Friday, October 20, 2017

Council Outsources Library: End 123 year tradition to make the Escondido Corporate Library

A very sad day for our city. 
Escondido City Council Breaks 123 Year Tradition of
Public Operation of Escondido Library, votes to Outsource Remaining Library
Council Votes to Export Tax Payer Funds out of state to LS&S corporation, hedge-fund

Escondido City Hall: For the second time, Mayor Sam Abed and the councilmen on the city council ignored the unanimous recommendation of Library Trustees and a petition from over 4,000 residents by voting to outsource the Escondido Public Library.  Over 125 people demonstrated outside of City Hall and attended the City Council meeting yesterday afternoon in opposition to a proposed contract to outsource the city’s sole remaining library to for-profit, venture-capital-owned library outsourcing company, LS&S.  Dozens of citizens spoke during the public comment period, citing concerns ranging from the length of the contract to the lack of specific accountability measures. Nevertheless, the City Council voted 4 to 1 in favor of signing the contract, with Councilmember Olga Diaz being the sole dissenting vote.
Diaz stated, “We will mourn the loss of what we had forever”.
Councilman Morasco abandoned his earlier opposition position and rejoined the rest of the Councilmen, locking the city into a 10-year contract with LS&S.
This is the first library in San Diego County to fall to the LS&S corporation.
This vote and the way it was promoted should be of concern to all residents of Escondido.  Relevant documents were hidden from the decision-makers, overwhelming evidence produced of problems at other LS&S libraries was discounted, and the Council ignored their own advisors, the Escondido Library Board of Trustees, in pursuing this path.
Concerns citizens voiced about the contract at the meeting included:
·         That allowing LS&S to manage the library with public funds without transparency is not supported by state law which states the Library Board of Trustees should manage the library.
·         The 10-year length of the contract. Originally the public was told this would be a 5-year contract.
·         LS&S staffing policies. One speaker read from comments of LS&S employees, who have complained about low and stagnant wages, poor benefits, and low morale. Another questioned how LS&S can make our library better using fewer, less qualified staff than we have now.
·         Questions about the accuracy of the calculation of the supposed financial savings.
·         Serious concerns about problems with staff and finances that emerged in Jackson County, OR, once LS&S (formerly LSSI) was bought out by a private equity firm.
·         Lack of specificity in the contract. One speaker, who said he worked as a specialist in contracting for 30 years, said he was alarmed by the lack of specific goals, objectives, roles, responsibilities, and tasks in the contract, and ways to measure if goals were met and tasks completed.
·         The failure of the contract to include the usual indemnification of the city against legal action and termination clauses that are clear and protective of the city’s interest.
“Even if some City Councilmembers are not opposed to the idea of outsourcing in general, this contract has so many problems and questions, it is their duty to think carefully and make sure our city isn’t being taken advantage of,” said Escondido resident Shelley Spisak. “It doesn’t seem like they have done their due diligence as our elected representatives.”
The flaws in the contract are significant. City Attorney McGuinness struggled to answer the most basic operational questions from Ms. Diaz such as how a complaint from a patron will be handled. The contract also uses tax dollars to pay a purchasing fee to LS&S and caps their expenses for energy to run the buildings. LS&S is also guaranteed a 3% increase each year of the contract, not to mention the considerable corporate profits which have been 30% of tax payer funds paid elsewhere.
A letter from Ms. Cathy Shaw, a current Board member in Jackson County Oregon, was rife with challenges her district was facing under LS&S, and warned “Think long and hard about this decision. Once made, the lack of transparency of the private equity firm will make a return to a community-held asset difficult to recreate. And if a decision of this magnitude is forced upon an unwilling and unreceptive community, the backlash may be swift and decisive.”
As one speaker testified in speaking against the contract, “If you do support this, remember we all sit at the table of consequences.” 
“Having lived through this experience, this is now about more than just saving the library, it is about saving Escondido from this failed leadership,” stated Laura Hunter, an organizer with Escondido Indivisible. “Our members will now look to the elections in 2018.”  
Litigation is also under consideration.  Any readers interested in donating to the Library Defense Fund should email


About Save Our Escondido Library Coalition: The coalition was formed by local Escondido community groups and residents in response to the City of Escondido’s move to consider privatization of the Escondido Public Library. The coalition seeks to educate themselves and the public and to provide a conduit for Escondido residents to voice their concerns.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Draft South Centre City Area Plan out for Southern Escondido - Comment period open

Escondido is seeking input on a new draft South Centre City Area Plan .
Please take a look at this and provide your input.

