Some of you may have seen a few of these signs around Encinitas:
Who wants their mayor and city council to sue them? Especially to overturn their vote!
Seems bad, right? Well, don't be deceived!
Go up to one of the folks who put out one of these signs and ask if they were specifically named in a lawsuit and served by the city.
Well, were they notified of an impending lawsuit that named them?
So, what's up with the sign?
If they were straight with you, they might tell you a long, long story, about the city being out of compliance with state law for years and years because special interest groups thwarted the city's multiple attempts to pass a compliant housing plan, of the city finally being sued to comply, of a judge forcing the city to get declaratory relief to establish that local law doesn't pre-empt state law, of a group that volunteered to be on the other side of the argument and then promptly turned tail and ran, of abstract legal constructs, of twists and turns, and of the final form of a lawsuit to protect Proposition A, which is the ostensible "vote" that is supposedly being overturned in the slogan on this ridiculous sign.
It's not a simple tale, but one thing is for damned sure: The city is NOT suing you to overturn your vote.
Mayor Catherine Blakespear explains what really happened:
"The City of Encinitas sued the State of California, not our residents, and we did it to protect, not overturn, our citizens’ right to vote.
"I believe what’s motivating this sign is a twisted version of the following saga. As part of the city’s housing litigation, we invited a group called 'Preserve Prop. A' to participate as a party because we’d understood that they wanted to make their case. After filing a motion asking to be a part of earlier litigation, with their attorney communicating that they wanted a seat at the table, they made a politically motivated about-face and accused the city of 'suing our residents'. Nothing could be further from the truth.
"Given their changed position, the city dismissed the group 'Preserve Prop. A' from the city’s motion for declaratory relief. They have not been a party to the legal process for more than four months, since March. Instead, the city named the State of California.
"Now, the city is the party standing up for the right to vote under Prop. A, given that 'Preserve Prop. A' didn’t want to participate.
We are not suing our residents. We are protecting our residents’ right to vote."
Seems like a more accurate version of the sign would look like this:
Those goofy "My Mayor and Council Sued Me" signs were made by a group that believes the city should have defied the judge in the lawsuit forcing the city into compliance with state law. That would have meant declaring a full scale legal war on the State of California.
This trigger-happy group seems eager to plunge Encinitas into a long term, ultimately hopeless fight with the state, potentially costing us millions of dollars in legal fees, penalties, administrative fees, and foregone grants. Why would we lose out on grants? Because we don't get certain types of state grants - for example, money to build pedestrian rail crossings - when we're out of compliance with state law.
The state is very serious about its housing laws. The laws exist to promote affordable housing to relieve California's dire housing shortage. The Governor and the legislature are committed to solving the housing crisis. We may disagree with their methods, but we don't question their resolve.
The people who are itching for a fight shouldn't take our word for this. They can call Governor Gavin Newsom's office directly and ask him how serious he is about this issue. He did threaten to "make an example" out of cities that refused to come into compliance... a list that Encinitas was on for a long time. He seems pretty serious to us, but shucks, if he can be talked off his position, please let us know immediately!
Here's his number: 916-445-2841
Oh, wait. There's still the State Assembly and the State Senate, where majorities also support state housing laws. After all, they made those laws. They'll need to be convinced that they're wrong as well. Their phone numbers are... well, never mind.
The point is that fighting the state over housing law can sound like a noble cause - but it's really just a path into a hopeless quagmire that will cost all of us dearly.
Julie Thunder, the die-hard Republican candidate for mayor (who is trying to oust current Mayor Blakespear), seems like she's eager for a fight with the state based on what she's said online and on her website. She doesn't talk at all about the millions of dollars this bad decision will cost residents. Funny, that.
Here's the sign that should really be popping up around town: