Recent tragic events related to our country’s withdrawal after 20 years of war in Afghanistan have been weighing heavily on me. Ten of the 13 troops killed in the Kabul bombing were from Camp Pendleton.
Ericka Beck comforts her daughter Cara Steffens outside Camp Pendleton’s main gate in Oceanside on Saturday. Moments earlier, the two placed a bouquet of roses and a small personal item at the makeshift memorial. Nine Marines and a sailor based at Camp Pendleton were among the 13 U.S. service members killed Thursday in a suicide bomb attack at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.(Photo by Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune.)
Many thoughts and feelings roll over in my mind – the seemingly endless capacity for humans to cause other humans to suffer; the bleak prospect of a no-win situation in Afghanistan for Americans, and a deeper understanding of the strong emotional impulse for an isolationist foreign policy.
As an amateur history buff and admirer of our nation’s revolutionary democratic experiment, I also contemplate the incredibly difficult trade-offs between protecting democracies in all their nascent forms and the tremendous human and financial costs of involvement.
I also worry tremendously about the future for women and all allies who helped the west as the next chapter in Afghanistan unfolds.
Above all, I feel deeply for the thousands of people who have sacrificed and suffered during this horrific conflict, all for a noble but seemingly unattainable goal. Heartbreak and heroism go hand in hand.
Homeless veteran event coming to Vista
(Photo courtesy of North County Veterans Stand Down.)
North County Veterans Stand Down (NCVSD) is an annual four-day event in Vista that enables homeless veterans from across San Diego County to receive much-needed services in a safe, friendly, drug-free and secure environment.
During their stay at the NCVSD, homeless veterans, their families and pets will receive food, lodging, clothing and a variety of services to help them both physically and mentally.
Now in its fifth year, this wonderful event will be held September 16 – 19 at Green Oak Ranch in Vista (1237 Green Oak Rd, Vista, CA 92081). I’ll be there at 9 a.m. on Saturday, September 18. If you know a veteran who’d like to attend, or if you’d like to volunteer or donate, check the website at ncstanddown.org. Please join us!
Welcome our new ‘water campus’
I’m happy to tell you about some impressive infrastructure projects that are getting close to completion. The first one is a new “water campus” in Cardiff that has gotten little (if any) media attention.
The San Elijo Joint Powers Authority is building its water campus to replace its 50-plus year-old facility that had existed on the site.
The plant processes wastewater from Cardiff, Olivenhain, Solana Beach, Del Mar and portions of Rancho Santa Fe, can treat more than five million gallons per day, and produces half a billion gallons of recycled water a year. This treated water is partially distributed to medians, landscaping and other places where non-potable water is allowed, like golf courses.
This water campus project is modernizing the facility, plus creating new community benefits. For example, there is a clear need for public parking to access the San Elijo Nature Center and lagoon, directly across the street. The water campus project creates a 31-spot parking lot for free public use.
Another very welcome part of the project is a brand new trailhead and multi-use bike path connecting Manchester Avenue with Birmingham Drive through the wastewater district (see the red dotted line in the photo above).
And there’s more – it will connect to another new bike path being built along the freeway by Caltrans (the blue dotted line on the upper-right of the photo).
The water channel will now be buried beneath the (red dotted line) path, instead of in the open air. The new facility will capture storm water and run it through the treatment plant, which reduces pollution flowing into the San Elijo lagoon with rain storms.
The new building under construction (shown above) will consolidate the operations and maintenance control center. And the layout of the campus promotes additional public safety – deliveries and public meetings will occur near the entrance of the campus, instead of being mixed into the critical wastewater operations in a way that’s much harder to control.
This project is being paid for by a combination of sewer rates, revenue from recycled water, state grants and Caltrans funding. It should be substantially finished by October, with the trail opening in spring 2022.
Large construction projects can get tricky when one governmental agency’s responsibilities overlap with another, and there can become turf issues. I’m so thrilled that the wastewater district, the City of Encinitas, Caltrans, the Nature Collective and all other involved agencies were able to work together so well on this project!
The Mid-Coast Trolley extension coming in November
What a thrill it was to take the very first trolley ride on our new Mid-Coast Trolley the other day! It’s an 11-mile Blue Line Trolley extension with nine new stations connecting the downtown San Diego Santa Fe Depot to the University City community, serving Old Town, UC San Diego, and Westfield UTC, via the I-5 corridor.
It’s uncommon for transformative new transit to open in San Diego County, and it’s worth celebrating! This $2 billion project received a $1 billion federal grant about five years ago, and the project is on time and on budget. SANDAG built the project and MTS will operate it.
It’s slated to open to the public on November 21. Here’s more info from NBC San Diego.
By the way, you can ride all San Diego MTS and NCTD trolleys and buses for no charge all during September by using the new free PRONTO app or card. Learn more here or check out gonctd.com. Unfortunately the Coaster is not “fare free” during September.
Allowing people the chance to ride transit for free lets them try out a new pattern of commuting at no cost, and this can lead to changes in habits. Plus, it’s fun!
Streetscape is shaping up nicely
We’re almost halfway through Phase One of Leucadia Streetscape. The map at the top shows the soon-to-be-completed El Portal pedestrian undercrossing and roundabout, and the lower photo shows our new parking pods on the east side of Coast Hwy 101. And here’s a bonus – there’ll be a new storm drain from El Portal to Encinitas Blvd that will address seasonal flooding.
At the Encinitas City Council last week, we heard a comprehensive and very interesting update about all the moving parts of the city’s largest infrastructure project. You can watch the segment here at 2:31.
Encinitas leads the way with employee vaccinations
Holding itself to a higher standard of safety, the City of Encinitas has reached agreement with its largest employee union, SEIU, to vaccinate all 111 represented city employees by October 7 in order to protect the public’s health when they come into close proximity with city staff – such as when a building inspector goes into someone’s home or people visit City Hall to do business.
We previously announced the same requirement for city employees who are not represented by a union. The city is also in negotiation with the firefighters union. At this point, the unvaccinated 36% of our 50 firefighters and paramedics will be tested weekly for COVID. This article has more details.
Closing on a personal note – even though the heat of late summer makes it feel like we should be on vacation, having kids back in school has reintroduced a level of hyper-busyness into my life. I hope you’re managing all the demands in your own life!