Jim Desmond was lobbied to change language of Measure A, emails and texts show
By J. HARRY JONESDEC. 17, 2019 2:17 PM
Backers of Measure A, the Save Our San Diego Countryside initiative that will be voted on in March, say a series of texts and emails obtained as part of a public records request show that Supervisor Jim Desmond was working with the building industry when he tried to change the ballot language at the last minute.
Measure A would require countywide votes for big developments in the unincorporated parts of the county that are not now zoned for them, something the building industry says would likely put an end to such projects. On Dec. 10, the Board of Supervisors had been scheduled to consider changing the ballot language of the measure just one day before the Registrar of Voters deadline. Desmond had placed the item on the agenda saying a change was needed to better inform voters. He also told at least two people that the language change was written by his staff. But texts and emails show that it was representatives with the Building Industry Association of San Diego County who approached Desmond, and lawyers for the No on A campaign, which is funded by the building and real estate industry, who not only asked for the item to be put on the agenda, but also crafted the wording which was very similar to what Desmond ended up proposing.
Mayor Jim Desmond has been cleared of wrongdoing after an independent investigation found no “probable cause” to validate claims he violated campaign finance laws concerning his bid for the District 5 seat on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.The complaint was filed on May 29 by Realtor Ana Rosvall, among others, who claimed Desmond violated the city’s municipal code (2.16.010), which prohibits votes within 12 months of receiving a donation or receiving donations within 12 months of a vote. Rosavall’s complaint alleged Desmond accepted campaign donations from several sources prior to votes on development projects in the city.“Unfortunately, it was a last-minute campaign hit,” Desmond said. “An independent Elections Council was able to determine very quickly that there was no wrongdoing and I’ve been cleared of all allegations. So, we’re going to continue full speed ahead with the campaign.”Desmond, a republican, is running against Oceanside City Councilman Jerry Kern, also a republican, and Democrats Jacqueline Arsivaud and Michelle Gomez. Many consider Desmond the frontrunner for the June 5 primary. On June 2, Desmond continued his campaign by reaching out to voters.“We are phone calling, we’ve got several people walking precincts,” Desmond said. “We’re making sure people are going to get out and vote.”A letter to Desmond from investigators dated June 1 confirmed he did not violate any ordinances. The independent Elections Council verified what Desmond and his campaign believed since the complaint was filed. John Hoy, Desmond’s campaign consultant, said on May 31 the municipal code in question does not apply to elections outside the city. The code, he added, only applies to candidates running for election in a city race, and not any other jurisdiction.Also, Hoy said Desmond’s attorney, who is also his campaign director, did not send a formal letter to the Elections Council or have any contact with investigators.“Our position is it just simple doesn’t apply to him,” he said on May 29. “That’s a City of San Marcos ordinance drafted to regulate elections in San Marcos. He’s running in the county of San Diego for supervisor under the rules of the County of San Diego. This ordinance is just not applicable in this situation.”A letter from the law firm, states the alleged violations in question are not covered in the municipal code, are barred by the statute of limitations or will be by next Tuesday (June 5) and no sufficient facts to “demonstrate probable cause.” In addition, the letter states the amount of campaign contributions apply only to municipal elections, which has been the position of Desmond and Hoy since May 29.The complaint alleged Farouk Kubba of Vista San Marcos LLC donated $800 to Desmond’s campaign on June 6, 2017, and Desmond voted for the controversial San Marcos Highlands project on Nov. 15, 2017. In addition, $650 was donated to Desmond by David Hammer and Eric Armstrong, who worked on the Brookfield project.“I’m pretty disappointed,” Rosvall said of the investigation. “I feel that these laws should be applied to all elections. It seems like no matter what you do, they’re one step ahead of you.”
SAN MARCOS — San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond has announced that he is running for county supervisor in 2018. Desmond is running in District 5, where longtime supervisor Bill Horn will be termed out of office after serving six terms. He is the first person to announce their candidacy in what is expected to be a crowded field to succeed the controversial longtime supervisor. Desmond in a brief statement on Feb. 4 touted his experience as mayor in San Marcos, where the city has had a period of unparalleled stab
City of San Marcos hosts a successful biennial Education Forum
San Marcos education leaders celebrate ten years of partnership
SAN MARCOS – The leaders of the three major educational institutions in San Marcos — the state university, community college and school district — described how expanded educational partnerships, strong enrollment growth and dramatic campus construction have marked the evolution of San Marcos as a regional education hub over the past 10 years at a biennial educational forum Wednesday hosted by the City of San Marcos.
Dr. Karen Haynes, president of California State University San Marcos; Adrian Gonzales, interim president of Palomar College, and Dr. Kevin Holt, superintendent of the San Marcos Unified School District reviewed accomplishments over the past ten years since the forum’s establishment and detailed how collaborative programs linked to the City or education partners have helped reach bold milestones.
