Another major rent increase for Sundance Mobilehome Park tenants

 

As Councilman John Masson said at the July 20th City Council meeting, the coach owners seem to be getting the short end of the stick. I would go farther. I would say they are getting shafted. This became apparent when item 11: Long-Form Rent Review Board Hearing for Sundance Mobilehome Park was discussed. It was only in March of last year that I wrote about another rent increase for this park. https://ablueviewescondido.com/2015/03/28/you-cant-have-it-both-ways-unless/ .

To review the bidding, the park was opened in 1977 with 88 spaces. Now, only 19 of those spaces are subject to rent control. In 2013, under another “long-form” rent revue, the previous park owner was allowed to raise the rent of the 29 spaces then under rent control by an average of $124.37 added to which was a $17.07 fee to cover the park owner’s expenses to process the long form application, including legal fees. One of the affected tenants, Robert Wise sued the owner and the City objecting to the increase and the inclusion of the application expenses. Wise lost the case, and the appeal to the Fourth Appellate District, Division One. As I noted in my blog, an average $15.29 rent increase was granted to the new owner of the Sundance Park under a “short-form” rent increase in March, 2015.

This time the park’s new owners, Sundance MHC, LC, requested an average increase of $157.17, based on the maintenance of net operating income (MNOI) for the park. Additionally, the residents were again asked to pay for the cost of the long-form application. This MNOI has been the traditional basis used to determine what a fair and reasonable rent increase should be. A large part of that increase ($72) was due to the increase in property taxes on the park from around $18K to $84K, when the park was sold in October of 2014. In a nutshell, MNOI analysis determines how much the net operating income should be increased to reflect an increase in the consumer price index (CPI), and other factors that increase operating costs such to allow the park owners to keep the return on their investment steady. The City staff recommended that the rent be increased by $102.22 with an additional increase of $5.02 for five years to cover the application costs. That $5.02 figure was the amount that prorated the entire expense among all 88 spaces in the park. The owner argued that it should only be charged to rent control spaces only.

The Council voted to approved $102.22 increase in rent, and an additional fee of $5.02         over five years to cover the application costs, with Councilwoman Olga Diaz and Masson voting no.

Diaz argued that the tenants did not participate in the decision to sell the park, and shouldn’t be penalized with the $72 increase. Councilman Mike Morasco, and Mayor Sam Abed had argued that the fees should be included, because that had been what was done in the 2013 rent increase decision. To change tack, Abed and Morasco argued, would be to invite a lawsuit. They also argued that since, according to City Attorney Jeff Epp, the owners had a legal right to charge for the property tax increase, not to do so would also risk a law suit. Actually they did change tack a little, because in the 2013 decision, the fee to reimburse the owner’s application fees was prorated for the 29 rent-control spaces only, while the one passed at this meeting was to be prorated for all 88 spaces. After the meeting, my friend, Dollie McQuiston, who attends practically every City Council meeting, mentioned that she remembered the 2013 hearing, and that Epp had told the Council (same council as we have today) that whether or not to include a fee to cover the application expense was at the discretion of the Council. Intrigued, I watched the tape of the meeting, available on the City’s website. It was an eye-opener.

At that 2013 hearing, the old owner had asked for an average rent increase of over $771 per month, per space. Some of the rent-control covered tenants testified that they had been threatened with exactly that sort of increase when they choose not to enter into another long term lease. Since the opening of the park, until 2010, all the tenants had agreed to long term leases. It was only then that some 29 tenants opted to not sign a long term lease, but take advantage of their rights under the Escondido Rent Protection Ordinance (Prop. K). As my friend Dollie remembered, Epp did indeed say that it was up to the Rent Review Board (the City Council) to determine whether or not such things as application costs including legal fees should be included, and if included, whether or not those costs should be pro-rated over all the 88 spaces or just under rent control.

