8/9/20: Mask enforcement coming to Encinitas?

I hope you, and those in your family and greater community, are staying healthy and well. 
 
Protecting the public’s health continues to be among the city’s top priorities, and it has become clear that more enforcement is needed around protective face coverings when people are in crowded public places. 

For several months, the city has been working diligently on education and the encouragement of wearing masks. We recently installed 30 big banners like the one shown above, with 17 of them along El Camino Real and the rest downtown on Highway 101. Next week 28 smaller banners are scheduled to arrive.

These banners were chosen instead of signs partly because of the vandalism and theft of previous COVID-related signs. We also use changeable message boards, the city’s various online communication efforts, and educational efforts by lifeguards, firefighters and volunteers at the beach.
 
Last week, the City of Del Mar and the county announced more enforcement, beyond just education, as described in this Del Mar Times article. The City of Encinitas has been in talks with Solana Beach and Del Mar to do this in all three of our cities.

Sheriff’s deputies would be authorized to issue citations but would educate and seek compliance first. The City of Encinitas is scheduling this item for City Council consideration at either the August 19 or August 26 meeting.
 
Moonlight mask distribution

My family and I helped hand out free masks at Moonlight Beach over the weekend – a great way to positively encourage the actions we want in public places. My inspired City Council colleague Deputy Mayor Kellie Shay Hinze came up with the idea, including finding a donor who bought the masks, getting them made, and managing the volunteer shifts. If you’d like to help out with this volunteer project, please email Kellie@kellieforencinitas.com.

Help for Encinitas renters

The City of Encinitas has established a program offering financial assistance to help pay past-due or upcoming rent and utility payments. Payments of up to $4,500 would be made directly to the landlord to cover the costs of rent, trash, and water.

The program is for income-qualified households within the City of Encinitas that can demonstrate the need for assistance due to the Coronavirus global pandemic. Documentation is required and a checklist is provided for convenience.

Applications must be submitted online only, and those without online access or requiring special assistance can call (760) 456-7757 or email encinitasbra@housingprograms.com. For additional information and to apply, please click here.

The struggle continues for some local businesses

Businesses in Encinitas are in a period of transition, with some facing nearly catastrophic financial realities. The 24-Hour Fitness gym on Santa Fe Drive (pictured above) is closing for good. Given its more than 30-year history in this location and the many people who relied on it for fitness, including me when I was a teenager, it’s a sad reality. 
 
Another local gym off of El Camino Real called Rush Cycle has announced that they’re moving 34 bikes into their parking lot for spin classes under tents. “Special headphones will be provided to each rider to connect to the music and instructor, so that every rider has a quality sound experience (think: no traffic noise and the ability to set your own volume),” the owner wrote in a newsletter announcement.

I’m continually impressed by the creativity and dedication that I see from business owners and employees working to stay afloat.

More information about spin classes at Rush Cycle is here.
 
Leucadia Wastewater District appointment opportunity!
 
Having served in local elected office for the past six years, I’ve discovered that there’s tremendous potential for positive change at levels of government that don’t get a lot of attention.

One of those areas is (drum roll please) wastewater districts!
 
There’s an immediate opening on the Leucadia Wastewater District, and you don’t even have to run a campaign for office. The member representing District Four recently passed away unexpectedly at age 91, which means the current board will appoint someone to his seat in September.

His seat was an at-large seat, meaning that technically anyone in the district is qualified to be appointed. But in two years, the seat will need to be represented by someone living in District 4, so it’s possible that there will be a preference for a candidate who already lives in that district.

There’s an interactive version of the Leucadia Wastewater District map above, where you can enter your address to see what district of Leucadia Wastewater you live in. Click here to go to it. 

The plants that manage the water that washes down our shower and sink drains are critical infrastructure. These operations have the opportunity to lead in achieving our loftiest goals – tackling climate change, recycling water instead of putting it back into the ocean, reducing emissions, and processing food and green waste. 

You don’t need to have any technical expertise to serve on the board. Lay people are preferred, in my opinion, because it forces technical experts to account to everyday people regarding projects and investments. 

In the Leucadia Wastewater District, several board positions are currently filled by representatives that have been on the board for many years, some for multiple decades. The district hasn’t had a new board member in 14 years.

My experience is that it’s very difficult to find people interested in seats like these. This is a real opportunity for someone who wants to make a difference by serving the community in an important role, with a relatively modest time commitment. Board meetings are monthly. 

If you have questions about why these seats matter and what decisions are made at this level, I’m happy to talk more with you about it. If you have questions about how the board itself functions or how to apply, please reach out to General Manager Paul Bushee at 760-753-0155, extension 3014. Even casual questions are welcome!

Letters of interest and brief biographies from candidates are due by August 20th; interviews are anticipated for September 1st, and the board plans to appoint the new director at its September 9th meeting. You’ll find more info here.

