Some of California’s safest cities are right here!

March 26, 2022

These days, more than ever, we all appreciate hearing some good news, and I’ve got some for those of us in our 38th Senate District!

The security review website Safewise has just released its ranking of the 50 Safest Cities in California for 2022. Overall, 230 California cities were rated. Here’s how our 38th District cities fared:

#2 Rancho Santa Margarita 
#8 Mission Viejo
#20 San Juan Capistrano
#28 Encinitas (also rated the fourth-safest city in San Diego County!)

Coastal cities like Encinitas face unique public safety challenges because of tourism and other factors. I’m proud that Encinitas is the safest coastal city in all of San Diego County, and the third-safest coastal city in the entire state.

More interesting info from the Safewise report:

  • 54% of Californians are highly concerned about violent crime happening to them – that’s 13 percentage points higher than the US average. However, California is one of only 15 states that saw a dip in violent crime year over year.
     
  • California reported the third-highest number of mass shootings in 2021, recording 46 incidents, an 18% increase over 2020.
     
  • 1 in 2 Californians are worried about a gun violence incident happening to them, making California the third most concerned state.

Encinitas signs new 5-year Sheriff’s contract

After years of responsible investments in public safety, last week Encinitas renewed our contract with the Sheriff’s Department for a five-year term, with increases of just 1% for the next two years, followed by three years of 3.5% increases.

Here’s some context: Every several years, nine San Diego County cities renegotiate the terms of the contract as a group with the Sheriff’s Department, which has a directly elected Sheriff who sets the policy of the department.

In the recent past, the nine cities, including Encinitas, have had to accept increases in costs from the Sheriff’s Department that have seemed high – 5% or more year after year – just to maintain the same number of deputies, traffic control and law enforcement availability. So this contract for more modest increases is great. The staff report from last week’s City Council meeting with details is here

The Sheriff’s contract costs Encinitas more than $17 million a year, the city’s largest budget item. Encinitas has 51 sworn officers and we share a captain, two lieutenants, support staff, and an office with other cities, as well as having the vast investigative resources that come with one of the nation’s largest Sheriff’s departments – a total of 4,700 employees. 

At the city’s Equity Committee meetings, we’ve heard reports about the Sheriff’s evolving approaches to managing problems related to people in crisis who are homeless or mentally ill. For instance, a 911 dispatcher taking a call for a mental health emergency can now divert the call to a psychiatric response team instead of law enforcement.

Training, staffing and systems changes are tremendously complex, but this is top-of-mind for many – including me as the mayor – because public safety is one of the core responsibilities of local government. Another idea we’re discussing at the Equity Committee is whether to recommend to City Council that the city create a new commission, a “Public Health and Safety Commission,” that would provide a forum for discussion related to homelessness, as well as public safety, fire and marine safety. 

My overall assessment of the county’s Sheriff’s Department is that they are very good and Encinitas is well-served by having them for our police services. I do, however, remain concerned about the large number of inmate deaths in our county’s jails – see this article about the state auditor’s report. I hope the next Sheriff makes addressing this a top priority. 

Let’s welcome our new Torrey Pine tree!

Encinitas loves its trees, and so do I! 

We’re blessed with a large number of civically active tree-huggers who participate in the dialogue about how to maintain, nurture and cherish our tree canopy. The two-minute video above features City Councilmember Tony Kranz, Russell Levan, Mark Wisniewski, Kevin Doyle, and Kirsten Marvin – they’re each dedicated, longtime participants in our city.

This 15-foot Torrey Pine tree was actually very hard to find, and it was recently planted in the center of the future roundabout at El Portal near our new pedestrian railroad undercrossing that will lead directly to Paul Ecke Central Elementary School. 

Some trees had to be removed for the Streetscape project due to disease or expansion, but dozens of new, native trees are replacing them, replenishing our precious tree canopy.

