Tag Archives: City Council

San Marcos tightens rules for e-cigarettes | UTSanDiego.com

Add San Marcos to the list of local cities that have banned the use of electronic cigarettes wherever traditional smoking is not allowed.

San Marcos City Council on Tuesday night unanimously voted to amend two city ordinances to include e-cigarettes. The changes mean local store owners must also keep the devices out of the reach of customers the same as conventional cigarettes. READ MORE VIA San Marcos tightens rules for e-cigarettes | UTSanDiego.com.


The City Council of San Marcos voted Wednesday to cancel the November 4th election

The City Council of San Marcos voted Wednesday to cancel the November 4th election. The vote was 3-2 with Orlando and Jenkins voting to keep the November 4th election. The next General Municipal Election was scheduled for Tuesday, November 4, 2014 for the expiring terms of Mayor Jim Desmond, Councilmember Kristal Jabara, and Councilmember Chris Orlando. No other candidates signed up to run for election.

The council voted individually to appoint Mayor Jim Desmond, Councilmember Kristal Jabara, and Councilmember Chris Orlando to 4 year terms. Formalities around recusing from voting was followed by each incumbent for the individual seat votes.

The City had a deadline of August 21 to notify the Registrar of Voters it was going to hold an election. Write-in candidates would have had from 9/8 – 10/21 to file as a write in candidate.
The debate centered around saving $21,000-$31,000 in elections costs, transparency, eliminating write-in campaign possibility, and the fundamental right to vote.
This will be the final City Council Term for Chris Orlando due to term limits. He can later run for Mayor. This will also be the final term for Mayor Jim Desmond.

San Marcos Cell Tower Ordinance Opinion


We received this Press Release from a group of San Elijo Hills & Questhaven Hills Resident, working on a potential new City of San Marcos Ordinance for Cell Towers. We share it to keep San Elijo Hills & San Marcos informed on the process.

Press Release

The San Marcos City Council reverses their position on a Cell Tower Farms in San Elijo and Questhaven Hills

Over community objections, Mayor Jim Desmond led the vote to approve a 35 foot, 12 panel AT&T cell tower at their Council Meeting on October 22.  This cell tower is just 350 feet from homes in San Elijo Hills.

Since a T-Mobile cell tower already exists at this site, this established a “Cell Farm” with 24 micro wave antennas in the middle of San Elijo and Questhaven Hills.  Vice Mayor Rebecca Jones, responding to residents objections and directed City Staff to develop a better cell ordinance.

When the new cell tower ordinance went before the City Council for approval on January 14, 2014 Mayor Desmond announced that he was not going to allow a vote.  The Mayor then went on to back pedal on what he and City Staff communicated to the Union Tribune and residence of San Marcos and San Elijo Hills.  He told staff he could not support “1,000 ft. of separation between cell towers”, an ordinance that “does not allow clustering” (aka Cell Farms), and an ordinance that does not allow more than one cell site per property.

Mayor Desmond is quoted in the Dec. 11, 2013 Union Tribune saying, “We’ve got nothing right now.  We want to have rules about how they should be shielded and the maximum number of antennas on a property.”  Jerry Backoff, Planning Director, said “San Marcos would limit cell towers to one per property, regardless of acreage.”  At the Council Meeting Mayor Desmond changed his position 180 degrees.

The Mayor’s changes will make “Cell Farms” which he said he opposed possible.  The Mayor stepped in and in effect rewrote the ordinance, this is inappropriate.  He then directed the Planning Department to draft an ordinance he would support.

The Planning Department researched ordinances of other cities and hosted a workshop with residents and the cell companies before submitting the cell ordinance. They also included input from Jonathan Kramer (their FCC legal advisor and RF expert).  The Mayor ignored the City’s process and recommendations and in effect ordered changes, all of which were what cell tower companies wanted.  He did not direct staff to include any of the resident’s requests.