The Council, according to the analysis of the city’s hired expert Dr. Kenneth A. Barr also had the discretion to determine what percentage of the increase in the CPI, as well as what other factors to be considered. Barr indicated that any rent increase from zero to $179.35, depending on what variables the Council choose to base their increase upon, was acceptable. The Council voted for the $124.37 rent increase, plus the $17.07 fee in 2013, with Diaz voting no. The Council felt the park owner should be reimbursed for application expenses, and that those expenses should be bourn only by the tenants under rent control. The Court held that the Council’s action was legal, but it did not find that any other action would have been illegal. In fact, the appellate court remarked that cases where a rent review board was sued by tenants rather than park owners were uncommon. That says something, I believe, about this Council’s attitude about Prop. K, or any measure that attempts to help meet the needs of the less affluent.

At this July 20 meeting, as at the 2013 meeting, several tenants said they would have to move if the Council approved such a high rent increase. The reduction in the number of spaces under rent control, from 29 to 19, would indicate the validity of their statements. As Diaz pointed out, these high increases seem to go against the spirit of Prop. K that was supposed to prevent tenants on fixed incomes being forced out of their mobile homes by excessive rent increases.

At the end of this last meeting, Wise told the Council that he would appeal to the Supreme Court. It is interesting to me that Abed, Masson and Gallo are very concerned about any legal expenses the City might face from a lawsuit from the park owner, over a rent increase that might not force elderly tenants from their homes, but showed no hesitation in deliberately incurring a lawsuit over the Escondido Country Club issue.

 

Benghazi BS

 

 

I was recently challenged in a Facebook conversation to “debunk” the Benghazi allegations made in the “official record” about Hillary Clinton. So, I’ve been trying to understand what has made the Republicans so sure they had proof of some malfeasance by Clinton while Secretary of State during the tragic attack.

In March of 2002, the US Embassy in Peru was attacked. Nine were killed. Number of Congressional investigations? Zero.

Evidently what has so many viewers of FOX and Breitbart upset, is the theory that Clinton and Obama “concocted” the theory that the attack was a response to an inflammatory internet video, during a phone call between Clinton and Obama on the night of the attack, September 11, 2012. Judicial Watch, through a FOIA request, found no evidence that there was any record of intelligence indicating the attack was in response to any such video. I found no evidence that Judicial Watch found evidence that there was absolutely no such video-linking intelligence. Perhaps the video theory was just a reasonable conclusion by someone who was paying attention to what was going on, like Clinton or Obama. The next day, September 12, Obama referred to the attack as a terror attack. On September 20, Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney said, without equivocation, that it was a terrorist attack. http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/17/politics/fact-check-terror/

In June 2002, twelve people died in an attack on the US consulate in Pakistan. Number of congressional investigations? Zero.

The President of Judicial Watch Tom Fitton concluded from this lack of evidence about intelligence linking the video to the attack that Obama and Clinton decided to “push the video lie.” https://www.jihadwatch.org/2015/07/foia-docs-prove-obama-and-hillary-concocted-benghazi-video-lie-with-jihadist-help Ummm. So, surmising that the attack might be linked to the video is somehow an attempt to deceive? Even though, days later the Obama administration dismissed the video theory?

In December, 2004, the US consulate in Saudi Arabia was attacked. Nine died. No congressional investigations.

One of the proofs offered by the right that this video theory was some sort of conspiracy was because Clinton referred to the attackers of Benghazi as an Al Queda-like group in an email to her daughter on the night of the attack. www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/01/08/with-2-a-m-state-department-email-trove-82-percent-of-clinton-emails-now-released/ . So, calling the attackers Al Queda-like somehow dismisses the idea that attack was in response to a video? Or, that it wasn’t a spontaneous attack?

In September of 2008, The US Embassy in Yemen was attacked. Ten died. No congressional investigation.

