New Councilmember Appointed, and 100% Renewable Energy is Coming!

Great things are happening in Encinitas, and I can’t wait to share them with you!

Welcome Joy Lyndes to the City Council

Our new District 3 City Councilmember, Joy Lyndes.
 
I’m really excited by our selection last week of our newest City Councilmember, Joy Lyndes. She’s a landscape architect by trade and ran her own business with 21 employees. Joy replaces Jody Hubbard, who resigned for health reasons last month, as the councilmember for District 3, which includes Cardiff.
 
As a dedicated community volunteer for many years, she is well known to many of our local organizations. Some highlights include: 

  • Board member of the Encinitas Historical Society; 
  • Eight-year City of Encinitas Environmental Commissioner; 
  • One of the prime creators of the city’s innovative “open streets” Cyclovia event; 
  • Volunteer for the revitalization of the city-owned Pacific View school.  

Joy’s dedication, ability to get things done, commitment to furthering our city’s work plan, and embrace by the community for her strong inter-personal skills, are major reasons why she earned my support. 

Joy’s first Encinitas City Council meeting will be our next one, on March 10. You can read more about her appointment in this Encinitas Advocate article

100% renewable energy coming to Encinitas

The City Council voted last week to move forward with an energy plan where every city customer – residents, businesses and municipalities – will default to 100% renewable energy. There will be only a slight increase of .01% in each customer’s bill, which works out to no more than a couple of cents, depending on the size of the account.

Customers can also opt for a slightly cheaper plan called “PowerOn” that offers 50% renewable energy. If for some reason the customer wants to pay more and have less renewable energy, they can opt to stay with the current investor-owned utility, SDG&E, as the energy provider.

Renewable energy from San Diego Community Power will deliver electricity to us via lines owned by SDG&E.

From my perspective, this is a major win-win. The main point of creating a Joint Powers Authority to form a CCE was to source Encinitas energy consumption with green, clean renewable energy. The fact that we’re able to go from about 31% renewable sources with SDG&E right now to 100% renewable, with a negligible increase in rates, is tremendous.

We’re also offering customers a choice and creating a process that is transparent, for example you can attend public meetings of San Diego Community Power and make comments.

I couldn’t be happier with our city’s choice to partner with other heavyweights in this region, namely the City of San Diego, Chula Vista, La Mesa and Imperial Beach. Our very own City Councilmember Joe Mosca is the chair of the new agency, and his previous professional utility work is undoubtedly helpful.

Our CCE is the second largest in the state. With a large number of ratepayers and the clout that we’re able to bring to the regulatory discussion, we are well-positioned for success. 

If you have any questions about the program or want more information, please visit sdcommunitypower.org or email our city’s Climate Action coordinator Crystal Najera at cnajera@encinitasca.gov.  

More details are in this Encinitas Advocate article.  

Encinitas Homeless Action Plan adopted

The chart above shows an overview of a comprehensive homeless crisis response system.

The City Council unanimously voted to move forward with adopting a Homeless Action Plan for the first time. Listening to public comment and receiving emails about homelessness, I’m routinely struck by the strongly held, yet polar opposite, views held by Encinitas residents.

Some believe homelessness isn’t a problem and that we shouldn’t spend any city money on it. Others believe it’s a horrible blight, and they don’t feel safe visiting certain public spaces anymore. Some fear that helping people will create dependency and attract more people experiencing homelessness to our city. Many others advocate for compassionate help for those who clearly need it. 

It always surprises me to hear the allegation that as the mayor, I somehow invite or create homelessness. There is no reason for a mayor to want people living unsheltered in our city. 

My perspective is that being homeless is stigmatized, unpleasant and dangerous for people going through it. It’s clearly a negative for the public spaces where it exists. As a city leader I see there are places, like Glen Park in Cardiff and our downtown, where the problem is growing.

