Friendship of Vallecitos Customers
San Marcos businesses and residents ‐ We pay for water, not politics
Vallecitos Water District Customers Launch New Website: Political Favoritism to Developers Cost Ratepayers $42 Million
They are the Friendship of Vallecitos Customers and want to grow to thousands of members and send a message to Vallecitos Water District (VWD) elected officials. “San Marcos businesses and residents – we pay for water, not politics.” That’s the tag line seen on the home page of their newly released website.
At a VWD Board meeting in 2013, elected officials were deliberating on allowing more time for developers to pay fees. “The District’s interest has to do with providing basic services, sewer, and water, at the best price. That’s all it is. It has nothing to do with helping out developers,” said Former Board Member Jim Poltl. In response, then newly elected Board Member Hal Martin retorted, “I look at the bigger picture – economic stimulus. Smaller governmental agencies … make that happen.”
Since then, the VWD Board gave several breaks to developers that cost ratepayers more than $42 million, according to Former VWD CFO Tom Scaglione. “From July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2018, Vallecitos ratepayers paid $42.2 million, more than 15% of their water and sewer bill, to amass cash reserves, fund developer deficits, and continue to finance developer obligations with ratepayers’ cash rather than issue bonds. Vallecitos accumulated more ratepayer money than any other water district in San Diego County, and is the only district in the County with a deficit in developer funds.”
While building activity in San Marcos soared in 2013, money paid into VWD by developers plummeted to record deficits.
According to Scaglione, since 2013, water and sewer rates have increased 5.9% on average annually, while developer fees have increased just 2.6% on average annually for inflation.
“It all started in 2012 with a sewer density impact fee that I voted in favor of for developers to pay their impacts,” said Former Board Member Tim Shell. “We all [Board Members] voted for it, and we all had targets on
our backs ‐ management too. The developer‐backed politicians that unseated us were not from the water industry. I knew this would happen.”
One of the most egregious breaks is the current delay in implementing long‐awaited adjustments to developer fees. When the Board suspended and refunded the sewer density impact fee in 2015, they minimized the impacts by saying a study that is needed to raise developer fees and includes the sewer density impact, would be done that same year. Vallecitos has scheduled a Public Hearing to consider adjustments to developer fees for August 7 at 5 pm – four years late. According to the website, the delay alone saved developers $11 million.
The website, friendshipvallecitoswater.org, details the breaks given to developers, the impacts to ratepayers, and how the situation can be remedied.
“All the numbers on the website are from audited financial statements, board reports, meeting minutes, and budgets,” said Scaglione. “They’re all numbers generated by Vallecitos. You just need to know how to read the financials.”
The Friendship of Vallecitos Customers (FVC), a group of Vallecitos Water District (VWD) customers, potential
political candidates, past board members, and community leaders, formed to have a unified voice to influence the
VWD Board of Directors (the Board) to maintain a ratepayer focus. Since the 2012 elections, the development
community has had majority control of the Board. Developer influence and financial mismanagement have
resulted in ratepayers paying $42.2 million towards developer obligations. Ratepayers have not had either the will
or ability to financially contribute and therefore win favor, to the extent that developers have financially
The city has until Feb. 9 to appoint a new council member or call for a special election
On Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 6 pm, the City of San Marcos will hold a special public meeting at City Hall, 1 Civic Center Drive, to interview 24 candidates to fill a vacant seat. The vacancy was created after Council Member Rebecca Jones was elected Mayor during the November 2018 election.
The term of the vacant, at-large council seat is from the date of appointment to December 2020.
The qualified applicants must be at least 18 years of age, reside within the San Marcos city limits and be registered to vote in the City of San Marcos at the time the application is received.
Each candidate will have the opportunity to introduce themselves and answer questions from the council. At the end of the interview process, the council will discuss the candidates’ qualifications and make a decision.
Should the council be unable to make a decision, the discussion will continue to the regularly scheduled public meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22. The city has until Saturday, Feb. 9 to appoint a new council member or call for a special election.
