Our California Values Are At Stake

May 16, 2022

Our quality of life — which depends on our safety, our freedom, and our financial security — has never been tested so extremely as long as I’ve been an elected official. From the threat of wildfire, to the ongoing gun violence epidemic, to the Supreme Court gearing up to take our rights away, this is an inflection point for our state and our country.

Geneva Presbyterian Church shooting

In a feeling that has become all too familiar, our community is mourning yet another tragic loss of life following a mass shooting.

Early yesterday afternoon, a gunman opened fire at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, an Orange County community predominantly comprised of residents at least 65 years old, where most of the parishioners attending a post-service lunch were of Taiwanese descent.

The suspect, a 68-year-old Asian man from Las Vegas, killed one person and wounded five others before churchgoers “hog-tied” him with extension cords and snatched two of his weapons. The five wounded victims, from 66 to 92 years old, are expected to survive, authorities said.

My heart goes out the victims of this shooting and their families. Our gun violence epidemic is a problem that affects every corner of this country. Just one day earlier in Buffalo, a shooter killed 10 people who were shopping in a grocery store. This shooter was a white supremacist who drove 200 miles to a predominantly black neighborhood, where he carried out his heinous crimes.

Our gun violence prevention strategy must recognize the danger posed by white supremacy, which is an epidemic in its own right.

Just three years ago, there was a mass shooting at a Poway synagogue which left one person dead and three more injured. No one should ever fear going to their place of worship, nor should they be targeted for the color of their skin, the neighborhood they live in, or how they practice their faith.

We need leaders at all levels to enact common-sense gun violence prevention measures to curb easy access to firearms. Thoughts and prayers are not enough. 

Coastal fire burns 20 homes

Photo Credit: ABC 7 @abc7chriscristi

Another tragedy struck South Orange County last week.

On Wednesday, an urban wildfire burned 200 acres near the Laguna Niguel-Laguna Beach border, destroying 20 homes in the process. Fire crews are working 24/7 to contain the fire, and some homes remain under mandatory evacuation as of this writing.

The City of Laguna Niguel is posting regular updates that you can find here. I’m grateful to the firefighters and other first responders who worked diligently to save lives and property during the blaze.

I would also like to thank Governor Newsom for securing a Fire Management Assistance Grant from FEMA to help fund the firefighting efforts on the ground. 

#BansOffOurBodies Rally in Carlsbad

My family and I marched at a #BansOffOurBodies protest this weekend with more than 1,000 women’s rights advocates calling on Congress to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law. The most central questions in a woman’s life — when, whether and with whom to have children — should never be up to the government.

In my speech, I noted that when the Senate considered the Women’s Health Protection Act just last week, every single Republican voted nay. Even the so-called “pro-choice” Republican senators voted against it. It’s important to recognize who’s voting to protect your rights.

While some may be silent on this fundamental issue, I don’t want my position to be a secret. If you elect me as your State Senator, I will be a pro-choice champion in the Senate.

The Equity Committee submits its report

The Encinitas Equity Committee (Allison Blackwell, Joanie Corrales, Sara Langill, Mario Ordonez, Mali Woods-Drake, Ross Ridder, Robin Sales, Marlon Taylor, Councilmember Kellie Hinze and I), celebrated a year together upon the completion of its final recommendations at last month’s meeting.

A year ago, we created an Equity Committee with a goal of removing obstacles and systemic barriers so everyone has a fair opportunity to participate. The 10-member committee concluded its year-long mission by offering a report with several recommendations.

Which proposals am I most excited about? One is that the city create a new Public Health & Safety Commission, which would provide a forum for the public to weigh in and participate in the city’s approach to homelessness, emergency preparedness, and pandemic-related issues. This committee would also be able to give advice to the City Council on our Sheriff’s contract, Fire Department, and Marine Safety Division.

Other recommendations I strongly support are:

  • Diversifying and expanding our approach in creating an applicant pool for city boards and commissions, and offering a stipend for participation of about $100-$200 per meeting, which is consistent with the stipend that our City Council members make for outside boards. Paying for the cost of a babysitter or time spent away from work shouldn’t be a barrier to participating in a city commission.
  • Adding two members to our Planning Commission specifically to represent renters. 39% of Encinitas residents rent, but our civic dialogue can sometimes have a strongly anti-renter perspective. Giving a voice to this significant group of Encinitans is a smart and equitable idea.
  • Submitting an application to the Human Rights Campaign Index, with the goal of earning a score of 100% in support of the LGBTQ community.

After the Equity Committee’s suggestions were presented to the Council, we unanimously directed that the city staff evaluate and prioritize these recommendations. Many thanks go to the committee members, who devoted their time, energy, and wisdom to this worthy effort!

More Council meeting briefs

  • We unanimously voted to create an El Camino Real Task Force of advisors that will focus on making the corridor more accessible and responsive to residents’ needs, as well as exploring how to add housing options.
  • The city signed a contract with the Encinitas Firefighter’s Association for 3% raises each year for four years. And after complex negotiations, I’m happy to report that the city’s vaccine mandate will now apply to our city firefighters, just as it does with other city employees.
  • We are expanding the city’s capacity to manage the workload associated with building permits by hiring some additional city employees. The extra hands will allow the city to process permits faster and be more responsive, so these are welcome additions.
  • We approved the city’s annual budget, which among other things allocated $7 million for Pacific View, a city-owned property which used to be an elementary school and is now being turned into a cultural arts center.
  • We voted to put a Cannabis Tax on the ballot this November asking voters to approve a tax of between 4% and 7%, with the specific amount to be set in the future by the City Council. An Encinitas Advocate article is here.

Thanks for reading! I appreciate your support and suggestions as we work to make Encinitas and Senate District 38 a better place – for all of us!

With gratitude,

P.S. We had a great turnout for Tour de Blakespear!

Yesterday, a whole bunch of friends and supporters turned out to participate in the first leg of the Tour de Blakespear! We biked from Moonlight Beach in Encinitas, through Solana Beach, then on to Del Mar and back again.

Along the way, we were joined by Del Mar Mayor Dwight Worden, Solana Beach City Councilmember David Zito, and Encinitas City Councilmember (and recently declared mayoral candidate) Tony Kranz.

As you know, I’m an enthusiastic advocate for alternative transportation, especially bikes. We’ll be doing this again, so if you couldn’t make it yesterday, there’ll be more chances to come!

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