ENCINITAS — A Main Street association in California hasn’t been certified since 2005.
That will change Nov. 16, when an hour-long ceremony at 2 p.m. at City Hall will officially award Leucadia 101 Main Street Association with the designation.
Leucadia 101, known for spearheading projects like the North Coast Highway 101 Streetscape and Leucadia Art Walk, will now have a few more resources at its disposal. Most notably, being certified means that Leucadia 101 will be plugged into other certified California and national Main Street organizations.
“Every community is different,” said Paula Kirpalani, program manager for Leucadia 101. “Yet sometimes what works for one community can work for another. So it’s really beneficial to be a part of a large network. We can gather information from Main Streets that have already been there.”
Leucadia 101 was founded in 2003 to specifically address the needs of the Coast Highway 101 corridor in Leucadia, operating with grants from the city and county. Its volunteer board of directors collaborates with a few part-time employees to organize events, and Kirpalani envisions Leucadia 101 slowly growing over the next five or so years.
“This is an exciting place to be a business,” Kirpalani said. “We want to encourage that.”
Leucadia 101, like other Main Street programs, is tasked with preserving community character and jumpstarting economic development. Applying for certification required giving a very detailed history of Leucadia and showing the infrastructure challenges in the community with facts and figures, Kirpalani said.
“It was a very comprehensive process,” Kirpalani said. “We had to show we’re a strong organization and understand promotion, design and economic development.”
Laura Cole-Rowe, executive director of the California Main Street program, affirmed that applying for certification is no easy task.
“It’s not a three-page application,” Rowe said. “It’s more two binders’ worth of information.”
But the effort paid off. Leucadia 101 joins more than 30 certified Main Streets in the state.
Rowe said the California Main Street was particularly impressed with Leucadia 101’s role in the Streetscape, an ongoing project designed to give the area trees, sidewalks, parking spaces and traffic improvements.
She said that Main Street programs are increasingly important, as communities are interested in both exploring their past and looking to the future of business development.
With the designation, Leucadia 101 can attend and receive training at more conferences and workshops dedicated to a variety of specific topics, like how to help local businesses with social media, for example. Certification doesn’t provide Leucadia 101 with dedicated state or federal funding; however, the organization can now apply for grants that it otherwise wouldn’t have had access to.
Being Main Street certified also puts organizations in a better position to export good ideas as well, said Dody Crawford, executive director of the Downtown Encinitas Main Street Association, which has been certified for more than 20 years (Cardiff 101 Main Street, the third Main Street in Encinitas, is aspiring toward the designation.) A collaboration that began in Encinitas, the Arts Alive banners that appear on light poles from February to May have been emulated throughout the country after the idea was shared with other Main Streets, she said.
“The certification opens doors for all involved,” Crawford said.
Paula Kirpalani, pictured, is a paid employee of Leucadia 101 Mainstreet Association. This organization was begun, in 2003, in large part through the efforts of Charles Marvin, who owns business properties along the 101 corridor, which he purchased so long ago he pays low property taxes, yet charges high rents.
The Leucadia 101 Merchants were already calling themselves a “mainstreet association” nine years before they were certified by California Mainstreet. Moreover, they are already highly subsidized through the City of Encinitas, through direct yearly monetary allocations and through a “deal” facilitated by 101 Czar, Peder Norby, who often works out of the Leucadia 101 Mainstreet headquarters, on El Portal and Hwy. 101, south of Leucadia Blvd, not usually considered part of Leucadia, according to the original boundary lines adhered to be locals.
Norby set up a deal through the City whereby the Leucadia 101 Mainstreet Association gets a portion of rents paid by vendors at the Farmers Market held on Sundays at Paul Ecke Central School. Many of us feel that the money should go exclusively to Encinitas Union School District, or that less rent should be charged, resulting in lower prices for goods sold at the farmers market, to consumers. Apparently, only 7% of Leucadia 101 Mainstreet Association’s revenues comes from membership dues.
This bias or preference for certain business associations over others, and a bias shown towards business groups at the expense of residents who live along the North 101 corridor, who do NOT favor installing five traffic circles in a couple of miles, or less, between El Portal and La Costa, and eliminating one lane northbound, is not equitable. The Leucadia 101 Merchants have seemed to primarily use their resources to lobby Council to push through these traffic circles, which they wrongly label as roundabouts, despite the U.S. Dept. of Transportation guidelines, which describe traffic circles as having wider radiuses, and more safety features.
Because of the railroad’s right of way, the so-called “roundabouts” would actually be classified as traffic circles, which are considered primarily decorative. Further, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation states that roundabouts (in our case, traffic circles) are not recommended next to railway corridors, or where the traffic on the side streets where they are to be installed would be significantly less than the main roadway, as is the case of the three way intersections beginning at El Portal! Only La Costa is a four way intersection!
