COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: Bang for the buck

As an immigrant from England I embrace the founding democratic premise of America: no taxation without representation. Therefore, it was with a certain amount of excitement and expectation that in September I embarked on a journey to put this axiom to the test. My goal was not overly ambitious or impractical; it was merely for the city of Encinitas Traffic Department to do something about the chronic speeding along San Elijo Avenue. Over the years I have contributed $100,000 in property taxes to the city coffers, and I wanted to know the answer to this question: how much bang for the buck 100k would buy?
Since September I, along with local residents, have religiously attended City Council meetings, solicited the support of local organizations such as MiraCosta College, and presented compelling evidence to the powers that be of our legitimate concerns. Last Monday night, after months of persistent pressure, we finally got on the agenda of the Traffic Commission and allotted our day in the sun. Actually it wasn’t quite 24 hours, in fact we were given three minutes. However, after we were given this privileged 180 seconds we had to listen to the fascinating analysis of the Traffic Department headed by Rob Blough.
Mr. Blough informed the commission that the problems that local residents were facing were overstated and were in fact caused by clumsy Japanese tourists. Clumsy Japanese tourists? Yes, according to Mr. Blough, many, if not most, cars careening across the median of San Elijo Avenue are driven by Japanese visitors dropping their cell phones. I for one was shocked at such a revelation. Who had any idea that Cardiff-by-the-Sea was being invaded by hordes of such klutzy tourists? Mr. Blough’s insightful analysis then went on to provide the commission with actual traffic accident data. Apparently, according to his thorough research, there have been only eight accidents at the junction of San Elijo Avenue and Manchester Avenue in the last 10 years. This statistic surprised me, for I have witnessed three accidents at this location in the past month (all logged by the local Sheriff’s Department). Such a statistical aberration could leave me with only one conclusion: it was a sign — the Mayans were off by three years and the end of days were finally upon us. Mr. Blough’s riveting presentation then ended with a bizarre flashback to the Cold War. When asked about the modest traffic calming measures proposed by local residents he morphed into Khrushchev and could only respond,“Niet!” This too came as a surprise as one of the remedies was in fact one he had designed and implemented in another area of the city.
Notwithstanding Mr. Blough’s persuasive rhetoric, the Traffic Commission chose to side with the local residents and enact some traffic calming measures. However, happy endings are a little uncommon these days, and the same is sadly true for this particular tale. Local residents had requested that there be a 25 mph enforced speed limit in our neighborhood based on the recent traffic study. Yesterday, we learned that the traffic study could not be used because it was placed on a curved section of the road. Who do you think put the equipment there? Yes, you’ve guessed it — the marvelous Mr. Blough.
My brief but eventful journey through American democracy is now reaching its conclusion. Sadly, it ends at a cul-de-sac called the Traffic Department of the city of Encinitas. In regard to my original question, I have a clear and unequivocal answer. How much representation does $100,000 buy? Not much fellow citizen, not much.

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  1. Lynn Marr says:

    Excellent commentary, Mr. McNaughton. I enjoyed reading it, but I am sorry that you had a discouraging experience. Many have experienced frustration with the planning and traffic departments in Encinitas. Unfortunately through the obliging majority on Council, staff was granted a 14% raise over four years, when we are in the midst of a recession. Building permit fees have skyrocketed since 2005, and now we are being told there will be a 14% raise in our Water bill in the near future? Our City Council sits as the Board of Directors for the San Dieguito Water District, which has created a conflict of interest for the Board’s public trust for the ratepayers of SDWD.

  2. GetYourFactsCorrect says:

    To the author:
    I strongly suggest that you get your facts straight. [1] Your cause was NOT given three minutes or 180 seconds to state your case. Each speaker is given three minutes to address the Commission. Non-speakers can donate their time to a speaker in order to present more information. Depending on the number of attendees, your time to speak can be greatly expanded. [2] You state the cause of the problem is “Japanese visitors dropping their [collective] cellphones.” If you had listened to the report by Mr. Blough, a woman who gave her address in the Cardiff Cove Area had just returned from a visit to Japan and was confused on which side of the street to drive. It was her confusion that caused her collision. [3]Apparently the collision data from the City did not reflect data that the Sheriff allegedly “logged.” I am confused. What does the Mayan Calendar have to do with the data collection? Can you help me with that? Perhaps a more appropriate question might be why does the data differ? [4] Mr. Blough said “Neit.” Did he really? What was this based on? I didn’t hear that either. (I must have been in a different meeting). Are you aware that the Traffic Commission is an advisory body only to the City Council and cannot make decisions to be implemented without the approval of the Council. [5] Is the reason that the 25 mph speed limit cannot be enforced because of the placement of equipment? What equipment? Have you checked the average speed in that area? Why do you not discuss the Goulet Decision which necessitates the setting of the speed limit in adjacent areas and it’s impact on your area in question?
    Lastly, I have the utmost confidence on Mr. Blough, Encinitas’ Traffic Engineer for nearly 20 years.
    Traffic is a difficult situation. Before you go writing your take on the Traffic Commission meeting, then immediately embellishing upon it, realize that you need to get your facts correct, you need to do your research and you need to work within the system, not by writing self-serving, ego-centered and incorrect commentaries for the media.

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