SAN MARCOS — Chris Orlando and his son, Ryan, are at a crossroads that few father-and-son duos face together.Call it ‘term limits’ — figuratively and literally. Chris Orlando is a San Marcos City Councilman in the final year of his last four-year term of office. Ryan Orlando, 18, is a standout basketball player at San Marcos High School, playing his final high school basketball season. Both are plotting their next steps. For Chris Orlando, the next step could be a run — for mayor, that is. For Ryan Orlando, it could be a walk — as in “walk-on,” the term for a nonscholarship member of a collegiate basketball team.But both of them are enjoying going through the transition together.“It’s really interesting, as I am considering my next step and watching him do that, the realization that we’re both figuring out what the next chapter is, is kind of cool,” Chris Orlando said. “My son has a strict ‘no pep talk’ policy, so we keep the pep talks to a minimum, but it is neat we are at a new chapter at the same time. It’s been good.”The Orlandos’ respective political and athletic journeys have virtually paralleled each other. The elder was elected in 2006, around the time that the younger first picked up a basketball.
Tag Archives: City Council
Housing and business stock are on the rise, and there’s still plenty of potential for growth
In recent years, San Marcos has seen household incomes grow and the already low unemployment rate fall. At the same time, the city is home to high-paying industries and universities that are a pipeline for regional talent.
Those are among the takeaways of a recently released City of San Marcos Regional Profile, which demonstrates with comprehensive data sets the city’s momentum in key economic and education areas.
The city commissioned the regional profile, produced by the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (San Diego Regional EDC), to gain insight and information to be used on future economic development efforts, a major priority for the city.
The regional profile encompasses four sections: demographics, socioeconomics, the housing market and the economy, with major findings that include:
- Household income grew by 8.9 percent each year from 2011 to 2015, greatly outpacing the region’s rate of 1.4 percent;
- The unemployment rate of 2.9 percent continues to be low, and historical unemployment data show the city weathered the Great Recession better than the region, state and nation;
- San Marcos boasts 4,000 businesses, up 10 percent from a decade ago. Local firms’ resiliency in the face of the Great Recession has been a key to San Marcos’ status as an economic powerhouse;
- As North County’s education hub, San Marcos produces 10 percent of the San Diego region’s total academic program completions, with the lion’s share coming from Cal State San Marcos and Palomar College;
- Higher-than-average median wages can be found in three high-paying industries: manufacturing, wholesale trade and information; and
- Between 2010 and 2015 housing stock grew by 10.1 percent—San Marcos has more opportunities for development than other regional cities.
“The numbers in the regional profile tell the story: San Marcos’ growing reputation as a great place to live, work and play is well deserved. Not only do we have 40,000 jobs, an annual GDP totaling $7.9 billion and stellar educational institutions, but the community also boasts 72 miles of multi-use trails, 300 acres of park space, 240 restaurants and eight breweries,” said Economic Development Manager Tess Radmill.
As for the work piece of that trio, the City bolstered its business-friendly reputation through proactive economic development, which in 2012 the City Council prioritized in response to the tough economy and the end of redevelopment funding. City efforts thus far have included cutting red tape from the development approval process and there is recognition that there is room for more improvement.
Also part of this commitment to improving business is the regional profile itself, the City’s first such snapshot that will shape future economic development initiatives.
“This profile provides clarity and insight into San Marcos’ regional strengths, in addition to identifying the fundamental drivers of the local economy,” said Kirby Brady, the San Diego Regional EDC’s Director of Research. “It is clear that the city is an economic powerhouse with a diverse economic base, a highly-educated and talented workforce, and opportunities for growth.”
To review the full regional profile, visit www.san-marcos.net/regionalprofile.
From tax-credit education to an easier permitting process, the city is striving to do business better
When it comes to economic development, the City of San Marcos is raising the bar and local businesses are taking note—like Cliniqa, a bio-techne company that just went through an expansion.
“What can be a lengthy permit process was made easier by the wonderful employees in the Planning, Fire and Building departments,” said Lisa Profeta, Facilities Manager at Cliniqa in San Marcos.
The city has always embraced entrepreneurship because it drives a high quality of life—but it took center stage in 2012 when the State ended redevelopment programming, which took a toll on local business growth. Coupled with the recession, San Marcos saw a need to be more proactive in its economic development.
“City Council quickly realized we needed to focus our energy there if we wanted to remain a thriving, leading city,” said City Manager Jack Griffin. “Given that, City Council created a vision for a more business-friendly San Marcos.”
That vision began to take shape in 2015, when the city’s first economic development division was created. Since then, significant progress has been made, including the hire of an economic development manager and the launch of the San Marcos Business Walk Program, a twice-a-year event where volunteers collect feedback about the challenges facing local commerce.
Staff has also worked to cut a lot of red tape from the development approval process—everything from making it easier to navigate the land entitlement process, to bolstering city and private sector collaboration on California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) document preparation, to a City of San Marcos and Building Industry Association (BIA) pilot project that is under development to allow for digital submission of project plans to save money on construction document printing costs, which can run $20,000 to $70,000 per on a typical subdivision during the entirety of the development approval process.”