If the council selects a candidate for an appointment Tuesday, the new council member will be sworn in during that meeting.
San Marcos City Council meetings are aired live and will be rebroadcast on San Marcos TV on Cox Communications Channel 19, Time Warner Cable Channel 24, AT&T U-Verse Channel 99 or on demand at www.san-marcos.net/councilmeeting.
The City Council must now determine how it will fill the two-year vacancy created with Jones’ election to the mayor’s seat. Since she was elected at large in 2016, the council can select her replacement from anywhere in the city. They will determine whether to appoint or call a special election for her replacement at the next council meeting.
According to San Diego County, election results are expected to take longer than usual
Post Date:11/06/2018 9:00 AM
On election night, we all want to know who won and which propositions and measures passed – and as soon as possible! According to the County of San Diego, the Nov. 6 Gubernatorial General Election results are expected to take longer than usual to come in. Here’s why.
San Diego County voters will get a two-card ballot with contests listed both on the front and back. Voters will need more time to fill them out and the Registrar of Voters will need more time to process them.
More mail ballots than ever before were issued by the Registrar’s office, over 1.2 million, and many voters do not turn them in until Election Day.
A record high number of registered voters: San Diego County has more than 1.7 million registered voters.
More polling places will be open: 1,542, up from 1,444 in the June 5 Primary Election.
In short, we have two cards for every ballot, more candidates, more measures, more voters, more polling places, more mail ballots and more ballot cards in general.
The number of provisional ballots cast has grown in recent elections. These take additional processing time. Registrar workers must make sure your votes count for the contests you were entitled to vote on and that they don’t count the ones you weren’t.
Mail ballots are more convenient, but if you drop them off at the polls on Election Day, the Registrar of Voters can’t start counting them until Thursday at the earliest because the signatures need to be verified first. The Registrar expects 250,000 to 300,000 mail ballots will be dropped off at the polls or picked up at the U.S. Postal Service on Nov. 6.
“This is not really a new phenomenon,” said Vu. “We’re just likely to have a higher volume of outstanding ballots.”
So what can you expect?
The polls close at 8 p.m. Within minutes, the results should come through for the ballots that were mailed in, submitted at drop-off points before Election Day or during early voting at the Registrar’s office.
After that, some precinct results may trickle in, but only a very light number. Close to 11 p.m. you can expect the bulk of the precinct numbers. Then, results should come in periodically as trucks with ballot boxes continue to roll in. All the precinct ballots might not arrive until after 1 a.m. and the final unofficial election night results may not be done until after 4 a.m.
After all the precinct ballots are counted on election night, Vu expects only about 55 to 60 percent of the vote to be in the count. Tight races will still be up in the air.
“It’s not over on election night, and it hasn’t been for a long, long time,” said Vu. “Close contests are not decided until all the ballots are in the count.”
While you can guess how some races will turn out due to the early numbers, the results for the tight races must wait until election workers process, review and inspect every ballot: precinct, provisional, mail-in and damaged.
“Between mail ballots and provisional ballots, a close race always comes to the very end,” said Vu. “We must do our due diligence to make sure everything is right.”
Some races may not be decided for several weeks. However, the results must be certified 30 days after Election Day on Dec. 6.
For more information, visit sdvote.com or call (858) 565-5800.
Thousands of dollars of so-called “dark money” is emerging as a major factor in city council races in a pair of North County cities. In Encinitas and San Marcos, two cities where stakes are high in their respective council races, political action committees have pumped thousands into candidates.
SAN MARCOS-The Deputy Sheriffs Association PAC has received thousands from developers and the Building Industry Association of San Diego and has spent a corresponding amount on candidates throughout the county, almost exclusively on Republican or conservative candidates.
