COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: Encinitas residents have a history of taking matters into their own hands

Folks in Encinitas are known for their roll-up-the-sleeves-attitude, taking matters into their own hands, and getting community projects done. Prior to cityhood, local chapters of the Elks, Optimists, Soroptimists, Kiwanis, Lions and other service clubs personally built almost every ball field in the area.
Twenty-seven years ago, Cardiff residents raised money and poured 1.2 miles of sidewalk along Birmingham Drive because the county refused to build a sidewalk on the busy thoroughfare. They financed the construction by selling one-foot squares where “owners” could put handprints and messages in the wet cement.
Such was the case recently for a band of 40 Crest Drive residents. In an act of “independence” on the July 4 holiday weekend, after waiting six years for the city of Encinitas to landscape the unsightly northwest corner of Crest Drive at Santa Fe Drive, residents took matters into their own hands.
On Saturday July 3, neighbors showed up to landscape the 25-by-50-foot corner of dirt, planting more than 100 plants and trees. The corner had recently been the longtime home of a large trash dumpster and a port-a-potty. (The city did have those removed earlier this year.)
Louise Davis, a Crest Drive homeowner, organized the project, and neighbor Deborah Carl designed the garden layout. “We expected 20 people and had 40 show up,” Davis said. At the centerpiece of the corner, the group planted a 10-foot tall oak tree — appropriate because as one volunteer said, “The word Encinitas means Little Oaks.” The group also graded a walking path next to the corner, so pedestrians would not have to walk out in the busy street of the sidewalk-less neighborhood.
Two-thirds of the property is city-owned right of way, should Santa Fe Drive ever need to be widened. Chris and Leigh Jones, who agreed to use their water to keep everything green and growing, own the other third of the corner next to their home. The group plans to ask neighbors along the 1100 block of Crest Drive for $20 each to put in a sprinkler system.
The owner of Day Lily Farms in Fallbrook lives one block over from Crest Drive, and together with his friends at Oceanside’s Pardee Tree Nursery, donated most of the plants and equipment needed.
This is yet another fine example of a neighborhood coming together to solve a problem, and not waiting for a government agency to do it. Everyone who drives by this now beautiful spot should remember this when a need arises in their own neighborhood. It brings people together, it accomplishes much, and as a one volunteer said, soaked from sweet, “I’ve never worked so hard in my life and I love it!”

Ken Harrison is a lifelong resident of Cardiff by the Sea, and past president of the Cardiff Town Council. He left politics and a career in entertainment and talk radio to own California Comedy Traffic Schools.

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