Thoughts on our upcoming election

With the election right around the corner, engagement is high right now. Anyone who wanted to be on the ballot needed to turn in their paperwork, statement and fees by last Friday. The ballot statements for Encinitas candidates will soon be posted on the city’s website.

I’ve recently completed a comprehensive “Where I Stand” section on my website (as shown above) that offers easy reference to my positions on over 20 issues that concern us all. 

I value integrity, solicit diverse opinions, and hold the weighty responsibility of serving in office close to my heart. An elected official must have thick skin, along with a demonstrated respect for everyone, even the most disrespectful. 
 
In my race, and that of the other local incumbents, there are some unfounded accusations about my leadership circulating, including that I want or profit from transporting more homeless people here. I don’t know any mayor who wants more people living without shelter in their city.
 
Another allegation is that I want Encinitas to become overdeveloped or unsafe. 
 
Encinitas has been very well run since I’ve been your mayor. We’ve moved boldly when it comes to environmental initiatives, transportation improvement projects, and helping people who need it. We remain fiscally stable and responsible; as well as unquestionably one of the safest cities in the county. 
 
All of my City Council colleagues and I have close, deep ties to our city – none of us want to ruin Encinitas or allow out-of-scale development. The reality is that we govern within the very strict constraints of state laws with mandates, and larger macro-economic trends like poverty, housing instability and lack of affordability.

And today, there’s a new challenge – the coronavirus crisis complicates the whole picture.

Encinitas remains one of the most sought-after places to live, with a nearly unparalleled quality of life. I am proud of my record of bold and inclusive leadership that solicits the best from those around me, and takes real action.
 
Gender and public service

While civic participation can be critical, disparaging and sometimes feels unfair, there’s a line that’s crossed when the communication is actually threatening. I recently received a disturbing, vulgar email encouraging specific violence against my female body saying, among other things, “We’ll cut her tits off.” Yes, I alerted our Sheriff’s captain.

This article from the New York Times, ‘Worthless. Gutless. Loser.’ Online Attacks Escalate When the Mayor is a Woman., highlights that while men in elected office receive threats, women in elected office are targeted more often, and in more ways. I find threats of violence to me as a woman to be particularly galling and unacceptable, because it goes to the heart of questioning women’s place in a position of authority. 

I got to thinking about our local municipal races, and the interesting gender breakdown that strongly favors women candidates on a two-to-one basis in this election.

The race for mayor, City Council District 2, Supervisor and Assemblymember are all women against women, while City Council District 1 and Congress have two male opponents for each race. That’s eight female candidates and four male candidates. This is an encouraging sign about female involvement in politics, and it doesn’t even include the local school board races.

Interestingly, here in Encinitas we’ve had more women mayors than men mayors in the 34 years Encinitas has been a city. So women running and serving in office is not a new phenomenon here. Comments trafficking in sexist stereotypes or threats of gendered violence really should have no place in our civic dialogue.

When campaigning, I consciously avoid gender stereotypes. For example, I’m aware of never being dismissive of women expressing themselves in public spaces. I also never discuss my opponent’s family life or denigrate her using terms that describe women who are demonstrating passionate advocacy (such as the word “angry”). I discuss my perception of her platform and the issues she’s advocated against in the past.

I also want to say that so far in this campaign, my opponent has stuck to criticizing me on the issues too. Although I disagree with the substance of the criticism, I appreciate the fair play.

No matter what happens in this race, in less than three months we’re all still going to be community members and neighbors sharing living space in our beautiful city. It’s destructive and foolish to scorch the electoral earth, not to mention unkind, don’t you think?

I encourage all candidates to sign this pledge

Last Friday, I signed and submitted to the city clerk a Code of Fair Campaign Practices, pledging: “I shall not use or permit the use of character defamation, whispering campaigns, libel, slander, or scurrilous attacks on any candidate or his or her personal or family life.”

In addition, I promise that I will encourage my supporters not to deface or steal the campaign signs and materials of other candidates. 

I take this pledge and I urge our other candidates to take it. I also urge community members to absorb its meaning, channel civility and aim for our highest ideals – or as Lincoln said, the “better angels of our nature.”

I know that the vast majority of people remain civil and eschew meanness. But we all need to work to guide the collective, so that we continue to have large numbers of women seeking and holding public office, despite the pitched and sometimes degrading rhetoric aimed at us. 

ZOOM with Catherine & Friends!

And finally, before I sign off I’d like to remind you about a Tuesday afternoon Zoom event with “Catherine & Friends,” which includes you and our all-star group of local elected officials (see invite above). We’ll be talking about the current issues, answering your questions and hopefully collecting some contributions for my re-election campaign.

I am so grateful to the many contributors who have already given to help me get re-elected. We outraised my opponent more than 2-to-1 in the first filing period, with $40,000 contributed to my campaign from others compared to the $15,000 that she raised from others. More information on the fundraising totals in local races is here.

Thank you for reading this, and I hope to see you on Tuesday afternoon’s Zoom at 4:30 p.m.!

In ongoing service,

COVID-19 Resources