“The city Development Services team, particularly Planning staff, are constantly working with the city’s Economic Development Manager to understand the needs of existing and prospective businesses,” said Director of Development Services Dahvia Lynch. “Planning and Economic Development go hand in hand and our collaboration is crucial to our improvements, which are a work in progress.”
In fact, staff still sees plenty of room for improvements. For example, they are working to give business owners more opportunities to save time or money by streamlining and more clearly defining permitting process. There are also plans to standardize more reference materials for the permitting process, and to make more resources available online for business owners.
“Ideally, we would love to empower more business owners with the knowledge and resources they need,” Lynch said.
In that vein, city staff has also started to educate business owners about any benefits that they may qualify for. For example, Wholesale Shade was awarded a $500,000 California Competes Tax Credit, which Founder and CEO Patrick Howe learned about through the bi-monthly Council Business Visits. As part of the credit, the company intends to create 26 jobs over the next five years.
Likewise, the Council Business Visits, also led Cliniqa to apply, resulting in a $350,000 California Competes Tax Credit, with which the company plans to use to create 24 jobs over the next five years. Economic Development Manager Tess Radmill and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation worked closely with the two companies—along with other San Marcos businesses that hope to receive the credit in the future—to simplify the application process.
“Most business owners I know are focused on the daily challenges of keeping their doors open and are not experts at regulations or government programs,” Howe explained. “Knowing that the City of San Marcos is a partner in the success of our business is reassuring.”
Radmill says that’s precisely how she hopes the business community views the city: a partner in their success.
“We’re working to ensure our local businesses are empowered to reach their full potential because their success is part of what drives the high quality of life we all enjoy here in San Marcos.”
To learn more about the city’s economic development efforts, contact Economic Development Manager Tess Radmill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
City of San Marcos officials are encouraging residents to get involved and make a difference in their community by applying for open positions on the Community Services Commission, Planning Commission, San Marcos Community Foundation, Traffic Commission and San Marcos Creek Specific Plan Oversight Commission.
The deadline to apply for each of these openings is Friday, Dec. 16 at 5:30 pm. Appointments will be made after public interviews are conducted by the City Council during its regular meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 10 at 6 pm. Candidates should be prepared to provide a brief presentation discussing their background and qualifications for the desired position.
Detailed eligibility requirements, application instructions and interview requirements are available online at www.san-marcos.net/commissions or by visiting 1 Civic Center Drive.
Two positions are open on city’s Community Services Commission, which has the responsibility of advising the City Council in matters pertaining to the creation, operation, maintenance, management and control of the community recreation programs, of playgrounds and indoor and outdoor recreation, activities, and facilities.
The Planning Commission has four openings for individuals interested in evaluating and making decisions on a variety of land use matters for both long-range and short-range planning within the City of San Marcos. The commission conducts public hearings on significant planning, zoning and land subdivision matters such as specific plans, subdivision maps, conditional use permits and rezones; and handling any other matters as required by the municipal code.
Four positions are open on the San Marcos Community Foundation, which serves to enrich the quality of life for the community of San Marcos by serving as a nonprofit public benefit corporation providing grants to other nonprofit organizations that assist the city or its residents.
The Traffic Commission has three vacancies for residents looking to seek ways to improve traffic conditions, operations and safety, and the administration of enforcement of traffic regulations.
Finally, eight positions are open on the San Marcos Creek Specific Plan Oversight Committee. This body was created for the purpose of monitoring the implementation of the San Marcos Creek Specific Plan as well as conducting a formal progress report on the San Marcos Creek Specific Plan
For more information about applying for a vacancy, please contact the San Marcos City Clerk at (760) 744-1050, ext. 3145 or email@example.com.
For more information about the city’s commissions, please visit www.san-marcos.net.
A controversial bid to build 189 houses in the foothills of northern San Marcos won approval this week from the San Marcos City Council, but critics have vowed to keep fighting the project, saying it’s too much development for the untouched land. The so-called San Marcos Highlands community — approved by the council in a 4-1 vote Tuesday — is planned for a nearly 300-acre property at the northern end of Las Posas Road. Homes would be built on 50 acres, and the rest of the property would be set aside as permanent open space. About half the land is within the city limits and the other half is in the county’s unincorporated area.
READ MORE VIA Source: San Marcos OK’s 189-home project – The San Diego Union-Tribune
San Marcos Election Results and Measure B.
Rebecca Jones and Sharon Jenkins re-elected to City Council.
