the school project.… the attached documents provide a fairly complete picture of the significant barriers arising from the  federal grant funding for the Berkich Park renovation…” The District thus learned that its plans breached its legal obligations under the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act (LWCFA). National Park Service (NPS) rules, providing for the rare occasion (~3%) when a LWCFA boundary needs to be modified, specify that replacement property is ineligible if previously dedicated for public recreational use.
In November 2018, months before construction, the ambitious project was already over its $24M budget, leading to elimination of two classroom buildings, leaving the school auditorium in the Park.
In March 2019, Save the Park and Build the School sued to require compliance with the LWCFA. The NPS notified the District that its plan was unlikely to be approved. Undaunted, the District began construction in July 2019. After adding a small parcel to its proposed replacement property, in April 2020, the District received NPS approval. In May 2020, the District took a $2.725M loan to cover legal fees and additional project expenses.
In September 2020, after reviewing evidence that the replacement property’s eligibility had been misrepresented, the NPS rescinded the approval. For another 18 months, the District resisted compliance.
It took a veritable act of Congress -- intervention by Rep. Mike Levin -- for the District to offer more than ineligible scraps for LWCFA-funded land. In April 2022, the District committed to pay $570,000 for replacement park land. This payment, plus the additional construction costs, were to be covered by a $3.9M loan. The San Diego County Office of Education, which oversees non-voter approved school debt, warned the $250,000 annual payment for this loan’s 25-year term could lead to deficit spending.
District enrollment, now 641, has declined 17% over the past decade. 2020 Census data indicate that fewer than 1/3 of Cardiff households have children; over 40% of Cardiff homes are renter occupied. For decades, Cardiff homeowners will shoulder the burden of this $30M+ boondoggle for a public school with only 269 K-2 students – if the District survives that long.
District officials are congratulating themselves for finally receiving (conditional) NPS approval. Construction of the auditorium has resumed, funded by non-voter approved debt of $6.6M -- $6.6M worth of stubborn refusal 4-1/2 years ago to take a conservative approach to a major legal obstacle. Rather, it was “win at any cost.” As they take their costly victory lap, District officials need to be held accountable for betraying the first two rules of The Cardiff Way: “Act Responsibly” and “Be Honest.”
Sept. 9 issue:
Humor is powerful, both for good and for ill
My child has used they/them pronouns for the past year. Last week, they sent me screen shots of SDUHSD district trustee Michael Allman participating in a mocking exchange of students using such pronouns in a private Facebook group.
Now Mr Allman has doubled down, minimizing his misconduct. On his election website, Mr Allman said, “What did they accuse me of? Using online ‘laugh’ emojis in response to a comment...”
The comment compared students using “they” pronouns to defecating cats.
He is contemptuous of the very students he is supposed to be serving. The comment also literally dehumanizes them.
Humor is powerful, both for good and for ill. As a domestic abuse survivor, I know through painful experience that mockery is a potent tool to normalize abuse.
For this abusive behavior towards extremely vulnerable constituents, Trustee Allman should tender his resignation immediately.
This way to I-5: The forgotten flats — A sacrifice zone
Living in the Leucadia Flats (Clark-Saxony) for 35 years, traffic has steadily increased, especially with impatient cut-through drivers. When Leucadia Blvd. was extended to El Camino Real, when 17 homes were built on Clark and One Channel Island was developed and now the construction of the Fox Point Farms, congestion has metastasized.
In the Flats, you cannot safely walk or cycle out. My neighbor was hit walking with his wife. Saxony is dangerous at any point. High speed accidents happen frequently on Leucadia Blvd. More than once, I‘ve been within minutes of cars careening across my sidewalk path. Dogs have died. What’s in store for our children?
The Aug. 4 Planning Committee meeting about Clark Development left me worried. Clearly the city has financial and legal incentives to approve projects where I’s are dotted and T’s crossed. Traffic studies are written so projects are approved. After reading this study, it is a mystery to me how any resident could understand it. The developers are adamant: their study cannot be refuted, as if no other realities, safety or otherwise, can be considered. The study shows the project does not increase traffic more than some arbitrary increment. However, if our existing roads are already congested, in need of improvements and unsafe, how can the city intentionally decide to make it worse? Adding 1000+ daily trips will impact already stressed roads. Everyone at the meeting could see that. The traffic department said it could restrict parking in the Flats, which seems punitive, especially since the encouragement of ADUs. Commissioner Susan Sherod reflected that the city inherited substandard roads upon incorporation in 1986… And we cannot wave a magic wand and improve them, but why do we need to make them worse?
Lastly, this Housing Element project is the only one without a main artery access. No mitigation measures are planned (no sidewalks, crosswalks, signals). It neatly skipped subdivision rules and skirted an EIR. Air quality continues to degrade. Children cannot walk to school safely. Construction means heavy truck traffic (experienced recently). Newer neighborhoods with cul de sacs avoid impacts but not us. The lack of Spanish speaking outreach was acknowledged…but there was no outreach to anyone in the Flats other than those living within a few hundred feet of the project. Commissioner Sherod acknowledged the community does not feel safe.
I fear the council will green light the project; another straw added to the beaten camel’s back. Without the council’s help, the Flats will simply become a freeway on-ramp. Once again left behind as a sacrifice zone with new signs that point to I-5 northbound or southbound.
Oct. 7 issue:
A better option re smoking in public places: Enforce the law
The City of Encinitas wants to outlaw smoking in public places because cigarette butts cause litter. As much as I loathe litter, outlawing a pastime because it results in a problem would be like outlawing sports-cars because they get the most speeding tickets. Rather than infringing on civil liberties, enforce the law. Cite people for littering, and use the income from those tickets to better our city. Mandate the second tier of the citation by having people who litter pick up trash. This enforcement will decrease litter, improve our environment, and protect our civil rights.
From a non-smoker who believes in freedom and the pursuit of happiness.
Nonpartisan? An endorsement speaks volumes
In a recently published article in this paper titled “Meet the San Dieguito Union High School District candidates for Area 1,” one of the candidates opened his statement by claiming he is a nonpartisan candidate.
If that were true, why did he seek and receive the endorsement of the Republican Party of San Diego? To be truly nonpartisan and independent, wouldn’t a candidate forgo the endorsement and support of a political party? As a reminder, this is what the Republican Party of San Diego claims on its website:
“FIGHTING FOR OUR PRINCIPLES: When it comes to putting Republican ideas into action, the Republican Party of San Diego County gets it done, bringing together Republican activists, business leaders, candidates, and elected officials to advance conservative principles at all levels of government in San Diego County.” Some priorities listed by the party on their homepage include: “Protecting the most vulnerable among us, including the pre-born, providing school choice…strong faith institutions,” and more.
There is a difference between being nonpartisan and being endorsed by a political party to fight for the principles of the party. Claiming nonpartisanship should be supported by truth.
Elections have consequences. We urge voters to learn everything they can about candidates in this and other elections. The Republican Party of San Diego can choose not to endorse a candidate if the committee doubts the candidate’s credibility or can’t reach consensus. An endorsement speaks volumes. Voters might ask why, then, would a candidate claim otherwise?
Retired teacher, San Dieguito High School Academy,
Retired school board member, 1992-2016, Encinitas Union School District
Oct. 21 issue:
Dealing with cigarette butts
Even though I couldn’t participate in the last ocean cleanup due to walking and balance problems on sand, I realized I could do some clean-up work by picking up cigarette butts with tweezers (the idea for tweezers came from my collector husband: no need to use plastic gloves to handle others’ dirty butts) and put them in a washable bag to empty into non-recyclable garbage.
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