12/20/20: Planning a Brighter, Better 2021!

December 20, 2020

Happy holidays! 

After 10 often-wrenching months for all of us, I’m looking forward to creating a better 2021 and enthusiastically focusing on our community goals. 

The top-of-mind issue right now – don’t get sick! As the coronavirus spreads nearly uncontrolled, restaurants open-and-shut-open-and-shut, our hospitals’ ICU capacity is at zero, and people are being vaccinated in real time, there’s an other-worldly quality to this holiday season.

During this season of love, sharing and community-building, please do everything you can to protect yourself and the public’s health.

In breaks my heart to see our small business community struggling to hang on. It’s more important than ever that we support them. One simple way we can help is to give gift certificates to a local restaurant as a holiday present for a family member to provide an experience for them after the pandemic infection rates are reduced.

Shop local during this final week before Christmas in any way you can. For instance, I ordered a book from Artifact Books, in downtown Encinitas. The owner, who works there himself, can still order you a book that will arrive before Christmas.  

On an encouraging note, the New York Times recently asked its readers to name one good thing that happened to them this year. A selection of the responses is here (one is shown below) – I found many of them to be touching and inspiring!

While recognizing the gravity of our continuing pandemic situation, I’d like to share some recent city happenings with you, along with what I see on the horizon.

The city’s top issues continue to be our environmental commitments, quality-of-life protection, managing housing, and encouraging community participation and engagement. 

Environment news

  • At the final City Council meeting of the year, we declared a climate emergency in recognition of the dire threat posed by climate change. I want to particularly acknowledge our outgoing Environmental Commissioner Jim Wang, who spearheaded many climate-related initiatives for the city, including banning Styrofoam and plastic bags, pursuing a Community Choice Energy plan, and advocating for this recognition of a climate emergency.

    Here’s the city’s staff report and the language of the emergency declaration
  • In early 2021, the city will be considering a plan with EDCO, our waste hauler, to process food waste together with yard waste in newly constructed digesters built by EDCO. This would bring us closer to the goal of creating zero waste.

    One sticking point for me has been how we will transport the food scraps (including coffee grounds, egg shells, leftover take-out food, grease and everything else) from the kitchen to an outside waste bin without making a huge mess. EDCO’s digesters can’t handle plastic or compostable non-plastic types of bags, so they’ll be offering free 1-1/2-gallon sealable “kitchen caddies” (seen in the photo above) that residents are supposed to dump directly into the outside bin.

    In addition to the option of using no bag, residents can figure out their own newspaper or other paper bag solution for transporting their food waste from the kitchen to the outside green bin.

    It’s important that this system be designed for success. If we unveil it and residents continue putting all their messy food waste in the regular landfill-bound trash can because of the “ick” factor, then it won’t be successful at achieving our diversion goals. Here’s EDCO’s three-minute video about this.

    What do you think? If you have an opinion on this, please let me know by emailing me here.

Housing update

  • Our sixth cycle housing plan is due April 2021, and we’re in heavy, difficult negotiations with the state over parts of this plan. We need to add affordable housing in Encinitas, and we want to do it in a way that acknowledges and protects our community’s character. I strongly believe that we can do both!
  • Did you know that an Encinitas family of four making $92,400 a year is considered “low income?” The city is required by law to provide at least 838 new housing units that are attainable for these families by 2029. The analysis presumes that a family shouldn’t spend more than 30% of their income on housing.

    In 2021, I’m hopeful that we’ll have identified at least one project that we can spearhead to provide 100% affordable housing. In recent history, the city hasn’t created an affordable housing project. It’s time that we do this to help meet the needs of our community.

    The city is requesting additional input from residents on Encinitas housing at this link. More information and draft documents can be found here. The city’s newsletter with a nice overview of the Housing Element is here.
  • We’ll also discuss, and hopefully adopt, a Homeless Action Plan this winter to systemically approach the concerns presented by our unhoused neighbors. 

Our quality of life

  • If you’re interested in the conditions on Rancho Santa Fe Road and what improvements could be made to reduce congestion and improve safety for walkers, bikers and drivers, this virtual meeting of the Rancho Santa Fe Road Taskforce, spearheaded by District 4 Councilmember Joe Mosca is worth watching.

    If you have opinions on improvements, this task force is the forum you should consider participating in. You can email Councilmember Mosca with any questions or comments at [email protected].
  • In 2021, likely around the budget time, we’ll discuss the idea of improving the Pacific View school site using city money to get it open and create a place for the public’s enjoyment that has been the goal for several years now.
  • I’m also really excited about recent news that North Coast Repertory Theatre wants to move forward with building a theatre on empty land the city has long-designated for such a use in the Encinitas Ranch Town Center!

 Civic engagement

  • Our city commissions are a great way to officially make a difference in Encinitas, devote some of your time, get experience, and avoid having to actually run for office! Commission recruitment is open for applications until Jan. 14 for incumbents, and Jan. 21 for new applicants. Go here for more info.

Your wild and precious life

This notorious year 2020 winds down in less than two weeks. For many, it’s a time to take stock of where you are and where you want to be in the future. 

A friend recently reintroduced me to a Mary Oliver poem called The Summer Day. The last lines sit within me at this time of year: 

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?”

Every one of us makes decisions every day that point toward future opportunities or foreclose those opportunities. Taking time for reflection and self-assessment is time well spent.

(Photo by Stephen Keyes.)

Merry Christmas to those who will celebrate this Friday; and Happy New Year to all of us! Barring the need for urgent communication, you’ll hear from me again in January. 

In your service, with gratitude for all our many blessings,

P.S. We will bloom again!

“We Will Bloom Again,” reads the recent colorful declaration at the Cardiff Kook. What a generous and hopeful message from anonymous decorators – they even included fresh flowers that people were invited to take home. Another example of why there’s no place like Encinitas, and no spirit like Encinitas spirit.

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