Last October, Clinton weathered eleven hours testifying before the House Benghazi committee. This was the eighth congressional investigation of the Benghazi affair. Congressman Kevin McCarthy fecklessly admitted the real goal of Republicans when he bragged that the investigations had driven down Clinton’s poll numbers. http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/la-na-hillary-clinton-benghazi-testimony-20151022-story.html

Certainly, whenever there is a tragic loss of life within the American diplomatic corps, there should be investigation in order to learn from mistakes made, and to avoid those mistakes in the future. But to spend millions of dollars to try to prove that Clinton conspired with Obama to make the attack look like a spontaneous attack due to some video, rather than an organized terrorist attack, seems like an absurd waste of time and taxpayer money. Why was calling it a response to a video rather than a terrorist attack supposed to make the Obama administration, and Clinton look better? It would not have to me.

For twenty-five years the Republicans have done their best to impugn Hillary Clinton. Rumor, innuendo, conspiracy theories have been legion. Actual proof of criminal activity? Zero.

The only conspiracy I see in the Benghazi affair is that of the Republican conspiracy to undermine Hillary Clinton. Have I debunked the official record? No, because there was nothing in that record that proved anything against Clinton.

 

 

 

Accretive’s Abomination

 

On June 2, 2016, Accretive Investments LLC, may have turned in enough signatures for their ballot initiative to qualify it for the November election. If it is approved by voters, Accretive will be allowed to build Lilac Hills Ranch (LHR), an abomination of 1746 homes, 90K sq. ft. of commercial space, and an assisted living facility, in what is now pristine farm land and natural habitat, far from any existing infrastructure. The County’s current General Plan would allow 110 homes on this site 17 miles from the nearest employment center or public transportation, and 30 minutes from any medical care.  http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/jun/03/lilac-hills-signatures-ballot-initiative/

They gathered signatures here in coastal North County, there, in South County, but mostly everywhere except within a fifty mile radius of the land on which this proposed mess is to be built. The petition gatherers promised the project would provide affordable housing for seniors, veterans, and the handicapped. There is nothing in the 600+ page initiative that would require Accretive to provide housing at any specific price range or for any income level. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCht9f-d-2ODV7x_Ud12WFtg

This ballot initiative ploy is a new way that developers can get around the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), as courts have found that such measures are exempt from the act.

You have to hand it to Randy Goodson, CEO of Accretive, he doesn’t quit. After a decade of controversy, he got approval for LHR from the San Diego County Planning Commission in September, 2015. In October, the California Fair Political Practices Commission advised Fifth District Supervisor Bill Horn (a fan of LHR) that he should not vote on LHR, because the value of his home which is close to the project would be affected. In January, 2016, the California Supreme Court found the huge Newhall project’s environmental impact report (EIR) did not accurately report the effect it would have on greenhouse gas emissions. Goodson knew his project’s EIR would have a similar problem. So, Goodson asked that the County indefinitely delay the Board of Supervisors’ (BOS) vote on LHR. http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/jan/06/lilac-ruling-construction-greenhouse/

Goodson’s next tactic? The 600+ page ballot initiative. If the Registrar of Voters verifies the signatures, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors can either approve the project, or allow voters to decide in November.

Not just the voters like me in the Deer Springs Fire Protection District. The County standard for fire response time in the area is five minutes, the initiative would allow a nine-minute response time for this development. The developer proposes funding some capital improvement to fire facilities and equipment, but not maintain them, and property tax revenue from future residents of LHR won’t cover the cost to maintain any new facilities. So, to maintain the current level of fire protection, existing residents like me will need (once again!) to vote to increase their property taxes to pay for the added protection the LHR will require. http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/corrections/developer-wont-take-no-for-an-answer-on-massive-lilac-hills-ranch-project/

Nor just the voters in the Bonsall and Valley Center–Pauma Unified School Districts, where again, the new property taxes and developer impact fees won’t begin to cover the cost of providing facilities and teachers for hundreds of new students.

Nor just the voters who live in the area of narrow two-lane curvy roads that will have 15,000 additional daily car trips to contend with and make evacuation from fire much more difficult.

