About two weeks ago I overcame my gag reflex enough to watch the November 19, 2014, City Council Meeting. I have been very lazy, and reluctant to write about it. But, when 12 people are killed, and 11 injured, for simply expressing their freedom of speech to lambast a religion, at Charlie Hebdo, I am shamed into writing my poor lambasts of our local government.
Sixty-nine votes. That’s the margin by which Councilman Ed Gallo won re-election over his far more competent opponent, Consuelo Martinez. It still saddens me a great deal. But, on the bright side, I will have another four years Ed Gallo to ridicule. Item 24, CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM AND HOUSING-RELATED PARK PROGRAM FUNDS BUDGET ADJUSTMENTS FOR JAMES STONE POOL AND WASHINGTON PARK TENNIS COURTS REHABILITATION PROJECT, was a bit entertaining. Gallo really perked up at the notion that the redoing of the James Stone Pool could be privately funded, encouraging the staff to call upon several people (by name) who might contribute to such a program. Can’t help but feeling those contributors might have preferred to have been approached without the public notice.
Then there was Item 26, DISPOSITION OF PROPERTY: 1201 EAST WASHINGTON AVENUE. I remembers back in 2006, begging the Escondido City Council (of which Gallo and Mayor Sam Abed were both members) to accept the offer of $2 million from High Tech High for that property. http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2006/jun/13/high-tech-high-delays-escondido-middle-school-plan/. In hindsight, I can see that Gallo and Abed were both under the influence of His Holiness, Coach Dennis Snyder, who runs the Heritage Charter Schools. I’ve no doubt that Snyder considered the competition from a truly world-class charter school like High Tech High would be overwhelming. So that Council voted not to accept the $2 million. So the lot has remained, a blot on the landscape, for over eight years. The present offer for the property is $3.4 million. In his comments on the item, Abed averred that it was “worth the wait” for such a good offer. Worth the wait? Really? What is the return on $2 million over eight years? Does Abed have no concept of the time value of money? And think of the good High Tech High would have done for that neighborhood. A magnet for neighborhood children that, unlike the Heritage Charter Schools, reflects the demographics of the neighborhood in which it exists.
The proposed project, Paseo Escondido, LLC, by the Phair Corporation, actually seems like a pretty good project. It’s primarily a “senior” apartment complex with some commercial use. The head of the company, Jeff Phair, spoke convincingly of his developments in Chula Vista, and outstanding community outreach. The project will try to take advantage of, rather than turning its back to, its location along the Escondido Creek conduit.
Councilwoman Olga Diaz, praised the project’s positive view of the Escondido Creek.
Then Gallo enlightened the conversation a bit. First he asked Phair as to whether or not he had maximized the residential units. Phair disappointed him with his response of no, though it wasn’t finalized, Phair would build what would be the most cost effective number (which I’ve no doubt Gallo would believe, in his simplistic way, to be the maximum number allowable.) Then Gallo, (with the intention of complimenting the man?) noted that Phair “still had hair left.” Gallo then, in his extraordinary way, went on to assure Phair that he would be pulling it out when he went through all the requirements of the City of Escondido. Well, if one were a defender of zoning ordinances, and rigorous building inspection, one might consider this praise of the City’s stringencies. But, somehow, I don’t think Gallo meant it in this light. Was he warning Phair to give up his project before he lost more hair? Ah Gallo, four more years of your interesting ruminations.
The item was passed unanimously.