Conundrums, Bikeways, and More

I think the speaker for the “moment of reflection” at last Wednesday’s City Council meeting was referring to immigration policy when he got my attention away from my crossword puzzle. “A true conundrum,” for the City of Escondido, he pronounced, where one government entity, through litigation, required one course of behavior towards visitors while another government entity wished the City to allow all visitors to roam about freely and not be detained. It’s a conundrum to me why he would bring up the matter in that vague way. Perhaps he truly would like to see the matter harmoniously resolved. Seems unlikely at this time, with this Council.

Before the Council got down to business, there was a presentation about the “A Step Beyond” program at the California Center for the Arts (CCAE). Thirty-five children, from Escondido, San Marcos, and Vista are chosen, by audition, to participate in an afterschool dance program. The Executive Director, Frank Foster, presented a video of the program which you can watch at: http://a-step-beyond.org/a-step-beyond-video/ . Foster thanked Councilwoman Olga Diaz for her help in getting the program started. I watched the faces of Mayor Sam Abed, Deputy Mayor Mike Morasco, Councilman John Masson, Councilman Ed Gallo, as well as Diaz during the presentation, and the only one of them to look at all interested was Diaz. After the presentation, Abed thanked Foster for helping the City fulfill its promise to make education a part of the CCAE’s benefits to the community. Too bad Abed cannot see that such spending city funds on such programs would be worthwhile.

Item number 7 on the Consent Calendar: SANDAG Transnet Active Transportation Program Grant – Escondido Creek Bikeway Missing Link Project and Budget Adjustment was pulled by Abed. I was surprised to learn that Abed saw himself as always a strong advocate for bikes. Morasco would like to see the bicycle path go through the tunnel of the flood control channel under Center City Pkwy. to add some adventure to the pathway. Seems to me, the tunnel would be safer than the proposed path along Broadway and Valley Pkwy.

The approval of item number 12, Disposition of Property, 700 West Grand Ave., was the best news of the evening. This is the old police headquarters. Integra Properties Funding LLC will purchase the property and build a mixed used development if all goes well. The sketches of the development looked promising, and would certainly be an improvement on the current war school (or whatever) currently occupying the property. As the staff presentation was being made, Abed went scurrying from City Attorney to City Manager with whispered conversation. Turned out he “suddenly” figured out that his property might be close enough to 700 W. Grand to amount to a conflict of interest, and he recused himself and left the chambers, much to the delight of Deputy Mayor Morasco. Diaz hoped that the developer would mirror the improvements to the Mercado district. She also hoped the Council would use the money from the sell to pay down Prop. P debt rather than put it into the City’s reserves.

The other good news of the evening was the Council’s approval of the 2013 Update of the San Diego Integrated Regional Water Management Plan, which will allow Escondido access to “Grant Opportunities from the California Department of Water Resources”. Knowing the history of the Council majority’s opposition to this plan, it was interesting to watch as they reluctantly voted to approve the update. (see: http://ablueviewescondido.com/2015/03/12/invective-and-ignorance/ .)

Tomorrow night’s agenda looks fairly short, but you never know when something interesting will happen. Will keep you posted if it does.

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Home Again

I finished my last blog on Wednesday, June 24, while in Milton Keynes. I decided to wait until the next day, when we would be in the flat we had rented in Knightsbridge, London, to look it over and add a few things. When we got to London I found my little laptop was dead, deader than a doorstop. I thought it might be the adaptor, so went to a computer store to see if a new one would work. No such luck. Since it takes me about five minutes to text a message like “will call you at 5:00 pm”, texting my blog on my smart phone wasn’t really an option. Yesterday, (we got home Wednesday night,) I took it into Fry’s as it was still under warranty. It will take four to eight weeks to be repaired. So, will try to sum up our trip now.

You may wonder, as did my great-niece Alison, why we wished to visit Milton Keynes. Milton Keynes is one of the “new cities” that encompassed several older communities, built in the 1960’s to relieve the housing congestion in London. Its architecture is about as interesting as Bakersfield’s. We were there because one of those older communities digested by this “new city” is Bletchley Park. If you saw “The Imitation Game”, you will be familiar with what went on in Bletchley Park. The place has a special interest to Roger, who worked in intelligence in the 1960’s when he was in the USAF.

