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A is for agenda of arrogant avarice.

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
October 12, 2005


Last week I was invited by members of a United Methodist congregation to participate in a voters forum regarding the Ecke financed Proposition A. Naturally, I obliged.

Known for my advocacy of populist causes such as clean air and water, growth mitigation, environmental preservation, and honest governance, I was asked to present the No on A position.

I woke early Sunday morning to prepare. Joining me in the forum was Bill Berrier of the Keep Flowers in Encinitas committee. Bill, a former Superintendent of San Dieguito Union High School District, was promoting the Yes on A development scheme. A college debater, I was prepared.

For all his composure Mr. Berrier was a deer in the headlights, as his Ecke talking points failed to prepare him for the questions being asked by voters. The Forum began with Mr. Berrier assuring those gathered that he had been a friend to the Ecke family for years and he was willing to trust them and take them at their word regarding their claims of financial hardships and the need to break a development agreement that netted the Ecke family untold millions.

Untold because the Ecke Family, Paul Ecke Ranch, and Carltas Development Company refuse to make public the financial statements that would support their well financed cries of poverty. Of course most voters are suspect due mainly to the fact Ecke will spend close to $200,000 on the special election, aimed at overturning the Encinitas Ranch development agreement, and the promise to keep the historic Ecke property, on Saxony drive, in agriculture, in perpetuity.

Perpetuity means forever.

When it was my turn to respond to the Ecke spin, I spent a little time addressing the legacy question regarding Ecke kindness of generations past. I pointed out, as a matter of property rights, the Eckes had every right not to enter into a development agreement, requiring land not developed as part of the Encinitas Ranch Specific Plan, to retain an agricultural zoning status.

Most of my allotted time was spent presenting a timeline that illustrated a development agenda, reaching back nearly half a century. Can you say Interstate 5? It's hard not to marvel at amount of Ecke agricultural property bisected by the construction of Interstate 5 in the early 60's.

The timeline discussion went something like this.

  • 1906 – Albert Ecke, a German emigrant, grew cut flowers, fruits, and vegetables in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles
  • 1920 – Paul Ecke Sr., in business with his father, cultivates the first indoor poinsettia
  • 1922 – Albert Ecke dies suddenly
  • 1923 – Paul Ecke Sr. relocates business to Encinitas.
  • 1957 – Paul Ecke Ranch forms the Carltas Company to hold two major parcels of agricultural land. In Carlsbad, Carltas holdings included the coastal area now identified with Car Country Carlsbad, The Carlsbad Company Stores, Legoland, and the floral trade center. In Encinitas, Ecke agricultural land held by Carltas, developed as Encinitas Ranch, now sprouts commercial tenants such as Target, Starbucks, Mc Donald's, Home Expo, Office Depot, REI and Pier One.
  • 1987 – City Of Encinitas incorporates. Carltas Company holdings not included in the incorporation of the new city remain under county jurisdiction.
  • 1987 – Carltas Company, a subsidiary of The Paul Ecke Ranch, forms the Carltas Development Company to consolidate future development activities
  • 1991 – Paul Ecke Sr. dies
  • 1991 – Carltas Development Company begins planning the residential and commercial Development of the 853-acre, Encinitas Ranch master planned community.
  • 1994 – Carltas Development Company signs Encinitas Ranch development agreement with Encinitas. Ecke land holdings incorporate into Encinitas. This development agreement included the "Agriculture in perpetuity" promise now being rescinded by the folks at Carltas Development Company and Paul Ecke Ranch
  • 1996 – Paul Ecke Ranch outsources poinsettia operations to Guatemala. Paul Ecke de Guatemala, in beautiful San Miguel Duenas, is comprised of 2 farms on 60 tropical acres. Farm #1 is comprised of 11 modern greenhouses of poinsettia stock and specialty annuals sold under the Flower Fields Brand. Farm #2, of Ecke's Guatemala operations, is 30 acres of greenhouses dedicated entirely to poinsettia production.
  • 2003 – Carltas Development Company and Paul Ecke Ranch receives approval for the Paul Ecke Ranch Science Center planned for Saxony Drive, to feature a master planned biotech park, complete with greenhouses.
  • 2004 – The Encinitas City Council and Paul Ecke Ranch further violate the intent and spirit of 1994 Encinitas Ranch Development Agreement by approving to Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) seeking to rezone the agricultural land for residential development.
  • 2005 – The Encinitas City Council, at the request of Paul Ecke Ranch, places the rezoning and the development of 100 single-family homes on the November ballot as a non-binding, advisory vote.

Keep Flowers in Encinitas…Yeah…right.

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