Safari Highlands Ranch project gets to take the next step.

Abed, Gallo, Masson, Morasco YES  Diaz NO

That was the vote to approve Agenda Item #8 INITIATION OF AN ANNEXATION AND ASSOCIATED PROJECT PROCESSING FOR THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT OF THE ‘SAFARI HIGHLANDS RANCH SPECIFIC PLAN’ - 

Request Council initiate the proposed application authorizing staff to work on the project; and direct staff to collect an initial deposit of $5,000 from the applicant to establish a cost-recovery account for reimbursing staff time on work involved in conducting interviews and drafting contracts associated with hiring contract personnel to oversee the project processing under the City’s supervision.

By the way.  26 residents spoke on this subject; 25 spoke against moving it forward.

DIAZ: “I have no problem saying no to bad ideas.”

MASSON: “I think there is a way to get this deal done.”

MORASCO: “I support an individual’s rights to at least explore what they can do with their own personal property.”

GALLO:  “Let them have a shot at seeing what they can do.”

ABED:  “The initiation of the study is a courtesy we owe to the property owner.”

DIAZ:  “The property rights are to build 27 homes…those rights are not being violated.”

 

 

Letter from the Endangered Habitats League

ehl

April 18, 2014

VIA ELECTRONIC MAIL

The Hon. Sam Abed, Mayor City of Escondido
201 N Broadway
Escondido, CA 92025

RE: Agenda Item 8, April 23, 2014: Initiation of an Annexation and Associated Project Processing for the Proposed Development of the ‘Safari Highlands Ranch Specific Plan’ – OPPOSITION

Dear Mayor and Members of the Council:

The Endangered Habitats League (EHL) urges you to DENY the initiation of annexation and processing for this proposed project. For your reference, EHL is Southern California’s only regional conservation group. We served on the Working Group for the San Diego Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) and the Advisory Committee for the Multiple Habitat Conservation Program (MHCP), of which Escondido is a part.

We oppose this project for two reasons: 1) Irretrievable impacts to the MSCP which could jeopardize permits for the entire region and 2) unsustainable land use planning.

Two thirds of the project lies in “Preapproved Mitigation Area” for the MSCP and one third in draft Preapproved Mitigation Area for the North County MSCP. These are the lands needed for successful preserve assembly. Project design shows that roads and development would hopelessly chop up the pristine natural resources of the site. This would “throw a wrench” into the regional conservation planning that allows infrastructure and compatible development to proceed in many jurisdictions. On the other hand, if the land remains in the unincorporated area, the County’s rural zoning and subdivision standards will ensure both economic use of the property and MSCP conformance.

Secondly, pushing more and more automobile dependent sprawl into the countryside is the wrong way to accommodate growth. Instead, the City should make use of its transit investments to reduce traffic congestion and create high quality urban environments.

A prior EIR failed due to significant unavoidable impacts to biological and other resources. The wise course is to retain the site as unincorporated land for compatible rural development.

Alternatively, this item could be continued until such time as:

1) MSCP conformance is assured through an Annexation Agreement between Escondido, the County, and the wildlife agencies per Section 9.19 of the MSCP Implementing Agreement. This occurred, for example, in the case of an annexation to the City of Vista.

AND

2) Any conditions regarding these lands contained in the MHCP, for which Escondido has a Planning Agreement, are met.

Please be a constructive force for planning in the region. Thank you for considering our views, and please let me know if EHL can be of assistance.

Yours truly,

Dan Silver Executive Director

Planning Division, County of San Diego, weighs in on Safari Highlands Ranch.

I just received a copy of this letter which was sent to Escondido Assistant Planning Director Jay Petrek by email today.  Lots of interesting comments here.  This letter is from TODD SNYDER, Chief, Advance Planning Division, County of San Diego.