We Left Bude on Monday, June 22, and took the very narrow road around the Atlantic side of Cornwall to Land’s End. It is a spectacular coast line. We stopped for lunch in Penzance, but we saw no pirates, though we ate at the Pirates’ Inn. We went on to Carylon Bay, near St. Austell, where we spent the night. We had time to go for a walk on the beach, and did so. The beach was reached by a concrete sidewalk and steps. When we reached the bottom of the stairs, we were surprised to see a massive construction project underway. A local woman who was out for a walk, advised us to “pay no heed” to all the mess, and just look out at the beautiful coast. The beach is privately owned, and the public could be denied access at any time the owner wished to do so—as a sign at the head of the stairs advised all visitors. An old entertainment hall had been demolished, and now a “mixed-use” residential/commercial project is being built. According to the local, it has taken about fifteen years to reach the “shovel-ready” point. Here’s a 2006 article about the project: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/property/3349187/Tide-turns-against-private-beaches.html And, here’s a site with a slightly different take on developer rights: http://www.carlyonbaywatch.com/page_22.html You might notice some resemblance to similar conflicts in San Diego County.

The next day we visited the Lost Gardens of Heligan. My favorite part in the garden wasn’t the famed “green” statuary, but the field of poppies and the emus. Next we toured the Cotehele estate, a unique Tudor estate that survived the English Civil War. Then on to Teignmouth, Devon (near Torquay) where my nephew has lived for almost twenty years. We all went out to dinner at the same excellent restaurant we went to with my nephew and his family when we last visited Teignmouth in 2002. The restaurant is on its third generation of owner/chefs.

The next day we drove across the Salisbury Plain up to Milton Keynes, where we visited Bletchley Park. We had thought to revisit Stonehenge, but one look at the crowded parking lot, and mile-long queue, changed our mind. When we last visited Stonehenge, you could almost drive up to it, and see it for miles. Now they have the road blocked, and if you want to see it, you will need to walk about a mile. The entrance fee has gone up considerably too.

Next blog, London.

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Notes from Europe 2

Frankfurt am Main, Tuesday, June 9, 2015.

The drive from Dresden to Frankfurt, yesterday, was through a green mosaic of fields and forests. We had a bit more time to enjoy these views than anticipated due to the abundance of road maintenance projects. We stopped at Bad Homburg outside of Frankfurt where my husband lived in 1968, while in the USAF. Bad Homburg is now basically a suburb of Frankfurt rather than the small commuter village of fifty years ago, but still a very charming place.

Frankfurt is a mix of skyscrapers and reconstructed 18th and 19th century buildings, hence the nicknames “Mainhattan” and “Chicago am Main”.  Last night we ate at a restaurant on the Frankfurt City Center plaza. There was a large crowd joined in a sort of line dance to live music. We asked a young man what it was all about, and he explained that it was a celebration of the Kurd Party’s victory in Sunday’s elections in Turkey. There is a large Turkish immigrant population in Germany, including, evidently, many Kurds. Throughout our dinner, we could hear triumphant speeches and chanting, that only seemed to be getting started as we finished eating. Demonstrations in Berlin, celebrations in Frankfurt, we’ve seen more political civic participation (albeit for non-German politics,) in a week than have in a year at home.

The two German political issues we’ve heard about are: one, the burden of Greece’s bailout on Germany’s pocketbook; two, the problem of the striking childcare workers. The 240,000 Childcare workers’ union has agreed to mediation after a three-week strike http://www.dw.de/mediation-to-halt-german-day-care-worker-strike-for-now/a-18495655, but the problem of Greece seems to be pretty hopeless. http://eedition.inyt.com/epaper/viewer.aspx>  and http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/09/opinion/roger-cohen-greece-the-greek-trap.html?_r=0 .  (One of the things we consider an added bonus to European travel is the availability of the International Herald Tribune, now the International New York Times—excellent paper.)

Today we visited the Stadelsches Kunstinstitut with its wonderful art collection including Botticelli’s portrait of Giuliano Medici’s mistress, and Vermeer’s “The Geographer”. We were especially lucky to go there during a special exhibit “Monet and the Birth of Impressionism.”

Tomorrow we’re driving to Amsterdam. I have enjoyed our stay in Germany, with its great people, beautiful sites and art, but most of all its great food. I had given up red meat and alcohol for about three months, but a week of amazing sausages, sauerbraten, sauerkraut, schnitzel, spargel (asparagus), wine, not to mention chocolate and streudel may not have improved my health, but has definitely improved my disposition.

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Eden no more

Between September of 2000, and December of 2002, my husband’s work brought us to live in Billericay, Essex, England—about 30 miles northeast of London. We could catch the train, and be in London in half an hour. I got to know London better than I know San Diego.

