4/21/19: Environmental Commitments Take Center Stage This Week

Environmental issues of all types dominated the discussion last week – opposing offshore oil drilling in San Diego County, approval of a new citywide bike share program, hosting a food waste reduction summit, approving a new community event called a “Cyclovia,” and taking the next step toward Community Choice Energy, a green energy program. 

Here are the highlights, along with some informative links.

No offshore drilling here!

(Photos by Mark Delin)

Drilling for oil off our California coast takes us in exactly the wrong direction. Our local economy and high quality of life depend on a clean coast, not a soiled one. We need to focus all our energies on renewable, sustainable energy sources – not extractive, finite resources that degrade our climate.

Fortunately, a bipartisan chorus of local elected leaders (see photos above of local mayors and two supervisors) agrees with this, for every possible reason. We stood together in solidarity this week at a press conference in Encinitas at Moonlight Beach organized by Brady Bradshaw of Oceana.

More info is here from the Encinitas Advocate, the Coast NewsNews8 and 10News.

Holy spokes! Bike sharing coming to town by summer!

Perhaps you can tell that I’m enthused. Have you ever wanted to hop on a bike at one location and drop it somewhere else at the end of the day? With no pesky round-trip requirement? Well, that’s the goal of a new bike share program coming to Encinitas before summer, which will feature 250 custom designed bikes and 25-30 places to pick them up and drop them off. 

We’ve all watched the good, bad and ugly of the scooter and bike craze take over other cities, so in Encinitas we’ve taken our time to evaluate, in depth, what we want here in our town. The proposal accepted unanimously by City Council last week is for a “clutter-free,” single-operator approach.

And we’re not starting out with scooters, just bikes. Most of the bikes will be electric-assisted and all will be rent-able with a smartphone app, although there is also a non-phone based option for those without that technology. 

The selected company, Gotcha, has a dedicated local team that rebalances, organizes, maintains and replaces their bikes 24 hours a day. The bike rider is financially incentivized to park them in the right location – either a Gotcha bike rack or a geo-fenced virtual hub with clear signage. We’ve requested more locations along El Camino Real and the inland areas of the city.

This bike share program promotes our goals of making it easier to get around Encinitas without using a car. And it helps solve that nagging “first mile, last mile” problem. For example, if you arrive at the Encinitas transit station downtown, how do you get to the beach or to school at MiraCosta College? Renting a low-cost bike at the station, with the flexibility to leave the bike at your destination, makes a car-free trip more feasible and fun. 

Solana Beach and Del Mar are both our partners in this venture, and I have hopes that Carlsbad and Oceanside will join us during this one-year pilot period to increase bike riders’ range of options.

Here’s the Encinitas Advocate story, and here’s our city staff report, which includes the actual agreement with Gotcha and lots of tantalizing details.

Cyclovia: A chance to enjoy car-free streets

Pacific Beach’s Cyclovia from 2014. (Photo by Jenna Albright.)

The first Cyclovia is coming to Encinitas from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, January 12, 2020. The idea is to open Highway 101 exclusively to pedestrians, bikes, scooters, skateboarders, and non-motorized transport allowing people to enjoy our city’s roads without cars or outside events like fun runs or street fairs. We’re expecting up to 2,000 residents and visitors to patronize local businesses and enjoy our downtown environment on the Coast Highway between D Street to J Street.

I’m really excited about this creative new city-sponsored event. Besides promoting downtown businesses, it will challenge us to re-imagine how our streets can be used to connect people to each other and to local destinations.

I’m grateful to the Environmental Commission and Traffic Commission, who conceived of and promoted Cyclovia, which has been wildly popular in other cities.

Here’s a San Diego Union-Tribune article from several months ago, before the date had been finalized, and the Coast News article is here

More Encinitas news…

• On Thursday, May 9, the long-awaited Coastal Rail Trail in Cardiff will officially open with a press conference and a ceremonial bike ride. What an exciting milestone!

• A city-hosted Food Waste Summit last week drew dozens of residents to hear about when and how we can divert from our landfills the 39% that is food and green waste (see the pie chart below). There’s much more to come on this topic – from source reduction, to composting, to new bins in every home that will accept food waste. 

 • Your newly elected, hard-working State Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath (pictured below at far left), has spent her spring recess holding nine district advisory councils on relevant topics. I attended two of them last week, one on housing and homelessness, and one on transportation and mobility. She reviewed relevant bills, including those she’s sponsoring, and then heard ideas, brainstorming with us about future state actions that can improve our communities.

• We remain on track with our Community Choice Energy program, approving the next step in this long, process-heavy effort to provide Encinitas residents an energy source that is 100 percent renewable. Here’s the staff report from our City Council meeting for the CCE wonks! 

• Construction of a fast-charging electric vehicle station at City Hall on the lower parking lots has started! (Below, you can see the “before” picture at top, and an artist’s rendition of the finished facility.)

There’s a serious shortage of charging stations to service all of the electric cars projected to be coming online in California, so it’s important that we do our part to build out the grid. We’ll have ten charging stations available for the public. Here’s an older story about the project from the Coast News.

As this City Council term continues, I’m increasingly pleased with what your five elected officials and our city staff have been able to accomplish together.

We have reasonable, civil discussions about issues and explore differences of opinion, but we seem to have clarity around some basic principles – housing, transportation, climate change – which allows us to move forward remarkably well as a group. The number of incremental environmental movements we achieved in the last week is a reflection of this.

I hope you’re as enthusiastic about our ambitious priorities as we are!

In ongoing service,

Easter egg-citement!

(Photos by McKenzie Images.)

P.S. It’s always such fun to celebrate with 10,000 eggs and the Easter bunny at the Encinitas Community Park, along with dozens of young families during the annual Spring Egg Hunt!  Happy Easter weekend and Happy Passover, which this year runs from the evening of April 19 to the evening of April 27.

P.P.S. This year’s Mayor’s Interfaith Prayer Breakfast, held annually on the National Day of Prayer, is May 2, 2019. This event has been taking place almost as long as we’ve been a city. If you’re interested in attending this interfaith event (see the invite below), please join us by emailing Annemarie Clisby at aclisby@encinitasca.gov.