Did Conservatives Actually Vote For Proposition A in Encinitas?

Brian Brady Brian Brady 22 Comments

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A big victory for the “everything is now everybody’s business” crowd today–Encinitas Proposition A passed, pretty much violating the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Proposition A basically required any changes in the City’s General Plan (zoning) to be approved by a public ballot and restricted all buildings to a 30-feet height limit.  It was the ultimate expression of “direct democracy” and renders the planning board and City Council useless in one of the most important functions of city government—protecting property rights.

I have three thoughts about this vote:

1-  Astoundingly, I think people who identify themselves as “conservative” actually voted for this proposition.
2- This vote was more of a “no-confidence” vote in the Council than a vote against property rights
3- This will have a reach far beyond the borders of Encinitas.  People who believe in property rights should be scared.

Conservatives Might Have Voted For Proposition A

I don’t live in Encinitas but I work and play there sometimes.  Over the past two months, I was asked to explain this ballot proposition to Encinitas residents:  at a Republican Club meeting, a gathering of tea party activists, at Church, and at a civic club with a decidedly conservative-lean to its membership.  I calmly explained that, while citizens delegate certain police powers to local governments (zoning), this proposition was the one of the most ill-conceived initiatives I’ve read.    The conservatives I spoke with weren’t buying the property rights argument.

Encinitas isn’t a small town–it’s a City comprised of four (or five) communities, each with distinctive  character and needs.  To impose a height limit, which was clearly aimed at the downtown dwellers, on a property in Leucadia or atop the grade in Cardiff just seems, well..ham-handed.  Moreover, zoning variances and building permits could be subject to a city-wide vote.  This seems like a radical departure from the idea of private property rights.

I think conservatives voted for this, despite its violation of private property rights,  and I think I know why…

Encinitas Voters Don’t Trust the City Council

Look at the comments on this “Patch” article:  “liberal judge”, ad hominems directed as Mayor Barth. etc.  These are not the rants of the 99%, these are cries from the tea party...or maybe both.  I can’t imagine any conservative, worth his or her salt, would intentionally violate property rights–envy just isn’t in the conservative psyche… but a mistrust in government is.  Encinitas has always been a hotbed of activism and I think the far-left NIMBYs and the far-right, small government crowd teamed up on this one.  The voters rejected the advice of every Council Member, former Mayors, and a former planning commissioner (among others).

The left wingers distributed literature which said developers would turn Downtown Encinitas into Irvine and the right wingers distributed literature about taking back City government.  I read both pieces and spoke with Encinitas conservatives and liberals alike–this was a citizen rebellion.

Conservative Voters Got Tricked and It’s Conservatives’ Fault

This is going to have a profound effect on the way California is governed and I don’t think conservatives will like it.  Direct democracy doesn’t work because it is mob rule.  Direct democracy creates more government regulation, regulation by the mob and that can be scary.  Conservatives believe in a confined, republican form of government because we know that free people are too busy to deal with the minute details of governing.  We seek to delegate limited powers, to people who volunteer to serve, to make informed decisions for us about the few things we want government to do.

Traditional property rights groups blew it in Encinitas.  The California Association of REALTORs, the San Diego Association of REALTORs. the North San Diego Association of REALTORs, the Republican Party of San Diego County, the Libertarian Party of San Diego, and The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association all took a back seat in this NIMBY-ism election because, well..

It wasn’t in OUR back yard.  But it will be…soon.  If the Solana Beach plastic bag ban is any indication, of what may come, ceding freedom in small cities can have nationwide consequencesWe blew it in Encinitas because we didn’t get out and remind conservatives that the “fighting tyranny with more tyranny” solution, isn’t one conservatives should trust.

Liberty lost in Encinitas on Tuesday, just like it lost in Solana Beach last Spring.  Conservatives really better wake up.  The little cities matter.

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Comments 22

  1. “Direct democracy doesn’t work because it is mob rule. Direct democracy creates more government regulation, regulation by the mob and that can be scary…”

    I could not agree more. Please tell that to your friend, Carl DeMaio.

  2. Mr. Brady, Would you please read the Rancho Santa Fe regulatory code and then explain to me who are the real conservatives and who are the real nimby’s. Modern conservative=hypocrite.
    Paul Therrio

  3. That’s funny about the HJTA. I some how don’t think they HJTA would agree. Prop 13 gives the voters the final say on tax increases. Representative democracy has flaws too, such as when it comes to trusting electeds on tax increases. Prop A in Encinitas gives voters the final say on increases in development rights that often result in being subsidized by the taxpayers. Encinitas republican and democrat councilmembers have a history of tax increases and development that don’t benefit the public. Brian, maybe I’m just confused. Are you saying we should overturn Prop 13?