The Mayor was not going to allow public comment.  Council member Chris Orlando said he felt that since the residents of San Marcos came to this meeting expecting a vote, they should be allowed to speak.  Discussion ensued and, after another Council member agreed with Chris, the Mayor agreed to let the residents speak, but the City Council cut their comment time to 3 minutes.

The Mayor instructed staff to provide him an advanced copy of the ordinance before (releasing it to the public).  The City Attorney said the ordinance is public record and therefore they cannot provide him an advanced copy.

Although AT&T had been present at all the cell tower meetings they were not present for this meeting.  San Elijo and Questhaven Hills residents’ questioned why the City communicated to AT&T the ordinance was not being voted on and was being redrafted to include the cell industry requests.  The City Council denied they notified AT&T of the ordinance status in advance of the meeting.

T-Mobile is still operating their out of compliance, 12 antenna cell tower at this San Elijo/Questshaven Hills site without a valid permit for almost a year.  This matter was brought to the City’s attention by residents six months ago.  Residents insisted that the cell tower be shut down until it is brought into compliance and a new permit approved–neither has happened.

You can view the January 14, 2014 meeting at: http://sanmarcos.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=423

The Ordinance segment starts at 49.3 minutes.

Interview with Rebecca Jones candidate for San Marcos City Council


Rebecca Jones

Here is an interview with incumbent Rebecca Jones who is running for San Marcos City Council. San Elijo Life has invited all candidates for Council the answer the same set of email questions.

Why should the residents in San Elijo Hills vote for you?

I have been honored to serve the residents of San Marcos for the past 5 ½ years. I have approved a balanced budget each year since joining the council and have brought a fresh customer service approach to City Hall. As a City leader, it is my job to make sure we run as efficiently as possible. As our customer, you deserve a clear process and a high quality of service.

How can you help solve school crowding issues in San Elijo Hills?

Unfortunately, the city cannot address this issue alone. In August the city hosted our first ever joint City Council & San Marcos Unified School board meeting. We will continue to meet with leadership and staff to find ways to work as efficient as possible. We are also currently working together to locate a K-8 school off Twin Oaks Valley and Village Drive to alleviate this overcrowding. Though the agreement is complex, I am committed to make every effort to make this happen.

How can the council help address aggressive cut through traffic and school traffic in San Elijo Hills?

I have not been made aware of this particular situation. I pride myself on my availability and quick response to resident concerns. There are several possible remedies to cut through traffic. It all starts with our traffic engineer assessing the situation and then coming up with alternatives that we can implement. It is important to evaluate several alternatives as diverting traffic from one area will impact other areas. I would like to meet with community members as soon as possible so we can identify the problem and begin working on a solution.

How can the city of San Marcos work with San Elijo Development to complete the San Elijo Hills Town Center?

This is a tricky situation. Though I want to see the town center built, vacant shops will harm the vibrancy of the community. I will work to make sure that if minor changes need to be made to create a prosperous business environment, the city of San Marcos will work with the developer to make this happen.

What are your goals to improve the quality of life in San Marcos, such as events, parks, and trails?

We are currently in the process of working to expand our park property around South Lake (located between Discovery Lake and Twin Oaks Valley Road). Though we don’t currently have the funds to develop this park today, making plans for our future is extremely important. I will also continue to make sure our unrivaled walking trails connect to one another so that all our citizens are able to keep an active and healthy lifestyle. I have some ideas in mind for a Signature Event that will be a cornerstone to showcase San Marcos as the wonderful community that it is.

If elected what are the top 3 issues you would focus on for San Elijo Hills?

First, keeping the city on the right fiscal track and bringing jobs to the city will continue to be priority. Second, public safety is a top priority. I successfully banned the possession or sale of the dangerous synthetic drugs such as “Spice” and have ensured our firefighters have the equipment they need to keep our community safe. Finally, community issues such as working with San Marcos Unified School District to alleviate traffic concerns, providing space for the K-8 school at Village and Twin Oaks Valley, and ensuring our city promptly addresses the needs of its residents will remain a priority. I will continue to work to improve your quality of life and the job done for the people of San Marcos.