Over that period, the number of students at California State University San Marcos has doubled to about 14,000, making it California’s fastest-growing state university said President Karen Haynes. In the San Marcos Unified School District, from elementary school through high school, about 21,000 students are being taught, up from about 16,000 in 2005, said Superintendent Kevin Holt. Interim President Adrian Gonzales noted that Palomar College offers educational opportunities to more than 23,000 students.
Mayor Jim Desmond described the city’s sponsorship as “a conscious effort to embrace our educational community” with a goal of “providing skills for the workplace of the future.”
With many school board members, trustees, city council members and the general public in attendance, the forum, “Making the Grade: In Just Ten Years,” for the first time was held at the campus of the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in San Marcos. The private university, which specializes in graduate training for occupational and physical therapy, expanded to San Marcos in 2009 and also has campuses in St. Augustine, Florida, and Austin, Texas. President Wanda Nitsch moderated the forum.
Partnership was a key theme in describing how the school district, community college and state university work together to encourage and insure that students graduating from San Marcos high schools have a supportive pathway to higher education.
Superintendent Holt pointed out that the Pace Promise program guarantees every graduating senior who meets entry level requirements a spot in the entering class at Cal State San Marcos. “We live in a community that prioritizes higher education for kids,” he said.
President Haynes noted that such a guarantee is increasingly important as the number of applications for the freshman class has continued to go up, making admission more difficult. The current entering class had 19,000 applications for 2,500 slots, she said.
Holt also detailed efforts to reach out to San Marcos high school students through the GEAR UP program with Palomar College to provide workshops on preparing for and getting into college, including help to pay for all SMUSD 10th and 11th grade PSAT tests, an important early round test in the admissions process.
Gonzales noted also that the college is working with the district to help students who take a senior year math course to transition into college algebra.
Gonzales then described the achievements of Palomar College as a “hidden secret in San Marcos,” from its planetarium, the fifth-largest in the state, to its 22 varsity athletic teams, its student radio station ranked as No. 1 in the country, its debate team ranked nationally, and its standing as one of the top three colleges in the nation in graduating Hispanic students.
Haynes, too, touted the accomplishments of Cal State San Marcos in serving minority students, noting that for the third year in a row, more than half of graduating students were the first in their families to achieve a four-year degree.
Over the past 10 years, the most visible accomplishments have been the construction of new buildings, helped with funding from major, voter-approved bond measures for the San Marcos Unified School District and Palomar College.
San Marcos High School, now a modern landmark on San Marcos Boulevard, opened in 2014 and Double Peaks School, the district’s first kindergarten through eighth grade school, is set to open next August. Palomar College is beginning work on a new library and learning center. And a 1,400-seat multipurpose arena now under construction is set to open next fall at Cal State San Marcos.
While school funding has stabilized across the state with the rebound of the economy, Haynes said Cal State San Marcos plans to reach out with its first comprehensive fund-raising campaign. She said that 85 percent of the alumni stay in the region and that the university generates hundreds of millions of dollars for the local economy.
“Cal State San Marcos is now an investment in our region,” she said.
Honing in on the link between economic development and education, Mayor Jim Desmond detailed major developments close to the university and college campuses that are bringing new housing and businesses and continue to interconnect road improvements and SPRINTER transit stations to make the community a place where people can thrive in both education and career.
“San Marcos is a place where you can go from kindergarten to graduate school to employee,” Desmond said. “By partnering together, we are fostering a friendly, collaborative city that embraces our role as the education hub of North County.”
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.
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.
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.
Mayor Jim Desmond delivered his annual State of the City Address on Tuesday, February 28 at the historic Williams Barn at Walnut Grove Park to an audience of around 140 residents and community leaders.
The theme for this year’s event was “Honoring Our Vibrant Heritage, Celebrating Our New Horizons.”
Desmond covered achievements made over the last few years and touched on exciting new projects coming in the years ahead like the Creek District, University District and SR-78 Improvements.
During the event, the San Marcos City Council also recognized their “San Marcos Champions” for exemplarily work that has contributed to the betterment of San Marcos.
Vice Mayor Hal Martin honored former San Marcos Vice Mayor Pia Harris-Ebert for her years of service on the city council; Council Member Chris Orlando recognized Steve and Kathleen Kildoo for their involvement with several city commissions and other volunteer organizations; Council Member Rebecca Jones honored affordable housing developer Ginger Hitzke of Hitzke Development for her work in San Marcos; and Council Member Kristal Jabara honored Green Gables Estate Owner Karen Sherman for taking over the Old Richland Schoolhouse.