No, all of the voters in the County can vote on this. By this ploy, an out of state hedge fund (Accretive) is able to spend two to three million dollars gathering signatures, and more millions in advertising (with more dubious promises) to get the votes that will totally emasculate all local and state land-use governance. Both the Valley Center Community Planning Group (an elected body) and the Bonsall Community Sponsor Group have voted against LHR. Their voices would be nullified. The San Diego County BOS will not have a say in the approval. It allows the developer to ignore the state’s environmental requirements, requirements passed by your elected representatives.

If LHR is approved by the voters, it will set a precedent for other developers. What’s to stop an amusement park in the San Pasqual Valley, or an industrial park Rancho Santa Fe?

Don’t be fooled by this ploy. Protect you neighborhood. Vote no on this initiative. For more information go to: http:\\saveoursdcountryside.org

Pro-Life equals Pro-Punishment of Women

 

On March 30, 2016, at a town-hall on MSNBC, pressed by Chris Matthews, Donald Trump said that “There has to be some form of punishment” for women who have abortion. Trump, I think, expressed what many in the anti-choice movement truly advocate. Shortly thereafter, Trump disavowed his remarks, saying that if abortion was made illegal, it should be the abortion provider who “would be held legally responsible, not the moan…a victim in this case, as is the life in her womb.” http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/31/us/politics/donald-trump-abortion.html?_r=0

I have often stated my belief that worrying about the fate of a multi-cellular organism, an organism less sentient than the cattle and swine killed to provide your bacon cheeseburger, a human fetus, when human overpopulation is the greatest threat to this planet, is to have your priorities screwed up from here to the next millennium. But to those of an anthropocentric philosophy, who believe that human life is more precious than any other life on this planet, that argument doesn’t hold water, it only incites anger.

So, let me approach those who are so vehemently “pro-life”, with some more facts published in the premier British medical journal Lancet on May 11, 2016: “Abortion incidence between 1990 and 2014: global, regional, and subregional levels and trends.”

The basic finding was that abortion rates significantly declined in the developed world, but not in the developing world. And, in South America, where some of the most draconian anti-abortion laws are in place, the rate of abortion has significantly increased from 43 per 1000 women 15-44 years old in 1990-94 to 47 per 1000 in 2010-14.

So, what is clear is that making abortion illegal does not reduce the abortion rate. Because, so often where abortion is illegal, access to contraception is difficult, the abortion rates are higher, because the rate of unintended pregnancy is higher.

Closing down the abortion clinics in Texas with that state’s obscene restrictions on such clinics, will not reduce the rate of abortion, but it will increase the number of women suffering from back-alley, or do-it-yourself abortions. There used to be entire hospital wards dedicated to women suffering from such botched abortions in this country. Do we really want to bring back those times? De-funding Planned Parenthood will not reduce the number of abortions, but will also increase the number of botched abortions. The entire so-called pro-life movement is totally counterproductive to their goal of reducing abortions. Closing down access to safe and legal abortion will not reduce the abortion rate, but it will, definitely punish women.

I believe, as Trump first expressed, the whole outcome of the pro-life movement has been to punish women, not to save fetuses.

A Vote for Hillary

 

I wasn’t going to write this blog until after the primary, but I decided that would be chicken manure. Which reminds me of one of my dear husband Roger’s favorite jokes. (Have only heard it about 200 times.) It seems Bess Truman was lunching with some of D.C.’s prominent society ladies. They implored her to stop President Harry Truman from saying manure. She replied that it had taken her 20 years to get him to say manure.

So, I have voted for Hillary Clinton. My dear husband Roger has changed his registration from Republican to Democrat (after 25 years of voting for Democrats rather than Republicans) so he could also vote for Hillary. He had held back this change in registration so he could vote against Trump, but that was no longer an option.

We have voted for Hillary Clinton, because we, like the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board consider her to be, head and shoulders above her competitors. http://www.latimes.com/opinion/endorsements/la-ed-democratic-presidential-endorsement-20160426-story.html . I think the Times observation that “[a] Clinton presidency would be more prosaic than a Sanders administration, but it also is likely to be more effective” nails the issue beautifully. http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-hillary-california-20160603-snap-story.html .