  4. I don’t live there and so didn’t vote on it. But city planning is dominated by advocates of the latest fad, dense growth, which they euphemistically call “smart growth.” Dense growth is intended to push us into lots of condominiums and apartments and out of the car and into government transit systems. At this point, maybe initiatives like Prop A are necessary to push back against dense growth and make planners listen to what people want and stop telling people what they think is good for us.

  5. “At this point, maybe initiatives like Prop A are necessary to push back against dense growth and make planners listen to what people want and stop telling people what they think is good for us.”

    Maybe. Point #2 in my essay: Encinitas Voters Don’t Trust the City Council

    I’m always wary of fighting a republican form of government with mob rule because the mob can shift against you at any time. I think the better answer is to elect council members who will stridently fight against UN Agenda 21 and pledge to preserve property rights.

  6. Brian,

    I am a conservative and a property rights extremist. I voted for the new, liberal city council to get rid of pension-pumper Jerome Stocks, but both the “conservative” and the liberal politicians in this town push high-density development — the “conservatives” to give their developer buddies windfall profits and the liberals to push their global warming “smart growth” agenda.

    The new council majority ran on a campaign of “preserving community character” and then flipped the moment they got into office. The alternative candidates we could have elected were people like developer attorney Kevin Forrester.

    Dave Rankin is exactly right.

    We will never have this fantasy city council that you dream of. Prop A is a conservative citizens’ revolt in the spirit of Prop 13 and the Tea Party.

  7. We had some web hosting issues this morning. It has been resolved, but about four comments appear to have been lost in the process. Apologies all around. Please repost. Thanks.

  8. Brian,

    Are you really wary of mob rule or are you only wary of it when the mob is in disagreement with you?

    Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t you support citizen’s initiatives to ban project labor agreements (Prop A), reform public employee pensions (Prop B) and change the way unions assess their members’ dues (Prop 32)?

    I think you (as is most everyone else) are just fine with mob rule as long as the mob is in agreement with your position.

  9. “Are you really wary of mob rule or are you only wary of it when the mob is in disagreement with you?”

    I”m wary of mob rule.

    “Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t you support citizen’s initiatives to ban project labor agreements (Prop A), reform public employee pensions (Prop B) and change the way unions assess their members’ dues (Prop 32)?”

    I did. Using ballot initiatives to arrest the growth of government suits me just fine. Using ballot initiatives to interfere with individual rights does not. Ultimately, this was my reasoning for opposing Prop 8 (even though you know how I feel about marriage)

  10. Brian,
    We have mob rule running Sacramento. The issue of voting based on whimsy or fad is the same for our representatives as it is for the voters. The improvement with direct democracy is that everyone can see who is coming to the table with a lot of money to support their position.

    At least this way if the voters screw up they pay for it. The other way is the reps screw up and the people pay for it, while the reps get in cozy with the lobbyists. The accountability falls on those who are responsible.

    The people have voted for a tax and spend majority in Sacromento. Should we ditch the mob rule direct democracy on tax increases a la Prop 13?

  11. “Using ballot initiatives to arrest the growth of government suits me just fine.” Like, I said – when the mob agrees with you, mob rule suits you just fine.

    By the way, Prop A and Prop 32 had nothing to do with the growth of government. Actually, Prop B didn’t either.

  12. “By the way, Prop A and Prop 32 had nothing to do with the growth of government. Actually, Prop B didn’t either.”

    They sure did. A public sector union engages in a never-ending cycle of government growth. I”m not saying that; FDR did:

    http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/02/18/the-first-blow-against-public-employees/fdr-warned-us-about-public-sector-unions

    Full letter here: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=15445#axzz1G8cMTnTC

    I get the conservatives on here who voted for Prop A as a defensive weapon–I noted that in Point #2. Ultimately, I think this experiment will fail, though

  13. Brian-

    Prop A is also about the growth of government. City Manager Gus Vina has been expanding the bureaucracy and leaving huge unfunded pensions. The bureaucracy wants mega-development in order to fund more government and more pensions.

  14. Brian,

    The initiatives I referenced (at least two out of three) were attacks on private unions.