San Marcos Vice Mayor and mayoral candidate Rebecca Jones returned a $250 campaign contribution from a developer behind a 14.4-acre development proposal. Courtesy photo/Facebook
One of the largest contributors to the Taxpayers Coalition is Diversified Projects, Inc., which has contributed $12,5000 to the committee. The Laguna Beach-based company was behind the controversial San Marcos Highlands project. Walton has aligned himself with Chris Orlando, current councilman and mayoral candidate, the lone council member to vote against the Highlands project.
One of the other major contributors is Lance Waite, who is developer behind the Sunshine Gardens project, a 193-unit multi-family project on 14.4-acres near San Marcos’ southeastern city limits that is currently being processed by the city.
San Marcos bars developers from contributing to campaigns within 12 months of a council vote.
Walton, a registered Democrat, said the race has gotten ugly as a result of the mailers paid for, and said developers are actively trying to deceive voters by funneling money into committees that appear to be advocating for taxpayers or law enforcement.
“It’s an outright effort to deceive voters, by putting out mailers saying that something is ‘law enforcement’s choice,’ when in reality, it’s thousands of dollars from developers and the building industry,” Walton said. “Most voters don’t know to look at the campaign finance forms and see who is behind some of these committees.
“And on the other side, there isn’t a group of citizens forming PACs, so there is no countervailing weight and it’s kind of an unfair advantage to the candidates who benefit from them,” Walton said.
“San Marcos has very strict limits on contributions to candidates of just $250,” Jones said in an email to The Coast News. “At that level, it would be difficult for anyone to influence an elected official in our city. As for independent expenditures, they are just that — independent. I have no ability to control their activities and am legally prohibited from doing so.”
The third candidates in the mayor’s and Dist. 2 races, Bradley Zink and Eric Flodine, respectively, have not been the target of any independent expenditures, nor have any been raised on their behalf.
Kousser said that the pattern of developers who otherwise would not be able to contribute to the campaigns due to the city laws contributing even more money through the PACs raises ethical concerns from the donor, not the recipient.
“I would say that the pattern and timing of the donations shows a clear circumvention of the goal of the campaign finance limits,” Kousser said. “But there’s no proof that the candidate is influenced by these contributions. So while it’s not an ethical violation on behalf of the candidate, it looks like a donor is clearly trying to have the same effect on the election and make the same contribution through a different route.”
Tom Scaglione was assistant general manager and CFO at San Marcos’ Vallecitos Water District. He retired in May and now teaches at Palomar College in their water/wastewater technology program. He’s become a critic on a huge rip off to district ratepayers. Tom Scaglione: “San Marcos is run by develop.
Tom Scaglione was assistant general manager and CFO at San Marcos’ Vallecitos Water District. He retired in May and now teaches at Palomar College in their water/wastewater technology program. He’s become a critic on a huge rip off to district ratepayers.
In 2012, the board of directors of the district tried to increase the sewer impact fees charged to developers wanting to build in the district, which covers San Marcos, plus small parts of Carlsbad, Vista, and unincorporated areas including Lake San Marcos.
“The developers didn’t want to pay it,” said Scaglione. “They took over the board in the 2012 election, ousting longtime members. It’s now a four-to-one majority for the developers. At their very first meeting, they started making accommodations to developers.”
“In 2012, Vallecitos had a $3 million deficit in the developer infrastructure fund,” said Scaglione.
On October 24, as part of the local multi-college campus symposium, Political Economy Days, he presented his scathing report at Palomar College on the State of Water Rates for ratepayers in the Vallecitos District. He reported that since 2012, customer’s rates went up 5.7 percent annually. The developer fund went up only 2.9 percent.
$84.4 million in ratepayer’s funds will be accelerated to $96 million over the next five years. The developer fund will have a deficit of $44 million. Scaglione points out the district is using ratepayer funds to pay for new infrastructure caused by new development. The 21,000 district customers will pay an additional $552.38 each.
Scaglione says Vallecitos directors Mike Sannella and Hal Martin are in the developer’s pockets. “The development industry is spending $50,000 to get Sannella elected to the city council in the upcoming Nov 6 election.
