This week at the Encinitas City Council we got our house in order for the year.
Most importantly, we picked a fifth Council Member – Parks and Recreation Commissioner Joe Mosca – to fill the two years remaining on the Council seat vacated when I became your Mayor.
The sheer number of high-quality applicants made our decision exceedingly difficult!
We heard from 12 aspiring Council Members and several community residents who spoke in support of various candidates. After a City Council discussion, I made a motion to appoint Joe because of his combination of relevant professional experience in public office, his team-oriented style, and his commitment to Encinitas through active involvement as a commissioner.
Joe is a former Mayor and Council Member from the city of Sierra Madre near Los Angeles, an attorney, and a dedicated volunteer and participant at many Encinitas events. His colleagues on the Parks and Recreation Commission and a former Sierra Madre Mayor wholeheartedly endorsed him as a collaborative, positive problem-solver. He, his husband Matt and their two children Garrett and Devan, make their home in Olivenhain, which balances out the different communities of residence for those on the Council.
It’s very rare for us to have an opportunity to choose a colleague on the City Council. I’ve been absorbed by the weight of this decision, particularly with the development of my own criteria in evaluating the initial 16 applicants. So many of the candidates were qualified and would have brought their own formidable skills to the job. But we could select only one.
Some of our applicants have been tirelessly volunteering on civic and community groups for years, even decades. For me, it wasn’t a prerequisite that an applicant serve on a city commission or committee, as this would create too narrow an entry point. I was looking for someone who had a demonstrated civic commitment, and most importantly someone I believed would have wide appeal throughout the city.
I was looking for someone who I believe Encinitas voters would elect. I’ve mentioned before that doing this job requires an aptitude for compromise and collaborative policy making (the satisfying part) and a commitment and ability to actually run for office (an exhilarating but stressful part). Campaigns by their nature necessitate the ability to articulate a comprehensive vision, meaningfully engage in dialogue with a large number of people, respond to opposing viewpoints, and successfully organize time, money and energy.
Joe’s previous strong showings in his two successful Sierra Madre elections, his professional demeanor, clear grasp of municipal government’s functions, dedication to Encinitas as a Commissioner, and his environmental and community based worldview, made him the strongest candidate in my mind.
His relatively short residency in Encinitas – a couple of years – was not a disqualifying factor for me. In fact, I think it’s a benefit to have someone with insights into the way another Southern California city operates. Joe’s four years living in London add further depth. The Council is currently well-represented by those of us who have long family histories in Encinitas. I agree that deep roots create layers of insight about the nuances of our beloved and often-referenced “community character,” but having lived here a long time isn’t a prerequisite.
I look forward to serving with Joe, and believe his temperament will compliment and nicely round-out our existing members. My aim as Mayor is to create a cohesive team, with a high level of professionalism and a minimum of acrimony. Adding Joe to the mix furthers this goal.
I’m enthusiastic about the growing group of talented Encinitas residents who are committed, passionate, professional, and electable. It takes courage to step into the arena, and I hope those who offered their services become or remain involved with the many organizations that create the dynamic fabric of our city.
City Council Salaries
Next up on our agenda this week was an item requested by our two outgoing City Council members – Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer with a second by then-Mayor Kristin Gaspar – to consider raising the City Council’s salary consistent with the proscriptions of state law. The City Council salary is $1,186 a month, with an extra $100 a month for the Mayor to account for the additional time and responsibilities.
The base City Council salary is tied to our population, with cities having less than 35,000 residents paying Council members half the amount of cities with more than 150,000 residents. Encinitas is right in the middle with 63,000 residents. State law allows salary increases of five percent a year, but only with proactive Council action. No Encinitas City Council has been willing to take this on for the last nine years because raising elected official pay is a political hot potato that no elected official wants to touch. So the monthly Council salary has remained $1,186 a month since 2008. There is no question that responsibly doing this job requires at least 30 hours a week, and sometimes much more. (To illustrate, see my time audit of this week’s schedule below for a snapshot of what’s involved in being the Mayor.) Currently we are paid far below minimum wage.
