North County Report: Moving Encinitas Toward a Housing Plan, Again
The Issa-Applegate race is still up in the air, turf fields across San Diego County fell apart prematurely, Del Mar CEO is out after Trump threat and more in our weekly roundup of news from North County.
Though voters in Encinitas rejected Measure T, a state-required plan showing where new housing will be built, the city and Measure T’s opponents are looking to create a path forward.
At the Nov. 9 City Council meeting, Bruce Ehlers, a former planning commission member who headed the No on T effort, said Measure T would have irreversibly changed the small-town character of Encinitas. He offered his help in drafting a better plan, and the Council is expected to green-light Councilwoman Catherine Blakespear’s request to work with him at the Council meeting this week.
“We firmly believe the majority of citizens, our campaigners and the City Council want to preserve Encinitas’ small-scale, beach-town character,” Ehlers said. “I’m here to find a suitable plan – a better plan for the housing element.”
During the campaign against Measure T, Ehlers and his group said the plan added too many homes, at densities that were too high for Encinitas, and that a better deal would work the goal down to something more palatable for no-growth Encinitans.
We found Ehlers was misleading voters when he campaigned against the latest housing element, but it appears the city is willing to bring him on board to create a new plan that satisfies voters, and meets the state’s requirements.
At the Nov. 15 meeting, the City Council will also discuss two lawsuits that the city previously settled – one with developer David Meyer, and another with the Building Industry Association – which both compelled the city to put the housing element on the November’s ballot.
Fields Failed, But Turf Company Won Big in SD County
Schools around the county have been looking to replace grass fields with artificial turf, and one manufacturer, FieldTurf, has been a major player.
The company has received nearly $33 million from local school districts in the past decade, but defective FieldTurf fields are falling apart across the nation.
In San Diego County, that includes 20 fields that are still under warranty, but have needed major work, Voice’s Ashly McGlone discovered. As districts sought to deal with the worn-out fields, rather than replace a product that was known to have issues, FieldTurf representatives asked for more money to upgrade them.
Carlsbad High School paid $790,000 for its turf field, but five years later, the field was thin and beat-up, so the company made the school an offer: Get more of the same product that failed for free, or buy an upgrade.
“Carlsbad opted for turf that wouldn’t wear out prematurely. In total, over six years, the school paid FieldTurf $942,000 for two artificial grass fields even though the first round of turf was defective and had an eight-year warranty,” McGlone writes.
The company also used some legally questionable tactics to drum up new business.
One salesman appears to have offered a kickback to a teacher he knew at El Camino High School in Oceanside, if the teacher would help persuade district officials to approve a contract with FieldTurf.
Still Counting Issa and Applegate
The race for California’s 49th Congressional District is still on between Rep. Darrell Issa and his Democratic challenger Doug Applegate, over a week after the election.
The registrars of voters in Orange County and San Diego County continue to release updates, but by the end of Tuesday, Issa had 114,776 votes to Applegate’s 109,719 – a difference of 5,057 votes, according to the returns on the counties’ respective sites.
The Union-Tribune’s Joshua Stewart writes that initial returns showed a much narrower gap between the two candidates, because the latest results from Orange County weren’t appearing, where Issa has fared stronger.
Oceanside Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery, a main Applegate supporter, has taken to Facebook to criticize the OC Registrar of Voters, saying it has had problems since before the election.
“FAIL!” he wrote, in a post calling on volunteers to monitor the count.
The Seaside Courier reports that Issa, in his classic non-partisan tone, is looking for help to pay for a recount.
“See, I won my re-election campaign fairly and outright, but now the Democrats are calling for recount in hopes to cancel out my constituent’s (sic) voices and replace their chosen Representative with a Leftist Democrat,” he wrote.
Also in the News
• Just about everyone involved in the Solana Beach Transit Center redevelopment is responding to accusations of “backroom deals.” (The Coast News)
• The CEO of a Del Mar-based company is out after posting threats against Donald Trump to Facebook. (Union-Tribune)
• Del Mar and Rancho Santa Fe were among the top donors in the county to Trump’s campaign. (Union-Tribune)
• The final defendant in Oceanside’s Libby Lake shootings has been sentenced. (Union-Tribune)
• Escondido officials hope the old Palomar will contribute to the city’s downtown economy and vibe, as developers make a bid to acquire the site from Palomar Health. (Union-Tribune)