The only ratepayer-focused person left on the board is Betty Evans,” said Scaglione.
In a telephone interview October 27, I asked what could ratepayers do to change the direction of ratepayer vs. developers? “San Marcos is run by developers,” he responded, pointing out that the Vallecitos Water District has the largest undeveloped boundary in the county.
While Scaglione’s report had several ideas for changing course in the district, he acknowledged there is no political will in the city to do that. “The developers come in here with a bunch of money and create a deception, and the ratepayers don’t stand a chance.”
Here is an email interview with Rebecca Jones who is running for Mayor of San Marcos. San Elijo Life has invited all candidates for Council in District 2 and Mayor to answer the same set of email question.
Why should the residents in San Elijo Hills vote for you?
I first moved to San Marcos in 1987, I’ve raised my kids in San Marcos, I’m so blessed to call this my home. I was a community activist prior to joining the council in January of 2007. I didn’t agree with the city council at the time over a few land use decisions that I felt would have changed the character of the community. I was encouraged by two councilmembers at that time, one Democrat and one Republican, that my love for the city would make me a great leader. They both still encourage me today.
I’m running for Mayor because I love this city! I will work diligently to provide traffic solutions, Community safety, and thoughtful growth. I regularly serve in many capacities as a volunteer. I recently had a San Elijo resident tell me that he is supporting me because “I’m the People’s Mayor”, I roll up my sleeves regularly because I care and serve. I feel strongly that as a leader you should lead by example. I feel it is especially important to teach our kids to serve others and give back to their community. My philosophy is don’t just say what you want to do, actually do it.I want our children to grow and come back to our city.In order for our city to have longevity I believe that Traffic solutions, safety, education, and thoughtful growth with affordable housing are imperative.
I have served the youth of the community, for over 15 years, through the Boys & Girls Club and am a current Advisory Board Member. I am also a member of the San Marcos Promise Board. I am supportive of the San Diego County Sheriff Department’s RESPECT Program, a gang intervention program for “at risk” youth. Before joining the San Marcos City Council, I petitioned the City to provide Megan’s Law information to residents (prior to this info being available to the public online) and worked to develop an ordinance to strengthen Jessica’s Law. When dangerous synthetic drugs were emerging, I was the councilmember that created, with city staff, an ordinance that prohibited these drugs.Along with that effort, I pushed for tougher enforcement of the laws, preventing the sale of smoking materials to minors.I crafted an ordinance to stop these sales and in 2016 was awarded the Excellence in Prevention Advocacy Award by the Red Ribbon Commission. These are some of the reasons that the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association have endorsed me to be the next Mayor of San Marcos.
Our San Marcos Firefighters are top notch, I am very supportive of their efforts, making sure they are provided with the best training and equipment available. Under my leadership we have built the San Elijo Hills Fire Station, invested in several new firetrucks and ambulances, and enacted “boundary drop”. This is a collaborative effort with surrounding districts that ensures the best service using the closest emergency vehicles and personnel to respond to any emergency. This is important to San Elijo since Carlsbad has a station just outside the entrance to San Elijo Hills.The “boundry drop” enables either station to respond to San Elijo emergencies, which is like having two stations in the community. I served on the North County Fire Dispatch Joint Powers Authority for 6 years including as chair.
I have been an advocate for small businesses in San Marcos.I routinely meet with small businesses to better understand the constraints they face when growing or opening a business in the city.When the Bellows was having issues with red tape I stepped in to help bring about a resolution enabling them to open on time. Our small businesses need community support to thrive, and when they thrive so does our city; that is why I will always work tirelessly to support local business. I worked with the development partners of the San Elijo Town Center to bring in small businesses and I believe it is important to frequent locally owned businesses. I’m excited to say that a supporter of mine will soon be opening Sourdough & Co. in the town center!I enjoy meeting residents at locally owned coffee shops or restaurants to help support our small business community.I am the only council member that has voted against the congestion management tax on new businesses that are moving into a location that previously had a business, or for businesses that are moving within our city limits.