April 22, 2014

Jay Petrek, AICP
Assistant Planning Director City of Escondido
201 N. Broadway
Escondido, CA 92025
Via email to Jpetrek@ci.escondido.ca.us

COMMENTS ON THE SAFARI HIGHLANDS RANCH PROJECT AND REQUEST FOR ANNEXATION INITIATION HEARING

Dear Mr. Petrek:

The County of San Diego (County) has received the materials submitted to the City of Escondido to request an annexation initiation hearing for Safari Highlands Ranch, dated March 12, 2014, and appreciates this opportunity to comment. County Planning & Development Services (PDS), Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), Department of Public Works (DPW) and the County Fire Authority have the following comments for your consideration. The comments in this letter should not be construed as support for the project or the annexation.

Project Description
Concordia Communities, LLC is proposing an annexation to the City of Escondido of an approximately 1,100 acre property currently located in the unincorporated area of the County, outside of the sphere of influence of the City of Escondido. The project would allow development of 550 single family estate homes among several neighborhoods at a density of 1 unit per 2 acres and lot sizes ranging from 10,000 square feet to one acre. The project may include an on-site sewer treatment/water reclamation facility, parks and trails, and a proposed fire station. This area is designated in the City’s General Plan as Specific Plan Area (SPA), or the Valley View SPA#4. This area does not have an adopted Specific Plan, but the General Plan includes Guiding Principles for development of this SPA.

GENERAL COMMENTS

1. The County Land Use and Environment Group has developed Guidelines for Determining Significance that are used to determine the significance of environmental impacts and mitigation options for addressing potentially significant impacts in the unincorporated portions of the County. Project impacts that could have potentially significant adverse effects to the unincorporated County or County facilities should be evaluated using the County’s Guidelines for Determining Significance. These guidelines are available online at: http://www.sdcounty .ca.gov/dplu/procguid .html#guide.

PLANNING

2. Under the existing County of San Diego General Plan Rural Lands (RL-40) Land Use Designation, the 1,100 acre project site would accommodate approximately 27 single family units. The County General Plan states that rural areas are not appropriate for intensive residential or commercial uses due to significant topographical or environmental constraints, limited access, and the lack of public services or facilities. The rural lands designation is intended to:
a. Preserve the County’s rural atmosphere
b. Protect land with significant physical or environmental constraints or hazards
c. Preserve open space, farmland, and natural resources
d. Provide open space buffers and a visual separation between communities
e. Preserve and provide land for agricultural opportunities
f. Prevent sprawl development, thereby reducing vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions.
Although the project includes a proposed annexation to the City of Escondido, the County will be reviewing this project in relation to its ability to meet the goals for Rural Lands as designated in the County General Plan.

3. City of Escondido Annexation Policy 16.6 states: “Maintain an annexation procedures manual outlining the steps and city policies regarding annexations that includes, but is not be limited to, applicant’s responsibilities, requirements for environmental review, requirements for development plans, and fees for annexation.” The County requests a copy of this procedures manual for annexation to fully understand the considerations of the City when annexations are proposed. UPDATE: City of Escondido Annexation Guide is available online.

BIOLOGICAL RESOURCES

4. Of the 1,100-acre Safari Highlands Ranch site, approximately 400 acres in the northern portion are in the County’s proposed Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP) North County Plan and approximately 700 acres in the southern area are in the Metro­ Lakeside-Jamul segment of the approved MSCP South County Subarea Plan. For both of these plans, the proposed project area is designated Pre-approved Mitigation Area (PAMA), with a very small amount designated Unincorporated Land in the Metro­ Lakeside-Jamul segment of the South County Subarea Plan. The MSCP proposes a permanent regional preserve system that will provide large blocks of habitat connected by corridors and linkages that allow the movement of wildlife throughout the region. The preserve system in the unincorporated County is designed to connect to preserve systems in other jurisdictions. The County’s preserve will be established within the PAMA, though not all of the PAMA will be preserved.

