Failures in Olivenhain are symptoms of problems

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?”

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  1. Great Points says:

    Great piece on the meeting. I am proud of my Olivenhain neighbors.

    I also wanted to mention that Muir said that the presentations that they shared at the meeting would have "cost consultants $50,000 to produce," but that they were doing it for free.

    Jim Bond also talked about how Pat Murphy, Planning Department Director, hadn’t mastered his City issued cell phone–so was unavailable to do his job when he was away from a land line.

    How inept are these people in leadership roles for the City? How can even decent people who work under these two be their best? Not everyone in the City is inept, and I feel sorry for anyone who has to work for managers with such a low level of technical skill.

    We need to inform the new City Manager as soon as he is hired, so that he can make appropriate cuts and do some restructuring of departments. My recommendation is that he cut from the top!

  2. Bob Preston says:

    I attended the meeting. The fire department did an exceptional job of presenting facts, probabilities and options to the city council. The council who makes policy had all the information they needed to provide direction to the city manager and fire chief. Instead they decided to kick the can down the road. Even though we don’t generate the number of calls that other parts of the city do, we paid taxes and expect equal service.

  3. Thewayitis says:

    Maybe rural living has its drawbacks? I don’t know, but how do the Olivenhain response times compare to Rancho Santa Fe or Fairbanks? The fact is that population density- i.e. "customers" – is much, much lower in Olivenhain than Cardiff or other parts of the city. Should this be a legitimate drawback of where one chooses to live?

  4. Andy Auditor, Maine says:

    How soon will this column be entitled,"WHO will you vote for for City Council in 2012?
    The longer response times are a direct result of Olivenhain decisions over the last 24 years; AND the current tax assessment percentages paid by Olivenhain homneowners are not enough to underwite a standalone fire station,
    This is all about choice.
    The response times are longer because the geography is larger/lengthier to cross; made double long by elected Olivenhain leaders choosing consciously to close off through-traffic to Olivenhain from New Encinitas and choosing to install traffic ‘calming’ Stop signs to make traveling through Olivenhain more difficult for c ommuters from outside the city limits.
    The very real reasons that the response times are longer have more to do with the choices of those in the Olivenhain ‘Colony’ than they do decisions by the City Council.
    Why should the 90% of Encinitas tax payers supplement the taxpayers of Olivenhain because the Olivenhain colonists choose to separate themselves from the majority and then blame the public servants for not treating them equally when their less-than-necessary tax base is found inadequate and both dishonest intellectually and self-entitlement at its worst.
    Why can’t the folks who live in Desert Rose have the same response times that those in downtown Encinitas have? BECAUSE they have chosen to live out on the boundaries and in reality self-assessment is probably the only ‘fair’ remedy to this problem.
    The current ciy council is NOT responsible for the access to east Olivenhain is currently so roundabout; Mayor Marge Gaines and Mayor Christy Guerin, both Olivenhain residents, did this: and now, instead of taking some responsibility for the lack of access, this arriviste columnist wants to blame the fire department or council.
    Misplaced blame will not alter the fact that the scattered homes of the Colony collectively in assessment percentages in comparison to those on the coast will never in their present form pay for a new fire staion.
    Next week, Audet blames Japanese tsunami on Bond and Stocks.

  5. AudetDeservesCredit says:

    Mr. Audet doesn’t even live in Olivenhain, and he is bringing up this issue because it is the right thing to do!

    This is NOT a simple, black and white situation, but certainly the City should have informed Olivenhain residents of their intentions before selling off the property that was designated for our fire station.

    Among other solutions–we could have helped to finance the upkeep and staffing if we would have had a say in the matter and had been informed of this decision prior to the land being sold in secret.

    Since the City wanted the money for the property and a developer bought it, and the city and the builder profitted by denying us safety, it is now a case of blaming the vicitim! I grieve for the family of the young boy who might still be alive today if he would have received attention in a reasonable amount of time!

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