This allows new business to come to San Marcos and established businesses to stay here. I always have voted to require developers to pay this congestion tax for new development.
Collaboration is key to success, which is why having the support of 2 of my colleagues for Mayor is so important. I also have the support of many Mayors countywide in order for us to receive State and Federal Dollars; San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond and our SANDAG representative must work collaboratively with others on boards like SANDAG to bring improvements to the 78.
How can the council/mayor help address cut through traffic and school traffic in San Elijo Hills?
I have spent over a year working to find ways to ease traffic congestion. We cannot just build new lanes through San Elijo, there isn’t the room.As surrounding communities continue to grow and workforce housing is pushed further north to Riverside, we will always continue to struggle with this challenge, it’s been an issue since I first moved here in the late 80’s. What I have learned is that while our technology is supposed to synchronize, it is antiquated technology and the newer technology is 3 steps above what we currently have. The latest technology is artificial intelligence (smart lights) and doesn’t require processing through normal sequences like traditional lights.I’m so excited to see how these dynamic sequencing lights will work in San Elijo!There are many studies and examples of this successful program locally and nationally. Carlsbad and Chula Vista have just voted to bring this technology citywide. This technology talks to each other across city boundaries. I am also working with Council Candidate for District 2 on a concept, called SMARTS, that will also bring traffic relief through school buses. This program will be partially funded by congestion management funds.I recently met with current Mayoral candidate Brad Zink and put politics aside to discuss collaborative opportunities to get the SMARTS school bus program funded.
What is your position on future housing and commercial development around San Elijo Hills?
I believe that all development must pay for its portion impacts – this includes schools, traffic mitigation, as well as park fees. Earlier this year I asked the council to pause the Creek District Specific Plan because the amount of housing seems too dense based on infrastructure needs and the loss of redevelopment. This pause is not a pause on the bridges at Via Vera Cruz and Bent or the widening of Discovery, those projects will move forward. This was a difficult decision for me personally, as I was on the last task force in 2005, and then approved the plan as a city councilmember. This project is also incorporated into our general plan and though it is not adjacent to San Elijo, it will bring more homes to our city. This general plan, that I mention, is a plan both my opponent and I approved in 2012, which includes nearly 11,000 more homes.
The past 2017-18 legislative session the State has passed approximately 17 new bills that regulate housing and development, many of these bills bring penalties if we ignore State law to deny projects that comply with our 2012 general plan. The Housing Accountability Act (SB167, AB678 and AB1515) states that a city cannot deny a project or reduce the density of a project (for both affordable and market rate housing) if it complies with the general plan, without a preponderance of evidence. One of the criteria it must meet to be denied is an adverse impact on health/safety. In essence, the State wants housing built and if we attempt to ignore state law we will be taken to court with litigation fees and fined $10,000+ per unit just to be forced to approve the project anyway.
I’m transparent, I will follow the law and not incur unnecessary fees and litigation costs only to ultimately be forced to approve a project.I am working hard to balance the wishes of our residents and these mandated state laws. I have the courage to stand up to developers to pay for extra infrastructure.I have been and will continue to be transparent about our General Plan and Laws that affect local control.
How can you work with San Marcos Unified School District to solve school crowding?
I have met monthly with one school board member for the past year discussing strategies of how to better work together. I will no longer dwell on past shortcomings with further finger pointing, I want to move forward together with solutions collaboratively. San Marcos Unified has done an excellent job of educating our children, this is a fact. When the city council and school board met in 2017, SMUSD told us they needed 12 new schools, which seemed excessive (they now are telling us they will need 3).It became obvious the school district needed assistance, so I immediately contacted real estate agents, community members and former City Manager Rick Gittings to work on locating new school sites or current sites that could be built quickly. This group worked together and provided the district with a list of over a dozen sites district wide in 2017. To date the city has sold one piece of land, on Twin Oaks Valley, for a school.I know that under my leadership we will be able to work more closely with the district and experts in the field to come up with more solutions. The BIA is currently suing the District over what they deem excessive fees and in September I wrote a letter to the BIA asking them to give the district an extension of the time required, in the suit, to continue negotiations with SMUSD in an effort to find a resolution on school fees (they agreed). My understanding is that there is a disconnect in information sharing, and believe that collaborative efforts will bring resolution.I am a leader who works with others to accomplish what we all want- a great place to call home, educate our children, and create a life that is exceptional.