5. Removing 700 acres from the adopted South County Subarea Plan PAMA may require an amendment to the County’s existing South County Subarea Plan since the annexation would remove a large block of habitat from the County’s jurisdiction. Such an amendment would require concurrence from the USFWS and CDFW. The proposed annexation would also require modification of the draft North County Plan to accommodate the removal of 400 acres from the PAMA. The City of Escondido General Plan, Land Use Element contains the following Guiding Principle applicable to SPA #4: “Development and open space areas shall be coordinated with the San Dieguito River Valley Regional Open Space Park and appropriate regional open space planning efforts.” The County appreciates coordination on appropriate preserve design for this important habitat area.

6. The proposed project as presented in the March 12, 2014 letter to the City of Escondido would preserve about 54 percent of the property (600 acres of 1,100 acres). Since overall, the County’s approved Subarea Plan and draft North County Plan anticipate preservation of 75 percent of lands in the PAMA, the proposed preservation of 600 acres would not meet the MSCP’s anticipated conservation level. The biological studies should include a discussion of the applicable City of Escondido conservation requirements, how these requirements compare to MSCP conservation levels, and how the project will affect the overall preserve planning in this area.

7. Design of the preserved land is critical to providing high value, functioning habitat suitable for a MSCP preserve. The Safari Highlands Ranch project could improve preserve design by limiting the impact of development areas, keeping development areas as close together as possible and avoiding fragmenting habitat with roads and trails. The preserve design principles that should be considered and that are used by conservation biologists in preserve planning are as follows:
a. Conserve sensitive and covered species throughout the Plan Area: Species that are well-distributed across their native ranges are less susceptible to extinction than are species confined to small portions of their ranges.
b. Create larger preserves: Large blocks of habitat containing large populations of the target species are superior to small blocks of habitat containing small populations.
c. Keep preserve areas close: Blocks of habitat that are close to one another are better than blocks of habitat far apart.
d. Keep habitat contiguous: Habitat that occurs in less fragmented, contiguous blocks is preferable to habitat that is fragmented or isolated by urban lands. Contiguous habitat also minimizes deleterious edge effects of urban lands.
e. Link blocks of habitat: Interconnected blocks of habitat serve conservation purposes better than do isolated blocks of habitat. Corridors or linkages function better when the habitat within them resembles habitat that is preferred by target species.

f. Create diverse preserves: Blocks of habitat should contain a diverse representation of physical and environmental conditions.
g. Protect preserves from encroachment: Blocks of habitat that do not have road access or are otherwise inaccessible to human disturbance serve to better conserve species than do accessible habitat blocks.
h. Maintain natural processes: Preserves that are designed to maintain natural processes will sustain native biodiversity better than preserves in which such processes are disrupted.

8. The Safari Highlands Ranch property is known to have several sensitive species that are covered by the South County Subarea Plan and proposed to be covered by the North County Plan. Notable species are coastal cactus wren, coastal California gnatcatcher, mountain lion, coastal rosy boa, southern California rufous-crowned sparrow and San Diego horned lizard. Conservation will need to take these and other sensitive species found on the property into account in the preserve design. For example, trails should be sited with sensitivity to sensitive species habitat, particularly coastal cactus wren and coastal California gnatcatcher habitat.

9. If the proposed annexation moves forward, the County may request that the City of Escondido enter into an agreement with the County, USFWS and CDFW as part of the annexation process. The purpose of an agreement would be to ensure the annexation and ultimate development would not jeopardize the buildout of the regional preserve, MSCP covered species, compromise viable habitat linkages within the proposed regional preserve, and that development occurs in accordance with the Planning Goals of both the adopted umbrella MSCP Plan and the South County Subarea Plan, and the proposed North County Plan. Since the City does not have an approved subarea plan, Take Authorizations will be required from the USFWS and CDFW.

FIRE PROTECTION

10. The project materials submitted indicate that an action to detach from CSA No. 113, San Pasqual Fire Protection District, would be required. Please note that CSA No. 113 was dissolved and the area is served by the County Fire Authority.