How will you clean up the campaign signs after election?

As I did during my last election, I will make sure all signs are promptly removed after the election, no more than a few days. Last election I was out taking down signs the morning after the election. I appreciate the amount of signs can be overwhelming and as soon as the election is over I will ensure they don’t become a nuisance.


What would you ask San Marcos City Council Candidates?

We are taking suggestions for email interview questions for The San Marcos City Council candidates.  Please post your suggestions?

Here are a few questions we have picked from our past elections interviews, that we think our relevant:
  1. Why should the residents in San Elijo Hills vote for you?
  2. How can you help solve school crowding issues in San Elijo Hills?
  3. How can the council help address aggressive cut through traffic and school traffic in San Elijo Hills?
  4. How can the city of San Marcos work with San Elijo Development to complete the San Elijo Hills Town Center?
  5. What are your goals to improve the quality of life in San Marcos, such as events, parks, and trails?
  6. If elected what are the top 3 issues you would focus on for San Elijo Hills?
  7. How will you clean up the campaign signs after election?
Old Example 
We welcome your suggestions and please check back for the interviews.


The San Marcos City Council will vote Tuesday night on a contract to hire Jack Griffin as its new city manager

The San Marcos City Council will vote Tuesday night on a contract to hire Jack Griffin as its new city manager. If approved, Griffin would begin his duties on Monday, June 4, 2012.

Griffin has built a solid foundation in municipal management over the past 26 years and would bring extensive experience to San Marcos in the areas of capital improvements, fiscal management and public services delivery.

Griffin has been serving as the city manager of Sebastopol, California since February 2009. Sebastopol is located in Sonoma County’s wine country. Prior to assuming his role in Sebastopol, Griffin worked for the City of Chula Vista as the director of public works and director of general services. He also served the Township of Moon, Pennsylvania as their assistant township manager and planning director. Griffin has held several other public positions during his tenure, including work in municipal transportation management, engineering and animal control.

“Jack Griffin brings to San Marcos stability for our fiscal values and new agility for our future plans,” said San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond.

“Jack brings the perfect blend of experience and enthusiasm to this role in San Marcos,” said Vice Mayor Hal Martin. “I’m confident he will lead our organization in a positive direction.”

Griffin has overseen more than $250 million in municipal construction projects during his career including the renovation of Chula Vista’s civic center, police headquarters, three new fire stations, three new recreation centers and 12 new parks.

“With the Creek and University Districts on the horizon in San Marcos, we need a manager who understands the complexities of large-scale developments,” said Council Member Chris Orlando. “We’re confident Jack has this ability given his past experience.”

Griffin has also undertaken several difficult budget adoptions as city manager during the recession, has extensive labor relations experience and strong organizational management skills.

“Jack will help lead our city by implementing philosophies that are important to us like fiscal responsibility and providing our community with top-notch programs, projects and services,” said Council Member Rebecca Jones.

“I’m excited about the prospect of Jack applying a new vision to the successful legacy being left by Paul Malone,” said Council Member Kristal Jabara.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Griffin holds a bachelor of arts in environmental studies with a concentration in land use planning from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. He plans to reside in San Marcos with his wife, Ginny, their 12-year-old daughter Shay, and Ginny’s mother, Liz.

“My family and I are very excited to come to San Marcos and I look forward to being a significant part of the city’s continued success,” said Griffin. “Together with the City Council and staff, I am confident we can build on past achievements to further enhance the quality of life for San Marcos’ residents, businesses and visitors.”

The city manager position became available after long-time city employee and current City Manager Paul Malone announced his retirement. Malone’s last day with the City will be Monday, April 30.

