Blog

Welcome to Edmonston for Mayor

Greetings.  My name is Brian Edmonston and I am running for Mayor of Poway.

If you want to learn more about where I stand on various issues just click here. Otherwise, let me tell you about myself.

I have lived in Poway for over 19 years. I have a law degree (J.D) from the University of San Diego, and I currently practice law and manage rental properties.

I have four children that attend, or have gone through, the Poway school system, including two at Poway High and one at Chaparral Elementary.  Over the years I have been active in various Poway activities including little league, soccer and robotics club.  I have also taken a great interest in Poway politics over the last 14 months.

Here is an op-ed I wrote about Measure A and Stoneridge.

Measure A is a Bad Deal.

Here is an interview I did with KPBS after Stoneridge closed.

I hope you will browse this website to learn more about me and my campaign for Mayor. If you like what you see please consider supporting me in the upcoming election.  I want to make Poway a better place for everyone while preserving its special character.

The best place to start is this introductory blog post.  From there you can go to the other blog pages on issues that interest you such as my discussion of expanding Poway Community Park or the Caylin Frank appointment.

You can also make a donation or contact me anytime with your inquiries or requests.  I genuinely want to hear what you have to say.

Thank you.

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Why I am Running for Mayor

I am running for Mayor because I think our current leadership is too focused on developing Poway Road and not focused enough on maintaining and improving our parks, fields, and open spaces.

What am I talking about?

Well, I am talking about the fact that the city council is encouraging the construction of 1148 condos or apartments on Poway Road. They are encouraging this by reducing parking requirements, raising building heights, and increasing the allowable density in this part of the city via the the Poway Road Specific Plan (PRSP). Additionally, the city has given one developer exclusive negotiation rights to city owned land near Poway Community Park.

Why would the city council unleash this level of development in Poway? Because they have run our great city into a fiscal crisis and now they want the expected tax revenue from this development to bail them out.
Preventing this bail out from fundamentally altering our city is one reason I am running for Mayor.

The fiscal crisis I am referring to is the exploding pension costs that Poway faces over the next two decades. According to city documents, the city’s general unfunded pension liability is more than $31 million and the city’s safety pension unfunded liability is $15 million. These numbers are huge when you consider the yearly budget for the city is only $42 million.

The city council knew this crisis was coming, but continued to keep staffing levels high and pay increases generous. For example, according to transparentcalifornia.com, our city manger’s pay increased from $200,000 in 2016 ($322,000 with benefits) to $239,743 in 2017 ($379,129 with benefits). While I don’t want to pick on anyone, these types of pay increases, combined with high staffing level, were simply reckless for a city facing a huge pension crisis.

Now they want all us to pay for this recklessness by allowing overdevelopment along Poway Road.

I am committed to righting our city’s fiscal ship while also protecting our city’s character and making money available for the badly needed improvements our city requires. These improvements including upgrades to our aging parks and fields as well as protecting our open spaces. I plan to do this through stronger fiscal oversight and giving higher priority to the things that make Poway special.

I have little confidence that the folks that got us into this mess will be able to do the same.

If you care about Poway, and don’t want to see it fundamentally changed, I urge you to learn more about me and my campaign at http://www.edmonston2018.com. If we fail to do something now, I think Poway will be changed irreversibly in four years given the expected pace of development that would take place under this current city council.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you might have about the city of Poway. I hope I can convince you to support me in the upcoming election this November.

Thank you,
Brian Edmonston
Poway, CA
http://www.edmonston2018.com

The Updated Poway Road Specific Plan

What is the updated Poway Road Specific Plan and why will it unleash a lot of new development on Poway Road?

On December 5th, 2017 the City Council adopted a set of zoning changes along Poway Road that are generally referred to as the updated Poway Road Specific Plan.

The updated PRSP made a few major changes to zoning that will encourage development along the Poway Road corridor.   In addition to these changes, it put a cap of 1148 new dwellings on the entire area.  This was a theoretical reduction from 2000 units, but the zoning changes make it much more likely the full number of units will be built.

This is my understanding of main changes to the zoning rules for some districts:

Increased allowable density from 20 dwelling units/acres to between 24 to 35.  This means instead of being able to build 20 condos or apartments per acre you are allowed to build as many as 35, which is almost double.  You have to provide certain community ‘benefits’ to get to the highest density level, but these benefits are not very demanding nor are they very clear, so most developments will be able to achieve the maximum density number.

Doubled the number of stories (floors) allowed along Poway Road from two to four.  This is probably the most significant change and, when combined with the increased density, it increases the economic viability of all sorts of development along Poway Road.

Increased maximum building height from 35 feet to 40 or 45 feet depending on a the side of Poway Road you are building on. This change fits hand-in-glove with the increase in the number of floors that may be built.

Decreased the required number of parking spaces from 1.5-1.75 to 1.25 for single bedroom units.  Additionally, guest parking requirement can be satisfied by on-site commercial parking from the commercial portion of the mixed use development.  It is estimated in the EIR that this is a 20% or more reduction in the required parking from the previous development rules.

Taken together, these changes are poised to lead to an explosion of development along Poway Road.  We already see over 300 units being proposed, including the Outpost, the Meridian-Sudberry project and the development on Poway Bowl parcel.  More are sure to come.