The annual State of the City Address is a fundraiser for the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce and was sponsored by several local businesses including Cal State San Marcos, EDCO, Corky’s Pest Control, SDG&E, Hunter Industries, Markstein Beverage Company, Tri-City Medical Group and Vallecitos Water District.
Mayor Jim Desmond will deliver the 2012 San Marcos State of the City Address on Tuesday, February 28 during a luncheon at Williams Barn at Walnut Grove Park, 1950 Sycamore Drive. The lunch will begin at 11:30 am and the Mayor’s address will start at 12:30 pm. Four community heroes will also be honored during the event. Community heroes are selected each year by council members and honored for their contributions to San Marcos.
Tickets are available for $25 per person by calling the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce at (760) 744-1270. Corporate sponsorships are also available through the chamber.
This year’s theme is “Honoring Our Vibrant Heritage. Celebrating Our New Horizons.” Mayor Desmond will touch on the accomplishments in the community over the past five years and will present the city’s vision for the future in the areas of public safety, parks and community services, community development, traffic and transportation, and other quality of life issues.
The Mayor’s State of the City Address will air on San Marcos TV Channel 19 (Cox Communications), Channel 24 (Time Warner Cable) and Channel 99 (AT&T) during the month of March on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 9 am and 6 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays at 11 am and 3 pm. It will also be available on the city’s web site.
The event is being co-hosted by the City of San Marcos and the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce.
Mayor Jim Desmond will deliver the 2011 State of the City Address for San Marcos on Tuesday, March 8 at 8:30 am. The speech will take place at San Marcos City Hall, 1 Civic Center Drive. A networking breakfast begins at 7:30 am.
Tickets are available for $20 per person for the breakfast and a seat in the Council Chamber for the address. Free seating in the adjacent Valley of Discovery Room will be made available at 8:30 am for guests wishing to only attend the Mayor’s speech.
Those interested in purchasing tickets should call the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce at (760) 744-1270. Corporate sponsorships are also available through the Chamber.
Mayor Desmond will touch on the accomplishments in the community during 2010 and will present a vision for the City’s future in the areas of public safety, parks and community services, community development, traffic and transportation, and other quality of life issues.
The Mayor’s State of the City Address will air live on San Marcos TV Channel 19 (Cox Communications), Channel 24 (Time Warner Cable), Channel 99 (AT&T) and online at www.san-marcos.net. The program will be rebroadcast during the month of March on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 9 am and 6 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays at 11 am and 3 pm. It will also be available on-demand on the City’s Web site.
The event is being co-hosted by the City of San Marcos and the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce.
For tickets, please contact the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce at (760) 744-1270.
What: Mayor Jim Desmond reviewed the city’s accomplishments and problems.
Achievements: Reduced crime, opened Double Peak and Hollandia parks, and will open Sunset Park tomorrow, at La Mirada Drive and Poinsettia Avenue. Leading a regional effort to widen eastbound state Route 78 between Twin Oaks Valley and Nordahl roads.
Problems: Continued decline in sales and property tax revenue, and the state’s taking of property taxes and redevelopment funds.
SAN MARCOS — While many cities in the region dwelled on sharp revenue declines that have forced massive budget cuts, San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond, who is running for re-election this year, accentuated the positive in his annual address to the city this week.
Desmond devoted most of his speech Tuesday to San Marcos’ accomplishments — building parks, reducing crime, planning for development downtown and in the nearby University District, and taking the lead in relieving congestion on state Route 78.
He didn’t mention revenue problems until the end, when he bemoaned the drop in sales and property tax income and the state’s taking of local property taxes and redevelopment funds to balance its budget.
San Marcos’ general fund has lost roughly $1.1 million in the first half of the fiscal year, which began July 1, and is expected to end with $60.6 million in income June 30, and a balanced budget, city spokeswoman Jenny Peterson said. The sharpest declines were in sales and property tax income.
By comparison, neighboring Escondido has a $10.5 million deficit in its $72.9 million budget. Still, San Marcos has had to cut vehicle replacements and the purchase of new software, and freeze vacant positions.
“While it’s true that we’ve been through a difficult year, we rose to the occasion together and are stronger for it,” Desmond said.
Desmond’s early-morning speech was hosted by the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce and partly sponsored by San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and the proposed 2,700-home Merriam Mountains development outside Escondido. He delivered it to roughly 110 people in the City Council chambers.
Desmond said San Marcos has been building parks to serve its growing population, projected to increase from 82,600 to 90,000 in 10 years. A major attraction that opened last year was the 230-acre Double Peak Park built by San Elijo Hills Development Corp. off San Elijo Road. The park offers a panoramic view of the area and the Pacific Ocean. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SD UT