San Marcos City Council plans to refinance bonds to save taxpayers more than $1 million

The San Marcos City Council approved a resolution last night giving staff the green light to refinance bonds for Community Facilities District (CFD) 88-1. By refinancing the $22.59 million of outstanding bonds from 5.8 percent to approximately 4 percent, taxpayers in the Santa Fe Hills area of San Marcos could save an estimated $1.2 million in tax payments over the next 16 years.

Community Facilities Districts, or Mello-Roos as they are more commonly known, help finance local public facilities and services like law enforcement, fire, landscaping, lighting and other community services. Cities often consider refinancing these long-term bonds if market conditions are favorable enough to save taxpayers money, something San Marcos has done at least a half a dozen times over the past 20 years to capture similar savings.

The city oversees several CFDs; however, CFD 88-1 would be the only bond refinanced under this action. About 1,749 residential units would experience an annual special tax savings ranging anywhere from $50 to $145. This estimate could change given market conditions when the bonds have actually been priced and sold.

“This move will bring real savings to many San Marcos taxpayers,” explained City Manager Paul Malone. “And in this economy, every little bit helps.”

Year End Guest Post from Kristal Jabara Council Member City of San Marcos

Kristal Jabara San Marcos City Council Member

Twelve months, 365 blank days, to accomplish boundless aspirations.  As a child this seemed an eternity, but to this “forty something” it is but a moment.  And with the close of one year and the anticipated beginning of another, there is renewed faith that the goals set will be achieved with great triumph.

In the past I measured the success of a year with how many items were scratched off the list of goals or slid over to the subsequent year.  But that simple formula is no longer effective and new factors must be added to measure success.  I am hoping to have a new equation by which to measure, by the time I complete my first term.  For now, reflection has to be the measuring stick of success, and as I examine, I see substantial achievements for our city.

A balanced budget was passed. This may seem simple, but I am sure there are numerous cities with this as number one on their holiday wish list.  The first project in the University District broke ground, while other projects were finished up, some of which were recognized for their ingenuity.  And just this month the city council passed new labor contracts that will close a multi-million dollar budget short-fall that the city was facing in 2013.  With the hard work and concessions made by our employees, the city budget will realize immediate savings.  And, while children are snug in their beds with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads, this council person dreams of approvals and permits to begin the long anticipated Creek District, which will provide our city with a quaint downtown atmosphere.

About the time I put the finishing touches on my goals for 2012, I learned of our city manager’s April 2012 retirement.  I never thought I would see the day that the woe and worry of tax time would be replaced with a more looming charge, finding a new city manager.  And, just in case the seriousness of this task might have been lost on me or my colleague’s, people have chosen to point out that this decision will be the single largest decision a council has had to make in the last several decades.

So now I am back to work, creating a new set of goals for 2012.  Good thing my preferred tool, when writing, is a pencil; maybe erasers should be added to my Christmas list?  But, even faced with this daunting task, I take comfort in knowing I am not alone in this undertaking. There are four others embarking on this mission.  With every vote I cast it becomes much clearer why councils should always be plural and never singular.  And, though we don’t always agree, I am so very grateful to be making decisions with people who think differently than I.  Within that one simple truth lies a diversified decision-making body that has combined experiences and ideas that cannot be held by just one person.   And with that fact I am able to have confidence that the appropriate person will be selected to administer the daily operations of our city.

I end this year by wishing each and every person holiday blessings and the hope for a prosperous New Year!  But remember as you are commissioning your 2012 “to do” list, I beseech you to use pencil.


Kristal Jabara
Council Member
City of San Marcos

Guest Post from Kristal Jabara Council Member City of San Marcos

Jabara Family

My freshman year on the San Marcos City Council has been a whirlwind of meetings, studying, meetings, public events and, did I mention, meetings.  But, in this first year I have had many great experiences, met wonderful people, learned a wealth of information, and now have the great honor of being a contributor for San Elijo Life. If you are like me you count on and look forward to the updates and information sent out daily from San Elijo Life.

