The City Clerk’s office will provide the 460s in digital files.

By 5 pm today, July 31, candidates are required by law to turn in their 460s which will give information on their Campaign Contributions for January through June of 2014. You can see the ones from last year by clicking here or on the Campaign Contributions 2013 tab at the top of the page.

Last year, I received digital files from candidates willing to send them along, had some kindly dropped by my home and for the others I went down to the City Clerk’s office, paid for copies at 15 cents a page, scanned them myself and then posted them on 2014.  Well, late yesterday I got the good news from the City Clerk’s office that they “…will have electronic copies available upon request.”  electionThe filing deadline is 5 pm so I have my fingers crossed that they’ll be scanned in and available on Friday.  I’d also suggest the City Clerk’s office go one step further — just slap those files on the City website.  As you can see the top box on the left is titled “Escondido Elections 2014.” One line saying “Campaign Contributions: Form 460s” would fit in nicely between “City Council Members” and “Initiatives.” And it would save everybody, on the inside and the outside, of having to pester the City Clerk’s office for a set of documents that are perfect for a public posting. I will be posting them here after I get them.

I will get back to the Country Club soon.

A look at the major scenarios on the Escondido Country Club/Golf Course land.

I have considered all the possible outcomes for the former Escondido Country Club/Golf Course.  Here’s the possibilities I came up with.

#1 The Lakes Initiative is approved by the voters on November 4.  It allows for the building of up to 430 homes, along with the requirement to build a Community Center, Olympic-size pool and tennis courts and donate $1 million to an Open Space Preservation fund.  The Open Space ordinance is gone and the development moves ahead. Major issue still to be resolved is the lawsuit against the City.  I assume that would be dropped though legal fees would still be an issue.

#2 a The Lakes Initiative fails but Mr. Schlesinger wins the lawsuit against the City with the judge deciding it was a “taking.” That means the City will be required to pay Mr. Schlesinger for his land since the Fifth Amendment provides that private property shall not be taken without just compensation.  In this scenario, I assume Mr. Schlesinger would also be awarded legal fees.  Cost to the City would be $5 million to $50 million — depends upon the judge.  City could also appeal the decision.

#2 b  The Lakes Initiative fails but Mr. Schlesinger wins the lawsuit against the City with the judge deciding it was a “taking.”  The City cannot afford to pay the judgement and enters into negotiations with Mr. Schlesinger.  In 2016, a new Initiative — backed by the City Council — goes on the ballot and passes.  The property is developed.

#3 The Lakes initiative fails and Mr. Schlesinger loses the lawsuit against the City.  Mr. Schlesinger appeals the case which ties up the property for years.  In the meantime, the property is maintained as required by law — minimally.

#4  Mr. Schlesinger wins the lawsuit on appeal — in 2016.  The City is required to pay Mr. Schlesinger millions of dollars 10 – 50.

5#  Mr. Schlesinger loses the lawsuit on all appeals.  He chooses to keep the property and puts forth another Initiative to build on the property.  It passes and the development begins.

6#  Mr. Schlesinger is never allowed to build on the property.  He retains it, minimally maintained, surrounded by a chain link fence — for decades.

This property will never be the Escondido Country Club and Golf Course again. This City does not have the money to purchase the land nor does this City Council have any desire to take on the cost of maintaining a 110-acre park.  Are acres of brown grass surrounded by a chain link fence the best outcome for this property?  Voters will decide that on November 4.

There are two reports on the Economic Impact of the Lakes Initiative

The Report on the Lakes Initiative, written by Escondido City Staff, was presented to the Council on July 23rd.  By that time, the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Councilmembers had all received a copy of the developer’s report created by the consulting firm Keyser Marston, who has done work for the City of Escondido in the past.  I don’t know why this report was not referenced by anyone but thought it was something we should all take a look at, so here it is: Keyser Marston report  (The document also includes the letter sent from Mr. Schlesinger to Mayor Abed et al.)

