8/28/16: Rural Streets, Rail Trail and Community Events

Lately I’ve noticed that the upcoming elections have changed the feeling among the City Council members. In public, we maintain a professional business-as-usual manner, but the inevitability of coming changes to the City Council simmers just below the surface and is hard to ignore.

I’ve enjoyed the logical problem-solving approach that we established over the last two years, and I’ll be relieved to return to that state when the politics die down in a post-election environment.

It’s crystal clear to me that being successful in public office is based upon mastery of opposing skill sets. Actually governing in an effective way requires compromise, collaboration, and consensus-building, while winning an election demands the opposite — drawing contrasts, claiming successes and being the winner while someone else is the loser.

Navigating this landscape is an art!

The Encinitas 101 MainStreet Association supports the businesses in our vibrant downtown and I thoroughly enjoy their monthly socials. This event featured food from GoodOnYa, a local restaurant modeling environmental practices in the way they run their business. Pictured with me are E101 Executive Director Thora Guthrie and District 3 Supervisor Dave Roberts, and two fine musicians whose names I don’t know.

Keeping Rural Streets Feeling Rural

What creates a rustic, natural feel along a street? Old-growth trees; absence of improvements like curbs, gutters and sidewalk; dirt instead of concrete at the road’s edge. This week we approved the request of 86 residents who signed a petition to designate Wotan Drive as a “non-improvement” street to maintain the street’s rural feel. What prompted the petition was a city requirement that a resident who is planning to build a new home pave a parking space, dedicate several feet of roadway for a future wider street and leave room for the construction of a sidewalk.

Some decisions at the City Council are difficult; this one was easy. Our city’s older sections should be allowed to maintain their rural charm. This is the essence of community character. Crest Drive, a substantially longer street, received the same “non-improvement” designation four years ago.

This was a unanimous decision by the Council. I requested that when the street design standards come back to the City Council in several months, we consider automatically allowing this designation for any streets with lower-density lots and no parking problems in the older sections of Encinitas. We don’t need to require every neighborhood to organize, sign petitions and attend meetings to be able to maintain the rural feel of their street.

Taking the Rail Trail to the Coastal Commission

This week the City Council approved a revised contract with SANDAG to move forward with securing permission from the full Coastal Commission to put the rail trail on Highway 101 from Chesterfield to Santa Fe. The contract we approved with SANDAG this week is substantially better than the last one that SANDAG presented to us, which attempted to put the city on the hook for $1 million if SANDAG missed a state deadline. I was strongly opposed to that earlier version — there’s no reason the city should take on liability for missing a deadline on a project that we don’t control or manage.

The effort to get the full Coastal Commission to overrule the Coastal Commission staff’s recommended denial of the Highway 101 alignment requires preparation of project documents that are estimated to cost $500,000. If we’re successful, SANDAG will assume this cost as part of the project budget. If we’re not successful, the city will reimburse SANDAG for half the actual cost, but not more than $250,000.

A letter from Coastal Commission staff explaining its opposition to the Highway 101 alignment reads, “The western alignment currently supported by the City and SANDAG through the draft MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] would improve upon existing sidewalk and bike lanes along Coast Highway, but would not create a new active transportation facility. … An important offset for the auto-related impacts in the (broader plan that also widens the freeway) is the provision of new public facilities that would accommodate active transportation.”

It’s clear to me that the city, and SANDAG, who is preparing this appeal, need to emphasize to the commission that improving Highway 101 for cyclists and pedestrians will result in more active transportation users because larger, better designed facilities that are safer and more appealing will draw more people to bike and walk. (Here are Encinitas Advocate and Coast News updates on the Rail Trail.)

Other Rail Corridor Developments

In order to have a legal railroad crossing at Montgomery Avenue, safety features need to be installed. The City and residents want to experience and understand the noise associated with these safety features. A demonstration of a wayside horn near the proposed Montgomery Ave. crossing is planned for Sept. 22 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. You can learn more about the wayside horn testing here.

In the meantime, we are also working toward a full corridor quiet zone so that train horns don’t blare as they pass through our city. This would substantially improve the quality of life for all residents and businesses anywhere near the tracks. The second meeting of the Coastal Mobility and Livability Working Group is scheduled for Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. at the Encinitas Library.