    You also ignored my first paragraph, I suppose because you know it is true – your problem was with the Encinitas initiative , not with the initiative process. People of differing opinions have a much better chance of working together toward a common goal if everyone were honest about their reasons for the differing opinions.

  15. Brian,

    The confluence to upzone Encinitas is where the staff pensions, environuts, and big crony developers all meet. The taxpayer and everyday conservative is not in the mix.

    It seems that “mob rule” is fine with you except when it comes to rezoning. Prop 13 requirement for voter approval is good.

    Brian, do you think that taxpayers should directly subsidize developers granted upzones? How about indirect subsidies? How well have the elected representatives done on that?

    This “experiment” has been in place in many other California cities. Can you guess which ones without looking them up?

  16. You’re both conflating two separate issues: ballot initiatives and zoning by voting. Zoning by voting seems onerous and dangerous to me (especially in NIMBY-land). Conservatives think they have just arrested UN Agenda 21 with Prop A when, in fact, if someone can gin up the low info voter crowd, a simple lot subdivision will be prohibited.

    “Brian, do you think that taxpayers should directly subsidize developers granted upzones? How about indirect subsidies?”

    Good grief, no.

    “How well have the elected representatives done on that? ”

    Horrible but you keep electing them…and now you just took another issue away from a conservative candidate who might run.

    Once again, I get the anger, but the unintended consequences of this “citizen rebellion” will be worse than the short-term gratification you got from the Prop A victory. You’re never going to get your city back by ballot initiative.

    How do I know this? Carl DeMaio isn’t Mayor of San Diego

  17. Brian,

    No conflating here. Zoning by direct democracy is simply a subset of all the direct democracy initiatives. Certainly, if the public is allowed to vote to regulate private contracts to which they aren’t a party then they should also be allowed to vote to regulate the character of the neighborhood in which they reside.

  18. Hypocrisy, the government gives HUGE advantages to unions, using the power of government to provide power they can’t win in the free market.

    I’d go along with your concerns if employers could simply fire striking workers and not have to do what the government defines as “good faith” bargaining. Or the fact that labor union bosses are largely exempt of any legal or criminal responsibility for the violence they inspire and even organize with their members.

    The employer-employee “right of contract” (the one you pretend to support) has been gutted by government. Govt dictates who must be hired, who can’t be fired, and gives its blessing to just about whatever coercive on-the-job efforts unions deem appropriate. There is no “right to contract” reason an employer should have to allow labor union organizing on the business premises.

    Don’t pretend to support unions’ “rights” unless you are willing to give up all the artificial rights that have already had bestowed upon them by our governments.

    P.S. Note that here I’m talking about only the advantages that ALL unions have — even worse is the incredible advantages that public employee labor unions possess.

  19. Richard,

    Actually the right of contract I was supporting (not pretending) is the contract between the company and the union. That is the contract that Proposition 32 attempted to meddle with.

  20. Brian, I don’t understand why you engage with Hypocrisy q. He is not here to debate the issue. The pseudonym tells you what he’s up to. He’s here to nitpick others for supposed inconsistencies and expose what he considers to be their hypocrisy. And he does it while hiding behind a pseudonym. Just remember, a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. He wants you to be foolishly consistent. Other than criticizing what he’s doing, I’d ignore the little hobgoblin.

  21. Sure Hypocrisy. You favor the right of contract between unions and companies — AFTER your unions have rigged the contract process through force of law in favor of unions. Prop 32 would have helped level the playing field. Not an ideal solution, but a fair solution.

    Surely a better solution would be to get the government out of the contracting process — and the employment process. But you don’t favor that, and your unions will block any such evenhanded reforms.

    All your dancing and singing about “right to contract” is just your Mr. Bojangles imitation. But it does demonstrate your considerable skill as a union boss (or union PR hireling).

    Come on, Hypocrisy — come out of the union closet. Tell us who you are, so we can better judge your “wisdom” in such matters.

    Be a man! Well, being a woman is okay too.

  22. Yo no quiero urban hell,

    You hit the nail on the head.

    Stocks and posse were destroying Encinitas and are anti-conservative. Check out the pension sucking sounds that befriended Mr. Stocks and those that benefited from the 35% increase feeding frenzy.

    Rancho Santa Fe, Fairbanks Ranch, and Del Mar have strict land use restrictions, yet more developers tend to live in these places than others.

    Prop A was a push back to a local government with out of control spending on pensions that was being led by “conservatives.”

    I say RINO. I am glad it won.

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