We voted 3-1, with Deputy Mayor Kranz, Council Member Boener-Horvath and me in favor, to raise the Council salary from $1186 a month to $1719 a month, according to what state law allows, but only (and this is important) after the next election. Salaries won’t change until the end of 2018, per state law. The total increased cost to the city and taxpayers – for all five of us – is $35,580.
I believe this is fair. We have weighty responsibilities — overseeing a $100,000,000 yearly budget, for example. We put in long hours. The opportunity cost of doing this job means we have less time to earn money elsewhere. We don’t want elected office in Encinitas to become inaccessible to the majority of people, available only to those who are retired, wealthy or dependent upon a spouse.
Serving on the City Council and as Mayor is a public service endeavor, motivated by wanting to improve this community, to give of ourselves in the creation and recreation of our wonderful city. But the commitment, skill level, and judgment required deserves to be compensated at the level that our state legislators have determined to be fair.
Finally, there’s a big difference between our pay increase and the one recently enacted by the County Supervisors, who were already well-compensated at $153,000 a year when they gave themselves a $19,000 a year bump. Additionally, the County Supervisors changed the way their pay is calculated. In contrast, we’re following the state legislators proscriptions for City Council pay.
City Council Meeting Calendar
The City Council meets in regular meetings three Wednesdays a month. We will continue to do this, however, this year, I proposed arranging the calendar to better accommodate Council Members’ planned vacations, school breaks and the summer recess. (Four of our five City Council Members have school-aged children.) We’ll maintain the same approximate number of meetings, and they’re all on Wednesdays at 6 p.m., to make sure the public has adequate opportunity to interact with us, and to give us the necessary time to manage the city’s affairs. We unanimously agreed that making some changes to which Wednesdays we meet each month was an improvement. This year’s meeting calendar is now set and can be accessed on the city’s website.
We heard an update from the Sheriff’s Captain regarding his use of $150,000 in an overtime fund, mainly for more patrols and enforcement in downtown. One emerging development is that the Sheriff’s Department will be establishing a Sheriff’s substation in downtown, in the former Keilani’s building, at 2nd and D Street (historic note: this used to be our Sheriff’s substation decades ago and the remnants of a holding cell still remain!).
This will further increase the Sheriff’s connection to the downtown and ability to respond quickly to concerns. We continue to have periodic bursts of undesirable activity downtown, apparently related to late-night drinking, transients or the homelessness problem. These are stubborn problems. Our downtown merchants association reports that the extra patrols are helping. And the Sheriff’s Captain prefers having an overtime fund to use when needed, instead of one extra deputy.
Homelessness Point-In-Time Count
The Mayor’s Homelessness Challenge, which aims to have volunteers participate in this year’s Point-in-Time Count, is going great! We filled our initial number of slots, so the Community Resource Center opened all their additional slots to allow them to fully cover their responsibilities. On the morning of Friday, January 27, we’ll go out at 4 a.m. in small groups and count the number of people living unsheltered on the streets in Encinitas. We’ll be given a map and a particular area to cover. The whole thing should end before 7 a.m. Sign up here if you’re interested in helping out.
At this Wednesday’s meeting, our two new Council Members will be calling in from the League of California Cities conference in Sacramento. Continuing education is a vital part of effective public representation, and I’m so glad that Council Member Tasha Boerner Horvath is attending and that Council Member Joe Mosca was able to adapt his schedule so quickly to go up for two days and a night. The city’s agenda is very light next week because I anticipated that we would still be deciding on our fifth council member. The main item is an update on the Climate Action Plan, and given the light agenda we will have the ability to talk about this issue in more depth than we previously have.
On January 25th, we’re hearing an update on planning in the rail corridor from the Coastal Mobility and Livability group. If this topic interests you, it will be well worth attending this meeting and possibly speaking to the City Council. Rail corridor planning is complex and this is a chance to learn about the possibilities.