When I came home, I felt I should become more involved in my community. With that end in view, I attended a meeting of the Escondido Planning Commission on January 28, 2003. It was well attended by citizens of Elfin Forest/Harmony Grove/Eden Valley who were handing out buttons with a red slash over SOI—meaning no sphere of influence. They were there to convince the Escondido Planning Commission to vote to take their communities out of Escondido’s sphere of influence. As I entered the meeting, they convinced me to sport one of their buttons, because, they said, it would protect their rural lifestyle. I’m always one to support preserving rural lifestyles, because that also tends to protect native habitat for wildlife.

I listened to the citizens speak. Their anger with Escondido was palpable. As the night wore on, I began to pick up on two facts. First, if governed by the County’s rules, 730 homes could be built. Second, if brought into Escondido, and governed by the 1990 General Plan, the homes would be limited to around 350. When those facts sunk into my understanding, I took off the button. The Planning Commission voted, I think unanimously, to keep the communities within Escondido’s sphere of influence.

So why were the good folks of Harmony Grove et al. so insistent upon leaving Escondido’s sphere of influence? In part because of the threat of industrial development, and in part due to the masterful public relations strategy of New Urban West.

First, a little history. Up until September of 2012, Eden Valley was a very rural area, with two large egg ranches, housing over 100,000 chickens. Here is a satellite view of the area, taken in 2003:

Harmony grove picture 2Now, chicken farming isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It involves a lot of hard work, and market prices vary from day to day. It’s hard to plan ahead. So, if you were such a farmer, the idea of selling your property to a developer to build industrial buildings or houses is fairly appealing—could provide you with a nice retirement. The Escondido City Councils of the 1970s and 1980s (well, today’s Council too, for that matter,) were in sync with the chicken farmers, they too felt industrial zoning in the area would be a great idea. In 1980, the Council wanted to expand their industrial zone to include the Eden Valley, and also their sewer system.

Here is a satellite picture showing the proximity of the Eden Valley to Escondido’s industrial area:

Harmony Grove pictures-1

(You will note that the area looks much browner—more on that in another blog.)            Just due east of the Rd. in the Harmony Grove Rd. label is the Hale Ave. Resource Recovery Facility (sewer plant). You can also see that Escondido’s old industrial area, is not far frm the nice flat area west of Country Club Dr., and the Council was eager to add more industrial area to Escondido.

The residents of Eden Valley didn’t think this was such a good idea, successfully sued the City, and stopped the project.

The egg ranchers et al. did not give up.They tried again, and again. In the 1990s they considered starting a composting operation, but were turned down by the County after their neighbors rebelled against the notion of a giant compost heap next door. Then along came a game changer. In 1998 Escondido’s Prop. S passed, which meant that changing the zoning in Eden Valley from rural to industrial would require approval from the voters of Escondido. Some did try. On the November, 2000, ballot there were two propositions K and P that would have changed the zoning in the Harmony Grove area from single family residential—which would have allowed 46 homes—to industrial allowing 147,200 sq. feet of industrial development. Props. K and P failed to pass, and failed rather spectacularly. http://www.smartvoter.org/2000/11/07/ca/sd/meas/K/ and http://www.smartvoter.org/2000/11/07/ca/sd/meas/P/ .

Enter New Urban West (NUW). NUW also eyed that lovely flatland under the egg ranches for development, not industrial development, but residential, some 730 homes. Now, as I mentioned, at that time the 1990 Escondido General Plan would have allowed some 350 homes in the area, while the County, then developing their 2020 plan, was proposing some 7 homes per acre throughout the Eden Valley, Harmony Grove, Elfin Forrest area. So NUW had a problem. If they proposed annexing the area into Escondido, (which would allow them access to Escondido’s sewer treatment facility,) they would either be limited to 350 homes, or take their chances with another zone change proposition put to the voters. If they chose to stay in the County, they might have to build their own sewer system. (The explanation of that “might” will follow in another blog.) NUW though it best to stay in the County. So the NUW PR team got to work. They met with neighbors, and asked what sort of development they would like. Horse trails. All the equestrian types wanted more places to ride. So horse trails it was. NUW developed a plan that was to be a a community complete with a “small village center with a fire house, general store, shops, a few offices and a nine-acre equestrian park.” Also, “[a] six-acre park for kids…near the heart of the development.” http://legacy.utsandiego.com/news/northcounty/20030827-9999_1mi27grove.html Brilliant, as my British friends would say.

