Remember that Don't -Talk-About-Wal-Mart letter the city attorney sent to the council members and city council candidates? She warned them not to talk to the people who would have to live with these projects, because their input might taint the approval process. The council is supposed to be so unbiased when they make land use decisions that they are not supposed hear or talk about a project until it is up for approval. Then they are supposed to listen to all the sides and make a "quasi judicial" decision after hearing all the evidence. Ha! What a joke. Apparently this quasi mumbo jumbo stuff only applies to Wal-Mart and nothing else.
Seriously. First of all, the council members are also the redevelopment agency board. And the redevelopment agency is the chief developer in town. Right now, the redevelopment agency (literally, the city staff) has been meeting sub rosa (latin for secretly) with Lowe's and Poway Toyota and working out a little deal where they move Poway Toyota over to the empty car dealerships on the other side of the street. Then, there will be room for Lowe's on the north side of Poway Rd after the council cuts them some slack on the required setbacks. How is the council supposed to be unbiased when they review a project that their own agency has been working on for months? There is absolutely nothing any member of the public can say that is going to turn this project back, because the deal has already been decided.
I haven't read all the details, but here is the gist of it: We are going to pay Toyota some $3 million in incentives to move across the street. You might wonder where that $3 million is going to come from since the governor got his hands on the city's redevelopment money. No problem. Remember the sewer slush fund? Turns out the city skimmed $3 million from that to "backfill" Redevelopment for a sewer project on Oak Knoll Rd that the Redevelopment Agency had already paid for. No wonder the staff doesn't want to talk about the sewer fees. Where would they get money to play auto-dealer musical chairs with if they couldn't fleece us on our sewer bills?
The city is insisting that Toyota add a auto-body shop when they move across the street. Auto-body shops are notorious air polluters. And this one will be adjacent to residential property. So, in addition to a car wash that will exceed residential noise levels, the resident's will have to get used to a plethora of carcinogens wafting around. These residents should keep in mind that when they get cancer, it is all for the common good because the city can get lots of sales tax money to support the bloated salaries and pensions of the staff and to keep the quality of life humming in north Poway.
And speaking of north Powegians...Dick Lyles posted some pro-WalMart cheerleading on the Poway Unslanted blog:
Time and again, it has been demonstrated that when a Walmart with groceries enters a community, consumer prices drop throughout the market, sales tax revenues increase and local business grows. Bringing groceries to the Poway Walmart store will allow families to save money on their grocery bill and stimulate Poway’s economy.
The WalMart expansion will not change the city’s general plan. The only question is whether we want a good WalMart at that location or a better one.
That's so sweet of Dick to care about helping families save money on their grocery bills. Dick, here's some empathy coming right back at ya'. I know you live about as far from Wal-Mart as someone can live and still reside within the Poway city limits. You not only live far from Wal-Mart (and all of of its impacts), you live far away from any shopping opportunities. You live in blighted, store-free north Poway.
For many decades now, north Powegians have heroically (and without complaint) traveled to Rancho Bernardo to buy the basic necessities. That is a waste of time and gas, and it means San Diego is getting a big chunk of our sales tax dollars. I propose we remedy that. I have figured out a way to bring retail opportunities (and sales tax generation) to north Poway. The city should buy Maderas Golf Course and put in a regional shopping mecca. It would solve a couple of big problems all at once.
First, north Poway is golf course rich and shopping center poor. Taking out an excess golf course and putting in a shopping center will be a real win-win. Think of all the water we will save. The golf courses use 4% of all of the water sold in Poway. And they pay about half of what the rest of us pay. The city could get a lot more money selling that water to someone else.
It really wouldn't be too difficult. The roads are in. Espola Rd is capable of carrying just as much traffic as Poway Rd. There shouldn't be too many environmental constraints since they already wiped out the vernal pools and most of the sensitive habitat when they built Maderas. Not many people would be impacted by the noise 'cause most of the nearby residents have an acre or two as buffer.
One little problem is that the golf course provided a public benefit. In lieu of paying the required park fees, the city council, at Don Higginson's suggestion, allowed Maderas to substitute a few public tee times instead. So, to compensate for this great public benefit that will be wiped out if a regional shopping center is built here, I suggest we alot some space for a couple of sports fields. There is plenty of room, and plenty of water and parking, so it should work out fine.
I think a regional shopping center smack dab in the center of north Poway is really the best and highest possible use for that land. And if San Diego ups their sales tax rate, folks from Rancho Bernardo would be flocking to Poway to shop. Ka-ching! Ka-ching! Ka-ching, I can hear the money dropping in our sales tax coffers now. It's like killing two...three...maybe even four birds with one stone: more sales tax revenue, more water available, more playing fields and Dick Lyles can shop in his own neighborhood. Who wouldn't be in favor of such a brilliant idea?