Recently, the chamber organized a group of businesses in the Henry’s shopping center and represented them before the City Council and the Traffic Commission. After four months, the result was a recommendation that a proposed median — that would have restricted access to Henry’s and 21 other businesses — should be put off until six months after the new Walgreen’s opens.
Like the Henry’s mall chamber members who asked for chamber assistance, so too did several chamber members who own businesses in the North Coast Highway 101 Corridor Streetscape Project.
The Encinitas Chamber of Commerce has advocated on behalf of local business for more than 60 years and managed the Encinitas Visitor Information Center since 1990 — 18 years by contract with the city of Encinitas.
Those two functions — local business promotion and acting as primary visitor-service provider — are the dual criteria for why there is a Chamber of Commerce in Encinitas. So in answer to the critics who question chamber involvement in the North Highway 101 Streetscape Plan, aside from the very real potential for impeding through traffic to downtown Encinitas inherent in the plan, the primary reason for chamber involvement is our members asked us for help.
Six weeks ago, two chamber members on Highway 101 — Rick Smith of Leucadia Glass and Ray Yargeau of Sub Palace — armed with the signatures of 450 locals (business owners, residents and customers), formally asked the chamber to help their voices be heard by the project team for the new streetscape that is proposed between Encinitas Boulevard and La Costa Avenue.
The Preferred Alternative included No. 1: reduce two northbound lanes to one, reduce the width of the remaining three lanes, initially cut down a significant amount of the tree canopy entitling it “restoration” in the public workshops, institute a 25 mph limit from Ponto Beach to Moonlight Beach, encroach on private store-front property and install five roundabouts on North Coast Highway 101.
In representing our members, the chamber has been accused of taking city money and acting against local business. When the chamber questions a development project (public or private) it is branded anti-business; when it supports a new endeavor, it is described as blindly pro-growth. Neither is true of course. In addition, more than 90 percent of the 600-plus members of the Encinitas Chamber are residents of Encinitas. The chamber represents business all over Encinitas, from lagoon to lagoon — not one single community or enclave.
In representing its members, on Nov. 13, the chamber brought out more than 200 people, most new to the Streetscape process, to evaluate the new Plan 4.
The chamber petitioned the city of Encinitas for copies of the survey that was handed out, filled out and returned to the project team in City Hall at Workshop No. 3 on Nov. 13 by more than 180 people in attendance.
1. The survey results totaled up to an unambiguous vote against this project “moving ahead to the City Council”. The vote was nearly 2-1 against the “project” moving forward.
2. Additionally, this survey recorded far more “no” votes than “yes” votes when asked if attendees on Nov. 13 to City Hall, “support the new alternative presented tonight?” (Plan 4)
To add to these unequivocal results, the chamber held a business owners’ information exchange between the Streetscape project team and owners of businesses along 101 affected by Plan 4 on Dec. 3. The documented results of the survey from that meeting will be communicated to the chamber members on Dec. 5.
For more information about the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce, call (760) 753-6041.
Filed Under: Community Commentary