Now, to my dear friends who are Bernie Sanders’ supporters, if he wins the nomination I will support him thoroughly. I will send him what money I can. I agree with his policies entirely. But, how on earth can he ever accomplish them? Remember Obama had a majority in both houses of Congress, and had to fight tooth and nail to get the Affordable Care Act passed. With the current gerrymandered congressional districts, winning a Democratic majority in the House is pretty much an impossibility.

I do not write this to try to change your vote—I suspect most of my readers have already voted. I write to explain my vote. It is difficult to work up enthusiasm for Clinton. She has, in my opinion, truly been the object of a “vast right-wing conspiracy” that began with the ridiculously endless pursuit of wrong doing by Bill Clinton. Their big exposure? Clinton had a blow job, aided by a cigar, and lied about it. How that compromised his ability to be a good president, has never been evident to me. It was a Starr inquisition, which wasted millions of our money to allow Republicans to try to impeach a president, something they wanted to do since the Nixon debacle.

In 1992 I was a property manager. Early in that year I showed a condo in Carlsbad to an older lady. Well, she probably wasn’t that much older than I am now, 71, but perspective changes. While taking her through the property, I discovered she was from Little Rock. So, I asked her, “What do you think of Mr. Clinton?” She responded that she was the last person to ask such a thing. Her very own daughter, (or was it her daughter-in-law; can’t remember,) she admitted, whose husband worked in the same law firm as Hillary Clinton, was very smitten. He’s so charming she avowed, women often threw themselves at him. Ever since that conversation, I’ve tended to take the various charges against Bill Clinton with a grain of salt. Yes he lied about his affair with Monica. But to dismiss his character for such a dalliance, would be to ignore the dalliances of FDR, Eisenhower, and JFK, to name but a few including Thomas Jefferson.

Now, I’ve been married for 44 years and counting, and my husband has never strayed, but then he never had the temptations offered to Bill Clinton. So, I do not know how I would respond to an infidelity such as Hillary was faced with. But, I don’t think that’s any of my business. I certainly don’t think any less of Hillary because she did not divorce Bill Clinton. I believe that a marriage is much more than sex.

Hillary Clinton does not have the charisma of her husband, or Sanders. But, she is thoroughly competent. And, she has the nearby advice of Bill. And his eight years’ experience should not be discounted. How many of you would vote for Barack Obama if that were an option?

But, time for full disclosure. I think, as a 71 year-old woman, that it is time for a testosterone-free presidency. And, I think she is the best person to go against the testosterone filled megalomaniac Trump.

 

Water Matters

 

Once again Councilman Ed Gallo has managed to irritate me. More so because his comments elicited applause from the considerable audience. I realized it was the same sort of irritation whenever I hear the ignoramus Donald Trump speak. Gallo, like Trump, made an argument that appealed to low information voters, and fired up their antipathy to government regulation.

The audience was full, because the neighbors of the proposed water facility I wrote about last week: https://ablueviewescondido.com/2016/05/18/another-property-rights-dilemma-for-abed/ were back in greater force. Now, when that item: APPEAL OF PLANNING COMMISSION DECISION TO DENY A CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT was considered it was continued for further study. The neighbors, encouraged by their leader Diane Belnap stayed. This continuation was not a surprise, J. Harry Jones reported on it a few days ago: http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/may/20/escondido-water-plant-residents-angry/ . Many neighbors did stay, and had their say under oral communications at the end of the meeting, which is fodder for another blog.

