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Two North County cities made moves to incorporate more transportation choices on public streets this past week, and one ran head-on into problems.
With no members of the public speaking in opposition, Encinitas directed its Traffic and Public Safety Commission to draft a “complete streets” policy, which would accommodate pedestrians, bikes and public transit as well as vehicles, in a 3-2 vote.
That comes after a dustup on the commission over complete streets, a concept that incorporates pedestrian, cycling and vehicle access when designing roads. One auto-minded commissioner, who no longer serves on the advisory panel, called on another last year to resign over that commissioner’s support for complete streets.
But over in Oceanside, the study of a road diet on Coast Highway rolled out last week, and it’s been a rough start. Residents have blasted the changes in neighborhood forums, which seemingly came out of nowhere for many people. Stay tuned for more on that.
From the ‘That Doesn’t Seem Like a Good Idea’ File
Two consultant teams that advised and profited from Poway Unified’s notorious $1 billion capital appreciation bond sale in 2011 were rehired by a majority of the school board Tuesday night to complete a Mello-Roos bond refinancing deal.
The use of bond underwriter Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. and consulting firm Dolinka Group to complete a $11.5 million special tax bond refinancing was passed on a 3-2 vote. Board members Kimberly Beatty and Charles Sellers voted against the deal, citing public outrage over the past deal that gave the district $105 million and will ultimately cost about $1 billion to repay. The split vote marked a reversal for board president Michelle O’Connor-Ratcliff and board member T.J. Zane, who expressed similar concerns about the consultants last fall, but voted to proceed this week on the advice of staff. Officials hope the deal will save the district $1 million.
In other news, at least two Poway board members appear ready to fire attorney Dan Shinoff and his firm, but will wait until June to do so.
Sellers said he plans to advocate for their termination, and Beatty voiced concerns with Shinoff’s work for San Ysidro schools and a recent unsuccessful attempt to get a restraining order against an outspoken Poway Unified resident without the board’s knowledge.
— Ashly McGlone
The Election Scene, From a Distance
A couple weeks ago, I wrote about races in Carlsbad and Oceanside. A few other elections in North County are heating up now, and it looks like at least one ballot will have as many names as the cast of “Game of Thrones.” Stay with me.
In Vista, two at-large Council seats are up for grabs, and Deputy Mayor Amanda Rigby and Councilman Cody Campbell, both in their first terms, have announced they’re running again.
Joining them so far are retired cobbler Tom Fleming; real estate agent Joe Green; former Councilman Frank Lopez; Michael Nucci, a realtor whose family owns a popular restaurant; Dale Pilat, a public safety commissioner, and Victoria Waufle, a “parish ministry assistant” according to her Facebook page, who picked up endorsements from Mayor Judy Ritter and Councilman John Aguilera.
That generally spells good news for Rigby and Campbell, who at least have name recognition as incumbents. They don’t need a majority of the votes – just a plurality.
In Escondido, where this is the second go-around for the city’s voting districts, two seats are up for grabs this year. Republican Councilman Mike Morasco is running unchallenged in District 4. Meanwhile in District 3, Councilwoman Olga Diaz, the lone Democrat on the Council, hasn’t decided whether she will run again but Mayor Sam Abed has drafted Republican Joe Garcia, a pastor, to run against Diaz, if she does decide to.
Diaz told me she expects to make a decision this month.
San Marcos, meanwhile, is following in its own steps from 2014 – nobody has signaled any intention to run yet, according to the City Clerk.
(Disclosure: Diaz is a new Voice of San Diego board member.)
The North County Case for a Convadium
Well, the Union-Tribune’s Logan Jenkins spilled the beans on why a downtown convadium would benefit North County.
One benefit is the relative advantage North County hotels would get from a tax increase levied on San Diego hotels.
More importantly, the new plans for a downtown convadium has taken county funds out of play. The county had pledged $150 million to keep the Chargers in Mission Valley last year, but the Chargers’ plan and the Citizens’ Plan both only call for help from the city of San Diego.
That’s got to be a relief for one North County councilman, who quipped to me that San Diego is a black hole for North County tax dollars.
Also in the News
• Vista unveiled a new gateway arch on South Santa Fe Avenue that reads “Paseo Santa Fe.” Residents are already signing a petition to the city to change it to “Vista.” (Union-Tribune)
• Homeless shelters typically close their doors this time of year, but Escondido’s Interfaith Community Services is staying open. (KPBS)
• Oceanside laid off 10 firefighters whose positions were paid by a federal grant. The Fire Chief is “nervous” – the Council says it’s OK. (Seaside Courier)
• Encinitas accepted a grant for sand replenishment. (The Coast News)
• The North San Diego Business Chamber is against the minimum wage increase. (Union-Tribune)
• Carlsbad is becoming the village with a skyline. (Union-Tribune)