This document does not get into the history of the dispute nor the history of the Escondido Country Club & Golf Course.  It also does not cover the obvious impacts to the existing community if the golf course/open space becomes a residential development.  The purpose of this report, as stated in the introduction …was to determine the economic benefit and fiscal impact of the proposed Project.  There is also a separate report analyzing the Schools Capacity.  I have pulled from both the City’s and the developers reports so folks could see the different perspectives on these issues.

Financial Impact 

The City’s report states: The project proposed by the SITR Initiative would potentially generate new General Fund revenue from property tax generated by the sales of the 430 new homes, potential increase in assessed valuation of land and improvements on other non-residential property (e.g. community center) should it remain as private property, and potential increased sales tax revenue from the new residents who are likely to shop in Escondido. Assuming an average sales price of $450,000-$500,000 for the 430 homes on the 3,650 – 7,000 SF lots, the annual property tax revenue at buildout is estimated at $251,000 – $279,000. This, as discussed in more detail below, would be offset by maintenance and operations costs for City facilities and services to serve the new residents, including police and fire service, road maintenance, library, parks and open space.  The Report does not provide any dollar amounts on most of those costs but does estimate the annual expenses for maintaining an Olympic pool at $210,00 to $500,000 based on numbers from San Marcos and Carlsbad. (pg 33 of Report.)

The Keyser Marston report provides this chart, which is explained thusly: The Project is projected to generate a total economic output of $83 The payroll portion of this total economic output is estimated to comprise approximately $17 million. Based on average wages for construction and professional services, KMA translates this total payroll expense to 310 person‐years of employment. econmicAssuming a two‐year build‐out of the Project, this employment results in an average of 155 full‐time equivalent workers per year. The one‐time impact of sales tax revenues to the City resulting from the purchase of building materials used to develop the Project is estimated to total $104,000. Fees paid for grading permits, plan check fees, and various fees associated with development of the Project are estimated at $18.7 million.

Once the project is completed, the report states: Project is projected to generate annual revenue to the General Fund estimated at about $639,000.Revenues are primarily driven by property taxes, property tax in lieu of vehicle license Fee (VLF), and sales tax which together account for approximately 75% of total General Fund revenues generated by the build out of the Project. Total annual service costs to the General Fund upon build out of the Project are estimated at $587,000 The major expense categories are Police (46% of total, Fire (22% of total) and Community Services (15& of total.) The Project is projected to have a net positive fiscal impact to the City of $52,000.

Each of the reports avoids those economic issues that are most troublesome for their particular viewpoints. The City does not enumerate either the Revenue generated by the building of the project or the ongoing annual revenue generated by these new folks shopping/dining/playing in Escondido.  (The latter is something this Council often mentions as one of the long-term benefits of development.) The Schlesinger report does not mention the Community Center/Pool — neither the $1 million donation to the City nor the cost/funding for annual maintenance. Neither of the Reports make note of the Community Benefit of a new community center, pool and tennis courts that will be built by the developer.  These are issues we should all want some clarity on.

Impact on Schools

On the number of students this development will generate, the two reports do not come close to the same number.   The City’s report says: School districts apply a dwelling unit student generation rate for calculating the number of students anticipated for attendance. Information from San Marcos Unified School District (below) has been utilized for calculating the number of students anticipated to be generated by SITR Initiative (information was not available from Escondido School Districts). However, given the similarities between the communities, the use of a single student generation rate is appropriate for general purposes. While there is insufficient time to conduct a detailed analysis of the impacts on each district from development called for by the SITR Initiative, the following table provides a general assumption of anticipated students based on the development of 430 new demand

The report from Mr. Schlesigner’s consultant states: It is understood that the Project would be sited in City of Escondido jurisdiction. School district jurisdictions in this area, however, do not appear to strictly follow City boundaries. Based on our review and allocation information provided by Shapouri, it appears that, barring any Project-related adjustment of school district boundaries, students from approximately 373 of the potential 430 residences planned for the Project would attend City of Escondido schools and students from approximately 57 residences would attend City of San Marcos schools. students other

So the City report comes up with 241 new students and the Developer’s report only 137. On this one, I would have to lean toward the Developer’s number because it was based on all the schools involved whereas the City used only San Marcos school information which has some very different rates from Escondido.

