Encinitas is failing to deliver timely emergency services to Olivenhain. The citywide goal is services arrive within five minutes 80 percent of the time. The city admits to meeting their response goal in Olivenhain 0 percent of the time. Many residents in Olivenhain are more likely to receive their Domino’s Pizza in 30 minutes or less than they are the emergency services they are paying for.
The failures in Olivenhain are symptoms of larger problems. A decade of questionable real estate deals, developer handouts, failed leadership and city staff unwilling to work with residents are reasons why the city can’t meet its obligations for public safety.
In 1975 Olivenhain had a volunteer fire department. When the city incorporated Olivenhain was promised a fire station. The city bought two acres for a fire station on Lone Jack. Resident Anne Mallison told the council that in 2004 “to our horror the land passed from the city to a private developer without our knowledge or permission.” A good deal for the developer and a bad deal for the community.
At last week’s council meeting, residents described a City Hall out of touch. They’d been told by a City Council member “if you don’t like the response time then move” and said “Council members refused to meet with us.”
Resident Ginger Perkins said “Staff does little to include us in their decisions.” Residents described a burning barn, the seizure of a child, a tragic fatality. Mayor Bond seemed more concerned with speakers going over the allotted three-minute speaking time then what they had to say telling speakers, “Watch the light we are running over” or “Try to hustle.” Bond seemed oblivious that for speakers, the subject was a matter of life and death.
Mark Twain said there are “statistical lies.” Twain warned the public to be skeptical of government reports. The fire department gave an hour-long report with charts showing citywide response times. The report provided good cover for elected officials to appear to be doing their jobs. The report was irrelevant to Olivenhain residents who know the city is failing to meet their goal. The council just spent nearly $8 million of tax dollars to build new fire stations with subzero kitchens, flat screen TVs and not a nickel to improve response times.
The report would have been more useful before building the new stations not after. The fire department talked about “response times in unincorporated areas,” which is meaningless as Olivenhain is incorporated. Residents speaking after the fire department said, “City officials massage emergency response times to justify their case. You should be ashamed of yourself.” Deputy Mayor Stocks blamed the closing of a Carlsbad station as a factor for the city’s failures.
Tom Swanson asked the council, “Where in the world is our tax dollars going?” Approximately $8 million has been spent on the Leucadia and Balour fire stations. Dormitories became private rooms. New bathrooms and kitchens were built and response times did not improve.
Another $23 million of tax dollars went to the Hall Sports Complex and $9 million in interest payments for the park went to bankers. A good deal for the bankers and a bad deal for us. From all indications Stocks and Bond want to pay for expensive 90-foot stadium lighting at the park at taxpayers’ expense while the city can’t provide basic services to protect residents.
Successful leaders produce results. The city has known for more than a year they are failing to deliver services in Olivenhain and have not produced a solution to meet its obligations. Maybe it is time residents started asking “Who am I going to vote for City Council in 2012?”
Filed Under: Life, Liberty and Leadership