This is not a situation that will resolve itself through the city’s inaction, as has been demonstrated in many cities. And it’s not possible to police the problem away, as some suggest. The legal landscape is highly complex. 

In cities like Encinitas, there is a clear relationship between high housing costs, very little lower cost housing, and homelessness. I worry what will happen to people when the current eviction moratoriums are lifted. The economic consequences of this recession are the most unequal in history – lower wage jobs have disproportionality disappeared compared to upper income jobs, which have largely returned.

While mental illness and substance abuse are undeniably factors for many experiencing homelessness, the data shows that the precipitating event that starts the downward spiral into homelessness is usually financial. Most of the people experiencing homelessness stay near or in the community where they were previously housed. This is because of the human connections to the people and places in that area.

The city can’t control larger economic trends and the legal landscape created by the U.S. Supreme Court and others. But we can do more to have a clear and unified response to street homelessness, to provide help for those in need, to keep our public spaces clean and desirable for all to visit, and to provide more affordable housing in Encinitas.  

Having a plan and a dedicated city staff member gets us on the right track. The staff person will coordinate the work of city partners, faith-based organization and social service providers, work with regional partners like the county and the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, apply for grants, and propose new ideas.

If you’d like more information, here’s the city’s website link and a San Diego Union-Tribune article

Limiting high food delivery fees

(Photo by Oscar Wong/Getty.)

Last week I introduced an item, together with Councilmember Hinze, to cap predatory delivery fees charged by companies who deliver food from restaurants to homes.

Some restaurants are actually taking a loss on the meals they deliver because the delivery fees are so high, but they feel delivery is a necessary part of maintaining their customer base. The business associations requested this cap on fees, and I’m happy it received unanimous approval from the City Council last week.

Here’s the Encinitas Advocate article, and the report we submitted to the city is here.

New artwork coming to the Encinitas Blvd. freeway bridge

Four colorful strips of art depicting abstract elements of Encinitas will soon adorn the Encinitas Blvd. underpass at I-5, joining the recent popular murals under the Santa Fe Dr. bridge. The panels, shown above, will be created by Minneapolis artist Amy Baur, using a vibrant digital glaze printing system.

I’ve been asked why the city allowed a non-Encinitas resident to win this bid to create the art project. The application process didn’t restrict the artist pool to locals; the only objective was to select the best artwork. The public survey and the city’s Arts Commission ranked Baur’s art piece as the top project, and the City Council unanimously accepted their recommendation. 
 
To me, the art looks really interesting and creative. I would expect it to hold visual interest over time. It’s important that the winner be able to successfully create and install the entire complex piece, and it appears Amy Baur has a dependable track record of doing just that on other projects. 

Here’s more from the Encinitas Advocate.
 
Speaking of Interstate 5, major construction and improvement is happening along and near our freeway corridor as part of a massive state and regional project called Build NCC. For more information about what’s coming in 2021, check out this link.

Encinitas news briefs…Streetscape progress: We are so excited to see major construction starting on Leucadia Streetscape – the city’s largest infrastructure project that has been in the planning stages for more than a decade. Here’s more info from the Encinitas Advocate.

Beacon’s upgrade: Native plant species will be planted along the Beacon’s trail to the beach. From the Encinitas Advocate.  

Scheduling the housing plan: We met with the Planning Commissioners in a joint meeting to lay out the path for the city to approve the state-required housing plan on time. This is the responsible thing to do, plus it ensures we’ll stay eligible for grants. The Coast News story is here.

Equity Committee applications open: If you’d like to be a part of the recently created Encinitas Equity Committee, you can get more information and an application here. The application deadline is March 23.

Proclaiming Black History Month in Encinitas

I was happy to present this proclamation shown above in honor of February as Black History Month at our City Council meeting.

“Black history is America’s history!”

– Author and Political Consultant Donna Brazile at recent Zoom event for 79th Assembly candidate Dr. Akihal Weber, someone I wholeheartedly support for that seat. 

I hope you have a great start to Spring!