More comments on the June 18. 2014 City Council meeting

Last Wednesday’s Council meeting had its interesting moments, even if the outcome, the approval of the “FIVE-YEAR CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM, FISCAL YEAR 2014/2015 CIP BUDGET AND TRANSNET FIVE-YEAR LOCAL STREET IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM”, and the “PROPOSED CITY CHARTER FOR PLACEMENT ON THE NOVEMBER 4, 2014 BALLOT,” as well as grading exemption items I wrote about in my previous blog, was a foregone conclusion.

Under “oral communications” J. Barry Baker, owner of one of the parcels in the North Broadway Deficiency Area for which the Council that night approved a grading exemption, had a complaint. It seems the City of Escondido had recently cited him for allowing a commercial operation on his property on land zoned for residential use. The operation in question is a container nursery. Baker had leased the land to the nursery while it was still within the County zoning, before it was annexed into the City. County zoning allowed such a use. Baker felt there should be some sort of exemption for “transitional properties” while the developer of Baker’s property got his ducks in a row and be able to begin building—and Baker begin collecting money from the developer, instead of the tenant nursery. Later in the meeting, during the discussion of the grading exemptions, the Council majority indicated they emphasized with Baker, and asked the City staff to figure out a “transitional” policy.

Now, I don’t really believe that such a transitional policy would necessarily be a bad idea. I just wish Mayor Sam Abed, and Councilmen Mike Morasco and Ed Gallo had been as receptive to a “transitional” policy when they decided to close the East Valley Parkway Branch Library on June 8, 2011, which remained a vacant space for almost two years.

There was a considerable contrast between the discussion of the CIP Budget, and the previous discussion about the “FISCAL YEAR 2014/15 AND 2015/16 TWO-YEAR ANNUAL OPERATING BUDGET.” Abed, Gallo, Morasco, and Councilman Masson actually asked several informed questions. Deputy Mayor Olga Diaz found this to be good news.

Gallo lived up to expectations. After discussion of Consent Calendar item 5: “MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING WITH THE CITY OF ESCONDIDO AND THE CITIES OF CARLSBAD, OCEANSIDE, SAN MARCOS AND VISTA FOR FUNDING OF AN AGREEMENT WITH THE SAN DIEGO REGIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION” Abed neglected to call on Gallo for his remarks before the vote. Gallo aped offense, saying he felt discriminated against. He hoped it wasn’t because he was in District 1. He went on to ask if the efforts of the SDEDC efforts would be separate from the “branding” effort. This after the staff had made it quite clear that this would be one of the major functions of the SDEDC. In the discussion of the proposed City Charter, he made the astonishing claim that the City Council could have adopted the Charter without submitting it to the voters, but the Council had chosen to do the right thing and put it on the November ballot. Perhaps Gallo perceives California law on this matter to be optional.

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