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Encinitas releases 2017 year in review


ENCINITAS — By the numbers, 2017 was a busy year for Encinitas.

According to the city-issued annual report, the fire department responded to 7,430 calls and incidents and the sheriff’s department to 19,647; 4,083 building permits were issued; 78 events were produced; and the city managed $95.6 million in revenues — all while zero employees were added to the 240 workers already on the roster.

As many neighboring cities have done, Encinitas in 2017 divided into voting districts. This was in response to various lawsuits against other California municipalities that alleged violations of voting rights, particularly along racial lines. Encinitas voters will now cast ballots by district for a council member who resides within that district, while the mayor will continue to be elected by a majority vote of city-wide voters. The division of the city into four voting districts was a pre-emptive move to avoid litigation and to control where the districts are divided.

Encinitas completed a one-year pilot program of the Opening Doors Project and then launched into the second year. The project’s aim is to decrease homelessness among veterans and other groups. In the year ending April 20, 2017, the program placed 27 households (61 individuals) in permanent housing.

A new marine safety center — the main operations facility for Encinitas lifeguards — opened at Moonlight Beach last year. It cost $3.7 million dollars and took about one year to construct. The center features a large observation deck, which will aid in monitoring beach activity, and a designated area for marine animal rescues.

In 2017, an ambitious Climate Action Plan was finalized and then presented to City Council, who approved it unanimously in January 2018. Over the course of 12 years, the city will aim to reduce emissions 41 percent below 2012 levels. Encinitas also plans to switch to 100 percent renewable energy sources, increase its recycling and composting amounts, create more bike and pedestrian infrastructure and expand its tree canopy.

In 2018, the city will face the tough challenge of getting the state-mandated housing element passed that addresses future housing needs for all income levels. Voters will decide at the ballot box in November.

The Leucadia Streetscape project is slated to start this year. Estimated to cost $24 million, the project will aim to improve traffic management, parking, and pedestrian access along Highway 101 from A Street to La Costa Avenue.

After banning plastic bags and then Styrofoam containers, Encinitas is considering implementing a straws-by-request-only ordinance at restaurants. The policy would reduce landfill waste and reduce the number of plastic straws floating in the ocean and harming marine life.

The Dune Restoration Project, which will construct sand dunes to reduce storm damage and buffer against sea-level rise, will get underway this fall at Cardiff State Beach.

Infrastructure projects for 2018 include the Cardiff segment of the Coastal Rail Trail — a path for bikes and pedestrians funded by SANDAG and currently underway — and the creation of a Low-Water-Use Demonstration Garden at the public works facility at 160 Calle Magdalena.