What are your goals to improve the quality of life in San Marcos-(events, parks, trails)?
I brought forward the county initiative to support us becoming a Live Well San Diego city.Live Well San Diego is the County of San Diego’s vision for a region that is Building Better Health, Living Safely and Thriving. It aligns the efforts of individuals, organizations and government to help all 3.3 million San Diego County residents live well. I take this to heart in every decision, since joining the council we have built or rebuilt 12 parks and have grown our trail network to over 60 miles. I am working with partners on several entertainment ideas that I believe will significantly improve our quality of life. This is one of the areas that I see we can collaborate with San Marcos Unified, CSUSM, and Palomar College to bring music entertainment to the community. I love hearing ideas from our community on how San Marcos can be improved and figuring out how to turn these ideas into action. When a member of the community came to me with the idea about the National Fitness Campaign Fitness Court I was thrilled to see how many residents from San Elijo Hills could use this and what an asset it would be. I love being healthy and this fits right into my Live Well San Diego initiative. I can’t wait to see this actually built. I’d like to see this same concept built throughout the city with San Elijo leading the way.
If elected what are the top 3 issues you would focus on for San Elijo Hills?
My top focus is the quality of life for our community. This will require traffic solutions that will include implementing my SMARTs program and the dynamic sequencing lights.I’m a leader that does my homework, coupled with the tenacity to follow through with implementation.I’m excited to bring this technology to San Marcos and specifically San Elijo Hills to improve our quality of life.
I will continue to make sure we are safe and remain the safest city in North San Diego County. I’ve served on the board and as Chair of the SANDAG Public Safety Committee. This experience along with my support of the RESPECT project, and my Prevention Policies are some of the reasons why the San Diego County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association supports me as the next Mayor of San Marcos. When our Captain approached us in June asking the council to approve another school resource officer I quickly agreed because the safety of our kids is a priority. I’m proud to have always supported the city’s funding the SRO program, when the district unable.I will always support this program at the level that our expert, the Sheriff’s Captain, asks us to because our kids should feel safe at school. I will continue supporting our Fire Department and the Boundary Drop program which translates into a higher level of service for San Elijo Hills.
I will continue working to bring entertainment venues to San Marcos and will focus on the Rancho Tesoro Park because I know the field space for our kids is limited. My daughter played soccer for many years in San Elijo so I know first-hand how many of our youth depend on sports to keep them healthy and fit and how limited our field space is with such incredible participation. I also want to make sure the National Fitness Campaign Fitness Court is built. I will work hard to make sure we continue to provide park space so we can keep our nickname “San Parkos”.
As Mayor, I will continue to have transparent discussions and will continue to bring solutions to the table that include implementation of plans. I have the experience and support of other local elected officials to secure funding for regional improvements like the 78. This election is our first district election with district’s One and Two being voted on this year and Three and Four in 2020. The role of Mayor is vital in bringing district representatives and community members to the table to make decisions that benefit the entire city. For any one member of the council to get their agenda passed, it takes collaboration and support from other members of the city council. I have the experience and record of doing just this, I have two members of the council and many city commissioners supporting me because they believe in my leadership and know that I care about our community.I am always ready to serve.I’m accessible and have always included my personal contact information on my campaign materials. I’m grateful for your vote and I am looking forward to serving you for the next 4 years as your Mayor.
Editors Note: We have invited all 2018 District 2 – City of San Marcos City Council and Mayor Candidates to answer the same questions. Please search our site to read interviews.