Another Property Rights Dilemma for Abed

 

As I waited for tonight’s “Town Hall Meeting” for Mayor Sam Abed to begin, I began to understand that this would not be an easy night for him. Most of the people in the audience were there to protest the possibility of the City Council passing a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) that would allow the City to build two buildings for a facility that would further treat the recycled water produced by the Hale Avenue Resource Recovery Facility (HAARF), Don’t you just love this euphemism for a sewer plant? The proposed new facility would occupy two buildings to be built on the 3.25 acre property the city owns that is on the north side of East Washington Ave., the south side of El Norte Pkwy, and west of the intersection of Washington and El Norte, and east of Citrus Ave. If that description sounds confusing, I agree—it’s what the city has used. Will make sense if you look at a map. Pretty much, it’s in the middle of the Chaparral housing development—and the Chaparral folks were there to complain, as they had done successfully when the Escondido Planning Commission had considered the matter on April 26. https://www.escondido.org/Data/Sites/1/media/minutes/PC/PCMinutes042616.pdf

The Chaparral resident behind me was sure there was some skullduggery involved. Who initiated this he asked his neighbor? His theory was that Henry Avocado was the moving force behind the entire project, because “he” would be the only one to benefit.

Abed, wearing an unusual jeans/blue blazer/plaid shirt combination began the meeting, with his usual “isn’t Escondido wonderful now that I’m in charge” video. He then proceeded to hammer home the videos message with his own. He spoke of his budget balancing, cautioning the audience not to believe everything they read in the paper, no doubt referring to Joshua Stewart’s column http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/may/14/supervisors-tell-three-fibs-campaign/ . He once again blamed the state for the increase in the crime rate due to AB109. He ended with a quote from Ronald Reagan—no surprises there.

Then began his open forum with the Chaparral neighbors. They were not happy.

The first speaker said her home overlooked this new facility. It had already decreased her property values. It would destroy her views and quality of life. She said that most of the audience (nodding to the audience, and most of them responding) were there to protest the placement of an industrial facility in the middle of their residential neighborhood.

Abed, responded that any project has to mitigate any impacts it produced. He did not want to go into the details, as the matter would come before the Council. The first speaker responded that she was hearing that the project would go through, and that the three-minute or less time allotted to the residents to plead their case (an 18 page report with a protesting petition signed by over 300) before the council. The only way to mitigate this project she avowed was to put it in an industrial area. It would be impossible to mitigate a 37 foot tower. Abed said he believed there had been a lot of misinformation, no one on the council had made up their mind.

At that point, City Manager Graham Mitchell politely stood, and Abed recognized him. Mitchell said it would not be a good idea to proceed with any further discussion about the project, since that discussion, under the rules of the Brown Act, should take place in a publically noticed meeting—i.e. the May 25 City Council meeting.

But the Chaparral folks had not come to be silent. The next speaker said that when she bought her home, they had looked at property near the Hale Ave. facility, and purposely chose not to buy a home close to such a facility. Another noted that if you googled such facilities, it would show that property values decreased. An elderly man worried that the decrease in his property values wouldn’t allow him to sell his home to secure a place in a managed care home.

Then the neighbor sitting behind me asked “who in God’s name would ever consider” such a project. Another suggested that the facility be built by the dog park because the dogs wouldn’t mind. Another asked if it would be possible for the neighbors to present a group presentation rather than individual pleas at the council meeting. Abed was pleased to have something he could finally agree to.

But three more neighbors continued their discussion. Abed, the next speaker noted, had shown a video about the beauties of Escondido, but if the city continued to put industrial buildings next to residential developments, that beauty would go, as would the quality of life. The next insisted the facility be build where it made sense. Then the neighbor behind me asked Abed if the city couldn’t afford more water now, what were they doing approving all these new homes.

That gave Abed an opening to go into his property rights are American rights routine, noting that it would be un-American to deny anyone their right to build on their property if it was within the law. And, the law would not allow a building moratorium until the drought reached level three. The neighbor behind me did not “buy that”, and it was clear the audience was ready to continue the discussion on and on.

Then Deputy City Attorney Gary McCarthy came to the rescue by basically suggesting that all discussion of the matter should be at a public hearing, not the current venue.

Abed had noticed several young people in the audience, and handed the microphone to one of them, asking him what he wanted for Escondido. Well, the young man said, it would be better not to build industrial buildings in residential areas. With good grace, Abed said he had hoped to change the subject.

The subject did change to the proposed hotel project between the City Hall and the California Center for the Arts. But, that’s for another blog.

