Bombshell Memo from Encinitas General Plan Made Public
Encinitas General Plan 2035 Diary: Entry; October 4th, 2011
Monday Evening, the City of Encinitas General Plan 2035
Subject: GPAC Member Sjirk Zijlstra’s’ Bombshell Letter to Planning Staff is revealed to the public.
Encinitas Community Center: One of the twenty-three members of the City of Encinitas’ General Plan 2035 Advisory Committee (GPAC), Sjirk Zijlstra, representing the American Institute of Architecture, is someone I had seen and heard before, but had never met over the two year ‘process’ of ‘updating’ the Encinitas General Plan. After the strained GPAC meeting was closed I approached him while he was speaking with resident Gene Chapo, whom I’d sought out after the meeting to praise for his precision-like autopsy of sophisticated problems in the ‘draft’ General Plan 2035. Sjirk did not know me, nor was I wearing a name badge. I was just a familiar face. As I made to break off the brief three-way conversation, Sjirk mentioned that he was very disappointed in the two-year experiment and that in March 2011 he had sent several e-mails to the Planning Staff to express his deepest frustration that in his opinion the “GPAC was irrelevant” and that Daniel Iacafano “had really made all the decisions” for the GPAC and that he hoped to “send an e-mail to the City Council letting them know that there had never been ‘consensus’ in the GPAC”.
I was not surprised by Mr. Zijlstra’s conclusions; sharing these conclusions and more, after watching the process for dozens of hours myself, nor was I surprised to hear that he had tried to take some action.
Zijlstra confided to me, “I sent two important e-mails to the Staff telling them that this process wasn’t working...but the only response I got from them was that the bylaws clearly stated that we wouldn’t have voting powers and that the consultant would be the one to communicate consensus to the City Council.”
Mr. Zijlstra, originally from the Netherlands, is on the Board of Directors for the American Institute of Architects and he said that he had tried to reach out to the other GPAC Members, but had not been successful in his own outreach.
I asked him if he would feel comfortable forwarding me the e-mails that he sent Staff in March and April of this year. (April 11th, 2011 had been the last meeting of the GPAC prior to 10-3-11)
Mr. Zijlstra agreed to forward them to me and stated in parting that he had a long letter to send the City Council and City Manager imparting to them about what he perceived as a ‘failed’ exercise; the GPAC. And that it would be in ‘hard-copy’.
As I stated above; Monday evening after the strained and often embarrassing GPAC meeting on 10-3-11, I met Mr. Zijlstra for the first and only time; and directly below following is the unedited e-mail he sent me yesterday, October 4th, 2011.
Note: The “Mike” referred to below is Mike Strong, Associate Planner for the City of Encinitas: Not Mike Andreen.
E-Mail Memo from Sjirk Zijlstra, AIA
Hi Mike, please forward the following message to my fellow GPAC members.
Dear fellow GPAC members,
In the past few months I have done a lot of thinking about the role of the committee in the General Plan update and I have been trying to find a way to make our efforts more relevant. Because our efforts have been subject to very subjective scrutiny by the consultant, without ever being related to a "consensus" on any topic, the City Council does not know whether or not the GP update, that is presented to them, has the support of the committee.
I believe that the Council created the committee to ensure that the representatives of many different citizen interest groups would not only participate in the preparation of the 2035 Plan, but would also see to it that the final product has the blessing of the majority of the committee, the representatives of the citizens of Encinitas.
I am very concerned that the process to date has not provided for any consensus on any policy or action, especially when it comes to a vision for the size of the population and the GP related consequences of the size increase.
A few days ago the NCT carried an article about "Our greater San Diego Vision from North County", a group of ± 150 "ambassadors" (website:www.ogsdv.org). Their goal is to get more people involved to deal with the reality that the County grows at an average rate of ± 10% a year.
I believe that the 2035 plan process needs to take time out and that the committee and the consultant should establish a VISION of what the City of Encinitas could look like, based on a realistic population size. Where are the high rises and the mid rises going to be? We, the committee, will have failed in its duty if this subject is not incorporated in the 2035 plan, your thoughts please and regards, Sjirk Zijlstra AIA
(Note to GPAC from Mike Strong)
A GPAC member requested that the following email thread be forwarded to the GPAC. Committee by-laws are attached.
City of Encinitas
From: Sjirk Zijlstra [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, April 05, 2011 2:43 PM
To: Michael Strong
Subject: Re: Encinitas General Plan Amendments
Thank you for the reminder to review the (committee's) bylaws, yes of course I should have read the "fine print" before I signed my committee member "contract". I did review those bylaws and there are several statements in those bylaws that support the notion that the opinion of the committee as a whole matters.
