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It's going to be a bumpy ride

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
August 19, 2005


Big government is the last thing people trust right now.I'm not talking about the Bush Administration's War is Peace Program, although that contributes considerably to the general feeling of mistrust. I'm talking on a more regional scale.

With the fiscal meltdown, pension board corruption, mayoral mishaps and stripper gate in San Diego, Arnold Schwarzenegger messing up the mess in Sacramento, Jim Woods playing lord and master in Oceanside, and Randy Duke Cunningham on the ropes, his ego and reputation beaten to a pulp for the world to Google, the public mood couldn't be more cynical.

Development pressures weighing heavy on the populace don't help matters either.

With a circus of political corruption, and municipal malfeasance, on parade in San Diego County, it's not the best time to cry poor when trying to convince voters to ignore a lucrative development agreement. With a glaring lack of open space and recreational opportunities in Encinitas, and a mere 58 acres of agricultural land remaining, asking to profit from the reduction of both seems rather greedy.

I kinda of feel sorry for Paul Ecke III (P3). As owner of the Paul Ecke Ranch, he has chosen an unfortunate time to plead his case for breaking a development agreement made with the city of Encinitas. On the November 8th, as part of the Gubernator's special election, an advisory vote will ask Encinitas voters to weigh in on the Ecke Ranch proposal to welch on a promise and rezone agricultural land promised in perpetuity, for residential development.

P3 has profited, and will continue to profit considerably from the economic development resulting from the Encinitas Ranch agreement. P3, the sole owner of Paul Ecke Ranch will long enjoy a share of the revenue generated by development of former agricultural land. The Encinitas Ranch Golf Course, Car Country Carlsbad, the Carlsbad Company Stores, the Carlsbad Forum, Home Depot, Home Expo, and other commercial endeavors along the El Camino Real corridor, and an epic amount residential development have all been converted from agricultural use by the Ecke owned Carltas Development Company.

Opponents of the Ecke proposal are asking voters to look at all the facts. Pertinent questions, such as why the Eckes chose not to incorporate with the rest of Encinitas, Leucadia, Cardiff and Olivenhain in 1987, need to be answered. I wonder how many other property owners residing in Encinitas could afford to opt out of incorporation.

Voters should also consider the Ecke decision to outsource poinsettia operations to Guatemala in 1996. Paul Ecke de Guatemala is comprised of 2 farms on 60 acres.Farm 1 houses 11 greenhouses of poinsettia stock New Guinea impatiens and specialty annuals under the Flower Fields brand. Ecke's 30-acre Farm 2 is dedicated solely to poinsettia production.

Earlier this year P3 gave me a personal tour of the fallow agricultural land he was hoping to develop into 200 homes. One has to wonder why Paul Ecke Ranch didn't rebuild the 60 acres of green houses in Encinitas in 1996, after closing the deal on the development of Encinitas Ranch. I certainly do.

Far from altruistic, it appears the development of Encinitas Ranch has been one calculated move after another, starting with formation of the Carltas Company in 1957. Carltas Development Company was formed in 1987 to consolidate development activities. Since 1987, the Carltas Development Company has developed over 1,300 acres of prime California coastal land and over 850,000 square feet of commercial and industrial buildings.

Claiming business economics as the catalyst for his plans to break a 1994 development agreement included in the incorporation of Encinitas Ranch, Paul Ecke III, Paul Ecke Ranch, the Carltas Company, and the Carltas Development company have yet to provide voters and city leaders financial documents that could support such claims.I wonder if the Astroturf activists of the Keep Flowers in Encinitas committee have been shown the money trail. Perhaps their unwavering support of bait and switch development agreements means they know things the rest of us don't.

I wonder if they even know about the 60 acres of Ecke greenhouses in Guatemala.

The "property rights is god" claim doesn't cut it here either. The development agreement was quite clear, as is intent of Paul Ecke III, Paul Ecke Ranch, the Carltas Company, and the Carltas Development Company. At play here is a very skilled business mind has found a way to welch on a promise made to the city of Encinitas in order to milk even more profit from the corpse of a agricultural giant.

By the way, what ever happened to the Paul Ecke Ranch Science Center?

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