You can click on the 2-minute video in the photo above in the photo or just click here. In the background of the video you can see more of Streetscape, and get a feel for what’s being created.

A new idea for making Encinitas roads safer sooner

Getting stuff done takes a long, long time. It can be very frustrating to see an infrastructure or traffic problem and devise a solution, only to know it’ll take years to implement and be very costly.

With inspiration and encouragement from Circulate San Diego and the San Diego Bicycle Coalition and many individual enthusiasts, Councilmember Kellie Hinze and I proposed that our city direct staff to adopt “quick-build” principles to more rapidly and efficiently address priorities such as lower speeds, traffic calming, new pedestrian crossings, expanded pedestrian travel space, protected intersections and bikeways that could otherwise languish for months or years on our wishlist.

The proposal also included setting aside funding in our upcoming budget cycle to implement quick-build projects in high-priority locations. I was pleased that the City Council unanimously passed the motion, which you can watch here.

A good local example of a quick-build project is this traffic circle at the intersection of Hillcrest and Andrew Ave. in Leucadia.

Quick-building is a relatively new concept which recognizes that sometimes infrastructure projects aimed at solving multiple problems – like draining, ADA, and parking challenges – can take incredible amounts of time and money to accomplish. If we can think about how to solve transportation issues with cheaper materials and less costly construction, we could see faster improvements.

For instance, the traffic circle shown above is very basic, but it was created quickly and relatively cheaply – and its benefits are nearly the same as a more elaborate project.

Another advantage of quick-build projects is that they are a great way to test-drive ideas before more refined, permanent and aesthetically pleasing versions are constructed. Here’s the link to the staff reportThis just in – our Encinitas City Councilmembers rock!

I’d like to tell you something about my City Council colleagues that really warmed my heart. Recently four of the five of your elected representatives attended a conference where we sat at a table near the front.

One after another, Deputy Mayor Mosca, Councilmember Kranz and Councilmember Lyndes each raised their hands and asked articulate, insightful questions that showed a depth of knowledge about water, wastewater and energy. As I listened to them, I reflected on my deep appreciation for the people I’ve had the privilege to serve with and how grateful I am to be part of such a professional, forward-thinking group.

Afterward, a person from another City Council approached me and told me they were envious of the evident high caliber civil servants we are at the City of Encinitas. I’m immensely proud of our City Council that not only serves the public, but works so well together to find compromise and solve our city’s problems!

Deputy Mayor Joe Mosca announces a change

Deputy Mayor Joe Mosca (second from left) was part of the Encinitas City Council team that opened our gorgeous new Olympus Park in Leucadia on May 7, 2021.

And finally, you may have heard that Deputy Mayor Joe Mosca has decided not to run for re-election in District 4 this November. You can watch his announcement from the March 16 City Council meeting here.

It’s sad when we learn that we’re going to lose someone so dedicated to public service and so good at his job. I have really enjoyed serving with Joe. 

Joe has dedicated six years of his life to elected office in Encinitas, and before that, another six years on the Sierra Madre City Council. He is a jolly person and a good friend to all of us and he so evidently enjoys and embraces being a representative.

Seconds away from digging into the cake at the San Dieguito Water District’s 100-year anniversary celebration are (from left) Councilmember Tony Kranz, Councilmember Joy Lyndes, me, Councilmember Kellie Hinze, and Deputy Mayor/San Dieguito Water District President Joe Mosca.

We recently honored the 100-year anniversary of our San Dieguito Water District and, as its president, Joe went around to the employees of every table and thanked them for their work. That’s the kind of thing he does regularly – it’s who he is.

Joe is also a very thoughtful decision-maker with an involved, detailed process and a logical, analytical mind. He’ll continue serving the city through the end of 2022, then will segue to professional work outside of elected office. 

I know Joe’s next chapter will be successful. We’re certainly going to savor working alongside him over these next several months, and our city will definitely miss his contributions.

In your service,


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