ENCINITAS — Only City Council candidates challenging the three incumbents were invited to participate in the senior forum held Oct. 8. Approximately 20 people attended the event at the city’s Senior and Community Center.
Candidate Bob Nanninga organized the event and paid for the room. Tony Brandenburg, Rachelle Collier, Doug Long, Harriet Seldin and Joe Sheffo joined Nanninga. Betsy Aceti voluntarily withdrew from the race just days before, although her name will still appear on the ballot.
After an audience member revealed initial confusion over why incumbents James Bond, Maggie Houlihan and Jerome Stocks were not present, Nanninga explained that they were not invited. “Incumbents have the advantage,” he said in an earlier interview. “This forum allows the challengers to have a platform to get their ideas out into the public.”
While the moderator’s questions centered on the needs of seniors in the community that revolved around a so-called quality of life chart, the audience was free to ask questions of any nature. Lou Aspell, a former mayor of Encinitas, asked the challengers whether they supported installing roundabouts on North Coast Highway 101. As part of the streetscape project, city staff has proposed three alternatives to changing the main thoroughfare.
Alternative one, which includes roundabouts, was the preferred plan based on feedback from two previous public workshops. The plan calls for installing five roundabouts on Highway 101 in Leucadia between La Costa Avenue to the north and El Portal to the south.
“I don’t like roundabouts,” Aspell told the panel. The Leucadia resident said the two traffic calming circles on Leucadia Boulevard are too difficult for drivers to understand. Collier, who is also the secretary for the Leucadia Town Council, cautioned that the public input phase of the process is still ongoing and that no final decisions have been made yet. “We are still in a planning phase.”
In fact, the planning department has sponsored two public workshops and an informational open house on the project. An additional workshop is scheduled for Nov. 13 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.
Nanninga said he does not support the alternatives proposed by city staff. “It doesn’t seem historic,” he said. “It’s not the answer to traffic mitigation.”
Collier said that one of her main concerns was maintaining the canopy of Eucalyptus trees.
“Restoring the tree canopy was an overwhelming concern at the workshops,” Diane Langager, principal planner with the city, said. While all of the proposals require removal of trees along the historic highway, Langager said staff was looking into ways to restore the canopy through replanting.