11. The Safari Highlands Ranch project would include a reorganization of fire services to detach from the San Diego County Fire Authority (SDCFA) and be served by the Escondido Fire Department. Although the County would no longer provide fire service in the event of annexation and detachment from the SDCFA, the following comments are provided in the interest of public safety and coordinated regional fire planning, particularly considering that the project is located in a designated “Wildland Urban Interface” area, a State Responsibility Area, and is ranked as a “Very High” Fire Severity Zone – the highest risk category.

12. The Safari Highlands Ranch Land Use Map shows a spine road through the development terminating at the north end of the project boundary with a gate and an emergency access road offsite that would lead to Lake Wohlford Road. In the interest of connectivity and to benefit residents of the development area and the region, the onsite road and northerly emergency access road should be publicly-maintained from Rockwood Road to Lake Wohlford Road.

13. The Land Use Map shows numerous pockets and peninsulas of open space throughout the development, which can be problematic for fire suppression personnel. To be in alignment with County General Plan Policy S-3.3, Minimize Flammable Vegetation, pockets and peninsulas of open space should be minimized.

14. The nearest Escondido fire station to the project is located at 421 N. Midway Dr. and is more than 5 minutes travel time from the furthest reaches of the project. Therefore, the project would not be in compliance with the County General Plan Safety Element travel time requirements. Although the project proposal includes a new fire station located at the southern portion of the project, it is uncertain how a project consisting of 550 single­ family dwellings could financially support the construction and ongoing operations and maintenance of a new fire station. Future project submittals should clarify how the fire station construction and ongoing maintenance would be supported.

PARKS AND RECREATION

15. The project information submitted indicates that the project would include a community park in the southern portion of the project site. If a 550 unit residential subdivision was proposed within the County’s jurisdiction, approximately 4.7 acres of developed land would be required to be dedicated for local public park purposes as a condition of subdivision approval. Additionally, the project approval would include a condition to establish a funding mechanism, such as a special tax district, to fully fund the on-going operation and maintenance of the public park. The County recommends that the project include an equivalent acreage of land dedicated for public park purposes and require adequate funding mechanisms. Future project submittals should provide details as to the acreage of public parks provided and funding mechanisms for ongoing operations and maintenance.

16. This Project has an opportunity to provide the residents of the new community and surrounding community with an interconnecting trail system with the future potential for regional connectivity. Opportunities for trails connectivity to the north include possible connections to trails in the Valley Center Trails Plan, the Hellhole Canyon Preserve to the northeast and Bottle Peak Preserve to northwest. To the south, there are opportunities for connections with the Coast to Crest Regional Trail, the Ramona Community Trails Plan and the Ramona Grasslands Preserve. The County appreciates integrating the maximum amount of connectivity with regional trails into the project’s trail plan.

17. In order for the proposed trails to successfully provide connectivity to adjoining regional trails the County recommends the following:
a. The project trails be open to the public,
b. The trails be granted to a public agency as trail easements,
c. The trails be designated non-motorized multi-use (hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking).

18. A more detailed description of the trails, ownership/responsibility for maintenance and a separate trails plan should be provided to ensure the best opportunity for future connectivity.

TRAFFIC AND TRANSPORTATION

19. Project access (not including emergency access) is from Rockwood Road. The following County roadways (TB: 1130-G3) will be directly impacted by 100% of the anticipated Safari Highlands Ranch trips:
a. Rockwood Road (Local Public Road)
b. Cloverdale Road (2.2E Light Collector)
c. Mountain View Drive (2.2E Light Collector) .

20. Rockwood Road, between Cloverdale Road and the County boundary (TG: 1130-H4), is a County maintained roadway. As part of the annexation process, the City of Escondido should consider assuming maintenance responsibility.

21. Both Cloverdale Road and Mountain View Drive are County Mobility Element (ME) Roadways. The proposed Safari Highlands Ranch development may need to consider improving the impacted roadway segments, and intersections, to their full public road standards/ultimate County ME classifications.