Per the city website, the South Centre City planning area is located in an area that is described by the General Plan as a future growth area (also called Target Area).  The South Quince Street Target Area, South Escondido Boulevard Target Areas, and the Centre City Parkway Target Area are identified in the City's General Plan (Target Areas C, D, E, and F).  These interconnected Target Areas comprise approximately 420 acres of Escondido’s more established and older sectors of the city and extends 2.25 miles along Centre City Parkway and Escondido Boulevard. 
The overall effort to create a South Centre Center Area Plan, called Envision South Centre City, will culminate into something that is called a "specific plan."  A specific plan is a planning document that consists of new zoning standards and design guidelines for a specific area of the city.  Zoning standards define the allowable uses and bulk or scale of development, while design guidelines address the appearance and quality of development. 
City staff has been working with various residents, businesses, and community members over the past two (2) years to develop a draft specific plan to facilitate the development of residential, commercial, and industrial properties in response to the needs and wants of the community.  If approved, the new specific plan would effectively establish a link between implementing policies of the General Plan and the future, individual development proposals within the South Centre City planning area.  With a focus on the neighborhoods surrounding Quince Street, South Escondido Boulevard, and Centre City Parkway in southwest Escondido, the South Centre City Specific Plan would bring together detailed regulations into a focused development scheme to improve community health, safety, sustainability, and economic prosperity, while respecting the unique character of South Centre City and preserving the community values of southern gateway character. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

Help Save our LIbrary: Rally to Roll out the UnWelcome Matt for LS&S Saturday, Sept 16 at 10 am

LS&S corporation and equity owners to be focus of UN-welcoming activities

Library supporters will converge in front of the Escondido Public Library on Saturday, September 16 at 10-11am in a rally to oppose outsourcing our library to Library Systems and Services (LS&S), a Maryland-based corporation owned by an equity firm.

After reading how LS&S mis-managed operations and staff at an Oregon library (which they have operated for over 10 years) and with the looming vote on the part of the Escondido City Council to hand over our library to the same corporation, we knew we had to get our message out even more strongly.  Here is information that just surfaced about LS&S's record in Oregon.  The full report is here.

Members of the Save Our Escondido Library Coalition will ceremoniously remove the "existing" Welcome Mat in front of the library and replace it with Escondido's "One-and-Only Unwelcome Mat" specifically for the City Council's proposed library outsourcing company, LS&S.

Coalition members plan to show LS&S in no uncertain terms that we don't need them and don't want them here!   

Members will be on hand to distribute flyers and collect petition signatures during the rally.  There will also be the opportunity to make a small iPhone video and send to LS&S investors and management.

The library is located at 239 S. Kalmia Street, Escondido.   Bring your signs, neighbors, friends, family, and cellphones if you have one.

Over 3,000 people have signed a petition against the outsourcing.  They have been joined in opposition by the Board of Library Trustees, the Library Foundation, and the American Library Association. 

The rally is the next step in resistance to outsourcing our library! 

Please email  to be added to the Save the Escondido Library Coalition information list.  You can also visit On the Issue Escondido Indivisible


About Save Our Escondido Library Coalition: The coalition was formed by local Escondido community groups and residents in response to the City of Escondido’s move to outsource the Escondido Public Library. The coalition seeks to educate themselves and the public and to provide a conduit for Escondido residents to voice their concerns.  

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Help us STOP outsourcing of our Escondido Library- There is still time

If you support our Library

Mayor Abed, Gallo, Masson need to hear from you  

Last week, Escondido Mayor Sam Abed and Councilmembers Ed Gallo and John Masson voted to move forward to outsource operations of the Escondido Public Library to the private, for-profit, out-of-state corporation Library Systems and Services (LS&S) which specializes in taking over failing libraries. But, ours isn’t failing. 
We are proud of our library and its great staff and programs. Outsourcing would spell the end of our library as we know it.