On February 1, we are having a City Council workshop on the Housing Element. It will be at the Encinitas Community and Senior Center, 1140 Oakcrest Park Drive, Encinitas. This location was chosen to make this more collaborative and less formal than it would be in the City Council chambers. If you want to add your ideas about how to move forward with a state-compliant housing plan for Encinitas, please plan to come.
Thank you for your continued interest in what we’re doing on the Encinitas City Council and how our city is evolving.
P.S. Council Member Tasha Boerner Horvath also does a City Council newsletter and you can find this week’s here. Sign up if you’d like to receive it! She does a great job.
Discussing persuasive public speaking, civic engagement and local politics with the San Dieguito Academy Speech and Debate Team this week inspired me! Their enlightened questions, analytic thinking and focus give me hope and reassurance for our future.
How much time does it take to be the Mayor?
People sometimes ask me how much of my time is invested in this job that I’m so honored to have. To honestly answer this question, I wrote down the hours I spent on Encinitas business this week and thought I’d share the results for transparency and to provide insight into issues that are top-of-mind.
This week’s city business time added up to over 40 hours (not counting driving related to the this job and occasional sleepless nights!). In addition to the stream of meetings and engagements, there are the many phone calls, chats in public while I’m out and about, and responses to emails that I couldn’t find a way to include here.
My personal time-management challenge is to create adequate mental space for reflection and synthesis. Like all of us, I can get caught up in the non-stop treadmill of small, individual tasks.
My goal as Mayor is to unite sometimes-disparate factions behind common goals and then get to work accomplishing those goals. Right now, I’m completely absorbed by this and spend most of my waking time either directly working on the city’s business or thinking about how to improve the structure for better results.
So here’s how your Encinitas Mayor spent her time this week:
Saturday, 1/7/2017: 5 hours
10-12 p.m.: Interview and photographs with reporter from Encinitas Magazine regarding the City of Encinitas.
2-4 p.m.: End-of-Season recognition and Q&A with the San Dieguito Academy Speech and Debate Team. Inspiring group of students! (See photo below.)
5-6 p.m.: Begin review of the 16 resumes and application materials for the open City Council seat. (Wow, are we blessed with talented, accomplished people in this city!)
Sunday, 1/8/2017: 6 hours
10-11:30 a.m.: Closely read the City Council Agenda in preparation for this week’s City Council meeting.
12-1 p.m.: Lovely run on our beautiful Cardiff beach!
3-5:30 p.m.: Attend gratitude reception for former Supervisor Dave Roberts at the San Diego Botanic Garden.
8-10 p.m.: Further review the 16 applicants for City Council and check out some of their social media profiles.
3:30-4:30 a.m.: Sleeplessly reflect and mull the weighty decision of appointing a fifth Council Member and compare the differences in the City Council applicants; begin drafting this week’s newsletter, which helps me synthesize.
Monday, 1/9/2017: 9 hours and 30 minutes
9-10 a.m.: Meeting at City Hall with an Environmental Commissioner regarding Community Choice Energy, short term vacation rental policy in Leucadia and stabilization of the bluff at Beacon’s Beach.
10-11 a.m.: Meeting at City Hall with an Encinitas 101 Main Street Association board member regarding the failure of Measure T and next steps, the newly proposed brewery tasting rooms in downtown, and the preservation or removal of the downtown ficus trees.
11-12 p.m.: Conference call with a representative from a bike-share company interested in discussing city-private partnership ideas.
1-2:15 p.m.: City hall meetings to discuss city issues.
2:15-4:30 p.m.: Respond to constituent email and phone calls; review, accept and reject invitations placed on my calendar; review upcoming regional events requiring RSVPs; coordination with Council secretary regarding the Mayor’s Homeless Challenge for the Point-in-Time Count (see my letter above for more info).
4:30-5:30 p.m.: Together with Deputy Mayor Tony Kranz, had a very positive meeting with former Escondido Council Member Jerry Harmon, the moderator suggested to help with the housing plan workshop on February 1. I remain hopeful of achieving a community-supported housing plan.