The City’s report does not mention the fees required to be paid by a developer for mitigating the cost of schooling new residents.  The Developer’s report notes that …the total amount of current schools fees required for a 430–unit residential development would total approximately 3.5 million dollars. These fees would provide adequate mitigation for those facilities with existing capacity.  They go on to say that the $3.5 million fee will increase by the time the project is completed.

I assume this information will have no effect on those who are against any building on the old Country Club/ Golf Course site but it may be helpful to those who want to get as much information as possible before making their decision on how to vote on the Lakes Initiative come November.  Stay tuned for more on the subject tomorrow.




The City Council could have given Staff more time to create their report.

At last week’s meeting of the City Council, Assistant Planning Director Petrek presented the Report on the Lakes Initiative.   He noted that the 30 days allotted to do the work did “not provide the typical time frame” for a thorough analysis.  I agree that 30 days is not much time to look at a project of this size and to provide complete information.  But here’s the thing, the City could have initiated this study months ago.  California Election Code 9212 allows for a Report to be initiated during the circulation of the petition. If the Council thought that would be jumping the gun, they could have waited until all the petitions were submitted when it would have been likely, based on the numbers, that there were sufficient signatures for the initiative to go on the ballot.  The petitions were delivered May 12 and there was a Council meeting on May 21.  If they’d requested the report then City Staff  would have had an extra month to do their research.

Instead, the Council waited as long as possible to request the Report — giving City Staff just 30 days and guaranteeing that detailed analysis could not be completed in that short a period of time.  In fact, although the City came up with their numbers on the subjects of Impacts on Open Space, School Districts, Water Usage and Waste Water Treatment, each of those had a similar proviso:

Due to the statutory time restriction on the report, there is insufficient time to conduct a detailed analysis of the open space impacts…
While there is insufficient time to conduct a detailed analysis of the impacts on each
[school] district from development…
While there is insufficient time to conduct a detailed analysis of the impacts to the city’s water treatment  plant…
While there is insufficient time to conduct a detailed analysis of the impacts to the HARRF regarding upgraded infrastructure needs…

The Mayor and City Council should always be looking for more information not less.  I think it would have been good if time had been taken last year to create a Report on the ECCHO initiative.  It still could have been adopted unanimously like it was, but I think it has led to unanswered questions that still plague us today.  And now with this report, there are gaps in information, incorrect information and a real lack of analysis of what I think we all should want to know.  With thorough Reports on both Initiatives we would all be better informed, more able to make a rational decision based upon facts and not just emotion.  I have been looking at the Lakes Initiative Report (36 pages but the exhibits are over 1100) as well as other documents.  Will be writing more about it tomorrow.

A Sunday “reading” recommendation

I like to listen to books when I’m driving.  But most of the time I’m just around town so the constant interruption of those short trips makes it hard to follow some novels.  So I am always looking for some good non-fiction that will hold my interest.  My latest find — which I just returned to the Escondido Library — is LONDONERS by Craig Taylor. londoners It is dozens of short “interviews” with everyday Londoners,  From the guy who handles the Lost & Found for the London Transit Authority to a local dominatrix to a Pakistani immigrant to all sorts of people — you get to hear about their lives. (They are not taped interviews but rather actors both male and female telling the stories as if they were the people. Maybe 8 actors in all and odd as it may sound, it works.) It is perfect for the car because it is like listening to short stories.  Some made me laugh out loud, others were quite sad and there were a some that were boring.  But those were few and far between — and I skipped past them.  I loved this book — it does come in a print form but I think the audio is much more fun — and I recommend it happily.  Although it certainly talks about London, many of the stories are universal and could easily have been told by people living in any major city.  I encourage you to listen to it — it will help you realize all we have in common.

El Caballo Park always has fun events. Come out Sunday 11 – 2 to see the dogs and horses.

