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.