The Coast News Group
The Encinitas City Council said the practice of sitting commissioners moving to another municipal body is reasonable. Stock photo
The deadline to apply online for all commissions, except the Youth Commission, is Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023 at 5 p.m. File photo
Community CommentaryOpinion

Commentary: Get involved, try a commission

By Ross Ridder

Have you ever had an idea that you thought might make Encinitas even better?  Or considered volunteering but weren’t sure how to get started?  Perhaps like me, you might find that serving on a city commission is both interesting and rewarding.

I started dipping my toes into civic engagement while planning my post-retirement life. I knew that I wanted to give back to the community I’ve called home for 28 years. Like many of you, I had volunteered for various local events or working groups, but now I wanted to do more. 

After researching a few opportunities, I decided to apply to fill a Parks & Recreation commissioner vacancy and was appointed. I had several ideas that I wanted to pursue in this new role and thought serving as a commissioner could be a great opportunity to give these ideas visibility and a path to implementation.

Thanks to the work of our commission and a coalition of community partners, I’m excited to report that the city recently completed one of the projects I promoted — pedestrian safety improvements at the San Elijo/Manchester intersection with a new sidewalk, crosswalks and trail to the San Elijo Lagoon trailhead.   

It’s been very satisfying to hear neighbors say how nice it is to have an expansive new view of the lagoon and a safer way to access this Encinitas treasure.

Having been a beach bootcamp class instructor for over 15 years and appreciating the many benefits of outdoor fitness, I also wanted to promote the inclusion of adult fitness courts/equipment in our parks.  Through my work on the Parks & Recreation Commission, city staff is now considering adding adult fitness equipment when playground equipment is updated or replaced. 

While we haven’t installed any fitness courts or equipment yet, I feel that I helped pave a path toward that eventuality.

Through this experience I’ve learned that joining a city commission is a great way to promote ideas and serve your community.  Plus, you get to meet new people, participate more fully in city events and decision making, learn about city government, and even gain experience toward becoming a city council member or mayor.

While my interest has been in trails and fitness facilities within the purview of the Parks & Recreation Commission, your ideas and interests might easily align with one or more of these city commissions, including the Commission for the Arts, Environmental Commission, Mobility & Traffic Safety Commission, Parks & Recreation Commission, and more.

For more information and to complete the simple commission application online, go to encinitasca.gov/Government/Boards-Commissions and select “2023 Scheduled Vacancies.” 

By the way, a large and diverse applicant pool will give the mayor and City Council more options for choosing candidates who reflect the varied demographics of our citizens. Multiple studies have shown that diverse groups make better decisions.

For this reason and others, the Encinitas Equity Committee recently recommended that equity and diversity be considered when filling commission vacancies. 

The deadline to apply online for all commissions, except the Youth Commission, is Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023 at 5 p.m. I hope you’ll consider applying for one of the many commission vacancies.  It’s satisfying to know you’re doing your part to make Encinitas an even better place to live.

Ross Ridder is a Parks & Recreation commissioner.

Leave a Comment