Many of the neighbors were convinced by NUW that the 730 would be it. All the lands surrounding this new “village” would be left alone. The community would be most densely developed near the “village center” and become less and less dense the greater the distance from that center, phasing into the semi-rural neighborhood that already existed. There were dissenting voices among the neighbors. Some pointed out that if the area stayed within Escondido’s sphere of influence the number of homes that could be built would be significantly less than that allowed in the county—and that number would be pretty well ensured by Prop. S. Those disssenters also pointed out that there was no guarantee that the 730 homes would be “it”. But those dissenting voices were hard to hear on January 28, 2003. It was the NUW fans who monopolized that Planning Commission meeting. It was those fans that convinced the state agency, the Local Agency Formation Commission, to rule in September, 2003, to remove the area from Escondido’s sphere of influence. http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2003/sep/19/harmony-grove-freed-from-city/

To be continued…

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Charter City redo

There was a prayer at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, and I had the satisfaction of sitting it out—along with several others. The minister did mention Jesus, but his prayer was mainly for guidance for those present, and did not specify a particular neighborhood as especially evil, as was done on the March 19 meeting.

 

A group of speakers from Justice Overcoming Borders spoke, asking the Council to cease its program of police cooperation with ICE. They noted that this program destroyed the trust of police that is crucial to effective policing. One of the speakers, William Nava, startled me, a bit, with his claim that blacks never marry, that whites didn’t produce enough children, and so the country needed Latino immigration to provide an adequate work force. As someone who understands that overpopulation of our species is the greatest threat to all life on earth, I always find the insistence that a growing population is necessary for a healthy economy troubling. If we do not stabilize human population, and, indeed, over time, reduce it through natural attrition and reduced birth rates, we will use too much of our planet’s resources and endanger all life on earth. Well, actually, we are already doing so, some 25,000 species become extinct every year. Mexico’s reduced birth rate is one of the factors behind reduced immigration from that country.

 

The last of three public hearing agenda items was the Charter City Proposal. Comparing the public hearing on the Charter City Proposal, with the workshop on that proposal, I’m at a loss to see the difference in format. Asst. City Attorney Jennifer McCain presented the case for the Charter.

 

There were thirteen citizens who spoke—all against the proposal. At the workshop, there were four—also all against the proposal. The citizens noted that Escondido voters had decisively voted against this charter in 2012. Pam Stahl said that, if the Council majority insisted on a charter, such a charter should ensure that any change to the General Plan should be subject to approval by the voters of Escondido. She also said that any such charter should ensure that growth be made to pay for itself and that the measurement of that expense of growth be determined routinely.

 

Nina Deerfield remarked that the current City Council majority was clouded by cronyism—citing the closing of the Library on East Valley Pkwy, and subsequent use by their “good ole boy” friend, Dennis Snyder for his Heritage Digital Academy. She ended with the observation that they couldn’t write a better constitution for the City than the laws that have governed the City well since 1888.

 

Tom Cowan also noted that their charter had been voted down in 2012, because it was a bad charter.

 

Pat Mues queried why McCain was presenting a program about the benefits of becoming a Charter City to the Escondido Chamber of Commerce, at a closed venue—open only to Chamber of Commerce members who paid. She opined that the City should offer such a program to the public, free of charge. Hmmm. So City staff member McCain is promoting the Charter. Is she being paid for her services? If so, will the City pay for someone else to argue the demerits of a charter? The City was sued, and found guilty of presenting biased information in the 2012 election, is this not a similar presentation? Mues went on to argue that passing the Charter would give the City Council power to ignore the General Plan, and change zoning, ignore the requirement of General Law cities to have competitive bidding, change the waiting period for city ordinances to become effective, the number required to form a quorum of the City Council, change the time required to approve and implement city ordinances, and even the time and date of municipal elections. I’m not doing justice to all her amazing research, I refer to her blog, www.escondido2014.com.

 

Roy Garrett noted that he had lived in Escondido, “mostly happily” since 1969. He observed that there had been a change in the sense of community in the town since the proposed rental ordinance that had been proposed by Councilman Ed Gallo, Mayor Sam Abed and others several years ago. There had been a distinct movement to the right of the political spectrum; Escondido is now the eleventh most conservative city in the country. Passing the Charter would give more power to the conservative council majority. He cited the Council’s arbitrary closing of the East Valley Pkwy. Library as a reason that many were leery of giving the Council more power.

 

Andrea Seavey echoed other’s concerns that the conservative majority on the Council in no way represented the population of Escondido citing 2010 census figures.

