A Fitting Tribute

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Over the past several months we have been reading with interest in the dialogue section of the Newsletter various opinions concerning roadside tributes to people who have died in tragic accidents here in Scripps Ranch. As the family of Noelle Marra who was killed on the corner of Pomerado Road and Avenida Magnifica on January 15, 1995, we feel we are well qualified to speak on this subject.

Roadside tributes in Scripps Ranch are tasteful and reverent. Our daughter’s accident site memorial was conceived with utmost thought and consideration for safety and esthetics. We worked with the Scripps Ranch North Planning Committee and Bob Dingeman to obtain proper approval from the City of San Diego. Generous residents of Crown Pointe arranged for a perpetual water source and countless donors contributed plants, ground cover, and maintenance for the corner. The light pole was repainted to conform to local requirements. This memorial will not bring back Noelle but it serves as a reminder of our community’s goodness and generosity in remembering her.

One year after Noelle died, our Pastor, Fr. Jim Poulsen at St. Gregory the Great, blessed that corner in a moving ceremony attended by so many of her friends. Even the Superior Court Judge who presided over the jury trial that convicted the drunk driver was in attendance. Every time we pass there, we can only imagine the horror Jim Danforth witnessed that fateful night. Jim, thank you for your contribution to this dialogue. The roadside memorials were established not to enshrine any victims but as a reminder to us all of the preciousness of their lives.

We thank all the anonymous visitors who continue to leave small reminders at Noelle’s corner of their love for her. That’s what a roadside memorial was meant to be. Sincerely,

Life is too Short… SLOW DOWN!

So you came to Scripps Ranch for a better home life and “Country Living.” Well, think again. I can’t help but think of the fate of Scripps Ranch with new building and more traffic. Three deaths by traffic accidents in a two mile radius over a couple of years, numerous accidents and joggers, bikers, and children taking their lives into their own hands everyday. I have pet names for our streets now: Spring Canyon Raceway, Scripps Ranch Blvd. 500, and Wills Creek Drag Strip. I’m sure there are many others that our community has. We have four parks on Spring Canyon that virtually no one uses because of excessive speeds by motorists. Soon we will need to erect sound barriers on the sides of the roads. With Rancho Encantada and other communities coming to the east of us…….Look out!

Anyone ever think of speed humps that will reduce speed and cut-through traffic from Poway? What about the plight of the children who play on Wills Creek Road? Our own residents need to slow down. The next time that someone dies it will be on all of our shoulders including the planning commission and city council. Scripps Ranch Country Living. Proceed with CAUTION!

Let Me Repeat:… SLOW DOWN!

As a member of the Scripps Ranch community I strongly urge our residents to start paying careful attention to the traffic issues in our community. There is no longer a speed limit on most of our streets it is usually determined by how much of a hurry people are in to get to where they are going. As I carefully drive the speed limit on Spring Canyon Road I am amazed at the number of people that pass me without any regard to safety. I am continually cut-off and tailgated by someone who is in a hurry that usually ends up next to me at a stop light. Our streets are used by many pedestrians for jogging, walking and bicycle riding and people tend to drive over 55 mph on these same streets. Lets talk about Wills Creek. When are people going to get together and sign a petition to have speed bumps put in to deter those people who use this street as a cut through to other areas. Has anybody realized how many children live and play along this street and how difficult it can be to react to a child who is in the blind spot of a parked car that runs out in the street?

I am amazed at how my house shakes at times from our teenagers that drive down residential streets with their car stereos blaring. Don’t get me wrong, I like to listen to music quite loud also but I am courteous enough to turn my stereo down when I enter a residential neighborhood. I wonder how their parents would feel if I pulled in their driveway and turned my stereo all the way up. I understand that this is a part of growing up for some kids but we surely did not do that in residential areas when we were growing up.

I just wonder how many more deaths will have to occur in our area before we get together as a community and do something about the increase in traffic violations. When will we slow the speed limit from 45 to 30 on Spring Canyon Road or on Scripps Ranch Blvd. so that people from neighboring areas stop using these roads as a short cut to the freeway. And as individuals when do we address people that we see speeding and say “Hey, slow down, there are kids playing around here,” and maybe save a life. Working in an emergency room I too often hear “If I would have, If I could have, and I should have.” Sorry folks by the time you get to see me it’s usually too late–start now!

Man’s Best Friend?

We commend Jany Staley for her excellent letter about the responsibilities of dog owners in which she points out that one purpose of the state law that requires dogs to be on leashes is to keep them off private property. Our lawn is next to the sidewalk and some dog owners permit their leashed dogs to urinate and even defecate on our lawn. We would like to ask those people to be good citizens and show more courtesy to others. After all, how would they like it if their own properties were used as “doggy bathrooms”?

Help Protect Our Community

On Tuesday, Aug. 7 City Council voted to approve the Rancho Encantada project. I believe this action was a mistake in several respects, for the community and for the City as a whole. This is not a case of “good” versus “evil,” although some may want to pose it as such. Simply, practically, there are better approaches for the development of this site – alternatives which have less impact on the natural environment, less impact in terms of traffic, and which increase public participation. This was clear even in the project’s own EIR, as flawed as it may be. For these reasons, I am considering legal action to force the City and applicants to again consider such alternatives.