22. The parcels on which Safari Highlands Ranch is located were studied as part of the County’s Transportation Impact Fee (TIF) (http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/dpw/land/tif.html) program; therefore, the project should pay TIF to mitigate cumulative impacts within the unincorporated county.

23. The Safari Highlands Ranch development (550 single family estate homes) will generate approximately 6,600 Average Daily Trips (ADT) and should conduct a Full Traffic Impact Study (TIS) following the County’s Guidelines for Determining Significance (http://www.sdcounty.ca .gov/pds/docs/Traffic Guidelines.pdf) for impacted roadway segments and intersections within the unincorporated County.

24. Two emergency access routes north and south of the project site are proposed. The proposed emergency access routes should consider the County’s Public Road Standards and be reviewed in coordination with the County Fire Authority.

25. The Safari Highlands Ranch project submittals indicate that the emergency access route to the north will provide future and neighboring residents an emergency access out of the Valley to the north. The County notes that the northern emergency access route could also serve as an emergency access route to the south for residents north of the project (i.e., Valley Center). This route could serve as another viable option in the Valley Center Evacuation Route Study (http ://www .sdcounty . ca .gov/pds/advance/Evacuation Final Study Valley Center.pdf) .

26. The forthcoming project submittals to the City should clarify the nature of any access easements in the area and provide detailed information as to any required realignments of the road and impacts to the properties and residents who live along this route. It is our understanding that Concordia Homes will work closely with the residents in this area regarding the project and the northerly access route.

The County appreciates the opportunity to participate in the review process for this project and looks forward to reviewing additional project details as they become available. If you have any questions regarding these comments, please contact Jennifer Domeier, Land Use Environmental Planner, at (858) 495-5204, or via email at jennifer .domeier@sdcounty .ca.gov.
Sincerely,

TODD SNYDER, Chief
Advance Planning Division
e-mail cc:
Sachiko Kohatsu, Policy Advisor, Board of Supervisors, District 3 Dustin Steiner, Chief of Staff, Board of Supervisors, District 5 Megan Jones, Group Program Manager, LUEG
Michael Ott, Executive Officer, LAFCO
Dahvia Lynch, Chief, Department of Parks and Recreation
Richard Chin, Associate Transportation Specialist, Department of .Public Works Nick Ortiz, Land Development Project Manager, Planning & Development Services Julia Quinn, Environmental Planning Manager, Department of Public Works

Have you heard about Safari Highlands Ranch?

Wednesday’s City Council meeting has a very full agenda.  Along with rent reviews for two mobile home parks, a Workshop on Code Enforcement and the first discussion of the 2014/15 General Fund Budget, there is this item:

AGENDA ITEM 8. INITIATION OF AN ANNEXATION AND ASSOCIATED PROJECT PROCESSING FOR THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT OF THE ‘SAFARI HIGHLANDS RANCH SPECIFIC PLAN’ – Request Council initiate the proposed application authorizing staff to work on the project; and direct staff to collect an initial deposit of $5,000 from the applicant to establish a cost-recovery account for reimbursing staff time on work involved in conducting interviews and drafting contracts associated with hiring contract personnel to oversee the project processing under the City’s supervision.

If this vaguely rings a bell, it’s because 11 years ago, the previous owner of these 1,100 acres attempted to process “Valley View Estates,” a Specific Plan involving 403 residential units, 250-room resort hotel, 18-hole golf course, clubhouse and tennis facility, equestrian center, fire station, parks, trails and open space in 2003. The EIR [Environmental Impact Report] prepared for the project identified numerous significant unmitigable impacts. Even after all feasible mitigation measures were proposed for the Valley View Estates, the impacts would have exceeded adopted community thresholds. The plan was ultimately recommended for denial by the Planning Commission before the applicant withdrew the project prior to City Council consideration.