EVENT27El Caballo Park Conservancy is presenting A FREE DAY IN EL CABALLO PARK for friends & families on Sunday, July 27 from 11 am to 2 pm. All are welcome to attend.  The goal of El Caballo is to build an equine and canine focussed public park suitable for therapeutic activities for disabled children, adults & the military. Learn more about the future of the park in The El Caballo Park Masterplan Report and at their website ELCABALLOPARK. ORG.

horseI was not familiar with the Escaramuza so did a little Googling and found the website of photographer Martin Ranger.  This is a tiny snippet from one of the photographs he took at a 2012 competition in Pico Rivera Arena.  Getting a chance to watch young women like this is reason enough for me to brave the heat and go to El Caballo Park on Sunday.  Hope to see you there.

Full Cost Recovery leaves little room for a program like Tiny Tots.

 My first post on Tiny Tots on Tuesday, began with the Mayor’s statement at the May 7th Council meeting:

Mayor Abed: I would like to start just to let you know about the Tiny Tots program and I think many of you are so passionate about it. There has been a lot of social media on that, rightfully so, but that was on some unauthorized leak of information to the social media on this program. We did discuss this in closed session and there was some misunderstanding between staff and council about the magnitude of the funding gap. In our opinion, or at least in my mind, it was $200,000 but after doing more research and talking to our staff I think that amount is closer to $20,000…I think the Tiny Tots program should continue and the City Manager will be handling those based upon this new information to make sure this valuable program continues in our city.

Well that was certainly good news as you can see from these excerpts from Emails among Community Services and Finance on May 8 and 9

May 8 12:20 pm  From Finance to Administrative services Subject: Tiny Tots Program
Based on the Mayor’s statement that was made during last night’s Council meeting about not eliminating the Tiny Tots program, is it okay to go ahead and work with Recreation and update the budget document to reflect this change?

May 8 1:58 pm From Finance to Community Services  Subject: RE: Tiny Tots Program
I just wanted to confirm a couple of items regarding adding the Tiny Tots program back into the budget before we finalize the preliminary budget…

May 8 12:25 pm  From Administrative Service to Finance Subject: RE: Tiny Tots Program
“…the current staffing for the program will remain the same.”

May  8  5:40 pm  From Community Services to Recreation Subject: RE Tiny Tots
“I am at liberty to let the [Tiny Tots] staff know their jobs are saved…correct?

May  9  1:05 pm  From Community Services to Recreation Subject: RE: Tiny Tots program
“Yes their jobs are saved and [we] will be putting them back into the budget.

So Tiny Tots was out of the budget and was put back into the budget because of the outcry from the community.  And let’s be clear, that only happened because people found out the program was slated to be eliminated and they stepped forward at a crucial time.  (And lucky for them it’s an election year and every vote counts — including Tiny Tots parents and alumni.) But if the information had been withheld, there could well have  been nothing in the Agenda Packet for the final budget hearing on June 11 that would have noted that Tiny Tots was being chopped.  And if that hadn’t been known, there might have been no one protesting and Tiny Tots would be gone.

We should all demand more information throughout the Budget process. There is no reason there couldn’t be more hearings at earlier dates which would allow the residents to know what was being considered and be able to weigh in.  (I wrote about the process in Alexandria, Virginia and provide an excerpt from that post here:  From late February through early May, as the proposed budget is examined, the documents go on-line — at least once a week and often more frequently — for a total of 15 posting dates in less than 11 weeks.  It includes detailed memos on subjects raised by Council, a weekly list of the questions asked by Council and answered by City staff, and during the 11 weeks residents could go onto the website and post their comments to be seen by all.

You can all reach your own conclusions from what I have posted over the past four days — and it will be interesting to see what kind of budget adjustment is recommended for Tiny Tots in August. But I think we should all expect more from our City Council when it comes to decisions about how to spend the City’s revenue, which was almost $88 million this year.  We should not have to hope we hear rumors so we can call out the troops on Facebook and bombard the Mayor and Council with a deluge of emails and phones.  We also need to take Mayor Abed and Councilmen Gallo, Masson and Morasco at their word. They want Recreation to pay for itself and they will continue to try to eliminate those programs that require any subsidy from the City.