State law requires every city to make room for low-income housing, and every city in San Diego County has adopted housing plans that meet that requirement — every city except Encinitas.
City leaders have struggled for years to find a consensus on where to allow higher-density, subsidized housing for low-income residents, VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan reports. There are the usual complaints about community character, sure, but the city faces an extra hurdle: a 2013 proposition that requires direct voter approval of all city land-use decisions. Even if the city can get a plan on the ballot in 2016, there’s no guarantee voters will give it their blessing.
Until Encinitas adopts a plan to accommodate the housing needs of low-income residents, it risks lawsuits like the ones Pleasanton and Menlo Park have had to settle in recent years.
This Week in Wastewater
We’re all doing such a great job of conserving water that we’re actually messing up the sewer system, KPBS reports.
Sewage flows in the Leucadia Wastewater District have dropped by 15 percent since 2007, which sounds great, but it actually makes it more difficult for the — ahem — “solids” to pass through the pipes, especially along flat terrain. The solids are separating from the rest of the wastewater, corroding clay pipes and creating unwelcome odors, according to the district’s general manager. Pesky roots from thirsty trees aren’t helping the situation either.
Speaking of wastewater, advocates of the process bristle (understandably) at the gross-sounding label “toilet to tap.” (Indeed, this is a big pet peeve of VOSD’s own Liam Dillon.) At a desalination convention in San Diego last week, a water official from Singapore suggested some alternative terminology: “indirect potable use of recovered water.” I’d say that wording is a bit unrefined. (Los Angeles Times)
Ancient Fossils Unearthed in Carlsbad
Fossils up to 200,000 years old were uncovered at the site of a 60-acre residential subdivision under construction in Carlsbad, the Union-Tribune reports.
The ancient remains include the bones of at least two Columbian mammoths — creatures that weighed 8 to 10 tons and stood 13 feet tall when they roamed the continent. Paleontologists also unearthed a skull and part of the skeleton of an unidentified prehistoric bison. Only one other ancient bison fossil has ever been found in San Diego County.
The specimens have been sent to the San Diego Natural History Museum. The museum curator said more small fossils could turn up as grading continues on the construction site.
New Lady Leaders
The Oceanside City Council promoted Michelle Lawrence to city manager. Lawrence, who began working for the city as an aide 25 years ago, has served as interim city manager since February. One of Lawrence’s top priorities will be to hire several new department directors. (Seaside Courier)
Encinitas also has a new city manager, Karen Brust, a longtime resident of the city. She worked as Del Mar’s city manager from 2007 to 2011 and previously worked as finance director and treasurer of the San Diego County Water Authority. (Union-Tribune)
Water Bosses Bring in the Big Bucks
The general manager of the Vallecitos Water District recently got a 4.5 percent raise and a 1.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment, bringing his annual salary to $237,417, according to the San Diego Reader. Vallecitos serves customers in San Marcos, Escondido, Vista and Carlsbad.
A spokesperson for the water district said the pay is justified: “Our general manager is responsible for a $141 million budget, 115 employees and an agency that serves a population of 97,000 people with life’s most essential element.”
Though Vallecitos has one of the highest executive compensation packages in the county, it may seem like a deal compared with South County’s Otay Water District, which pays its general manager $301,000 a year, including 71 vacation days.
Also in the News
• Echoing the concerns of a transportation advocacy group, Del Mar’s planning director said SANDAG’s new transportation plan is too lax in its approach to transit-focused development. (VOSD)
• A new DMV office will open next month in San Marcos. The DMV has been operating out of a temporary office in San Marcos since closing its Escondido office two years ago. The new San Marcos office will be 30,000 square feet — far larger than the puny 12,000-square-foot office in Oceanside. (Union-Tribune)
• Carlsbad officials have begun the process of revising their zoning laws to allow indoor shooting ranges in the city’s industrial zones. (The Coast News)
• Standard & Poor’s boosted the ratings on Escondido’s water bonds, citing the city’s “consistently strong historical financial performance.” Mayor Sam Abed, who is also running for county supervisor, said the improved bond rating will help the city save millions in interest. (Union-Tribune)
• Workers are replacing some of the rusty metal crossbeams that fortify the Oceanside Pier’s wooden pilings this week. With all the money the city is investing — including $200,000 in the current phase — the work crew’s foreman says the pier should last another 75 years. (San Diego Reader)
• Both Solana Beach and Encinitas are considering bans on polystyrene, better known as Styrofoam. (Union-Tribune)