 

Chris Nava reminded the Council that, basically the same Charter, had failed in 2012, with 53% of voters against it, and that his Charter had no resident input.

 

Patricia Borchmann had perhaps the best question of the evening—how much was this revote on the Charter costing Escondido taxpayers? At Abed’s urging, McCain said the expense was minimal at this point, when Borchmann asked the pertinent question “what about staff time?” That caused some obvious discomfort in both Abed and City Staff—turns out there is no computation as to how much time is actually spent by staff on this proposal.

 

Joanne Tenney also felt there would be too much power given to the City Council. Mark Skok asked why go to the time and expense of putting this Charter on the ballot again after the voters had said no.  He referred the Council to the City of La Mirada who had determined that there was no economic advantage to becoming a Charter City. Laura Kohl said there had been no groundswell to revisit the Charter question, when they felt no impetus to revisit the closing of the library. Clarke Dailey asked why now? Why this Charter? And noted this was a bad Charter. He received considerable applause. Abed allowed that one applause was OK.

The public having spoken, the Council had its turn. Councilman Mike Morasco had summed up the public comments as a series of questions to the staff. The staff was quick to assure the Council majority that the Charter would not (necessarily) mean the City could run up a deficit, change voting times, change competitive bidding, etc. Councilwoman Olga Diaz asked that before the next public hearing on the Charter, the city provide background information. The Council majority all agreed that the fears voiced by the public were groundless. Masson went so far as to state that anything that was not specifically specified in the Charter, would be covered by state law.

 

Then something very unusual happened. Abed opened up the public discussion again. First he recognized William Nava, who had become so irritated during the discussion that he had yelled at the Council. Nava repeated the argument that the Charter had been voted down in 2012. Then Abed recognized Borchmann who deferred to Mues. Mues, read from the League of California Cities website­­–noting that they all agreed this was a good website, noting that anything that was deemed a municipal affair, as opposed to a state affair, could be legislated by the council of a charter city. City Attorney, Jeff Epp, actually agreed with Mues—but, of course, that would never happen with this Council. They would never change the date of elections, etc.

 

The last public speaker, Dan Robertson (sp?) noted that the reopening of the public discussion was the most productive part of any of the Council meeting he had ever attended. Diaz agreed. So do I.

 

So, the Council majority argues that the Charter will give them local control—but really no more control as a Council than they now have. One wonders why? As others have observed, the obvious answer is to bring out their base to the polls. They will advertise this as a way to get out from under the evil, Democratic state control. They will advertise it will be a blow against unions.

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Weeds, Bugs, Birds, and Bikes

My favorite moment at tonight’s Community Services Commission meeting, was when one resident suggested that perhaps the now defunct Escondido Country Club golf course might be a better home for the BMX raceway than Kit Carson Park. I’m afraid I really did laugh out loud—getting some strange looks from the young BMX enthusiasts sitting nearby. Really, can you imagine the outcry from the affluent, retired Country Club folks at such a suggestion? 

I tried to keep tabs on the speakers. Giving the benefit of a doubt to some speakers, who didn’t identify themselves as residents or non-residents of Escondido, and counting them as residents, there were 14 residents for the BMX raceway in Kit Carson, and 17 residents against the proposal. But one of those residents against was Grant Taylor, President of Friends of Kit Carson Park, representing some 500 residents who are against the raceway. There were 14 other speakers, non-resident BMX enthusiasts, all for the project.

I was surprised, as were most of the Commissioners, that the project’s sponsor, Vince McCurdy, made no presentation to the Commission. He was one of the non-resident speakers for the project. The City Staff didn’t have much to say about the project either. The argument for the project seemed to distill into what a great, family oriented sport BMX racing was, keeping people fit and active. Mr. McCurdy was not a very good model for the sport. Some of the non-resident speakers said they would be sure to spend money in Escondido when they came to the raceway, buying gas, food, and even lodging. Well, maybe, or maybe they’ll stop off in Rancho Bernardo or San Marcos on their way home.

The most often repeated argument against the raceway was that Kit Carson Park was not the place for it. The park was already heavily used, and the raceway would bring lights, noise and traffic. The strongest argument was that public parkland, belonging to the people of Escondido, should not “improved” with the building of the raceway to the tune of $113,500 city dollars, then be leased out to a commercial enterprise. As Roy Garrett so astutely pointed out, $60,000 of the $84,600 the American Bicycle Association (ABA) is to contribute to the “improvements” is really the lease amount. And, I found it interesting that McCurdy et.al. would consider a computer and a printer to be part of the $24,600 “improvement” expenses the ABA is contributing.