Before I begin writing about different city happenings, I thought I would share some of my background and what led me to the San Marcos City Council.

I grew up in Carlsbad and attended Point Loma Nazarene University.  In 1997 I moved to San Marcos and, along with my husband and daughter, currently live in San Elijo Hills.  Prior to being elected to council I served on the San Marcos Economic Development Corporation, the City’s Budget Review Committee, and was a Planning Commissioner.  In 2008 I was the spokesperson for the San Marcos Association of Residents and Taxpayers (SMART), a political action committee that worked to defeat the potentially devastating Proposition O measure on the November 2008 ballot.

I have a strong desire to preserve what makes San Marcos unique while balancing the growth and development a city needs to grow and be prosperous.  Maintaining a balanced budget, sustaining reserves, and providing quality services and resources are my highest priorities.

Along with working on council and taking care of my family I spend time volunteering for The Boys and Girls Club of San Marcos and will be co-chairing their annual dinner and auction for the third year in a row. My family and I are active members of our church and throughout the year we serve and attend many community events and projects.

I look forward to sharing information about our city along with some of my thoughts and opinions.  If you have any topics that you would like to suggest, please let us know.  Community members always seem to come up with great questions that can range anywhere from legislative, administrative, traffic, development, fire and safety. But, my favorites always begin with “I have been wondering…”.   One such question I have heard several times is “what are those small cameras, mounted on the lights, at intersections for?”.   I have been tempted to confirm people’s suspicions and reply “it is true, Big Brother is watching” but, I stop short of doing so, not wanting to add to the conspiracy theories.  The truth is the cameras you see are sending real-time pictures to our state-of-the-art Traffic Demand Center.  Having the ability to see live images of key intersections enables our traffic engineers to address any traffic flow problems, such as an accident or weather. The images are not stored or saved, like cameras at stop lights. The live information is used only to keep people moving as efficiently as possible.

It is a privilege and honor to serve the people who call San Marcos home and I am grateful to have an additional way to communicate with my neighbors…Thank you San Elijo Life!


Kristal Jabara
Council Member
City of San Marcos

City of San Marcos, CA: Residents encouraged to apply for various City commissions

City officials are encouraging residents to get involved and make a difference in their community by applying for open positions on several City commissions. Openings currently exist on the Community Services Commission, Planning Commission, San Marcos Community Foundation, San Marcos Economic Development Corporation, Student and Neighborhood Relations Commission and Traffic Safety Commission.

The deadline to apply for any of these openings is Monday, Nov. 21, 2011 at 5:30 pm. Appointments will be made on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011 after the City Council conducts interviews with candidates during its regular meeting at 6 pm.

Three positions are open on the Community Services Commission, which is responsible for making recommendations to the Council about community recreation programs, playgrounds, activities and facilities.

Five planning commissioner vacancies and one alternate planning commissioner vacancy is open. The planning commission makes determinations on a variety of land use matters for both long and short-range planning.

Three vacancies are open on the San Marcos Community Foundation, which acts as a nonprofit public benefit corporation to provide financial and other assistance to programs that benefit the City of San Marcos and its residents.

Three vacancies and one alternate vacancy are open on the San Marcos Economic Development Corporation (SMEDC). The SMEDC works to promote economic, educational and cultural interests in San Marcos by researching, planning and implementing a comprehensive strategy for the City’s success.

One vacancy is open on the Student and Neighborhood Relations Commission, which works to foster positive communication and partnership between San Marcos residents, businesses and student communities.

Four vacancies are open on the Traffic Safety Commission, which is responsible for reviewing, evaluating and making decisions or recommendations to the City Council regarding traffic conditions and regulations.

Detailed application instructions and interview requirements are available online or by visiting City Hall at 1 Civic Center Drive in San Marcos.

For more information, please call the San Marcos City Clerk at (760) 744-1050, ext. 3145.

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