6/19/20: Please Support My Re-election as Your Mayor Today!

I’ll get straight to the point – please support my re-election as your mayor today! 

The first official campaign financial reports are due on June 30, just a few days from now. This is our opportunity to show viability and the strength of donor support. A candidate can’t win an election without money, and the overall number of contributors demonstrates whether the support is broad-based. Please help me get across the finish line in first place by contributing today! 

I hope you’ll agree that together, we’ve made great progress in Encinitas since you first elected me as your mayor in 2016. We’re creating a more just and equitable society, protecting and improving our natural environment, and maintaining the financial health of the city through prudent, responsible decision-making.

The current pandemic has added another layer of complication and adversity, and a steady, experienced hand at the tiller is more important than ever.

We’ve come a long way, but there’s a lot of work to be done and I am eager to do it! Let’s continue to work together!

If you’d like to help continue improving the quality of life for Encinitas residents, please click here!

A significant City Council meeting

During this week’s Encinitas City Council meeting, we addressed some serious and controversial issues. 

Marijuana in Encinitas

This November, there will be a citizen initiative on the ballot that if approved will expand the marijuana uses that are allowed in the City of Encinitas.

A citizen initiative that contained the required number of signatures was submitted about two years ago, asking for a vote on whether residents want to allow up to four retail storefronts that would sell marijuana products in Encinitas, as well as allowing cultivation, manufacturing and so called “cannabis kitchens” where marijuana edibles are created. 

The Cannabis Activity Zoning Ordinance can be found here, inside the city staff’s report about the municipal election.Here’s some background:

At top is an aerial view of the proposed Fox Point Farms location in Leucadia as it appears now and when the landowner was requesting the opportunity to grow marijuana. Below is the same property, showing, in a rendering, what the “agri-hood” will look like when finished.

You may recall a couple years ago when longtime local greenhouse landowner and flower grower, Bob Echter, asked the City Council to allow him to grow cannabis inside of his greenhouses, located on the northwest corner Leucadia Blvd. and Quail Gardens Drive (see top photo).

There was an overwhelmingly negative community response, but a corresponding pushback from others who wanted us to approve it. We had multiple packed City Council meetings with hours of testimony on both sides – a very divisive issue.

Many people said that the City Council shouldn’t make such a momentous decision, and that we should let the voters decide. Ultimately, we didn’t grant the request to change the city’s ordinances to allow marijuana cultivation, and opted instead to put the question before local voters.

However, when Echter wasn’t able to secure the requested City Council approval, he changed course and proposed to develop part of his land into an “agri-hood,” which pairs new homes with agricultural elements. This proposed housing project is moving forward and is called “Fox Point Farms,” with 250 homes (53 for sale and 197 rental townhomes.)

Given the landowner’s withdrawal of the request to grow marijuana, the City Council didn’t move forward with a ballot initiative for the 2018 election. Then in came Cardiff resident Jordan Greenhall, who circulated a petition for a ballot initiative that would grant regulatory permission to create the full supply chain for marijuana in Encinitas, from growing to manufacturing products to selling to the public. 

This ballot initiative is nominally about the types of land use permitted in Encinitas. But this marijuana decision intersects with many other strongly held beliefs by residents, including concerns about medical access, the emotions about the past “War on Drugs,” government overreach, freedom, quality-of-life protection, the mental and physical health of youth, normalizing drugs – you get the picture.

It’s interesting context to note that in 2014, Encinitas voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have allowed marijuana businesses here. But in 2016, local voters chose to legalize marijuana for recreational use – with the highest percentage in all of San Diego County.

So depending on what question is being asked, it appears that Encinitas voters have differing views on marijuana and its place in our city.

At our City Council meeting last Wednesday, we had a fairly lengthy, very civil and deeply engaged conversation on the topic. We unanimously chose the San Dieguito Alliance for Drug-Free Youth to write the ballot statement in opposition to this measure.

When our City Council votes unanimously, it’s not because they’re rubber-stamping one person’s opinion. It happens because each of us engages in the hard work of compromise, finding common ground, identifying the solutions that appeal uniformly, and crafting a path forward that everyone can support. It’s a sign of a high-functioning, engaged group. While split votes are inevitable at times, I’m always looking to help find a way toward a solution that we all agree with.  

Our decision-making around marijuana and the ballot language was a great example of this process in action. Video of the entire marijuana item, including staff report and public comments, can be found here, or you can jump to our discussion and final vote at 1:53:49 on the video player.

Witnessing the process with all its deliberation and attention to detail can be tedious for some, but it can also be fascinating.

 Sheriff’s Department community forum planned

The other high-interest item from this week is that the acting city manager is going to be organizing a community forum with the Sheriff’s Department at a date to be determined to allow the community and its elected officials to begin a public dialogue about policing.

We’re in the midst of a torrent of controversy about the basics of law enforcement and how it should be envisioned in the 21st century. We need law enforcement, and we also need non-discrimination and racial equality.

It’s urgent that we lay a foundation of trust and open access to information to create a deeper understanding that can help us to collectively determine whether reforms might be needed, and what they should be. 

The City of Encinitas is one of nine cities in the county that contract with the Sheriff for our law enforcement. The County of San Diego is the other agency that financially supports the Sheriff, but our nine cities together comprise about half the Sheriff’s budget.

Policies are set by the elected Sheriff himself and his department, but as a community served by the Sheriff, we have the ability and duty to ask questions and, if needed, advocate for changes. 

This community forum will focus on many questions, including how deputies are trained, how the department’s funding works, and how the Sheriff’s Department performs on various metrics. I’m hopeful that all interested members of the community and organized community groups will participate. We’ll determine next steps after the first meeting.  

I strongly believe that one of the key ways elected officials can make a difference in our community is to utilize our power to convene –  intentionally creating a space where ideas can be exchanged, questions can be asked and answered, and civil society can be renewed. 

I’ll conclude this topic with a recognition of the importance of marking and celebrating Juneteenth today, as we continue the fight against institutional racism and structural disadvantages for Black Americans. I appreciate this New York Times opinion piecespotlighting the agency and action of formerly enslaved people in creating change. 

An affordable housing nomination

I’m honored to have been nominated by the San Diego Housing Federation in the “outstanding elected official” category. What a surprise and a nice acknowledgment of our city’s efforts to bring more affordable housing to our community. There is, of course, much more work to do here!

June is Pride Month!

For the second year, your City Council gathered at City Hall to raise the rainbow flag in June. It’s a symbol of equality, acceptance and pride. I’m proud of our city’s public communication of these values. 

Please join me in honoring all the fathers out there this Sunday on Father’s Day! My dad (pictured above with my daughter and me) is a tirelessly optimistic, loving and proud father with endless stores of devotion and encouragement. I hope we all honor our fathers in a way that’s meaningful, even with distancing and masks, this year. 

And if you’re curious about Encinitas coronavirus numbers, they continue to go up. We have one or more new positive cases reported nearly every day, and are at a total of 86 positive total cases in Encinitas. More information from the county can be found here.  

Finally, I’d like to thank you for your interest in our city, as evidenced by your reading this far!

In ongoing service and with a commitment to strong governance,