 

Advertisements

15 thoughts on “Another Property Rights Dilemma for Abed

  1. Mickey Sanders

    Sewer plant in the center of a neighborhood wouldn’t be considered in Del Mar. Why would It be ok in Escondido??

    Like

    Reply
    1. mmliles Post author

      Calling it a sewer plant is not quite correct, it will be further treating recycled water that has already undergone considerable treatment.

      Like

      Reply
      1. Diane Belnap

        Irregardless – it is still an industrial facility in the heart of a residential neighborhood. The impact would be devastating to the property values and quality of life of the community residents. Not to mention the 25,250 gallons of toxic chemicals which will be stored just 20 feet from my backyard and that of my neighbors as well. This plant will run 24/4 with noise, light, and chemical pollution that residents will be powerless to mitigate. The city’s complete disregard for our rights and well-being is absolutely absurd. Would you want this facility in your backyard or neighborhood. https://www.change.org/p/escondido-city-council-escondido-city-planning-recycle-facility-in-residential-zone

        Like

        Reply
  2. Sid Colquitt

    Well, if it’s a question of further treating already treated water why can it not be done at or adjacent ti the Hale Ave plant? How do the get the water to the proposed site? How do they then introduce the further refined water into the city reclaimed water distribution system? What’s the advantage of having this located on the east side of town?……..Too many questions.

    Like

    Reply
    1. mmliles Post author

      Good questions, and I don’t know all the answers. But, there is no room at the Hale plant–this plant would further treat the water to a condition that could be released into Dixon Lake, as well as being used for agriculture. The problem with the Hale plant is that it has, in the past, during and after heavy storms, had it’s secondarily treated water run into the Escondido Creek, resulting in significantly large fees imposed. The traditional “fix” for this would be to increase the size of the outfall pipe that takes the treated water out into the ocean. That would be very, very expensive. The city has chosen to take the treated water to agriculture instead. They are building pipes along the Escondido Creek channel that runs through the city. Expensive, but less so that increasing the outflow pipe, with the added benefit to Escondido’s agriculture, that we all appreciate.

      Like

      Reply
  3. Sid Colquitt

    Well OK. A noble purpose and we agree installing needed piping in the channel is a good idea.. So what is the basis of neighborhood complaint? I used Google Earth to locate what (based upon the description) appears to be the site (a good way from any agricultural uses). Have you or the neighbors seen any architectural renderings of the proposed buildings? What is there about this that is so objectionable? It appears that the site already has some kind of commercial/industrial use. Is this just another NIMBY?

    Like

    Reply
    1. mmliles Post author

      I have not looked at the City’s website for this info–probably is available today, since they have to post the agenda for next week’s meeting. While I see the need for the plant, I think if I lived in that neighborhood I too would be against the project. NIMBY yes, but if I bought my home (and these aren’t cheap homes) in a residential neighborhood, I too would be upset if the City issued a conditional use permit for an industrial building.

      Like

      Reply
    2. Christine Turner

      We have seen architectural drawings, and it is an industrial facility in the heart of a residential neighboorhood. I think everyone agrees that this facility needs to be built, but this is not the place for it.

      Like

      Reply
  4. Sid Colquitt

    I understand and given the same circumstances would agree. However, given these circumstances (Hale Ave plant/distribution lines, etc) where should the city put the proposed plant?

    Like

    Reply
      1. Barbara Takahara

        If you all want accurate information, please contact Dr. Richard Sauerheber, chemistry professor at Palomar College.

        Like

        Reply
  5. Pingback: Water Matters | A Blue View for Escondido

  6. Barbara Takahara

    Hi, our Mission Park neighborhood is now fighting for our area just as Chaparral has. The Springs and Washington Square have retained the same lawyer as Chaparral, Everette Delano. Tonight is a presentation by City Utilities on the CUP of the Ash and Washington property.
    Meeting: Place: the Springs
    1261 E WAshington Ave. Escondido, CA (entry to building is off of Harding. Parking is limited. I suggest parking elsewhere.
    Time: 7 pm
    We need as many people as possible to show up in order to let the City know that an industrial water plant is not in character with our neighborhood. Same risk factors as for Chaparral apply.

    Particularly disturbing to me is that there are homes and an apartment building within 400 feet. I requested fliers for the meeting in Spanish, but was only given English. I also had a City person tell me there would be no interpreter available at meeting.
    I do realize that national elections have overshadowed our neighborhood’s concerns. I hope that after the elections people will see that our neighborhood is in the same battle as Chaparral and help make our needs more visible.
    We appreciate all advice and help.

    Like

    Reply
  7. Pingback: Social Injustice Upheld | A Blue View for Escondido

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s