The bylaws are indeed clear that the committee is "not a voting body, that it will operate by consensus". To date there has not been much need to establish consent (or not) on any subject since we were in the information gathering mode.
When the process of the GP update advances to the establishments of "Goals" & Policies", I believe that it is important there is a protocol in place to identify the "consensus" of the committee.
How else can the City Council determine if the GP update before them has the support from the committee of Community Representatives or not?
I really appreciate it if you forward this E - Mail to the committee members, please reattach the bylaws, they did not "stick" to the "reply" version, regards, Sjirk
-----Original Message-----(To Mr. Zijlstra from Mike Strong)
From: Michael Strong <MStrong@ci.encinitas.ca.us>
To: Sjirk Zijlstra <email@example.com>
Cc: Patrick Murphy <Pmurphy@ci.encinitas.ca.us>
Sent: Thu, Mar 31, 2011 8:51 am
Subject: RE: Encinitas General Plan amendments
The City Council initiated the process to form the committee in October 2009. The Advisory Committee by-laws and rules of procedure are enclosed as an attachment to the October 28, 2009 staff report.
The primary function of the GPAC under the by-laws is to build community support for the updated plan the community that is created through public workshops and the outreach process. The City Council would have to ultimately approve any change that you suggest below.
It was understood early in this process that the Advisory Committee’s role is primarily to share information with and seek feedback from their respective constituencies. The group was never intended to be a voting body.
I will be happy to forward this correspondence to the rest of the GPAC. However please take some time first to review the by-laws again. The GPAC does not have the authority to change those rules. In addition, these rules were clear to every member expressing a desire to serve on the GPAC. The primary role of the GPAC is to provide additional “input” into the process, since they represent a variety of constituents.
Think about it and let me know how to proceed.
City of Encinitas
From: Sjirk Zijlstra [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, March 25, 2011 4:07 PM
To: Michael Strong
Subject: Fwd: Encinitas General Plan amendments
Dear Mike, below is the draft of a letter that I would like to send to all the GPAC members, are you at liberty to provide me with the E-Mail address list of the GPAC members? If not, are you willing to forward this idea to the committee members? Thanks in advance for your help, regards, Sjirk
Dear fellow committee members,
The next committee meeting (April 11) will be significant in preparation for the draft of the revisions to the General Plan that will be presented to the City Council (tentatively on May 11). Quite frankly I believe that the GPAC is basically being irrelevant in the process so far, we have been just another group of citizens that provided "input". The consultants and the staff, who, do not get me wrong, have done great job in gathering and processing ideas and information, have also been making all the decisions.
The staff and its consultants are charged by the people's representatives to update the General Plan.
The role of the GPAC is to make recommendations (for new legislation) based on Staff and it's consultant's advice, to the City Council. This should not become a "legislating from the bench" process! I believe that it is time that our committee's operation becomes structured in such a way that all the proposed goals, maps and policies are voted on by the committee. We need to elect a chair person and ask the City to provide a recording secretary and conduct the meetings in compliance with Robert's Rules of Order. representation by the City Attorney's office should also be considered.
Dear fellow committee members,
The next committee meeting (April 11) will be significant in preparation for the draft of the revisions to the General Plan that will be presented to the City Council (tentatively on May 11). I believe that it is time that our committee's operation becomes structured in such a way that all the proposed goals, maps and policies are voted on by the committee.
We need to elect a chair person and ask the City to provide a recording secretary and conduct the meetings in compliance with Robert's Rules of Order.
Quite frankly I am getting tired of the GPAC basically being irrelevant in the process so far. The consultants and the staff, who, do not get me wrong, have done great job in gathering and processing ideas and information, have been making all the decisions.
The staff and its consultants are charged by the people's representatives to update the General Plan. The role of the GPAC is to make recommendations (for new legislation) based on Staff and it's consultant's advice, to the City Council. This should not become a "legislating from the bench" process! I’d like to find out if there is support for this position and if so, I suggest that those in support submit a request to the City (Mike Strong) to provide a recording secretary and that the election of a chair is put as the first item on the agenda of the April 11 GPAC meeting.
I realize that this is a short notice, should have proposed this sooner, but, here it is and a prompt response is greatly appreciated, regards, Sjirk Zijlstra AIA
I like to find out if there is support for this position and if so, I suggest that those in support jointly submit a request to the City ( c.o. Mike Strong ) to provide a recording secretary and that the election of a chair is put as the first item on the agenda of the April 11 GPAC meeting. I realize that this is a short notice, should have proposed this sooner, but, here it is and a prompt response is greatly appreciated, regards, Sjirk Zijlstra AIA
To Readers from Mike Andreen,
I believe the reason Mr. Zijlstra was looking for support from the GPAC members for a recording secretary and the introduction of Robert’s Rules of Order, is most likely because Mr. Zijlstra recognized that what was being reported to the City Council as ‘consensus’ wasn’t consensus because the GPAC was, for the most part, never asked ‘what’ they thought of the mountains of material that was thrown at them over two years.