So it’s 2014 now and what has changed?  The new Developer — Concordia — has proposed a gated, master-planned community that would have 550 homes, a 36% increase over 2003.  They’ve dropped the resort, golf course and equestrian center, but kept the fire station.  And they are …currently investigating the viability of on-site sewer treatment facilities as a preferable alternative to offsite sewer connection.

This would be a huge project and so there are big questions: Is this good for the City of Escondido?  What do we gain?  What does it cost us? Why does the developer want to annex into Escondido?  What do they gain by coming into the City?

Some of the concerns that I have heard are that the developer wants to be annexed into Escondido because the City has less strict environmental concerns than the County, UPDATE: The City still must meet CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) and yes, it would still have to do so if it was a Charter City. It also will have a full EIR (Environmental Impact Report).  Where it can be different from the County is in zoning/density.  Others note that the fire station would still need to have personnel paid for out of the City budget and that the study of the “viability” of an on-site water treatment plant doesn’t mean the development wouldn’t ultimately decide to tie into our overburdened sewer system. These are some of the issues that have come up and we need to think about.

The Staff Report notes that: The applicant has informed staff that Safari Highlands Ranch representatives have commenced a neighborhood outreach effort to personally contact residents in the Rancho San Pasqual and Rancho Vistamonte area and provide information about the proposal. Staff has also received numerous phone calls from residents expressing concern about potential impacts associated with the development.

I feel this development is something we need to talk about.  I’m also pretty sure this Mayor and Council Majority will give it the thumbs up at Wednesday’s meeting.  And once it gets going it will be like the snowball rolling down the mountain, getting bigger and moving faster with each rotation.  Stay tuned.

 

In Escondido, Saturation Patrols catch more drunk drivers.

IMG_8348When the Escondido Police Department decides to focus their attention on drunk drivers, they use either a Checkpoint or a Saturation Patrol.  I was curious to see how they compared in effectiveness as far as DUI arrests and I was quite surprised by the difference. (My statistics came from the News Releases at the Escondido Police Department website and San Diego 6.)

I looked at the last 28 DUI enforcement activities by the EDP from January 1, 2013 through April 20, 2014.  Twenty of them were Checkpoints which typically stopped between 1,000 and 2,000 cars.  Eight of them were Saturation Patrols where the officers go out and are specifically looking for drivers who are showing signs of inebriation.  Here are the results:

20 Checkpoints resulted in 21 DUI arrests. 

8 Saturation Patrols resulted in 15 DUI arrests.  

That means the Saturation Patrols were 78% more effective at arresting drunk drivers.  I did not expect the difference to be that great.  So I’m thinking we should focus on Saturation Patrols to get drunk drivers off the road because it’s the method that’s the least disruptive and catches the most drunk drivers.  And isn’t that what we want?

NOTE: The EPD website states for both Checkpoints and Saturation Patrols: Funding for this operation is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

 

Cities throughout California have innovative ideas.

In my attempt to keep up with the news out there, I sign up for many newsletters, including one from the League of California Cities.  Although I do not always agree with their stand on issues, I do appreciate the information, analysis and links to sources provided free of charge on their site.

Well this week’s update seemed particularly apropos because of this article: West Hollywood Creates Tools to Make Art a Part of the Community.  I found an idea that could work here — think Johnson building on 2nd (and I hope the League will forgive me for pulling a whole paragraph from their site): …the West Hollywood City Council approved the waiver of temporary use permit fees for applicants utilizing empty commercial storefronts for pop-up galleries and performance spaces. To encourage and promote this type of alternative temporary use while a storefront awaits a new tenant, the city’s Economic Development Division held a Commercial Broker’s Roundtable at one of the pop-up art storefronts. Staff created an information sheet on how to implement a successful pop-up art project. More than six projects have taken place in pop-up art galleries during the last few years, including a site-specific series of dance performances and Los Angeles Nomadic Division’s “Perpetual Conceptual: Echoes of Eugenia Butler” exhibit. 

