ENCINITAS — For the last time, Mayor Catherine Blakespear applauded the city’s achievements before area businesses and supporters.
The Encinitas Chamber of Commerce hosted the State of the City address on Sept. 1 at the Alila Marea Beach Resort with a group of its most prominent sponsors, donors and city guests. The annual State of the City takes inventory of the last year and celebrates the city’s milestones.
First, Pastor William Harman of the Grauer School led the large group with a sort of mantra in the meeting space of the five-star hotel, calling for peace within self, family, city, state and country.
Blakespear and David DaCosta, chairman of the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce board of directors, celebrated the city’s accomplishments over the past year and its community-based organizations.
First, DaCosta took the time to recognize the chamber for promoting and supporting small businesses in the city. DaCosta then looked to the events and fundraisers of Cardiff 101, Leucadia 101 and Encinitas 101, and called attention to the $1 million in proceeds toward Paul Ecke Elementary from the Leucadia farmers markets every weekend.
“Thank you for all the support for our organizations,” DaCosta said.
Giving her sixth State of the City message, themed “Poised and Ready,” Blakespear said many thank yous to local voices and honored her family’s 100-year history residing in Encinitas.
“We are poised for the future and ready to lead in the city of Encinitas,” Blakespear said, adding that the city has the lead on the “bold challenges” before it.
The city faces homelessness, fire, drought, housing, infrastructure issues and plenty of others, Blakespear said. Still, she believes in the city’s position as a “county-wide innovator” to create prosperity.
The mayor also recognized recently completed portions of Streetscape and the El Portal under crossing, which were discussed during some of her first meetings as a councilor eight years ago.
“We have reconnected a community separated by a railroad track, and we recreated positive public space for gathering and for traveling where an overlooked and increasingly rundown highway used to be,” Blakespear said.
The mayor also talked about mobility, the safe parking program and environmental achievements the city has seen in 2022.
Then she turned to the “most difficult, ongoing conversation” in the city: housing.
“Now, at this moment, finally, the city of Encinitas has a state-approved housing plan,” Blakespear said. “We have prudently resolved years of housing-related lawsuits and, what felt like, an ongoing regulatory purgatory with the state.”
The current housing element has resulted in 344 new affordable housing units — either built or in construction.
However, Blakespear anticipates the city’s struggle with housing is not over, but she is hopeful projects, such as El Camino Real, alleviate growing pains.
For future projects, Blakespear looked to the $7 million Pacific View project to rehabilitate the old elementary school into a public cultural arts space.
The item has been put on a special meeting agenda on Tuesday, Sept. 6 at 5 p.m.