ENCINITAS — The City of Encinitas’ has largely promoted the conservation of the city’s open spaces for environmental reasons but a new resolution doubles down on that commitment moving forward.
The resolution, presented to the Encinitas City Council by Councilwoman Joy Lyndes and Councilwoman Kellie Hinze, will aim to work more closely with local conservation groups to improve habitat restoration efforts.
“Our goal in doing this is to rearticulate our values, to be clear on where we stand today and look forward to the future — to look forward to budget season and hopefully we can expand some of our habitat restoration programs,” Hinze said.
Hinze and Lyndes worked with several members of city staff and intern Courtney Johnson, who is a student in the environmental planning program at Cal State San Marcos.
“As a part of that we were asking her to do a little bit of research for us to try to get a bearing on what we’re doing here in our city as far as our codes and policies and our general plan, but also what are other cities and jurisdictions doing around us,” Lyndes said.
The council unanimously approved the resolution, which names several local organizations, such as Solana Beach-based Nature Collective, San Diego Botanic Garden and Escondido Creek Conservancy, as potential collaborative partners.
Protecting open spaces is a difficult task for a city that also struggles to meet state-mandated affordable housing requirements. Encinitas has a long history of conservancy that many residents also wish to keep.
“I know that housing is a big issue and housing and open space clash, however, if we look at infill development and protect our open space I think that’s a good way forward,” Encinitas resident Kristine Schindler said.
While the resolution only reaffirms the city’s commitment to conservation and preserving open spaces, Jennifer Bright, associate director of the Nature Collective, said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has instilled an even greater desire to keep local plants and wildlife safe.
“For many people, including me, COVID-19 isolation brought a new and deeper appreciation for open space and its meaning to our collective well-being,” Bright said. “Nature Collective strongly champions open space for all.”
The resolution’s final clause also commits to investigating further policy changes to help conserve open spaces. Diane Nygaard, of the San Diego Sierra Club, said this portion of resolution is key, as more direct policies can and should be implemented in Encinitas.
“We believe that completion of the Encinitas city-level conservation plan is the next critical step toward achieving the goals of your resolution, and doing so in a comprehensive way that addresses both public and private lands,” Nygaard said. “This will ensure that conservation in Encinitas is integrated with broader regional and statewide efforts to conserve the rich natural resources of your city. We are committed to work with the City toward achieving this important goal.”