West-Hollywood-Gallery-in-Former-Hardware-Store

This image is labeled “West Hollywood Gallery in Former Hardware Store.”

If you like that article, go back to the site’s California City Solutions page and read about hundreds of projects over the past four years that have been given the Helen Putnam (Petaluma Mayor, educator and County Supervisor) award that “recognizes the outstanding efforts and innovative solutions that improve the quality of life in local communities, implement efficiencies in service delivery and operations and provide services responsive to the local community.”  These awards cover areas such as government collaboration, the arts, community, housing, youth, health, ethics and many more.  I’ve bookmarked the page so I can read about all the difference projects.  I find them inspirational and they just might help to figure out ways to improve Escondido.

A Guide to Opening a Business in Escondido’s Historic Downtown.

shopI was at the City Hall Planning department last month and the young woman ahead of me had come in about starting a new business.  I believe it was one of those kiosks in a strip mall parking lot — there’s one that sells flowers at El Norte and another sells coffee near Jimbo’s and I’m sure there are many others. Anyway, she had various questions on opening her business and then the subject of Signage came up and that needed to go to planning and then there was another issue that had to be dealt with. The woman behind the counter was helpful, but I felt that this business-owner-to-be left left without having a clear picture.

So just this week, I went to the City website and clicked on the tab labeled “Business”  to see what was available for someone opening a small business/storefront/retail/restaurant — and came up pretty much empty handed.  (There was a good amount of information for developers and large businesses but the little guys seem left out.)  So I called City Hall and talked to Planning.  I asked if there was any guide/list available to sort of tell me what I would need to keep in mind to open a business.  She said I might need to talk to Planning about signage and then transferred me to Business Licenses.  I explained to that gentleman that I was considering opening a business on Grand and was there any information/booklet that would sort of guide me through the process.  The gist of his response, and this is not a direct quote was that If you’re opening a business, we assume you know what you’re doing.  There are 14,000 businesses in Escondido, we can’t create a brochure to explain all the possible permutations.

I don’t consider that a very helpful response and I can’t say things were any more encouraging when I called with similar questions months ago.  And that has not been my general experience with City Staff.  So maybe there needs to be a reconsideration of how the City can help the little guys/gals start businesses — and I say we start with the Historic Downtown.

We have all seen businesses come and go on Grand.  And I’m going to bet that some of those failed because they had no idea what they were doing,  I think it would be a big help if the City made clear exactly what is involved in starting a new business on Grand,  In fact, I would suggest they also help people learn more about starting a business period by providing the link to the Small Business Administration’s website page  Thinking About Starting a Business?  which is chockablok full of information.  Here are some of the topics both general to anyone doing business in California and specific to someone opening a business downtown that might be included in an online/printable brochure titled:

A Guide to Opening a Business in Escondido’s Historic Downtown.

A friendly introduction that tells folks a little about the Downtown and how happy the City is that this person wants to open a business here…and here is how we can help you.

Then there should be information about the one City Staff (with a backup) who deals with Downtown business needs.  People who want to open a business Downtown should not have to bounce from department to department to get routine matters taken care of — there should be one-stop shopping.

State Seller’s  Permit

County Fictitious Name Statement

Escondido Business License

Specifics on zoning/kinds of businesses allowed in the Downtown

Rules about signage, painting, awnings

When you need a permit to do something

Fees required for various activities

I have gone online and looked at a many city websites to see if any of them give people some useful guidance.  I have to say that I could find none that really embrace the idea of helping small businesses navigate the whole process of getting up and running.  But I did find a few that I felt tried to be helpful since they walked people through the basic process and gave them some useful links, but I consider them bare bones.

Starting a Business in Oceanside

Opening a Business in Pasadena

Starting a Business in Warren?

And then I came upon this video Starting a Business in Sonoma that I thought was friendly and helpful.   And the Chamber of Commerce even played an active role!