8-10 p.m.: Review information, ideas and previous State-of-the-City speeches for my State-of-the-City presentation in March. Prepare for meeting with the Chamber of Commerce to discuss same.
Tuesday, 1/10/2017: 9 hours and 30 minutes
8:30-9:30 a.m.: Yoga.
10-10:30 a.m.: Phone call with a City Council candidate.
11-12:30 p.m.: Tour of the Community Resource Center’s domestic violence shelter and discussion with board members regarding their upcoming facility plans. (The CRC does such important work in our community. I wanted to understand the intricacies of their services better.)
12:30-1:30 p.m.: Lunch at Eve with a candidate for the open City Council seat. (Love this place!)
2-3 p.m.: Meeting in Oceanside with the mayors of Del Mar, Solana Beach, Carlsbad, Encinitas, and Oceanside to appoint a representative from the Coastal Cities to the Airport Authority.
3:30-4 p.m.: Interview at City Hall with a candidate for the open City Council seat.
4-5:30 p.m.: Weekly standing meeting with the City Manager to discuss upcoming city business.
5:30-9 p.m.: Attend public meeting of the Coastal Mobility and Livability Working Group about planning in the rail corridor. Very helpful and clarifying for me to observe their deliberation.
Wednesday, 1/11/2017: 10 hours and 15 minutes
9-10 a.m.: Spin class at Rush Indoor Cycle Studio. On City Council days, I try to sweat it out before the nighttime meeting. Rush is an awesome new business owned by a local couple near Michael’s on El Camino Real.
11-11:30: Phone call with City Council applicant.
11:30-12 noon: Phone call with City Attorney.
12-2 p.m.: Prepare my remarks for items to be presented at the City Council meeting; read the large number of endorsement emails we received from the public on the Council applicants.
2-5 p.m.: Fill out required disclosure forms to serve in public office; review and sign Mayor’s certificates of recognition; discuss organization of ceremonial event for Electra Bike that evening; review and sign the weekly stack of checks for amounts over $10,000; review emails and printed materials re city business.
5-6 p.m.: Closed session with City Council to discuss sensitive legal matters regarding pending litigation with the city attorney, risk manager, and other staff.
6-9:15 p.m.: City Council meeting: Heard from 12 applicants, appointed Joe Mosca to fill the open seat, increased the Council salary per state law beginning in two years, set the year’s calendar and heard an update from the Sheriff’s captain on his budget.
Thursday, 1/12/2017: 2 hours
2:45-5 a.m.: Restlessly reflected on the City Council meeting and got out of bed to draft this week’s newsletter.
10:30-11:30 a.m.: Encinitas Wastewater Facility meeting with general manager; receive a briefing on the structure of the board.
11:30-1 p.m.: Practice law.
3-4 p.m.: Meeting with the Chamber of Commerce to discuss the State of the City address in March.
Friday, 1/13/2017: 1.5 hours
9-10 a.m.: Hot yoga at CorePower Yoga
11:30-2:00 p.m.: Practice law.
2-3:30 p.m.: SANDAG meeting of the Coastal Cities (Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad and Escondido) to discuss appointments to committees. I am excited to be appointed to the transportation committee, which faces important decisions after the defeat of Measure A during the last election.
3:30-5 p.m.: Practice law.
(I try to consolidate meetings with City Hall constituents onto Monday and Tuesday, with overflow on Wednesday, and to leave Thursday and Friday for my estate planning legal practice. My coming SANDAG commitments will happen almost every Friday however, which will change the schedule. In between all this there’s time with the kids and my family, preparing meals and keeping up the house. I know everyone’s life is just as busy as mine and we’re all working to make sure we maintain an appropriate balance that suits our needs.)
At last Wednesday’s City Council Meeting, representatives of the Electra Bicycle Company, headquartered in Encinitas, presented the city with four bikes for city staff to use to run errands around town instead of getting in their cars.