Readers can make of Mr. Zijlstra’s letters to Mike Strong what they will, but as the heat on the General Plan process continues to rise, don’t be surprised to discover that more of the GPAC members will break ranks and go directly to the Encinitas City Council as Mr. Zijlstra is and has.
‘WHY’ an old-fashioned Public Hearing by the Planning Commission benefits the public more than a ‘feel-good’ Public Workshop.
The GPAC experiment appeared to work for two years until the actual document, the ‘draft’ General Plan 2035 was posted for the public to read and absorb.
For myself, the GPAC, unbeknownst to the solid volunteers so generous with their time over two years who have hung in there, I believe they have been used as a ‘reference group’ to assure the Encinitas City Council that the new General Plan, so radically different from the original created in 1989, was being vetted by a diverse group of community interests; but is in realty, and in retrospect, the GPAC appears to have been a kind of semi-structured ruse to allow the City Council to believe that many of the Staff ideas (in what we believe to be predetermined outcome) have come from the public and not clearly the planners.
Just as it has become clear that what appeared to be a way to gather public sentiment and opinion on a variety of subjects; the PUBLIC WORKSHOP which have a ‘feel good’ energy about them in comparison with say, a public hearing of a subject before the Planning Commission; but in reality the Staff is in charge of collecting the ‘comments’ from the public and it is Staff that decides what comments are important and what comments are not; and because, unlike the Planning Commission and City Council Meetings which are videotaped and broadcast to the community; there are no public records of what has transpired at a Public Workshop. Yes, there are carton after carton of ‘data’, but who translates the data and what gets forwarded to Council are two different things.
So, while a ‘Workshop’ might ‘feel’ like a freer expression of community opinion, in reality, in operation for this General Plan update so far; a videotaped Planning Commission public hearing is far more to the benefit of the community.
Because there is a record of it.
Tentatively, there is a Encinitas City Council hearing about the new General Plan to be held on Wednesday, October 12th; please don’t depend on Staff, myself or any third party; please read the ‘land-use’ and ‘public health’ elements of the new ‘Draft’ General Plan 2035.
Trust yourself and read it at: http://www.encinitas2035.info/Content/10040/DraftGeneralPlanElements.html
NOTE: On April 14th, 2010, the third offical meeting of the GPAC, the assistant City Attorney was broght in to advise the GPAC that it was under the umbrella of the 'open meetings' law, and that the Ralph M. Brown Act; and the members were discouraged from speaking to each other outside that room and told that any approach from the free press was to be forwaded to the Staff; there was also a signed non-disclosure agreement discussion.
Because the GPAC was clearly not a voting body, I did not believe that the Ralph M. Brown Act covered the committee mebers and politely expressed this opinion; in response I was politely informed that I was part of the public and not allowed to speak until after the meeting was closed at 9:00 pm.
It was clear to me that the City Attorney's admonitions frightened some of those on the committee and would interfere in their 'information gathering' in the community. Mr. Zijlstra's letters reflect some of these same concerns.
So, according to a GPAC Member, 'consensus' was not sought; and discussion outside the Committee room was legally restricted (according to Staff, that agendized the city attorney) so, then 'what' exactly was the reason for the GPAC? A kind of prop? And do other GPAC Members agree with Mr.Zijlstra?
Members of the General Plan 2035 Advisory Committee; the GPAC
Jo Ann Shannon
Senior Citizen Commission*
Parks and Recreation Commission*
Alternate: Steve Valois
Alternates: Lauren Barth and Nick Ferreirae
Cultural Tourism Committee*
Commission of the Arts*
Alternate: Donna diBenedetto
School District Committee*
Alternates: Sally Foster and Gail Coakley
John A. Eldon
Alternates: Carris Rhodes
Cardiff-by-the-Sea Town Council*
Alternate: Kathleen Rooney
Leucadia Town Council*
Alternate: Kathleen Lees
Olivenhain Town Council*
Downtown Encinitas Mainstreet Association*
Leucadia Mainstreet Association*
Alternate: Steve Shackelton
Encinitas Chamber of Commerce*
Alternate: Geoff Wing
Cardiff Chamber of Commerce*
Agency advocating affordable housing or a non-profit developer
Noami Pines, San Diego Housing Federation
Local representative from the real estate industry*
Local representative from the architectural industry*
Sjirk Zijlstra, North County AIA
Alternate: Warren Scott
Representative from a social perspective (service or cultural)
Laurin Pause, Community Resource Center
Property Management Company from El Camino Real
New Encinitas Representative*
* Representative required to be a City resident