The clash of interests voiced in tonight’s meeting is a direct reflection of a basic divide in American culture. On the one hand you have the attitude of the ten-year old speaker in favor of the raceway, who dismissed the proposed site for the raceway as having “…nothing there but weeds and bugs.” On the other hand, Jeff Ebright, President of the Palomar Audubon Society, values the park as the home of a hundred different bird species, a home that would be degraded by the lights and noise of the proposed raceway. A man who can see the value of “weeds and bugs”.

In the end, there was no decision. Commissioner Bologna thanked all the speakers, and said he felt good arguments had been made on both sides. Commissioner Russell said that she really didn’t have enough information about other possible sites for the project, and wished to table the matter. Commissioner Simonson said that, really, all these little issues should be left up to the City Council, and the Commission should just recommend the project, and let the Council make the final decision. He moved to do so. His motion was not seconded. Russell then moved to table the matter, and her motion carried. This was followed by a discussion of when to meet again, January 23, is the next scheduled meeting of the Commission. The Commissioners all agreed that was not soon enough, so an earlier date will try to be arranged. So, stay tuned for “Weeds, Bugs, Birds, and Bikes”, Part II.

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Weeds, Bugs, Birds, and Bikes

My favorite moment at tonight’s Community Services Commission meeting, was when one resident suggested that perhaps the now defunct Escondido Country Club golf course might be a better home for the BMX raceway than Kit Carson Park. I’m afraid I really did laugh out loud—getting some strange looks from the young BMX enthusiasts sitting nearby. Really, can you imagine the outcry from the affluent, retired Country Club folks at such a suggestion?

 

I tried to keep tabs on the speakers. Giving the benefit of a doubt to some speakers, who didn’t identify themselves as residents or non-residents of Escondido, and counting them as residents, there were 14 residents for the BMX raceway in Kit Carson, and 17 residents against the proposal. But one of those residents against was Grant Taylor, President of Friends of Kit Carson Park, representing some 500 residents who are against the raceway. There were 14 other speakers, non-resident BMX enthusiasts, all for the project.

 

I was surprised, as were most of the Commissioners, that the project’s sponsor, Vince McCurdy, made no presentation to the Commission. He was one of the non-resident speakers for the project. The City Staff didn’t have much to say about the project either. The argument for the project seemed to distill into what a great, family oriented sport BMX racing was, keeping people fit and active. Mr. McCurdy was not a very good model for the sport. Some of the non-resident speakers said they would be sure to spend money in Escondido when they came to the raceway, buying gas, food, and even lodging. Well, maybe, or maybe they’ll stop off in Rancho Bernardo or San Marcos on their way home.

 

The most often repeated argument against the raceway was that Kit Carson Park was not the place for it. The park was already heavily used, and the raceway would bring lights, noise and traffic. The strongest argument was that public parkland, belonging to the people of Escondido, should not “improved” with the building of the raceway to the tune of $113,500 city dollars, then be leased out to a commercial enterprise. As Roy Garrett so astutely pointed out, $60,000 of the $84,600 the American Bicycle Association (ABA) is to contribute to the “improvements” is really the lease amount. And, I found it interesting that McCurdy et.al. would consider a computer and a printer to be part of the $24,600 “improvement” expenses the ABA is contributing.

 

The clash of interests voiced in tonight’s meeting is a direct reflection of a basic divide in American culture. On the one hand you have the attitude of the ten-year old speaker in favor of the raceway, who dismissed the proposed site for the raceway as having “…nothing there but weeds and bugs.” On the other hand, Jeff Ebright, President of the Palomar Audubon Society, values the park as the home of a hundred different bird species, a home that would be degraded by the lights and noise of the proposed raceway. A man who can see the value of “weeds and bugs”.

 

In the end, there was no decision. Commissioner Bologna thanked all the speakers, and said he felt good arguments had been made on both sides. Commissioner Russell said that she really didn’t have enough information about other possible sites for the project, and wished to table the matter. Commissioner Simonson said that, really, all these little issues should be left up to the City Council, and the Commission should just recommend the project, and let the Council make the final decision. He moved to do so. His motion was not seconded. Russell then moved to table the matter, and her motion carried. This was followed by a discussion of when to meet again, January 23, is the next scheduled meeting of the Commission. The Commissioners all agreed that was not soon enough, so an earlier date will try to be arranged. So, stay tuned for “Weeds, Bugs, Birds, and Bikes”, Part II.

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