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Mayor’s Minute: Encinitas focused on quality-of-life, environmental improvements

In Encinitas, we’re focused on environmental and quality-of-life improvements of all types. I’m excited to tell you about several of them.

Our first railroad “quiet zone”

I’m thrilled that we now have the city’s first train horn “quiet zone” at Chesterfield Drive in downtown Cardiff.

You may have noticed that the 50 trains that travel through Encinitas every day are now largely silent when they pass through Cardiff. Our new “quiet zone” was accomplished by the city funding about $700,000 for additional safety measures when SANDAG built the second train track.

The safety improvements required to qualify for a “quiet zone” include the addition of gates specifically designed to keep pedestrians out of the rail corridor. Those gates are now on all sides, so it’s no longer easy to slip around them once they are lowered. If the train engineer feels there’s a safety or other need to blow the horn, it’s still a possibility. However, the default is that the train is quiet.

This removal of noise pollution from our daily lives is like the lifting of a cloud. Our next step is a “quiet zone” at both Leucadia Blvd. and downtown Encinitas so our entire city will be quieter.

Cardiff Rail Trail opens

An official ribbon-cutting for the Cardiff Coastal Rail Trail, along with a ceremonial bike ride, walk and scooter ride along the trail will be at about 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 9, after an 8 a.m. press conference. Join us on this joyous occasion to celebrate this transformational community improvement!

Fighting offshore oil drilling

A bipartisan group of elected leaders recently gathered at Moonlight Beach to show solidarity against offshore oil drilling in San Diego County. Drilling for oil here takes us in exactly the wrong direction. Our local economy and high quality of life depend on a clean coast, not a soiled one. We need to focus all our energies on renewable, sustainable energy sources – not extractive, finite resources that degrade our climate and promote climate change.

Bike sharing coming by summer

Have you ever wanted to hop on a bike at one location and drop it somewhere else at the end of the day? Well, that’s the goal of a new bike share program coming to Encinitas before summer, which will feature 250 custom designed bikes and 25-30 places to pick them up and drop them off.

We’ve all watched the good, bad and ugly of the scooter and bike craze take over other cities, so in Encinitas we’ve taken our time to evaluate what we want here in our town. The proposal accepted unanimously by City Council is for a “clutter-free,” single-operator approach.

And we’re starting out with just bikes, not scooters. Most of the bikes will be electric-assisted and rent-able with a smartphone app, although there is also a non-phone based option.

The selected company, Gotcha, has a dedicated local team that rebalances, organizes, maintains and replaces their bikes 24 hours a day. The bike rider is financially incentivized to park them in the right location – either a Gotcha bike rack or a geo-fenced virtual hub with clear signage.

Solana Beach and Del Mar are both pursuing the same approach, and I have hopes that Carlsbad and Oceanside will join us during this one-year pilot period to increase bike riders’ range of options.

Cyclovia event slated for January

The city’s first “Cyclovia” is coming to Encinitas in January, 2020. The idea is to open Highway 101 exclusively to pedestrians, bikes, scooters, skateboarders, and non-motorized transport allowing people to enjoy our city’s roads without cars or outside events like fun runs or street fairs. We’re expecting up to 2,000 residents and visitors to patronize local businesses and enjoy our downtown environment on the Coast Highway between D Street to J Street.

Eliminating food waste

A city-hosted Food Waste Summit last week drew dozens of residents to hear about when and how we can divert from our landfills the 39 percent of waste that comes from food and plants.

Electric vehicle charging station construction begins

Construction of a fast-charging electric vehicle station at City Hall on the lower parking lots has started! Statewide, we have a serious shortage of charging stations to service all of the electric cars projected to be coming online. It’s important that we do our part to build out the grid. We’ll have ten charging stations available for the public.

Council and city staff working as a team

As this City Council term continues, I’m increasingly pleased with what your five elected officials and our outstanding city staff have been able to accomplish together.

We have reasonable, civil discussions about issues and explore differences of opinion, but we seem to have clarity around some basic principles – housing, transportation, climate change – which allows us to move forward remarkably well as a group. The large number of incremental environmental and quality of life achievements is a reflection of this.

I hope you’re as enthusiastic about our ambitious priorities as we are!

Catherine Blakespear serves as Encinitas Mayor. She can be reached at [email protected]

1 comment

taxpayerconcerns May 4, 2019 at 10:48 am

One of the reasons for the additional train tracks through Encinitas and the corridor was the predicted increase in the number of trains from the then current 80 per day to 130 per day. If the train traffic has decreased to only 50 trains per day, the city and SANDAG have uselessly spend millions of dollars on double tracking. The Mayor/Council get an F for not protecting the natural bluffs along the railroad in Cardiff. Much of the bluffs are now cement.

The Mayor/Council gets an F on protecting the environment. The Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation appealed the planning commission approval of a 48 houses subdivision next to the Lagoon. Among the issues was the environmental study, pesticides left on the property, and the increase in houses compared to the Fish and Wildlife letter recommendation of only 22 houses. The Mayor/Council voted to deny the appeal.

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