Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Walking Talking Disaster that is Proposition A

On November 7th, 2017, Poway residents will get to vote on what is, deceptively, a very simple measure called Proposition A.

For the quick take home message:  I encourage you, my loyal readers, to

Vote NO on Prop A

For some detail:


A developer recently purchased the Stoneridge Country Club and wants to eventually install ~180 high density condominiums on the ~117 acre property.  The property, most of which is currently zoned for, and preserved as, Open Space Recreation (OS-R), has a golf course, tennis courts, and other amenities typical of a country club.  Proposition FF requires voter approval of the City of Poway's residents for any higher density development of any parcel of land with a density lower than Rural Residential 1 (RR1).  This means that this property requires voter approval to rezone it from OS-R to Residential Condominium (RC).

The developer has said that he intends to only develop a portion of this land and will leave the rest as "permanent" open space.  To that end, the developer formed a shell limited liability corporation (LLC) to sign a contract with a group of residents promising such a thing upon completion of the 180 units.  Since the vote is for the entirety of the property, and any such signed agreement would not take place until the end of the 180 units, the developer could build on the entire property until they got to 180 units on part of the property.  Since the legal agreement is between the developer's shell cooperation and residents, but not with the City of Poway, it will be up to those residents, not the City, to enforce the agreement.  You will note in the Voter pamphlet, there is not mention by the City Attorney of this agreement.  A curious and telling omission.  Since the LLC that signed the agreement has no assets, there is no recourse for the residents, even if they prevail.

Here's a link to a video review of the land use agreement by a land use lawyer.

Essentially, this is an effort to turn this property into a replica of the many high density developments we see in the Carmel Mountain and Mira Mesa regions.

The developer has a history of scorched earth tactics to get his way.  Most recently in Escondido, where he spread chicken manure on his property (another golf course) as a form of chemical warfare against local residents who opposed his plans to replace the course with high density housing.  He also prevailed in a lawsuit against the City of Escondido when their City Council tried to intervene on behalf of the affected residents.  Note that he did win in this case, and is in the process of a massive housing development on the entirety of that golf course.

Don't let this developer's assholery get in your way of Voting NO on Prop A.

This developer hired a decently effective political consulting company, which Astroturfed a set of supporters for this measure, hired paid signature gatherers, and got enough signatures to get his issue put forth in a special election.  This initiative was sold to the public in several forms ranging from preserving open space to helping education.  In the end, all it really does is use local government to sacrifice the quality of life of the residents of Poway, to increase the returns on his private investment.

The various political tactics that these consultants have used in different parts of the City are a textbook example of how to partition a population into demographic units and spin the issue in every which way other than the truth.  (This, BTW, is something Poway will need to get used to with the introduction of District Voting for the City Council.)

The focus in Central Poway has been on school tax revenue.  In some parts of the southern areas of Poway the focus has been on perceived class divide and schadenfreude.  The issue in North Poway has mostly been centered around downplaying the traffic impact.  Younger and middle aged groups get flyers about romantic options in the current restaurant establishments. etc.

More information about this measure can be found at


If Proposition A passes, it provides a clear cut blueprint for unscrupulous outside developers to successfully employ divide and conquer tactics and heavily develop the City of Poway.  Poway is a jewel in the State of California, waiting to be exploited through higher density housing.  The only thing holding that back is Prop FF.  Lets vote to keep it that way.

Vote NO on Prop A.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Districts Have Been Chosen

The Poway City Council waded through close to 50 maps submitted by a handful of people and, by unanimous decision, chose one of the maps created by our Mayor, Steve Vaus.

There is a Rural District (2), a Central District (3), a Western District (1) and a Southern District (4). District 4 (the Southern District), will not see it's own candidate until the 2020 election. Districts 1 and 3 which are homes to Councilmen Grosch (1) and Mullin (3) will see their elections proceed as normal in 2018.  District 4 is home to Councilmen Cunningham and Leonard share District 2 and only one will prevail in the 2020 election.

2020 is also the date for the next census.  After that is published, the Districts may need to be redrawn, depending on how the population has shifted in the preceding 10 years. 

The Poway Unified School District is undergoing it's own redistricting process.  This may be a bit more contentious as the board members all live in much closer proximity to one another.  To submit a map of your own, go to their website here.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Poway Moves to District Elections

Like it or not, the race is on....

Here's what you need to know:

We have no choice in this matter.  Like it or not, districts are happening.  There is a brief overview of this later in this post.

The City of Poway is moving to a 4 district split with each City Council member elected by a district and the Mayor being elected at large.  The district boundaries will be drawn by a combination of the public's input (yours), some professionals whom the city has hired, and the Council.

You have until Thursday, August 9th, to submit as many draft district maps as you want.

Go to: to learn how to produce your own version of the map. You can prepare a paper map or use the online tool.  The online tool is much more detailed and relevant.  Take the tutorials on the site to learn how to use it.

There will be a series of public hearings about this issue and to review the maps and the map summaries.

For those of you who want to know when drawing your district maps, the approximate home locations of the current council members are:

Dave Grosch

John Mullin
Del Poniente Rd.

