Quality of Life Agenda 2014


In November, 2013, local grassroots leaders met to identify and discuss key issues related to quality of life.  These issues are presented below in the form of an agenda for 2014.  In the 2014 quarterly forums, the group will consider strategies and activities to advance this agenda.

City Basic Services – The definition of basic services should include Community Services and Recreation.

Year-round Homeless Shelter & Day Center – The city should work with the private, non-profit and faith community sectors to assure the appropriate location and funding for such resources.

Public Policy for lease of parkland – The city needs to receive public input and formulate a public policy related to the lease of parkland.

Mistrust of police by Latino families – contributes to a climate of fear and discourages civic participation.

Youth & Children recreation and enrichment programs – The city should encourage and help to fund the development of such resources.

“Complete Streets” – streets conducive to walking, riding bikes, safe and attractive places for people of all ages to gather. This includes lighting and sidewalks in neighborhoods like Old Escondido.

Escondido Creek Walk – City should continue to promote rehabilitation of the creek with related recreational/open space development

Climate of inclusion, lifelong learning, diversity and global connectedness – libraries open when people need them, after-school & vacation enrichment programs for children, volunteer opportunities and programs.

Encourage creativity, Arts and culture – The city should seek to redevelop downtown with art & culture.

El Caballo Park – City should provide more support and assistance to overcome hurdles in development of this valued community resource.

New developments should pay fair share for region-wide transportation capital improvements – The Escondido Council representative to SANDAG should advocate for this policy as defined in the SANDAG Regional Transportation Plan.

Kudos to the Community Services Commission

In recent years, it has been a truism in the grassroots that the city’s commissions are not independent bodies but merely extensions of the political majority on the council, there to do the bidding of the mayor or the majority.  Consequently, many city observers did a double-take at the outcome of this Monday’s meeting of the Community Services Commission.

The overwhelming majority of Escondido residents who testified at that hearing were in favor of BMX activities, but not at Kit Carson Park.  A small group of supporters said Escondido needed a BMX track and Kit Carson Park was the ideal location for it.  A couple of speakers referred to important limitations set by L. R. Green in his bequest of that land to the city, which prohibited commercialization without getting the consent of the population.  The commission ended up recommending to the city council that the city explore ways to bring a BMX track to Escondido but not located at Kit Carson Park.  The commission got it right.  Its recommendation reflected exactly what city residents had said during the public hearing.

One can only speculate what the outcome would have been if the East Valley Library property had been the subject of public hearings before it was handed over to Heritage Charter School.

For that momentous city decision this past year, the Community Services Commission was not even consulted, even though they are charged with advising the city council on any contract for use of city park or recreational facilities.

Some folks may be hoping that this glaring exclusion of the commission public hearing process for the east valley library space would simply fade into the forgotten past.

This week’s commission meeting is a stark demonstration of the difference it makes to the community when our city leaders follow the rules.


No need for a hasty decision on the BMX proposal.

On November 13th, the Escondido Community Services Commission was asked to consider a proposal to create a BMX track in Kit Carson Park.  USA BMX, and Vince McCurdy (the operator of two BMX parks in San Diego County) would like to lease 2+ acres in Kit Carson Park and then have the City spend about $115,000 to create the track.  It will be totally fenced in and will include lights, bleachers, a PA system and a concessions stand. Fees will be charge to use the track. (At the Kearny Mesa track, annual membership is $60 per person.  Proposed fee for practicing is $7, for racing $15.)  This private, for-profit company will also use Park restrooms and parking.  In exchange, they will pay the City $60,000 a year through a lease.

EF’s Steering Committee recommends that the Community Services Commission delay this decision until the City can develop a comprehensive plan for park use and development.  We are not opposed to a BMX track in Escondido.  But we are opposed to this sudden rush to put one in Kit Carson Park when the City has already been discussing this idea with the BMX people for nine months.  During that period, this idea could easily have been presented to  the residents of Escondido for a discussion of the whole idea of leasing out City parkland to for-profit entities as well as this particular proposal.  If you agree with the need to delay this decision, please send an email to the Community Services Commission via Director Loretta McKinney (lmckinney@escondido.org).  You can also voice your concern to the Mayor and City Council by clicking here.  If you have the time, please come to the meeting on Monday at 7pm in City Council chambers.  The voices of Escondido residents need to be heard.

Delay the decision.  Develop a plan.

EF Blog: Expanded Library Design is brilliant work by Group 4 Architecture

Last night the Escondido City Council asked City Manager Clay Phillips to come up with recommendations for how to cover the $600K cost of the design phase for the Library expansion plan.  There was unanimous positive response to the presentation by Architect David Schnee of Group 4 Architecture.  Former mayor Jim Rady reminded the council that at one point there had been a $10 million dollar reserve fund designated for the Library, which was then utilized for city operating expenses.  He urged the current council to take this opportunity to  “repay” the library fund.

Although saying he is totally in support of the plan, Mayor Sam Abed stopped short of committing any funds for the design phase.  Ed Gallo liked that this new design was meant to serve “generations to come” and pointed to the Bill Gates Foundation as a possible source for the design dollars.  Olga Diaz, was willing to use Escondido’s reserve funds to advance the project, which she saw as an “economic engine” that would contribute to economic development as much as sponsoring AmGen.  Mike Morasco and John Masson both were positive about the project but wanted more input from staff regarding possible funding options.

Some in the audience anticipated more resistance from the council to the project.  But there was little anyone could criticize in the brilliant work done by Group 4.  Taking design cues from the existing City Hall campus and creating a walking corridor down Broadway to the new library entrance at the corner of 2nd Avenue where a high curving glass wall would echo city hall, the proposed design would inspire and stimulate as a library should.  This is shaping up to be an historic moment for Escondido, an opportunity to capture great design at half the cost of the plan proposed a few years ago.  This may be the time for the city to move forward with the expansion of the main library.

