All posts by Catherine Blakespear

1/13/19: “She Turns Residents into Citizens”: Meet our Newest City CouncilMEMBER

We enjoyed upbeat, positive energy at our council meeting this week. The participation of residents in our local government is something special, an Encinitas characteristic that I hope we never take for granted.

Andy Henshaw, Executive Director of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, and a Point Loma resident, recognized our spirit when he said during public comments, “I’ve got a little bit of Encinitas envy tonight just by all the passion that I’ve seen from the community to make positive change, and for the commitment that people are taking to get on the council. It’s really been inspiring to me just to sit through this.”

So here’s what happened at our first council meeting of 2019:

Welcome to Kellie, our newest councilmember!

(Photo by James Wang.)

What happened: We unanimously appointed Leucadia resident Kellie Shay Hinze to the open City Council seat vacated by Tasha Boerner Horvath when she was elected to represent north county in the state assembly.

I became thoroughly impressed with Kellie while seeing her in action as the Executive Director of the Leucadia 101 Main Street Association. She knows the city’s issues, speaks articulately after taking the time to understand, possesses tremendous people skills to manage conflicting opinions, and inspires millennials and others to transform from “residents into citizens,” in the words of longtime Encinitas citizen Judy Berlfein.

And a grateful thank-you goes to all the other candidates, each of whom was very well qualified for the job. Pictured below as they addressed the council are (from left) Kevin Doyle, Tony Brandenberg, Susie Nancarrow Glenn, Kellie Shay Hinze, and William Morrison.

Why it matters: We need a full team of five elected officials to effectively govern. The fact that we accomplished the appointment unanimously and expeditiously, avoiding a costly election, points to our highly functional local government. And the crowd that attended seemed thrilled with our choice. 

We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, and I’m excited that Kellie will be lending her talents and insights to our City Council team!

For more information on the applicants or the details of the appointment here are articles in The San Diego Union-TribuneEncinitas Advocate and Coast News.

Making Leucadia safer for bicyclists

What happened: We unanimously approved interim safety improvements on Highway 101 in Leucadia, including reducing speeds, installing four raised crosswalks (see top photo as an example) preceded by rumble strips (see bottom photo as an example) – at El Portal, Grandview, Basil and Phoebe, and funding ongoing speed enforcement. 

Why it matters: Before the city can start Leucadia Streetscape, the city’s largest capital project, we want to improve safety on Highway 101. While I favor bike lanes instead of sharrows as safer for everyone (with sharrows, bikes and cars share the same space), I listened and learned that the bike lane solution simply had too many downsides, including:

  • expense (at least $1.5 million based on the need to reconfigure medians), 
  • almost no support from the bike riding community who participated at the meeting and sent us emails. They cited too many driveway crossings and being too close to the “door” zone, ultimately making the bike lane less safe than the sharrows, in their opinion.
  • required removal of mature trees that will be preserved with the final Streetscape project.

Here’s the Encinitas Advocate story.

‘Housing for Generations’ looks promising

What happened: We heard a presentation on our “permit ready” accessory dwelling unit (ADU) program. At this link, click on item 4A to see the backyard housing plans (see a rendering above) and you can also hear the presentation we heard at the City Council meeting.

Why it matters: Our city’s new “Housing for Generations” program to provide residents with pre-approved plans creates a streamlined process for building backyard homes. This resident-driven approach is proactive and will create housing that preserves community character. Waiving city fees and providing pre-approved plans will result in resident savings estimates of up to $18,000.

More information about upcoming ADU workshops and more can be found here, and here’s the Coast News article. I’m really excited about this program and believe it will be popular, based on the feedback I’ve received.

Envisioning a county-wide transit center

What happened: These are exciting days at SANDAG. We’re putting serious heft behind spearheading the building of a county-wide transit center, plus train service directly to the airport from all over the county. The details and a visual of where the transit center could be located (at a 71-acre place just north of the airport called “SPAWAR,” shown above) are at this San Diego Union-Tribunelink, and here’s their editorial supporting the project.

Why it matters: From my perspective, there’s no greater transportation need than addressing the county’s lack of direct transit to and from the airport for the 3.3 million people in the county, including thousands of airport-based employees. The bold vision and ability to create collaboration among many agencies with varied agendas is what we hired our new SANDAG executive director Hasan Ikhrata to do. I’m thrilled he’s jumped into this with both feet. 

Have a great week!

In service,

P.S. The Blakespear family recently enjoyed an invigorating hike at Mission Trails Regional Park in Santee with my mom. It’s a fantastic place to explore. Locally here in Encinitas, we have a growing network of trails (over 40 miles!) that too few people know about. You can learn more here.