My irritation with Gallo came in the discussion of item 17: FINDINGS OF THE HYDRAULIC STUDY OF THE CITY. This was a report from City Staff, headed by the city’s Environmental Programs Manager, Helen Davies. On May 20, 2015, the Council had approved the preparation of such a study to identify possible alternative compliance project locations. That is, alternative compliance with the current storm water runoff municipal permit. Michael Baker, of Michael Baker International who had been hired by the city to perform the study, assisted Davies in her presentation. If you’re of the geek persuasion, you can read the entire study at: http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/may/20/escondido-water-plant-residents-angry/

I have written about the Council antipathy to this regulation of storm water runoff regulations: https://ablueviewescondido.com/2015/03/12/invective-and-ignorance/   and https://ablueviewescondido.com/2015/05/12/invective-part-ii/

Councilwoman Olga Diaz asked several questions, first clarifying that alternative compliance was only permissible if on-site compliance was not possible. Baker informed her that yes, that was correct, but the bar for not being able to comply was not very high, due to the nature of the geographic formations in the area. She asked Davies to clarify several issues about the cost of the alternative compliance proposals, and whether or not the compliance had to be in Escondido or could it be in the total watershed area. Davies cleared up the financial questions, and noted that, yes, the alternative projects could be in the entire watershed, but that they would focus on projects in Escondido. Davies admitted that this alternative compliance issue was in the early stages, and it would be awhile (years) before it could be implemented.

Councilman John Masson asked some engineering questions, and was given what seemed to be satisfactory answers.

Then it was Gallo’s turn. He “was not going to be technical” he said—as if he had the capacity to be so. Okay, he said, we’re going to add the cost of improving storm water runoff to the cost of housing with these requirements, but out of the other side of our mouths we talk about the lack of affordable housing. What’s the purpose of all this he asked Davies. She replied that it was to decrease the pollutant load in the runoff, and to reduce the volume of runoff to historical levels. Then Gallo in his inimitable idiotic manner went into a rant about why Escondido had built the cement storm drain through Escondido (because Escondido Creek had flooded the town in the 1950’s). He went on to bemoan the fact that it had taken years to get permit from the state to remove weeds from the storm drain, and now, one of the proposals was to get rid of the cement so plants could grow. What are we doing he questioned. The audience applauded. Well this was the man who once derided the efforts to reduce the pollution of storm drains with the insightful comment that “fish poop in the ocean.”

Well he won’t pay any attention to what I have to say, but what we are doing is trying to prevent the ocean from becoming any more polluted. The storm drains that were built in the last century in Escondido, and Los Angeles, and many other cities in California, were well-intentioned efforts to prevent further flooding. All well and good, except for the usual unintended consequences. Consequences like the runoff from pavement loaded with oil sediments, fertilizer sediments, insecticide sediments, and other pollutants from people’s lawns, driveways, city streets, etc. Runoff that had no intervening plant life or porous soil to purify or increase the aquafers below. What Davies had proposed, well explained (to no avail with Gallo, evidently) was that there might be a possibility to remove cement from the Escondido Creek channel and let plants grow—adding that it would be necessary to allow for the increase in volume that the current storm drain could withstand.

Then Councilman Mike Morasco asked why Reidy Creek wasn’t included in the possible sites for storm runoff remediation. Sigh. I really do respect Morasco. I believe he is a good person. But honestly? The whole purpose of the Reidy Creek Golf Course was for storm runoff remediation. Wrote about this: https://ablueviewescondido.com/2016/04/05/beware-of-developers-bearing-gifts-of-golf-courses/

Then it was Abed’s turn to blame everything on the State of California’s regulations. He even went so far as to complaining about how much it had cost him to pave over his lot in town for a parking lot. No mention of the fact that he had done so without permit, or that some of his cost was the fees he had to pay for ignoring his city’s rules.

The Downtown Hotel Specter

 

After the discussion of the proposed water treatment facility was ended by Deputy City Attorney Gary McCarthy, Mayor Sam Abed was asked about what was happening with the proposed hotel to be built between Escondido’s City Hall and The California Center for the Arts. Abed noted that this was another issue that he couldn’t really speak about, because, under the Brown Act, such negotiations needed to be in closed session.

