All posts by Catherine Blakespear

3/10/19: Strategic Planning Yields Insights

To everything, there is a season. As winter melts into spring, planning for the future is sprouting at agencies around the country. This week I participated in goal setting and strategic planning for three different agencies whose boards I sit on – the City of Encinitas, the Encina Wastewater District, and SANDAG. 

Why it matters: It’s easy to get buried in the details of daily work and lose clarity on the bigger picture. So with these sessions we take stock of where we are and where we’re going. A critical task is lifting our heads above the waterline, taking the time to examine everything we are doing, and being realistic about what we can accomplish in the year ahead – both in terms of budget and staff time.

Key Highlights: SANDAG is the agency headed for the biggest changes, with an exciting, completely new vision for the San Diego region’s transportation future. Turning the SANDAG ship won’t be easy, trivial or unanimous, by any means. But that’s the reality of being “disruptive,” which is everyone’s favorite buzzword right now.

This San Diego Union-Tribune article reported from our board retreat: Transit to the airport: people mover or free shuttle?, highlights the diversity of opinion about what direction the county’s planning should take when it comes to our airport.  

I took the above photo at the SANDAG planning retreat, held at the Barona Resort and Casino in Lakeside. Holding the annual event here helps support a local Indian tribe and is a bit removed from the hubbub of the urban centers. To me, the path winding into the foothills symbolizes our planning process – it isn’t a straight line but it’s appealing and varied the entire way.

How fitting that the SANDAG planning retreat ended on International Women’s Day, and I had the privilege of spending some time with two of my favorites, former Encinitas City Councilmember and our current representative in the state Assembly Tasha Boerner Horvath, and Tasha’s recent City Council replacement, Kellie Shay Hinze! (Photo by Coronado Councilmember Bill Sandke.)

We took a break from sitting around conference tables to do some fun and challenging team-building games. It was a total hoot to work together in this unusual way! These elected officials and professional staff are clearly about to win, right?

Encinitas updates from local goal setting…

We’re continuing to move forward with road and mobility improvements citywide, a railroad underpass at El Portal in Leucadia to help residents go east-west and cross the rail corridor, plus an additional $1 million for the city’s next housing plan. (At some point I dearly hope we can spend less time and money on planning and litigating housing, and get down to actually producing it!)

At the Encina Wastewater Authority, we decided that about 15 out of 28 acres of a site known as the “south parcel” is going to be made available for a five-year lease. Additionally, we decided to pay off nearly all of the agency’s unfunded pension liability in three years, which will save the member agencies, including Encinitas, nearly $11 million in interest. This is really exciting.

Hoop dream team

It’s a fun change of pace for me to coach my son’s 10- to 12-year-old basketball team at the YMCA. I haven’t played basketball competitively in years but I love the sport and it’s a gift for me to be able to share it with my son. The YMCA is an outstanding and long-standing community organization that brings great value to so many across a wide range of sports and activities. 

I hope you have a great week!

In service,

P.S. While we’re talking about planning a brighter future, I find it encouraging to figuratively zoom out and track the world’s progress over the last two centuries, as seen in the chart below. Broad measures of health and well-being show that the human experience is improving on our beloved planet. Now we need to devote more energy to improving the health of Earth itself. (Courtesy of Our World In Data. Click here for a larger version.)