A lot of time, energy, and money was spent on the 2012 City Council election and the results suggested that the community was ready for change.
You elected hard-working candidates who believe in open government, accountability, environmental sustainability, active transportation, fairness, and mutual respect. We unseated Mayor Jerome Stocks and changed the majority on the council so it is not dominated by people with close connections to developers and the building industry. We now have a mayor who truly works for the people of Encinitas, opening up the council meetings and subcommittees, modeling respectful behavior and bringing out the best in all the council members.
Unfortunately, the Prop A campaign, on both sides, is undermining the very core of what the council election achieved. Open, responsive government doesn’t necessarily mean that the council votes the way you want it to on every issue.
Fundamentally, it means that your input is heard, considered, and when a decision is reached, there is an honest explanation of why the vote was made.
I don’t see Prop A as the battleground for or against increased development. It certainly is not the decisive battle over open government. Encinitas will still have to update our General Plan and address housing needs with or without Prop A.
Whatever the outcome of the special election, we need to come together around a vision of what we want our city to be. Is it going to be a place where substantive dialog can take place, or will we be a battleground with money going to campaign consultants and print shops? Is it going to be a place that considers lessons that other communities have learned about the economic, social, and environmental benefits of planning that accommodates cars, bikes, trains, and pedestrians, with gathering places interspersed; or will we deny the need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and ignore the changing demographic trends? Will we work with the new leadership within the city staff as we define and implement our vision, or will we reject anything and everything coming from City Hall as untrustworthy?
If we hold grudges, if we assume that the whole staff is incompetent, if we assume that all developers are evil and all development is bad, if we treat each other with suspicion, we will never have the Encinitas I want to live in and for which I ran for a seat on the City Council. This council will hold the city manager accountable for a culture within City Hall that is accountable to the people, and acts with competence, fairness, and innovation. I hope the residents will engage constructively with us as we move forward.
I urge everyone who cares about Encinitas to get beyond the negative, destructive energy that the Prop A election has generated, and remember what matters.
We care about this unique and charming city by the sea, and want it to remain a special, sustainable home for generations to come.
Editor’s note: Lisa Shaffer is deputy mayor of the city of Encinitas.
Filed Under: Community Commentary