Jim Cunningham
Corte Juana

Steve Vaus (Mayor)
Corte Dorotea

Barry Leonard
Country Day Rd.

Some quick answers to questions that you may have:

Is there any change to the method of electing my representative?

Yes/No.  The elected district representative will be the top vote getter within the district. ie, there is no runoff if a candidate does not get more then 50% of the vote.  That said, you will only be able to vote for one council member in your district, rather than the two council members you could vote for in the past.

What happens to the current City Council members after the districts are drawn?

Nothing until the 2018 election for Dave Grosch, John Mullin, & Steve Vaus (Mayor) and 2020 election for Jim Cunningham and Barry Leonard.  

What happens if my district council member ends their term early?

Same as before: The sitting City Council will have the options of interviewing and appointing a replacement council member (who lives within the district) or holding a special election.

How do I sign up to run for office?

Same as before: Get 20 registered voters to sign your application, pay a small fee, and run.

What is a "Protected Class"?

A minority group that, by Federal Law, cannot have their population split to dilute their voting rights.  In this case, this means "Hispanic", which make up ~16% of Poway's population.

What's Going On?

Various outside special interest groups, and parts of the State of California, wanted a means to more easily influence local politics, but were stymied by the large number of "vote at large" cities whose voting system was difficult and more expensive to influence.  These special interests would be groups that want more people to live in high density low income apartment housing, with the associated union controlled bus lanes and connecting roads.  So these groups teamed up with the trial lawyers in 2001, bought the necessary influence from various state representatives, and introduced the California Voter Rights Act. (CVRA).

This removed several components of the Federal Voting Rights Act (FVRA), which was set up to reduce actual racially based voter discrimination.  The FVRA required that in order for Voting Districts to replace At Large elections, the presence of districts would actually need to solve the claimed racial discrimination.  For instance, for a situation with 4 city council members, at least 25% of the population would need to be a "protected class" minority.  The CVRA removed this requirement.  As such, if there is any minority group, or at least a minority group that is a "protected class", then the local municipality can be sued to implement district elections.  The trial lawyers loved this law as it not only allows them to recover fees from when they sue a city, but the other various aspects of the CVRA make it next to impossible to lose.  Literally millions of dollars have been paid out by other Cities and municipalities around the State of California because of this law.

Earlier this year, the City of Poway received a letter from a lawyer in Malibu, CA that accused the Poway of voter based racial discrimination against its Latino population.  Given the massive potential downside financial losses, the City Council, with the proverbial gun to its head, decided to move to district elections.

What will this mean?

In the end, this will make Poway more susceptible to outside influence by special interest groups, due to the smaller number of voters they will need to target to sway a council member.  This type of system will divide the city population along artificial and racial lines.

In the past, when you spoke to the council, you had five pairs of ears listening to you.
Five people, each who needed your vote to stay in office.

Now you will have but two.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Election Update, 2016

Election Update, 2016

Races of Particular Importance for Poway Residents:

Poway City Council Race
Three Good Candidates for Two Open Seats

Poway Unified School District
The Two Best Choices are Clear

Measure W
Read between the lines - Do the ends justify the means?

On Wednesday October 5th, the Poway Chamber of Commerce and the Green Valley Civic Association (GVCA) hosted a "Meet the Candidates Forum" focusing on the Poway City Council and the Poway Unified School District (PUSD).  Many thanks to them for their work in hosting this forum.  Additionally, it is fortunate that our local residents have the interest and desire to serve in these public offices.  All of the candidates were there with a conviction and a desire to do what they think is best to help these local governance boards serve the public.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Vaus is Boss

V is for Vaus Victory
Steve Vaus secures the Poway Mayorship with a historic margin of victory.
Never in Poway's history has a mayoral challenger defeat an incumbent by such a huge margin. (~9%)  A truly clear victory that sends a major message about the need for new leadership with fresh ideas about how to make Poway an even better place for the residents and businesses.  It should be interesting to see how Powegians appreciate having access to a mayor who is actually present at the Council meetings.

The official swearing in ceremony for Mayor Vaus will occur on December 16th at the Poway City Council Chambers.  Get there by 6PM to ensure you have a seat.

Name Votes Percent
Steve Vaus
Don Higginson

Parsing the City Council Race
Dave Grosch is clearly one of the most popular and effective Poway City Council members in history.  He turned out a considerable victory over all challengers with the other incumbent candidate, John Mullin, coming in a distant 2nd place.  When you look examine the number in detail, it looks like Grosch secured the vote of a whopping 91% of voters in this portion of the race.  There was likely a lot of bullet voting going on for Grosch and a sizable Grosch/Olps vote pairs.

What does this mean for Mullin?  Mullin's prime focus is on promoting developer issues before the council.  Does this mean his base of support is too narrow for the future?  Hard to tell.  He likely did not run a strong campaign this time around as incumbent's seats are generally secure and Olps was not able to mount a strong challenge.  That said, the results here imply that the Mullin seat is the most vulnerable to a challenge in 4 years, so best to watch that spot.
Name Votes Percent
Dave Grosch
John Mullin
Christopher Olps
Total Votes
Total Voters