Support Clean Water in Escondido- Write the Water Board to Urge strong Water Quality Improvement Plans for local Watersheds.

Here is another important opportunity to support clean water in our region.  There are two water quality improvement plans that have recently been submitted to the Regional Water Board.

San Dieguito Watershed Water Quality Improvement Plan and

Carlsbad Watershed Water Quality Improvement Plan

Interested persons wishing to submit comments on the following draft documents must submit them so that they are received no later than 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 29, 2015. Written comments should be submitted electronically to

For San Dieguito Christina Arias

For Carlsbad Laurie Walsh

UT San Diego Article on Planning Commission OK for Oak Creek

While the planning commission meeting didn’t go as we’d hoped, UT San Diego Article on Planning Commission OK, we did receive some good news during the staff presentation.  It sounds like the interior clear glass firewalls have been removed.  Who ever made that decision, we thank you!  This will reduce impacts to the very wildlife we are hoping to support in the area.

Stay tuned.  City Council hearing expected for March 4th.

ENU quoted in the article.

“We oppose this project because a dense, fenced in community of monster mansion homes is completely incompatible with the community and the neighborhood we love,” said the group’s leader, Laura Hunter.
“The bottom line is Oak Creek is bad for the oaks and bad for the creek and its bad for our neighborhood.”

Why we oppose the glass walls next to habitat. Information on Bird Mortality and glass surfaces.

Windows: The Bane of Birds (or ‘What a Pane!’)


By John Martin, Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, San Diego National Wildlife Refuge 

