Leucadia forum offers insight into candidates

LEUCADIA — The nine remaining candidates running for three City Council seats gathered in front of a large audience Oct. 14 to hash out local concerns. Development, traffic and trees were the dominant issues at the forum sponsored by the Leucadia Town Council.
With only minutes to respond to detailed questions, the candidates did their best to shore up support from the crowd.
When asked whether the candidates would support a revision of the community’s specific plan, Rachelle Collier, president of the Town Council, said it was imperative that the council look at the neighborhood’s zoning with the intent to preserve its character.
“Less is more,” she said. As a regular at Planning Commission and City Council meetings, Collier has voiced her concerns over the intense development in Leucadia. “We have to make sure that the development fits the community,” she said. “And not try to make the community fit the development.”
Carlsbad-based Barratt American declared bankruptcy before completing two affordable housing units that it agreed to build in return for additional housing density in two large developments in the community. The move angered many residents who blamed City Council for allowing Barratt to build the affordable units last.
“Come to the corner of Andrew and Sheridan and you’ll see the blight,” candidate Bob Nanninga said, referring to the location of the abandoned development. Incumbents Jerome Stocks and James Bond supported the project.
Candidate Doug Long said the way to avoid a similar situation in the future was simple. “The low-income house has to be built first in the development,” he said. He conceded that his campaign has accepted contributions from developers but said his note was not for sale. Stocks and Bond have also accepted campaign funds from local and out-of-state development companies.
All of the candidates agreed that the tree canopy along North Coast Highway 101 should be preserved. “It’s part of our history as a community,” Nanninga said. Houlihan said she supported a streetscape plan that provided for additional tree planting as well as preservation of the existing canopy.
Heavy emphasis was put on traffic calming measures along transportation corridors. “We have to get people to slow down, to stop and shop in our local businesses,” Collier said.
Some residents complained about the increased traffic on Leucadia Boulevard and North Coast Highway 101 in interviews after the forum. “I think the traffic here is ridiculous for such a small town,” Leucadia resident John Hobart said. His wife Sarah said that the roundabouts installed on Leucadia Boulevard helped to slow the cars but that it wasn’t enough. “It’s still not a walkable community,” she said. If you want a place that’s pedestrian-friendly, you at least need a safe sidewalk at the railroad crossing.”

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