11/18/18: When We Work Together, Things Work Better!

November 18, 2018

At a time when we’re inundated with reports of fierce partisanship at record high levels, I was pleased and honored to participate in true bipartisan cooperation this week!
I was unanimously chosen by my peers – the elected mayors, councilmembers and supervisors from every city in San Diego County – to serve in leadership at the county’s regional planning agency, SANDAG.

The nominating committee’s recommendation of Poway Mayor Steve Vaus (in the center photo above, wearing a cowboy hat) as chair, and me (at far-right) as vice-chair won unanimous support from Republicans, Democrats and independents.
This is one of the first SANDAG leadership teams in recent memory consisting of a Republican (Vaus) and a Democrat (me). That’s an encouraging and heartening development, as we get more accomplished when we work together.
These two positions are the only leadership roles on the SANDAG board. Mayor Vaus served as vice-chair during 2018. SANDAG’s past procedure has been that the vice-chair becomes chair after getting his or her feet wet and becoming intimately involved with our county-wide transportation and planning issues.
The regional issues and concerns are much different and broader than those within any individual city, so the on-ramping process of initially serving as vice-chair is critical training for improving the effectiveness of the chair.
I so appreciate being recognized by the mayors and councilmembers throughout the county as worthy of leadership at this important agency.
There couldn’t be a more exciting time at SANDAG, with so many possibilities in front of us. I’m looking forward to working with Mayor Vaus, the outstanding SANDAG staff, newly hired Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata, the engaged public and the board members to create a shared vision for mobility improvements throughout the county that doesn’t pit transit against roads, but creates a highly functioning transportation network for all.

Speaking of SANDAG, they recently offered local elected officials on the Transportation Committee a tour of the Mid-Coast Trolley construction project. It’s exciting to see this ambitious transit project coming together, and even more impressive to view it up close. From left to right in the photo above are Vista Councilmember John Aguilera, Solana Beach Councilmember Jewel Edson, Coronado Councilmember Bill Sandke, and me.
Housing Element back in court
The first full week after the election saw the City of Encinitas back in court on our housing lawsuits, after voters rejected the second plan put forward by the city in two years.
As your city council, we did our best to create a plan that complied with state law and that we hoped residents would find acceptable. Unfortunately, we were not successful.
When the state laws and guidelines change, the housing plan we propose must also adapt. Adding the zoning for more homes will always be difficult in our city, and I understand this. But state lawmakers have prioritized the creation of more homes and, consequently, state law requires us to add the zoning for them.

And so we find ourselves back in court. Superior Court Judge Ronald Frazier (in the photo above, between the flags) ordered briefings from all three parties for a hearing on November 28.
Here are three articles about the hearing:
Judge Considers Stepping In After Encinitas Failed – Again – to Pass a Housing Plan
Encinitas Days of Noncompliance with State Housing Laws Appear to be Numbered
Judge May Soon Order Encinitas to Comply with State Housing Laws
Leucadia Streetscape moves forward
The North Highway 101 Streetscape project continues to advance after the City Council accepted the Coastal Commission’s modifications at this week’s meeting.
Streetscape was certainly a contentious topic during our recent election, and I’m keenly aware that some residents who fought against it may feel disenfranchised and discouraged at this point. If you are one of them, I want you to know that your voice will continue to be heard and your suggestions taken into account as the project progresses in the months ahead.
The Encinitas Advocate story on Streetscape is here.
Encinitas election update 

All four local candidates pictured above held onto the leads they had on election night. Left to right are new District 3 City Councilmember Jody Hubbard, re-elected me, new 76th Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath, and District 4 City Councilmember Joe Mosca, elected to a four-year term.
Jody will be sworn in at 6 p.m. on Dec. 11th at City Hall, and all are invited.
I appreciate the many years of dedication that Councilmember Mark Muir has given to the city – as a firefighter, fire chief and councilmember. He told us that his last meeting will be at 6 p.m. November 28th, and we’ll be honoring Mark then. It will also be Tasha’s final City Council meeting before she begins representing us in Sacramento.
I hope you can join us for both events to wish Jody, Tasha and Mark the best.
Tasha’s opponent in the 76th Assembly race was challenger Elizabeth Warren, who did a great job of discussing and promoting the need for a more equitable society. She ended her campaign with a debt of more than over $33,000. If you were moved by her candidacy and would like to help her retire that debt, she’d very much appreciate your assistance. Please click here to help Elizabeth.
Here’s a nicely written article from the Coast News on the outcomes of many of our North County races. If you want to understand the big picture of what happened politically in North County at the last election, this article is well worth the read.
Closing thoughts

I’ve been able to enjoy a little extra post-election family downtime in the last week, with the four Blakespears taking a weekend afternoon to enjoy our stunning beach and ocean in November. What a paradise we have here in Encinitas!

And what stunning sunsets and sunrises we’re having. They really are better in the fall than any other time of year. This sunrise photo was taken by our friend Jim Crage.
Finally, I wish you a soul-filling, community-oriented, and gratitude-based Thanksgiving. Our prayers and sympathies go out to those who lost their homes and their loved ones in the recent fires.
With gratitude for all our blessings,

Sorry, you are not in the 38th Senate District.
You are in the 38th Senate district!