While I could not attend the Council hearing, I was able to partially monitor it by Web-cast. The applicant representatives did a masterful marketing job – while at the very least stretching the truth. A few points:

This project completely mitigates its traffic impacts. This is not even consistent with the project EIR, a document which finds significant negative traffic impacts even after mitigation measures are applied. Moreover, it now appears that the highly-promoted Pomerado Road measures such as a pass-through eastbound lane across I-15 will not be applicable, as not acceptable to CalTrans. It appears that the community was mislead on this. The only meaningful way to reduce project impacts, I believe, is through project alternatives.

The applicants are dedicating open space as a public service, a voluntary generous gesture. Not the case. The eastern portion of the site is subject to the City’s MSCP program and a previously-in place agreement with the City, which require dedication of the eastern part of the property for open space. This requirement would apply to any project which develops this site, including project alternatives.

The affordable housing element of this project is also a gift to the City which it can’t refuse, and which will not be realized if any other project is done on this site. Also not the case. An affordable housing component is a requirement of any development on this site which is a PRD. Any PRD residential alternative on this site must have an affordable component.

Also notable at the hearing was Councilman Maienschein’s position statement before the vote. In explaining his reasons for voting to deny the proposed project, the Councilman became an elected official who, at last, sees and tells the truth about the City’s responsibility for the pattern of urban development. The placement of development in the overall urban structure is key, which can either control, or add to, sprawl. The Rancho Encantada site is on the very edge of San Diego’s developable sphere, approximately four miles from freeway access and transit opportunities. This is not the site from which over 10,000 additional daily traffic trips should be generated. In my view, the Councilman with this position became an honest and brave elected official, which we are lucky to have in office and representing us. His position also apparently inspired even the San Diego Union, which has agreed with his insight – see the Union editorial, Friday August 10. Thank you, Councilman Maienschein!

Sometimes as a community volunteer, you just have to take a stand. I need your help! For the protection of Scripps Ranch, I would appreciate hearing from all other community members who agree with this concern about the Rancho Encantada project. Please reach me at e-mail address [email protected], or see my listing in this newsletter (Scripps Ranch Planning Group).

The Truth About Mello Roos

I recently received an anonymous telephone message from a fellow Scripps Ranch resident who objected to one of my real estate ads in the newsletter. In this ad, I had included “No Mello” under the property descriptions of several homes. His complaint was that I was appealing to potential homebuyers on the basis of absence of Mello-Roos, which constituted a “slap in the face to those living in progressive, responsible neighborhoods”. He went on to say that homes in Mello-Roos districts are responsible for schools and facilities that make our community livable, increase property values, and allow for the maintenance of streets and neighborhoods.

As a Scripps Ranch homeowner (whose own home is subject to Mello-Roos special taxes), I can appreciate his comments. However, as a real estate professional, I often encounter confusion and misconception about the true nature of the Mello-Roos tax. Since I am unable to respond directly to my anonymous caller, I felt I should take this opportunity to set the record straight for the benefit of the caller and the many people confused by this issue.

The Mello-Roos Community Facilities Act of 1982 was created in response to California’s 1998 Proposition 13, which severely limited the ability of local government to increase property taxes and thereby provide needed public facilities. In theory, local government has always provided for the public facilities and services needed to support new development. Mello-Roos is simply a funding mechanism to provide financing for these improvements and services.

Prior to the existence of Mello-Roos, developers were required to front-end the costs of infrastructure as a condition of development to address the needs of future residents. The costs associated with these improvements were then passed on to the future homeowners in the form of higher housing costs. With a Mello-Roos district, bonds are instead issued to pay for related public improvements and services. Homeowners within the district are subsequently charged annually until the bonds are paid in full. In other words, developers are able to shift the cost of infrastructure to the property owners through the use of municipal bonds.

I disclose information about Mello-Roos when marketing properties for three reasons: it is required by law, it could affect a potential homebuyer’s ability to purchase the property, and it is one of the first questions asked by most potential homebuyers. California Civil Code 1102.6 requires that when reselling a property in a Mello-Roos district, the seller, and therefore their agent, must disclose the special tax to the buyer. This is because special taxes have a direct impact on the cost of home ownership. In theory, a home with a higher tax rate (Mello-Roos) should be less costly than a similar home without additional taxes. The reality, however, is that prices of Mello-Roos properties are rarely adjusted accordingly.

As a final word, it should be pointed out that Mello-Roos is indeed a special tax, not an assessment. As such, the amount of the tax is not limited to the relative benefit it provides. True, all of us living in Scripps Ranch enjoy the benefits of community improvements and services, but we enjoy them regardless of the funding mechanism through which they were provided. I would hope that we consider our community as a whole “progressive and responsible.” I personally am willing to pay my Mello-Roos taxes because I was fully informed as to the nature and purpose of the tax when I made the decision to purchase my home. My “extra tax” does not, in my opinion, make my home any more or less desirable, but will certainly be an issue I must disclose if I choose to sell some day. For more information on Mello-Roos Community Facilities Districts, an excellent resource can be found online at www.californiataxdata.com.