Now I had noticed that such negotiations had been going on for some time, starting last November. https://ablueviewescondido.com/2015/11/19/clarks-back-with-another-hotel-scheme/ So, since no one else was asking about the matter, I broke my general rule not to speak at such meetings, (generally find it’s a bit hard on my blood pressure,) and asked Abed if the City had made a formal request for proposals (RFP) for such a hotel. Abed muttered something about how I probably wouldn’t listen to his answer (even though I was trying very hard to listen to him) and repeated his answer of the previous two questions about the hotel project. Abed said that after C.W. Clark had been unable to obtain financing during the recession, the city had not pursued the matter, because of the poor economy. He intimated that there was a sort of open RFP on the matter and there had been some other nibbles from other parties, but only Clark showed real interest in proffering a proposal. When I pressed him on the matter, he admitted that, no, there had been no formal issue of a RFP by the city on this hotel proposal. But, Abed insisted, the negotiation was not about personalities, but about what was good for the city.

I have written before a brief history of the hotel project (which I have been covering since 2003): https://ablueviewescondido.com/2015/08/17/a-brief-history-of-the-downtown-hotel-dream/ . I wrote that piece in 2011. As I said I have been watching Clark’s proposals since 2003. Here is a response to a Union Tribune editorial, “Escondido’s hotel heartbreak”, of June 27, 2009, that I submitted on June 27, 2009. Did not get published, but think it’s worth the light of day now.

In your editorial criticism of the Escondido City Council majority’s rejection of the latest offer from C. W. Clark, you imply that the original Hotel deal with a neighboring multi-story condominium complex (on what is now one of Escondido’s few public parking lots) would have been a great deal for Escondido. Have you driven down Escondido Blvd. lately? If you do so, you cannot help but notice two blots on the landscape in the form of uncompleted and abandoned condominium projects. The last thing Escondido needs would be another such blight. The condominium complex that was part of Clark’s original proposal would have placed the jewel of Escondido, her historic Grand Ave., in a shadow and caused Grand Ave. merchants to lose incalculable business from the loss of easy parking and construction interruption.

Your editorial also notes that the Hotel Project would have brought 200 permanent jobs to the city. Yes, that’s certainly what Escondido needs, 200 more minimum wage jobs. The few management jobs would most likely have been filled by employees brought in from other parts of the country.

C.W. Clark has long been a favored developer for the City of Escondido. He was given $25,000 some twenty years ago to improve the appearance of the old J.C. Penney building that was abandoned when the North County Fair mall opened. He kept the money, but did nothing to improve the building. Finally, some ten years later, the City demanded that he return the $25,000, which he did, without any interest payment.

Then there was the Gateway Center deal. C.W. Clark was given over half a million dollars in fee waivers. The net result of that new center was to move existing businesses from one strip mall to another, leaving the old strip malls with vacancies. There were those on the Council at the time who argued for a better use of that land than another strip mall, a use that would have given Escondido the diversity of revenue it so desperately needs.

It is not surprising then, that when the City of Escondido put out a Request For Proposals for a downtown Hotel Project to be built on city-owned property—a request that offered no subsidies, it was C.W. Clark’s proposal that was given the nod. Unlike other potential hotel builders, C.W. Clark was confident that he could get the City to subsidize his venture. And the City, led by Mayor Lori Pfeiler, seemed pleased to pony up some $19 million in subsidies along with a ten year forgiveness of land lease payments.

Isn’t it curious that when it was becoming obvious that the City Council Majority had turned to no longer favor spending $19 million on a hotel in a time of budget crisis, Clark suddenly found he only needed $13 million? Why not $5 million? It would be great to have a hotel downtown, but the deal with Clark has always been a loser for the City of Escondido. Let the city put out a new Request For Proposals. If there truly is a market for a hotel in downtown Escondido, there will be builders, perhaps even C.W. Clark who will submit new proposals.

At Abed’s town hall meeting, the man behind me hinted of somebody reaping the benefits of the proposed water treatment facility, to be paid for by Escondido’s taxpayers. He was certain there was some backroom politics involved. I don’t really think that’s the case with that facility, but I do believe that it is the case with many projects in Escondido. There is a good ole boy network, and C.W. Clark is definitely a part of it, as are the four male members of the current city council.