It never ceases to amaze that the citizens of North County finally awaken and become aware of enormous private or public development issues just before their completion or planning stages.
Such projects can encompass opposite ends of an agenda to justify intent.
Let’s review, for example, the soon to be accomplished overwhelming downtown Encinitas Pacific Station multi-use project.
On a minuscule 1.3 acres, 47 condominiums priced $300,000 to $1 million each, numerous office/retail spaces and a multi-thousand-square-foot Whole Foods Market are being built. Also included are a two-story restaurant and a double-level 250 auto space underground garage with a combination entrance/exit onto an already busy Highway 101 near the congested E Street intersection. All are in the conclusive stages of fulfillment. Numerous variances were approved for this massive eyesore.
One of the most significant selling point justifications expressed by the developer to our mesmerized City Council was that the project was near public transportation thereby promoting the illusion that this fact would take people out of their autos. In other words, those living, working, shopping or dining at the complex would somehow abandon the car. What a pipe dream.
Now let’s switch horses. Attending the Encinitas meeting concerning the north coast I-5 expansion as scheduled by Caltrans in July, I reflect on how citizens of cities besieged by the Roman Empire must have felt as they were surrounded with the outcome leaving little to doubt.
There were slick brochures on display, as well as large somewhat detailed maps and polite representatives available adulating the humongous I-5 expansion. This would more than double it in width with associated, inevitable, tremendous vehicular increase, adding to already intolerable, as well as dangerous, noise and air pollution problems. A public question and answer forum was not allowed.
When questioned about this procedure, I was informed, “It’s the way we do it.”
One could only write down their concerns and place them into a comment box — the destination of which is unknown as is whether anyone will honestly consider the various public interests upon arrival.
Brochures also revealed that properties will be seized by negotiation or if that fails, through eminent domain.
One gets the chilly feeling that the three-hour-long public invited meetings being held are only promoted to give the illusion of citizen participation to justify expansion acceptance.
Just as the Encinitas Pacific Station project was featured as a “get out of the auto and use public transportation” endeavor, the current I-5 expansion push is being promulgated as a solution to an anticipated tremendous population increase, therefore fulfilling a need to accommodate more vehicles. The inclusion of public transportation obviously will be a minor consideration.
Through whatever justification is required to promote development in once quiescent communities, the current onslaught never ceases in the name of progress.
Filed Under: Community Commentary