Safely Back to School

Paul Ecke Elementary School has a new sidewalk and queuing lane, which will improve life for the 600 students, the parents who take them to school every day, and the hundreds of people who attend the weekly Farmer’s Market.

This week school started for many families. I’m proud of the City of Encinitas for working overtime to get a road and sidewalk improvement project finished before the first day of school at Paul Ecke Elementary School. Sometimes we put our nose to the grindstone and construct improvements lickety-split.

This almost $500,000 project, which created a queuing lane for cars, sidewalk, crosswalks, retaining wall and better traffic control, was the result of strong advocacy by the school community and City Council members who prioritized investment in local road improvements.

Resident involvement in local government really does make a difference.

In continuing service,

 

“A certain amount of opposition is a great help to a man. Kites rise against, not with, the wind.” — John Neal

I’m working hard to understand the voting patterns in Encinitas, and the place to start is voter analysis from past elections. This precinct map of Encinitas filled with colored star stickers indicates who won which precincts in past elections.


Blakespear Go Team

Everyone is welcome at these Get to Know the Candidates events. All events include City Council candidates Tony Kranz and Tasha Boerner Horvath unless otherwise indicated.
Sunday, Sept. 4 at 4 p.m.: Berkich Park at Cardiff School, organized by Cardiff architect Brett Farrow. Enjoy the Labor Day weekend with a fun, kid-friendly barbecue. Email brettfarrow@cox.net for details. The candidates will speak for 5 minutes each starting about 4:30 p.m. and then answer questions.

Tuesday, Sept. 6 at 5:30 p.m.: Dudek, 861 2nd Street, Encinitas (use alley entrance). Organized by Traffic and Public Safety Commissioner Brian Grover. RSVP to bpgrover@gmail.com

Saturday, Sept. 10 at 3 p.m.: New Encinitas resident located 1769 Orange Blossom Way, Encinitas. For more information email NewEncinitas2016@gmail.com No RSVP necessary.

Sunday, Sept. 11 at 5:30 p.m.: Reception for Catherine at the home of Environmental Commissioner Leah Bissonette. RSVP for address to lebissonette@cox.net

Monday, Sept. 12 at 6 p.m.: Cardiff Town Council Forum. Hear from all the candidates at the same time. There are 2 Mayoral candidates for one spot, and five City Council candidates for three spots. Ada Harris School auditorium at 1508 Windsor Road, Cardiff. For more information email info@cardifftowncouncil.org

Friday, Sept. 16 at 6:30 p.m.: Fundraiser for Mayoral Candidate Catherine Blakespear hosted by Bill Hartsock. Requested minimum donation: $50. 651 Quail Gardens Lane. RSVP to Richard Boger at rsm4@cox.net

Saturday, Sept. 17th at 3 p.m.: Meet the Candidates at the home of Judy Berlfein and Dadla Ponizil. 1145 Stratford Drive, Encinitas. RSVP to judyberlfein@gmail.com

Sunday, Sept. 18th at 3 p.m.: Fundraiser for Catherine co-hosted by Phil Morgan, Joyce Ross and Dawn Griffith. Email aplusmorgan@aol.com to RSVP for address.

Friday, Sept. 30rd at 5:30 p.m.: Meet the Candidates, co-hosted by Kathleen and Dennis Lees, and Kristin von Zweck. Email Kathleen at mcmillenlees@cox.net to RSVP for address.

Sunday, Oct. 9 at 3 p.m.: Fundraiser for Catherine at the home of Environmental Commissioner Joy Lyndes, co-hosted by Robert Ashley, John Eldon and Jim Wang. RSVP to Joy at jlyndes@coastal-sage.com.

Tuesday, October 11 at 7 p.m.: Mayoral Candidates forum at the Encinitas Library held by the Leucadia-Encinitas Town Council. 540 Cornish Drive, Encinitas.

Friday, October 14 at 5:30: Meet the Candidates. Co-hosted by Ed Wade and Gary Jahns. RSVP for address to ed.wade1@gmail.com

Sunday, October 16 at 2 p.m.: Fundraiser for Catherine Blakespear. Co-hosted by Carolyn Cope, Beverly Goodman and Ian Thompson. RSVP for address to Beverly at mexart@cox.net or Carolyn at cope3@cox.net

Events are being planned and added all the time. Please let me know by replying to this email if you’d like to host or co-host a Meet & Greet with your friends and neighbors!