For those of us who still support a branch library in East Escondido, we know that having a strong main library can be a step in that direction.  We need to move forward with the options available to us now.

Those in the community who strongly support library services should plan to be heard when Clay Phillips brings his funding recommendations to the council.

EF BLOG: Responsive to the needs of East Valley residents.

With the recent addition of the new Grocery Outlet Bargain Market on East Valley Parkway, the soon to open WalMart Grocery Store, the thriving Vallarta Market and the 99 cent Store deeply discounted produce and groceries, the East Valley corridor from Ash to Midway is becoming a bargain food hunter’s paradise.  In these days of continuing austerity and fiscal hardship, the presence of such budget-stretching resources within walking distance of  lower-income neighborhoods is evidence of community planning which is responsive to the needs of residents. Kudos to those who were responsible for this.

Escondido Districting Public Hearing schedule

Escondido Independent Districting Commission meetings and hearings:

  • Thursday, October 17, 6 p.m. – Public Hearing – Church of the Resurrection, 1445 Conway Drive, 92027.
  • Saturday, October 19, 9 a.m. – Public Hearing – Mission Middle School, 939 E. Mission Ave. 92025.
  • Thursday, October 24, 6 p.m. – Public Hearing – Felicita Elementary School, 737 W. 13th Street, 92025.
  • Sunday, October 27, 3 p.m. – Public Hearing – Council Chambers,
    (followed by a Commission Meeting at 6 p.m., also in Council Chambers)
  • Tuesday, October 29, 6 p.m. – Commission Meeting, Council Chambers

Deadline for submitting public comment – October 31.

Preliminary map submitted to City Clerk October 31 or November 1.

Post-map Public Hearings

  • Thursday, November 21, 6 p.m. – Public Hearing – Hidden Valley Middle School, 2700 Reed Road, 92027.
  • Saturday, November 23, 9 a.m. – Public Hearing – Mission Middle School, 939 E. Mission Ave. 92025.
  • Sunday, November 24, 3 p.m. – Public Hearing – California Center for the Arts, 340 N. Escondido Blvd. 92025.   (followed by a Commission Meeting at 6 p.m. in City Council Chambers, 201 N. Broadway, 92025)

Final map to City Council by Thanksgiving (November 28) or at the first available Council meeting (probably Wednesday, December 4).

An East Valley Remembrance

The East Valley community lost a friend when the Escondido Fresh & Easy neighborhood market closed its doors this past Friday after six years of doing business at the corner of Ash and East Valley.  Owned by TESCO, a British Corporation, the chain offered a unique international variety of convenience and fresh foods.  It took a few years, but they eventually figured out what the neighborhood wanted and soon there were actual lines at the self-check-out stands.  The store regularly donated their discarded goods to The Escondido Salvation Army to benefit the needy.  When Reveal Escondido Creek had its Creek Path cleanups, Fresh & Easy staff came out and helped with the cleanup and then provided refreshments for volunteers.  Folks who lived within walking distance often made the trek to check out their amazing “marked-down bin”. A USDA staffer I know said that they would choose Fresh & Easy over many of the competitors because of their cleanliness and strict compliance with food safety requirements.  Many went there specifically to get their antibiotic-free meats.  We will miss the friendly staff who were also our neighbors.  We wish them well as they seek other employment.  One fortunate staffer said she was actually planning to retire and was asked to work an extra week beyond her scheduled retirement date until the store closed.   It was a short but good run.

An Important Meeting

An important community meeting will take place on Tuesday, 9/24/13 at 6 p.m. at the Escondido Library Turrentine Room.  EF strongly supports this effort to engage the community in the Districting process.  We urge you to plan to attend and encourage others to do so.  The more people are engaged in this historic Districting process, the more people are likely to participate in the next election.  And that will be good for our community.  It is time to start getting in gear.

Sept 24 Forum FINAL

spanish disticting copy

Craig Carter was a good choice.


On the June 29, 2013 Peace March organized by Victory Outreach, Captain Craig Carter (see photo journal article) spoke passionately about keeping the community safe, especially youth.  His message to parents:  “Stay involved and get as much information as you can about your kids, know who their friends are, know where they’re at and just show them love.”

Within 6 weeks of marching in solidarity with several dozen local families to speak out against crime, violence and gangs, Captain Carter was named Escondido’s new Chief of Police.

In the SDUT’s 9/7/13 article, “Top Cop Wants Better Outreach“, Chief Carter said he will revive the department’s emphasis on Community Policing, which relies on community partnerships.  This comes as good news to local neighborhoods who greatly benefited from that approach in the past.

Members of the Community Alliance For Escondido have known and worked with Lt., then Captain, now Chief Carter for years and have come to respect his personal decency, his professional ethics and his commitment to the welfare of the grassroots community.

In the controversy and aftermath of Chief Maher’s departure, Craig Carter was a good choice.  We wish him well.

Submitted by Mel Takahara

Hometown festival in the park

On Saturday, 9/7/13, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., our community celebrates the 18th annual Grape Day Festival, hosted by the Escondido History Center, open to the community at no cost.  Like a traditional family gathering at a favorite relative’s house, this happening in Grape Day Park is one of the highlights of the year for the Escondido community.  It is the only place in the region you can taste real Concord Grape pie!

EF will have a booth there so come stop by and visit us.  We will be gathering input for our annual Quality of LIfe Survey report.  We will also have volunteers from “Nuestro Voto, Nuestro Futuro” helping to man the booth.

Or, just come for grape pie and music.  It’s a day in the park!
Grape12-Stomping GrapesGrape12-DancersGrape12-Train Depot