ENCINITAS — The Olivenhain Town Council’s longstanding tradition of hosting a candidate forum the first week of October during election season took on deeper meaning this time around, as for the first time voters in that area got to hear from the candidates who will directly represent them.
The candidates for District 4 council, incumbent Joe Mosca and his lone challenger, longtime Olivenhain resident and former Planning Commissioner Tony Brandenburg, fielded questions from the audience read by a moderator on topics ranging from support of so-called sanctuary cities to their stances on Measure U and the Leucadia Streetscape.
Brandenburg touted his 50 years of residency in Olivenhain and his long resume of judge, community activist, Olivenhain Town Council president and other accolades to the crowd of about 75 in attendance in the Olivenhain Meeting Hall. Mosca promoted his actions on the council — which he was appointed to in 2017 — on behalf of the community, as well as his deep pride for Olivenhain, his home since earlier this decade.
Mosca and Brandenburg took polar positions on the city’s proposed housing element update — Brandenburg labeled Measure U worse than the city’s previous attempt in 2016, while Mosca called it a compromise that will help the city comply with state housing laws. The two were also on opposite sides of the proposed transformation of Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia — Brandenburg said the city should “leave Leucadia alone,” while Mosca said he supported the concept but was concerned about the $30 million price tag.
Regarding sanctuary cities, Mosca said that he was concerned with the Sheriff’s Department — the city’s contract law enforcement agency — performing the duties of federal immigration agents, which he said was a concern of San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore.
Brandenburg said he opposed sanctuary cities because he didn’t believe the city should harbor someone who is breaking the law.
“I have a problem with someone who’s committed a crime and protecting them,” Brandenburg said.
Traffic along the district’s two main arterial roads — Rancho Santa Fe Road and El Camino Real — was also a topic at the forum. Both candidates were asked what they would do to fix traffic on the streets.
Brandenburg said regarding El Camino Real that he didn’t have an answer off hand, but said the solution would be slowing traffic down to deter cars from using it. He also said that Caltrans widening of Interstate 5 would help the situation.
“There’s nothing we can do with regards to traffic,” Brandenburg said. “Once the freeway gets done it will take some pressure off of El Camino Real.”
Mosca said that getting more people out of their cars and into other modes of transportation by making those travel lanes safer would be part of the solution.
“We are investing $400,000 in colorizing bike lanes so people feel safer ride on those bike lanes. We have to engineer our roads so they are safe and decrease traffic congestion,” Mosca said.
Regarding Rancho Santa Fe, Brandenburg pointed to building a roundabout at Calle Santa Catalina and increased enforcement — especially against cyclists — as the solution. Mosca, however, said the city is spending thousands on enforcement and coordinating with Carlsbad Police Department on that effort, as well as efforts to connect trails, which will allow more families to use the trails to get their kids to Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary, thus decreasing morning traffic.
For the larger fixes, he said he has proposed forming a task force with the local town council and taking a “bottom up” approach to developing a long-term solution.
“I will be an advocate and get that done for you,” he said.
The pair were also asked about evacuation plans for the Olivenhain area. Brandenburg said the district needs one, while Mosca pointed out that the city recently published such a plan, hosted a large animal evacuation forum, opened Lone Jack Road’s rear gate for use during emergencies and passed out fliers alerting the community how to use the auxiliary route.
“We’ve done a lot on that front,” said Mosca, who said he wanted to expand Olivenhain’s Fire Station No. 6.
Blakespear and Elliott rehashed many of their positions from previous forums.