Business associations, including the North 101 Merchants Association should have to apply for yearly grants from the city, as other non-profits do. Their funding should not be automatically renewed, as it has been, and expanded, so that they are essentially acting as paid lobbyists, promoting a scheme that would increase lease values and property resale values for a few, at the expense of neighbors, residents adjacent to North 101 who are concerned about cut through traffic, increasing gridlock, slower emergency response times, and also denser and denser development allowed because roundabouts can act as “traffic mitigation” features for developers; intersections where they are located would no longer be subject to being graded, including potential grades for traffic impacts through 2030, if they were to have roundabouts installed.
A few property and business owners would benefit with more parking, angled parking, which would be a challenge for many, including bicyclists riding south, as well as benefiting from higher property values. Yet these longtime owners would not be subject to increased property taxes through a special assessment district. Some of the same individuals who had wanted to blight Leucadia, in years past, now favor this “highjacked streetscape plan, which locals are calling the “Streetscam.”
Locals have been in favor of preserving our canopy, adding more sidewalks, and “keeping Leucadia funky.” But over 81% of residents polled do not favor the roundabout/lane diet proposal as planned. We don’t want to suffer through increasing traffic on side streets, including along northbound Neptune, which serves beachgoers, pedestrians, those walking dogs, pushing strollers, skateboarders, bicyclists, and children playing. Also affected by cut through traffic would be Vulcan Avenue, which fronts Paul Ecke Central School, further endangering public safety in a school zone.
Contrary to a few “sock puppets'” posting on Leucadia Blog and Encinitas Undercover Blog, I love Leucadia. I would love for us to preserve our “laidback” funky, beachtown character, not change it to benefit the hidden agendas of a few, who have been trying to sway public opinion. The speed limits have already been lowered to 35 MPH on North Highway 101. We would appreciate beautification through adding more trees, NOT ONLY saplings, which will take 20+ years to grow, but also more mature trees, if possible, to replace the many that have been eliminated. We greatly appreciate the additional sidewalks that have been installed.
However, we don’t want five traffic circles and a lane diet. When Council was embroiled in controversy due to the improper and illegal banner ban that lasted for six months, although the Artists’ Colony and DEMA came forward in support of immediately lifting the ban, the Leucadia 101 Merchants Association said nothing until the new code had been determined, and was essentially a “done deal.” Only then did Paula Kirpalini came to a Council Meeting saying she favored the new code as proposed by the City Attorney, but not until October 10, when banners had been banned for Leucadia Artwalk, on August 26, which Leucadia Merchants says it sponsors.
It appears to us that Leucadia 101 Merchants Association does not want to bite the hand that feeds them, and so would not suggest to the City Council and outgoing Mayor Stocks, that the previous ban on banners was wrong! Art supporters, promoters and artists were therefore not allowed to hang banners for the Leucadia Streetwalk this year. The Leucadia 101 Merchants have not been a good advocate for the artists, nor the residents, in our eyes.
Paula Kirpalini also advocated, on behalf of Leucadia 101 Merchants, for the lane diet, which most residents don’t want, and which wasn’t vetted through traffic engineers with respect to the environmental impacts of eliminating one lane northbound. The bicycle groups who went before the Traffic Commission had asked for sharrows, NOT a lane diet. That was added in, without careful study and without being requested by the public! The sharrows will be installed from K Street to Leucadia Blvd, along Highway 101. From Leucadia Blvd, north, to La Costa Avenue, we are now being forced, without proper study, to endure a lane diet, once the new slurry goes in and the lines are redrawn.
The lane diet is actually part of the comprehensive No. Hwy 101 Streetscape Plan, and should not be separated out into a “re-lining” project, so that it doesn’t have to go through Environmental Review through the Local Costal Program, AS A WHOLE, which has not yet been completed! Many individuals and several business owners have felt bullied and “strong-armed” by one member, in particular, of Leucadia 101 Mainstreet, who has threatened that he would help to put them out of business, or in our case, that we could lose our home, in order to intimidate, marginalize and discredit the messengers, those of us who dissent and have advocated for the beautification of Leucadia, but AGAINST what we see as a streetscam plan!
We do want a thriving business community to serve the needs of locals and tourists, but not at the expense of more cut through traffic, more gridlock, and slower emergency response times. Roundabouts were voted down in Del Mar when citizens there rejected Prop J. They had before been planned for Solana Beach but were nixed after public outcry and cost concerns. We hope our new council, once seated, can re-visit this topic, which is of grave concern to residents and commuters alike.
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