On a Saturday morning, as I walk into the kitchen to top off my coffee, an unmistakable thud takes precedence over all the other little sounds in the house. I move into the living room, quickly running through and instantly dismissing a series of alternatives: a log settling in the stove, something on the radio, a distant car door…. No, that thud was a bird hitting the window, and I can see the ghostly splayed imprint of feather dust on the glass as I approach. I look over the sill, and on the ground beneath the window, on its back, wings quivering, is a splendid splash of black, white and red: a red-breasted sapsucker. I rush out the door, to either help the bird or recover the specimen, but in the seconds it takes for me to get there, the bird had regained its equilibrium enough to see a big, rapidly-approaching person, and fly across the road to disappear into the oaks and chaparral.
A happy ending? Probably not. How can a body as complex and delicate as a bird’s hit a solid object hard enough to make that sound, and fly away unscathed? If the woodpecker sustained any injury, he’d now be in the unforgiving woods, with his ability to keep warm, find food, and avoid predators compromised. It’s a grim outlook for this woodpecker, a continued risk for the rest of the birds in my yard, and a risk around the world wherever birds and glass share the airspace.
In 2014, scientists from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Smithsonian Institution analyzed 23 recent studies of bird/window collisions, to better estimate the magnitude of the problem. They estimated that window collisions kill 365-988 million birds annually in the United States. Of these, 44 percent occurred at residences, presumably because windows of homes are within the range of heights of vegetation that essentially defines habitat for most songbirds in North America. Only 44 percent? That’s still hundreds of millions of repetitions of the sapsucker collision at my house, every year, across the nation.
A depressing statistic, especially when I think of the enjoyment I get out of birds. When I’m out in the yard, or the oaks and chaparral in the neighborhood, it’s the birds that are the most conspicuous sparks of life, another song or flash of motion every few seconds, livening up the landscape.
Is anyone studying the mechanics of bird/window collisions, to better understand not only the size of the problem, but how windows kill birds, and what we can do to reduce the problem? Surprisingly few biologists have made bird/window collisions a focus of their research. But Dr. Daniel Klem Jr., Professor of Biology at Muhlenberg College, has built his professional career on this issue, publishing over a dozen papers elucidating the mechanisms of injury, the factors that affect the likelihood of collision, and what we can do to reduce collisions and injuries.
Dr. Klem has taken a closer look at exactly what happens to birds that strike windows, and found a surprising result. Though it’s commonly assumed that birds that die striking windows die from a broken neck, this isn’t the case. It makes sense: breaking a bird’s neck is like trying to break a rope by pushing it into a solid object. Birds have 13-27 neck vertebrae (compared to 7 in mammals such as ourselves), and the articulations between them are especially flexible. Dissection of hundreds of birds killed by window strikes reveals that none of them had broken necks. But essentially all of them suffered ruptured blood vessels in the cranium, and died of intracranial bleeding and/or associated damage to the brain. Most birds that have apparently “recovered” after striking windows also suffered intracranial bleeding. A bird that regains consciousness and flies off after hitting a window isn’t necessarily in the clear: it may have recovered enough to seek shelter, and die later of its injuries.
What can we do to reduce bird mortality at our own windows? One approach is to reduce the likelihood that birds will fly into the window. Birds presumably strike windows either because the transparent glass creates the illusion that they can fly straight to the habitat that they see beyond the invisible barrier, or because they see habitat reflected in the smooth surface of the glass. In either case, they don’t perceive the glass as a barrier. To allow birds to recognize the glass as a barrier, people have tried applying opaque objects or patterns to windows. Isolated objects or patterns (such as falcon or owl silhouettes) don’t work: the bird sees the object, but not the window. The birds attempt to fly around the falcon graphic, and in avoiding the object they smack into the adjacent glass. Experiments by Dr. Klem and other researchers indicate that to deter birds in an aviary from flying through an empty window frame, the critical dimension for visual obstructions (objects or patterns on the glass) is about 2 inches apart horizontally, and 4 inches apart vertically. Windows marked with patterns of dots, stripes, or other shapes (at least ¼ inch wide) effectively show birds that the window is a barrier, and greatly reduce or eliminate window collisions. There are several brands of commercially available window films that apply a pattern sufficient to deter birds, or you can design your own with opaque tape (such as American Bird Conservancy’s BirdTape). It’s important to apply the pattern to the outside of the glass, rather than the inside, to allow the pattern to disrupt the reflected image of an unobstructed flight path, as well as the transparent window.
Unfortunately, obscuring the window sufficiently to eliminate bird strikes contradicts the whole point of having glass windows: we want to see through them. Yet it may be possible to make a pattern on the window that birds can see and we can’t! Generally, birds can see a wider spectrum of light than humans, including ultravio-let wavelengths. Experiments have been conducted to determine if glass marked with a pattern of materials that absorb or reflect ultraviolet light (invisible to us) dissuades birds from flying into the glass. Results of laboratory experiments are promising, but investigators note that under natural, outdoor light, the ultraviolet-marked glass may not function as it does in the laboratory. Until bird mortality at glass windows is more widely-recognized as a problem, glass manufacturers are unlikely to invest in the research, development, and marketing of bird-friendly glass. But ornithologists continue to research this potential solution.
A different approach to reducing bird mortality due to window strikes is to reduce the force with which birds hit windows. Kinetic energy (say, of a flying bird) = ½ (mass)(velocity)2. Can’t do much about the mass, but we can help reduce the velocity at which birds are moving when they hit the window, reducing their kinetic energy and thus the damage that occurs inside their skull when it abruptly stops at the glass. If you have a bird feeder, place it within 3 feet of a window. Birds leaving the feeder will not have built up sufficient speed to hit the glass hard, so are less likely to get hurt striking the window. Researchers have also investigated reducing bird mortality by installing windows at an angle (20-40˚ from vertical), such that birds are deflected when they hit the window. Under laboratory conditions, birds are indeed less likely to die when flying into an angled window, but in nature, where birds can approach the glass from a variety of angles, it’s clear that fatal collisions still result from birds striking angled windows. Installation of bird netting (such as that used to protect fruit trees from birds) over the entire window several inches out from the surface, has the potential to reduce the force of impact of a bird striking the window. Netting may also reduce the likelihood of a bird striking the window in the first place, because the birds may see it.
If you’re looking for more detailed information on reducing bird mortality on glass in your home, a good place to start is the American Bird Conservancy’s web page devoted to the At my house, I believe a pattern of tape on my living room window is in order. Sapsuckers are back for the winter, and I don’t want to hear that unmistakable thump again.

