Morning Report: Encinitas Is Suing Prop. A Backers - Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: Encinitas Is Suing Prop. A Backers

Homes overlook San Elijo Lagoon / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

Late last year, a judge temporarily suspended Encinitas’ Prop. A, which let voters effectively veto plans for new housing. That cleared the way for Encinitas to finally comply with a state law requiring cities to identify locations to accommodate future growth.

But, like with most things involving Encinitas housing, the drama continues.

Jesse Marx and Kayla Jimenez detail the latest development in a new story: Encinitas is suing the residents behind Prop. A. City officials say they’re looking for clarity on the conflict between Prop. A and the state law that requires a housing plan. Before Prop. A was suspended, Encinitas voters rejected multiple plans that would have brought the city into compliance with state law.

“The reality is that we’re asking a judge to decide — as a matter of law — how we should proceed, and inviting both perspectives to officially weigh in,” Mayor Catherine Blakespear wrote in a message to residents.

It will shock few to learn that the group being sued doesn’t see it that way.

Attorney Everett Delano, whose firm helped write Prop. A, accused Encinitas of trying to silence its critics and described the lawsuit as an “affront” to democracy. 

For its part, the city is arguing that it had no choice but to file the lawsuit after a judge and state regulators agreed that Prop. A and state housing laws were in conflict. Blakespear said the complaint in court was a condition for getting the city’s latest housing plan approved. 

Stop Us if You’ve Heard This One Before: The Hotel Tax Hike Has Hit a Snag

A hotel-tax hike measure that’s long been Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s top priority will face yet another hurdle before making it on the ballot.

City attorneys asked the City Council to hold off on a scheduled Monday vote on the measure aiming to raise tourism taxes to pay for a Convention Center expansion, homeless services and road repairs after City Councilman Mark Kersey asked for tweaks to the proposed ballot question.

The city attorney’s office told the City Council that Kersey’s changes – which mainly added details on which groups will review spending and tax collections – will require a separate City Council vote to place the measure on the March 2020 ballot. Attorneys want to review the changes before they send them back to City Council. They expect to have them back to the City Council in two weeks.

The city must send any March ballot measures to the county Registrar of Voters by early December.

The City Council voted 5-4 in favor of Kersey’s motion to make the changes and bring the measure back for another City Council vote.

Among those voting no were City Councilman Chris Ward and City Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry, a mayoral candidate. Both have said the measure should appear on the November 2020 ballot to comply with Measure L, a 2016 measure that called for citizen initiatives to appear before voters in November.

Campaign spokesman Greg Block said the business and labor coalition behind the measure is confident the City Council will vote to place the measure on the ballot well before the deadline.

Corinne Wilson, a spokeswoman for City Council President Georgette Gómez, said Gómez’s office intends to schedule the vote “as quickly as possible” to ensure it can make the ballot.

County Pays to Settle Public Records Suit

San Diego County agreed to pay the First Amendment Coalition nearly $100,000 for attorney fees and costs associated with a public records lawsuit. 

In 2018, the nonprofit public interest group sued the district attorney’s office for attempting to withhold records detailing allegations of sexual misconduct by public employees. The DA, according to the coalition, acknowledged that the records existed but offered summaries rather than the actual files. 

“From inception, this lawsuit was as much about a legal principle as the records themselves,” FAC executive director David Snyder said in a statement. “The district attorney’s assertion that summaries are sufficient would turn the public records act on its head, allowing agencies to spin facts to their liking. If unchallenged, this position would open the door to wide abuses.”

Steve Walker, a DA spokesman, told Voice of San Diego that his office takes the California Public Records Act very seriously and works to be open and transparent when fielding requests. 

“Sometimes those requests intersect with employee privacy and personnel records, creating a gray area,” he said in a statement. “We appreciate getting the court’s interpretation in this area of the law.”

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby, Jesse Marx and Lisa Halverstadt, and edited by Scott Lewis.

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