8/26/18: Green Light on Red Light Cameras – For Now

August 26, 2018

Be careful not to run those yellow lights at two key city intersections in Encinitas, because the City Council just opted to continue the red-light program for at least another 18 months.(Photo courtesy of the San Diego Union-Tribune)
I’m not crazy about this program for a couple of reasons:

  1. The high statutory fine (minimum of $490, not including traffic school) lacks proportionality and is excessive.
  2. Accident rates are supposedly trending downward in general, having nothing to do with red light cameras. So are the red light cameras actually improving public safety?

My original suggestion was to turn off the red light cameras at one of the two intersections, then track the number of accidents there for comparative purposes to determine our course – but that idea wasn’t supported. So I compromised on this short-term continuation instead of the longer contract advocated by two of my colleagues.
When we revisit the program next year, we’ve asked city staff to provide us with comparison data of accidents at intersections where there are no cameras, and provide us the reasons why other local cities have discontinued their red light camera programs.
Encinitas has used the cameras since 2004, and for now they’ll continue to operate at the intersection of El Camino Real and Encinitas Blvd., and El Camino Real and Leucadia Blvd./Olivenhain Road. There are interesting details about who gets these 350 tickets every month (spoiler: it’s usually visitors, not residents).
Details and other councilmembers’ perspectives on the program are in this Encinitas Advocate article.
Leucadia will soon be safer 
A new micro-fire station is coming to the north Leucadia/Saxony Canyon area to provide faster emergency response. I’m really pleased that our Fire Department and city staff were able to work with other parties to create an important public safety improvement while prudently managing the funding.
The “fast response” fire engine is being leased from the county for a dollar a year; and the Highway 101 site which formerly housed Cabo Grill (see photo below) is being provided by the landowner to the city at the same bargain rate. This is a great deal for the city and will provide enhanced public safety, both at the beaches and for residents and visitors in this area. More information is in this Encinitas Advocate story.

Advocating for cleaner energy in Encinitas

Last week I traveled to San Francisco for one day to advocate for our Community Choice Energy (CCE) program. Encinitas and its partners have nearly finished a feasibility study intended to analyze whether it’s economical for Encinitas, Carlsbad, Oceanside and Del Mar to pursue Community Choice Energy.
Under a CCE, we coastal cities would be able to substantially reduce our greenhouse gas emissions from electricity use, a large producer of carbon in the city. Moving to a CCE is a key part of reaching our Climate Action Plan goals, aimed at combating climate change.
The California Public Utilities Commission will soon be issuing a decision related to the calculation of what are called “exit fees” that will affect whether it remains financially feasible for a city such as Encinitas to form a CCE.
In San Francisco, I met with the staff members of CPUC commissioners. In the picture above, I’m with David Gamson, Advisor to the Office of Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves.
During my meetings, I was able to deliver the main message that exit fees for leaving SDG&E seriously effect our ability to form a CCE.  From my perspective, the meetings were both interesting and successful. I’ll keep you up to date on our progress!
90 years of happy landings

I spoke with Congressman Scott Peters before his welcoming remarks commemorating the San Diego International Airport’s 90th anniversary. Regional issues related to the airport are at times a focus at SANDAG, where I’m on the Board of Directors. Speaking personally, I’m eager to see improved public transportation options to our airport.
Encinitas is now even more beautiful

This fabulous new public art titled ORPHEUS is an incredible addition to our city landscape! Renowned sculptor and Encinitas resident Jeffery Laudenslager last week inaugurated Encinitas’ new public art program. The sculpture is at the K Street Parklet, just north of Swami’s on Highway 101 as you enter our downtown headed north.
Pictured left to right with this graceful kinetic wind sculpture are artist Jeffery Laundenslager, Cheryl Ehlers and Daniel Camarena. You can see Jeffery Laundenslager’s other pieces at Scripps Hospital in Encinitas and from the I-5 freeway near Carmel Valley outside Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, among other places.
Dropping the ball for charity

I was excited to again participate as a judge in the Encinitas Coastal Rotary Club Golf Ball Drop fundraiser to benefit the Navy Seal Foundation and other charities.
Listen to this – a helicopter dropped a whole bag of numbered golf balls over one hole and the three closest to the hole won. What a creative idea for a most worthy cause! Pictured are James Owens, 2018-2019 President of the Encinitas Coastal Rotary Club and Gretchen Mitchell, Golf Ball Drop Chairperson.
In service,

“When I first saw House of Cards on Netflix I thought it was improbable fiction…”
– Journalist Dan Rather, August 21, 2018

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