Oak Creek: Bad for Oaks, Bad for the Creek, and Bad for the Community!!! Please Speak out Tuesday at 7pm Planning Commission

Escondido Neighbors United (ENU) filed a comment letter today opposing the Oak Creek gated housing development on farmland next to Felicita Park.  You can see our letter here Jan 15 2015 ENU to Planning Commission.  ENU has also offer a compromise Community Alternative that we are asking the Planning Commission to investigate and support.  Here is the map COMMUNITY ALTERNATIVE to Oak Creek

REMINDER Oak Creek Planning Commission Meeting Tuesday, Jan. 27th at 7pm.

As currently planned, Oak Creek is Bad for Oaks, Bad for the Creek, and Bad for the Community!!!

Please attend and share your comments and help protect our community!

IMPORTANT OAK CREEK MEETING: Attend Escondido Planning Commission Meeting TUESDAY, Jan 27th, 7 pm

We hope everyone had a meaningful Dr. King Day!
Now it is time to get back to the meaningful and important work of protecting our community.
The Escondido Planning Commission will consider the Oak Creek Housing Development Proposal on:
Tuesday, Jan 27th at 7pm in the Escondido City Council Chambers
201 N. Broadway, Escondido

The staff report is not released yet, but we expect the Planning Commissioners to make recommendations on two things:

1.   The first will be to consider certification of the FEIR as complete and accurate.  The FEIR is not sufficient and we oppose certification.
2.   The second decision will be to consider the Oak Creek Alternative 4 (worse than the original proposal)  to put 65 houses on 22.44 acres of existing open space as the development plan and forward that recommendation to the City Council for decision on March 4th.  We oppose this project.

The Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) has been released.  You can review it here Link to Oak Creek FEIR.
If you filed a letter or attended the DEIR hearing, you will want to read the point-by-point responses to your comments. Go to the link and scroll down, the responses index is around page 30 and then you need to scroll until you find your comments.  There are also good comment letters from the County of San Diego, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Local Tribal Bands, Regional Water Quality Board, and LAFCO.   We have not had time to review all of them, but many of the most significant problems have not been addressed and responses to many of the comments, while appearing long, are non-responsive. We will be posting more information soon.

Please review the responses on the issues you care about and file a letter and attend the Commission meeting about your concerns. 

Mail or email letters to:
Chairman Jeffery Weber and Planning Commissioners
Escondido Planning Commission
City of Escondido
201 N. Broadway
Escondido CA 92025
Escondido Neighbors United will be OPPOSING the certification of the FEIR and urging DENIAL of the Oak Creek Project.  Please join us!   

Happy New Year and 2015 Update

Happy New Year!
Hello Everyone!  Escondido Neighbors United hopes you had a wonderful holiday season, one that is restful and filled with family and the joys of the season.

As the New Year is upon us, we wanted to catch up with you on the many issues that ENU is working on.

1.  Oak Creek Housing Development.  Tentative Planning Commission Date is January 27th.  Please hold this date.  It appears that the developers are working to have Oak Creek considered on this meeting.  ENU has proposed a Community Alternative to reduce impacts on the environment and on the neighbors. Please check out our alternative if you have had a chance to look at it yet. ENU COMMUNITY ALTERNATIVE to Oak Creek

2.  Palomar Audubon Society has taken a strong position supporting a better plan at Oak Creek. Please check out their Newsletter  Palomar Audubon BandTales 2015.  Palomar Audubon also offers many wonderful birding and nature walks through the County and through out the year.  Please join them and support this wonderful organization.

3,  The Water Quality Improvement Plans for all of the local watersheds, including San Dieguito Watershed is now open for public comment.  Please go here if you would like to learn more and provide comments. SAN DIEGO WATERSHED PLANS  More on this later too.
Interested persons wishing to submit comments on the following draft documents must submit them so that they are received no later than 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 29, 2015. Written comments should be submitted electronically to: Christina Arias

There will be lots of opportunity to improve our beautiful community in 2015!  We look forward to seeing you soon and working together for a better Escondido!