Please join the 3,000 residents already opposing outsourcing the library because: 
·    We would lose local control of an important city resource.
·    Our local tax $$ would go to a corporate organization in Maryland, not stay here in our community.
·    The cost-benefit analysis did not correctly assess all impacts.
·    No alternatives (there are many) were publicly evaluated so that the best option could be selected.
·    This action will further divide the community and erode support for a bond for a new library.
·    This action will cause a loss of volunteers, donations, and skilled library personnel.
·    Outsourcing of our library is opposed by the Escondido Library Board of Trustees, Library Foundation, and American Library Association

Our library is more than a building; it is the programs and people who make it the soul of the community. We need to preserve our library as a true community resource, responsive to the needs of our residents. Although Council took one vote (3-2) to move forward, a contract has not yet been signed. Please speak out and stand up for our librarians, patrons, and library programs.  There is still time!   


CONTACT Mayor Sam Abed, Ed Gallo, and John Masson.
Email or call Mayor's Office: 760-839-4610 , City Council's Office: 760-839-4638
Email them all at once using this link:   or send a letter to 201 North Broadway, Escondido, CA 92025

Ask them to:
1.       Stop the LS&S contract process.
2.      Solicit, evaluate, and consider, at a minimum, proposals from the current library department and county through a public process.
3.      Impanel a Budget Committee to develop a comprehensive, sustainable plan to address the pension crisis and the paydown of pension liability
CONTACT LS&S and ask them to withdraw their proposal and step away from our library. 
President Paul Colangelo at 800-638-8725
Ed Garnett, Vice President, Business Development,
2600 Tower Oaks Blvd., Rockville, MD 20852, Office: 301.540.5100 Cell: 410.598.2921  

SHOW YOUR LOVE To our wonderful current library staff.  Email  

TALK to your friends and neighbors.  Help Save our Library services!  

SIGN UP Email us at

Friday, August 11, 2017

ENU letter to Mayor and Council to OPPOSE library outsourcing

Today, members of Escondido Neighbors United filed a letter to urge opposition to outsourcing our public library.   ENU comment letter to City Council on Library Outsourcing

Everyone is encouraged to communicate your thoughts with the Escondido Mayor and Council on this important topic.  You can file an email to them here .

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Library Trustees agree with public, Vote unanimously to oppose outsourcing our library

Sporting library heart badges, over 150 residents were on-hand as the Board of Library Trustees voted unanimously to oppose the outsourcing of the Escondido Library.

Citing concerns about loss of transparency, accountability, volunteer support, and community cohesion speaker after speaker urged the Trustees to save the library and recommend against outsourcing.  A frequent theme of the commenters was a lack of trust and confidence in the current Council majority when it comes to libraries. It was very apparent the Council closing of the East Valley Branch is still an open wound for Escondido residents.  At the end of the meeting the Trustees voted unanimously to oppose outsourcing and the audience burst into cheers!

Media Release

This is a significant victory for Save Our Escondido Library Coalition who have worked tirelessly since the first heard about this threat to our library last month, but the fight is not over!  The City council still has to vote on this.  Please join the Save Our Escondido Library Coalition at the next City Council meeting on August 16th.  A rally in front of City Hall will be held at 3:30 and residents are invited to speak to the Council directly on public comment at 4:30.

Please email Liz White at to be added to the Save the Escondido Library Coalition information list.  You can also visit On the Issue Escondido Indivisible

Monday, July 31, 2017

News Roundup: Library Privatization in the media

Here is some the breaking news about the effort to Privatize the Library.  Please weigh in with our elected officials and news outlets and share your position!

Coast News Inland

Logan Jenkins SDUT

Times Advocate 

SD Union Tribune

San Diego Free Press 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

ENU files comment letter on Chatham Cleanup monitoring report

Here is the comment letter we filed this week ENU Comments on Oct 2016 Monitoring report.  We will be looking forward to the responses of the agencies to ensure that additional action is taken to stop the pollution from day-lighting into the Creek, monitoring the 'leak' in Felicita Road that has been running for months, amend the report as requested, release additional results, and restore the Contamination Notice so that Park users know what is going on in the park.

You can review the full report here 2016 December report on October 2016 monitoring event.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Now is a good time to eat your flowers- Nasturtium jelly and vinegar!

Nasturtium flowers make a most beautiful garden, but, you can also eat them.

We just learned that the most beautiful jelly is made from Nasturtiums

Here are two recipes.  Nasturtium-jelly1  Nasturtium-jelly-recipe 2

Our Escondido Neighbors United taste testers agree, adding a little dash of hot sauce is a good idea but it is great without it too.