My biggest concern is with the relaxed parking requirements.  Without sufficient parking people will park on streets in front of other people’s homes.  Additionally, I see no plan for additional recreational resources and amenities to accommodate the massive increase in the number of residents, nor do I see any means for financing those amenities.

This represents poor urban planning. At the very least, I would put a builder fee in place that could be use to fund additional park space, walking paths and other amenities.

Yes, there are some good elements to the updated PRSP. The first project is very promising as the developer is creating two floors of underground parking at great expense.

But, if allowed to proceed unchecked and without better urban planning I think ultimately this will harm the quality of life of the residents in this area.  I also suggest that people take out a map and think about were the remaining 700-800 units might go and then consider whether this cap is too generous and if it should be reduced to an even lower number.

The updated PRSP is a major change for Poway.  Getting it right is one of the most important decision facing Poway for the next ten year or more.

http://docs.poway.org/WebLink/0/doc/117391/Page1.aspx

Neighborhood Investment

I recently read this article about the opening of a five acre park in Del Sur.

“Councilmember Mark Kersey and more than 100 community members marked the opening Saturday of the five-acre Del Sur Neighborhood Park.

The residents of Del Sur came together to enjoy the park for the first time today, and the sense of community pride was undeniable,” said Kersey. “Days like this are a reminder of why I’ve made infrastructure and neighborhood investment my top priorities for the city.”

Del Sur is celebrating the addition of another park to their fine community and this is not just some ‘pocket park.’  Rather, it is a full 5 acre park with lots of extras.

Del-Sur-Neighborhood-Park
Why can’t Poway add parks like this?

While I am happy for Del Sur, the article highlighted my concerns about Poway and the direction we are headed in. I am concerned because Poway has not opened a new park in quite some time.  We are not keeping up.

What really struck me, however, was the quote from San Diego Council Member Mark Kersey, who said “days like this are a reminder of why I’ve made infrastructure and neighborhood investment my top priorities for the city.”

This is what I want for Poway.  I want to make “infrastructure and neighborhood investment” my top priority for Poway.

For example, I have proposed adding between one to two acres to Poway Community Park. This is modest goal, frankly.  Del Sur just added a full five acre park.

But our current Mayor won’t even support that.

I would also like to secure some of our other great recreational open spaces that are privately owned, such as the Arbollitos Swim and Tennis Club, before they are scooped up and fenced off by the next out of town developer.  This is another important type of neighborhood investment.

But what is especially sad about this article, from my perspective, is that they interview ex-major leaguer Brett Bochy about the new park.  Anyone from Poway knows that the Bochy family grew up in Poway.

Among those celebrating the opening was former Major League Baseball player and Del Sur resident Brett Bochy.

“Parks like this give my family and I another reason to love our neighborhood,” said Bochy, who played for the San Francisco Giants in 2014 and 2015. “The Del Sur Park’s open space reminds me of when my dad and I would play catch, and I can’t wait to do the same with my kids here.

It saddens me that Brett would choose to move to the Del Sur rather than come back to his home town of Poway.  Based on his statement that “parks like this give my family and I another reason to love our neighborhood” it would seem like the great amenities offered in Del Sur played a part is his decision to move there.  Brett goes on to say “the Del Sur Park’s open space reminds me of when my dad and I would play catch, and I can’t wait to do the same with my kids here.”

Almost certainly Brett and his dad Bruce played catch in the open spaces of Poway.

I guess Poway doesn’t have as much open space as it used to.  We are clearly falling behind other communities because we are failing to invest in our great neighborhoods, and we are failing to protect and preserve our open spaces.

I am running for Mayor to try and change that. I am running so that we can have the same quality of life as the people who live in Del Sur, so that we can continue to attract great families like the Bochys to come and live here.

District Elections

 

I have been sent some questions on the use of District in Poway’s elections.  My answers are provided below.

Question 1

 

Poway’s first district election is 75 days from now (on Thursday, Aug 23rd). 

There is still a slight possibility that the district elections will not be held due to an action that might happen in the Higginson v Becerra and the City of Poway court case.  I know that council members can’t comment, and prospective council members shouldn’t comment on ongoing litigation, so please focus your response to these questions on other aspects of the district elections.
 
A. Do you think the district elections are a positive or negative thing for Poway voters?  Please explain your thinking.
At first I was skeptical about the need to create voting districts for Poway.  I thought the districts would divide our community and make it more difficult to get things done.
However, after meeting with many people throughout Poway I see the districts have brought a new level of energy and involvement to many Poway communities and I think that is a good thing.  Also, I don’t see anything like the division I thought might occur.  If anything,  I think the districts have brought Poway closer together.
So, so far so good.
B. Would you support a 4 district citizen’s commission to redraw/rebalance the district boundaries after the 2020 census or would you prefer that the council members do it? Again, please explain your thinking. 
If the districts were going to be redrawn then I would want citizens to be involved.   However, I would also like some involvement from city government as the process could get very complicated.  Also, I would want to explore some totally different district maps  including the use of “bands” running north-to-south so that each district would have portions of each of the major road (Poway, Twin Peaks, and Espola) and each district would have communities with different densities in them (including commercial and industrial facilities.)  This is similar to the way Encinitas districted, which was using east-to-west band so that each district has beach, rail, highway and rural sections, and therefore would all share the same concerns.
That said, if the current district maps seem to be working after the 2020 election, I would see no reason for radical changes at that time. A simple adjustment for the population changes would be enough.