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The real cost of legacy lost

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
October 28, 2005


Paul Ecke Ranch has already moved on. Interested only is squeezing the last ounce of profit from the birthplace of the commercial Christmas Poinsettia industry. Prop A, the latest Ecke attempt to undermine honest governance in Encinitas, is nothing more than a well financed shell game of diminishing returns.

With an agenda of divide and conquer dating back to 1957, the true legacy of Paul Ecke Ranch will be remembered as a carefully orchestrated dismantling of Encinitas's agriculture sustainability in the name economic expediency.

As true community leaders, Paul Ecke Sr. and his wife Magdalena will be remembered for putting Paul Ecke Ranch on the map, and making Encinitas the poinsettia capital of the world. Paul Ecke III will be remembered as the man who sold the ranch for more stucco and stoplights.

Some legacy huh?

Another Ecke legacy is one of mistrust and mendacity.

Notice how the Prop A slogan is not "Keep poinsettias in Encinitas, or Keep Agriculture in Encinitas. Could this be because Paul Ecke Ranch has given up any pretense of keeping poinsettia agriculture in Encinitas?

Keep Flowers in Encinitas is just one example of the Orwellian spin employed by the development arm of Paul Ecke Ranch. One mailer asked the question " Where have all the flowers gone?" knowing full well the majority of Ecke Ranch poinsettia production was outsourced to Guatemala in 1996.

Promising to keep flowers In Encinitas, Prop A is really about residential development on land-zoned agriculture. Prop A is an attempt by Paul Ecke Ranch to change the rules after the game is over. Prop A is an example of how little personal integrity matters anymore.

How's that for a legacy?

It is clear to me the Ecke vision first evidenced by Albert Ecke, as an enterprising immigrant, and later expanded by his horticulturalist son, and marketing-savvy grandson was lost on the generation currently trying to sell off a vital piece of Encinitas history.

Developing agricultural land in order to preserve agriculture makes as much sense crying poor when surrounded by the proof of your success.

Allow me then to comment on the cost associated with a lack of vision and legacy squandered.

Retaining the agricultural zoning on the East Saxony parcel of Encinitas ranch would better serve the people of Encinitas than would the construction of 101 single family homes. At a time when the city is nearing projected build out, and already lacks the necessary funds to meet the infrastructure needs of current residents. In no way will, the development proposed in Prop A meet the criteria of significant public benefit enough to warrant a zoning change.

Because this matter was considered settled in 1994, efforts on the part of Paul Ecke Ranch and the Carltas Development Company to welch on a carefully crafted development agreement can only be interpreted as jaded political opportunism. The message being sent by Paul Ecke and his supporters, is that public private agreements in the flower capital of the world are whim based, subject to change, and therefore not worth the dead trees they're written on.

How's that for a legacy?

In a perfect world, the birthplace of the commercial poinsettia industry would be preserved as a local and state landmark and placed on the historic registry. A museum would be built to highlight the contributions Paul Ecke Sr. bestowed on Encinitas and the world. In a perfect world the remainder of the agricultural zoned land could then be leased by the city of Encinitas as community gardens so that future Encinitas residents may experience the joy of working the land.

The East Saxony parcel is perfectly zoned to accommodate small-scale organic farming, fruit orchards, or civic group such as 4-H or Girl scouts. The 37 acres could also be converted too much need ball fields. Ask any soccer mom or Little League dad if they would rather have another hundred homes in Encinitas or 37 acres of soccer fields and baseball diamonds.

The Paul Ecke has already answered that question; he's putting his money in subdivisions.

Personally, I think it is time for Paul Ecke Ranch to pull up stakes and relocate to Guatemala once and for all, leaving those with enough honor to keep their word to continue the legacy of agriculture in Encinitas. But since honor is no longer an issue for the folks at Ecke Ranch, the Carltas Development Company will not be satisfied until they have developed every last inch of Paul Ecke land to its full economic potential, binding agreements be damned.

Keep flowers in Encinitas? Yeah right.

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