Randy Walton, Janet McClean, Victor Grahm-San Marcos Unified School Board
Vallecitos Water Distric Div 5
Vallecitos Water Distric Div 5
Measure B-Lilac Hills –
SAN MARCOS — The city of San Marcos will become the second North County city to elect its council members by electoral districts rather than in citywide elections.The San Marcos City Council voted last week to change its election system after receiving a litigation threat last year that alleged the city’s at-large voting system discriminated against Latino voters.The changes will take effect for the 2018 election, when three of the council seats are up for election.The council’s unanimous vote was made reluctantly, as several of the council members said they were concerned that the change could prove to politically divide the community.San Marcos received a litigation threat in December 2015 from a Malibu-based law firm that said the city’s at-large system “dilutes the ability of … Latinos… to elect the candidate of their choice or otherwise influence the outcome of San Marcos’ council elections.”According to the letter, San Marcos, which is 37 percent Latino, had not elected a minority council member in 22 years.The city’s most recent election in 2014 was cancelled after no candidates emerged to challenge the incumbents. This year, two challengers emerged against the two incumbents, Rebecca Jones and Sharon Jenkins.The new voting districts include one that has 70 percent Latino population, largely centered around the Richmar community in central San Marcos.The other three districts have much smaller Latino populations.San Marcos officials also approved their preferred district map, which splits the city into four voting districts. The fifth seat on the council, the mayor, will still be voted at large.The boundaries of the four districts are roughly as follows:• District 1, which includes Richmar, stretches west to Poinsettia Avenue, east to Woodland Parkway, north to Borden Road and South to the 78 Freeway.• District 2 includes the neighborhoods of San Elijo Hills and Discovery Hills and extends west to White Sands Drive, east to Questhaven Hills, south to the southern tip of San Elijo Hills and north to San Marcos Creek.• District 3 includes much of the Creekside District, Cal State San Marcos and the Heart of the City District and extends east to the Nordahl Marketplace, west to Rancho Santa Fe Road, south to the southern tip of the university’s sphere of influence and north to the 78 freeway.• District 4 includes Palomar College and Santa Fe Hills and is generally the rest of the city north of Borden Road and Santa Fe Road to the west.Each district represents roughly 8,000 voters.Districts 1 and 2 will be decided in 2018; districts 3 and 4 will follow in 2020.
READ MORE VIA Source: San Marcos opts for district elections – The Coast News Group
San Marcos ’ long-held plan to create a lively “urban downtown” on undeveloped land near the San Marcos Creek looks poised for a major shakeup.
READ MORE VIA Source: San Marcos rethinking Creekside plans
and Coast News Consultant: Scrap San Marcos “Main Street” concept
SAN MARCOS — San Marcos is poised to become the second North County city to elect City Council members by district, after being threatened with a lawsuit alleging its at-large elections disenfranchise Latino voters.
Mayor Jim Desmond said Tuesday that nothing’s set in stone, but that the proposed change will be hammered out in public hearings in the coming weeks and months. He said it was “prudent” to move to district elections in the face of a potential lawsuit.“I think fighting this is a waste of taxpayer dollars because every city that has challenged this has lost,” Desmond said.The city was put on notice in December when Malibu-based attorney Kevin Shenkman sent a letter saying San Marcos’ elections are “racially polarized” and violate the California Voting Rights Act. He noted that Latinos make up 37 percent of the city’s population, yet no Latinos have been elected to the council in about two decades.Shenkman has sued or threatened to sue other Southern California cities on behalf of Southwest Voter Registration Project, a Latino voting rights organization.Escondido moved to district elections in 2013 after another group threatened a similar lawsuit.“It is our belief that San Marcos’ at-large system dilutes the ability of minority residents — particularly Latinos, a protected class — to elect candidates of their choice, or otherwise influence the outcome of San Marcos’ council elections,” Shenkman said in the letter.
The City Council has been discussing the potential litigation for months in closed session and, on June 14, directed city staff to study possible boundaries for election districts and hire a demographer to create some maps.One option would create four council districts, with the mayor elected in an at-large vote; another option would create five council districts, each electing its own representative. The city has roughly 93,000 residents.At least one district must contain a heavy concentration of Latino voters and would mostly likely include the city’s Richmar neighborhood, straddling state Route 78 and moving west to city limits. READ MORE VIA Source: City poised to shake up voting system | SanDiegoUnionTribune.com
SAN MARCOS — Land that has sat vacant for years in the commercial heart of the San Elijo Hills community may sprout shops, restaurants and two dozen townhomes, possibly by late 2017.Residents and city officials have waited for years for the right project to complete the community’s Town Center, a retail hub that was supposed to serve the thousands of homes built in the sprawling master-planned development in southern San Marcos.HomeFed, the publicly traded company that manages San Elijo Hills, has teamed with Ambient Communities to build a two-phase project on the empty 5-acre space.The plan calls for 33,000 square feet of restaurants and retail throughout seven single-story buildings, with 24 condos — three-story units with rooftop decks.Jeff O’Connor, director of operations for HomeFed, said last week that he is “definitely excited about this because it’s going to complete the Town Center — and the residents will be the beneficiaries of that.”No specific proposals have been submitted to the city yet; that is expected within weeks.
READ MORE VIA Source: San Elijo Hills center may grow again | SanDiegoUnionTribune.com