We've also learned that you can add nasturtium flowers to vinegar and make nasturtium vinegar.  Nasturtium Vinegar recipe

Nasturtium Vinegar
1 ounce nasturtium flowers
White wine or champagne vinegar to cover, about 1 cup
Clean a bottle or 1 pint mason jar in the dishwasher and thoroughly dry. Gently place the blossoms into the bottle or jar and pour the vinegar over. Seal the bottle, then leave to infuse for at least a week.
The vinegar will keep for months.

Of course, you can also just add them directly to salads too.

Some of the most beautiful food you can make and eat!

What's with the giant mosquitos everywhere??!! They are crane flies.

So we all have many very large mosquito-looking flies in our gardens right now.  No worries, you can relax, they are gentle, friendly, crane flies.  They do not bite and they help by pollinating.  Here's what the County says about them...giant mosquito or crane fly?
So enjoy your little friends while you can, they don't last long.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Felicita Weeders Liberating one Englemann at a time

We had a very good day freeing up the areas around established Englemann Oak trees chokes with weeds.  And, lo and behold, we found miners lettuce, monkey flowers, and other natives struggling to survive.  It was very satisfying!  Here's a before and after photo of one area.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Weeders, Seeders, and Planters in Action at Felicita Park

The Weeders and Seeders were on the job today...weeding, cleaning, and planting three new oak trees!!  Join us on Tuesday mornings starting at 9 am!  Come on in, the weedings fine!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Los Angeles Times: Health hazards of living near freeways and mapping tool

On March 2, the Los Angeles Times ran an important cover story about the health hazards of living near freeways. Here is the article.  Los Angeles Time Living Near Freeways.

It also includes an amazing mapping tool that allows you to type in any address and see the distance it is from a freeway.  It shows the 500 and 1,000 foot region that are most impacted, particularly for children, the elderly, and those with already compromised respiratory systems such as asthmatics.

This issue has come up in Escondido several times, most recently during the discussion around the Oak Creek housing development. During that time, Escondido Neighbors United shared the Air Resources Board's  (ARB) air quality and land use planning guidance document and scientific data summaries on this issue with our local decision-makers to no avail.  The ARB recommends homes and schools be placed no closer than 500 feet.  ENU asked the Escondido City Council to deny projects that would locate people in homes or schools near known health hazards--such as freeways.

This is an issue that will continue to be of concern for people in the region.  We will continue to raise this issue with the Escondido City Council and the County as projects move forward.  We renew our request for the Council to establish a policy that will avoid projects that knowingly put people in harm's way and within 500 feet of a freeway.   Air quality and health are issues that are important to and affect all of us.  And, so, all of us should work together to address these important issues.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Stormwater GOLD STAR to Felicita Vida in the Felicita Creek Watershed

After the rains, we had a chance to visit the Felicita Vida Assisted Living facility on Felicita Road. Take a look at the fantastic and fully functional storm water measures or Best Management Practices that were implemented there. It was also fun to see multiple egrets walking and hunting in the ponds too! A great example of storm water measures incorporated into new development and working well to reduce erosion in the creek and protect water quality.  It appeared that these infiltration basins were well-maintained and working beautifully. Bottom-line, stormwater protections WORK!!!  Thank you and our first Stormwater GOLD STAR to Felicita Vida!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Time to get Dirty! Join the Watershed Weeders and Seeders, Tuesdays, 9:00 am, Felicita Park

Escondido Neighbors United would like to invite interested persons of all ages to come and help us care of our beautiful Felicita Park!  We will be 'weeding and seeding' every Tuesday starting at 9:00 am and will work for a couple hours.  Right now, we need to remove invasive plants from our Park's natural areas.  That means tackling the MUSTARD before it gets out of hand to start with!

We have the wonderful support of our County Park staff and we are very grateful for their help and care they offer to the Park as well.

Our next date will be January 31 at 9:00 am.  Meet County Volunteer Doreen Reagle at the ranger station. Bring your own garden gloves, a bucket and shovel if you have one, and clothes that you are OK getting a little dirty.  If you don't have a pass, parking will cost $3.

In addition to weeding, we may be planting some native trees and plants to help restore the native landscape of our riparian park.

We don't plan to work very hard and only for a couple hours so come and join us!  The Park is a precious gift so we want to care for it!

We hope to meet every Tuesday am so come by whenever you have time.  Watch this blog for any changes to the schedule.

Watershed Weeders and Seeders in Action. Weeders and Seeders in Action and The 'fruits' of our Labor

See you on the Trail!