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Mayor’s Minute: End of an Era and Rebirth of the Next at Cardiff School Campus

Cardiff School is currently being torn down to make way for a new school that Cardiff voters approved by supporting a $22 million school bond in the 2016 election. The vote was 66.9% (3,994 votes) in favor and 34% (2,063) opposed. The bond is a tax of $25.75 per $100,0¬00 of assessed value for properties in Cardiff, lasting no more than 40 years.

Sixty-nine years ago, my grandpa Milton Smith, and my grandparents’ Smith Construction Company, built the school buildings that were demolished last week. As the local contractor and largest businesses in Cardiff in 1950 he was quoted in local media at the time saying that he under-bid the job so that he could build the safest, most modern and state-of-the-art campus for his four children and other local families to begin their education.

I feel grateful that he was able to contribute to this community with a sturdy school that ably educated my mom and her three siblings, my own two children and thousands of other families for nearly 70 years.

It’s hard to say goodbye to a place that is so intimately tied to my own family history. And yet, I know that change and rebirth are part of our necessary cycle. I’m sure that what gets built will be a leap forward for the next generations of our children.

But I personally wish that we had a culture and an incentive structure where, as a society, we preserved more of our history in the ongoing reconstruction of the built environment.

With the benefit of hindsight, it would have been nice if my grandpa had incorporated more than just the school bell from the original 1913 Cullen School into his 1950s school buildings, and if this new school had been designed to incorporate some elements of the 1950s school into the 2019 buildings. But it seems like it’s always cheaper and easier to scrape things and start afresh – so that’s what happens. At least that 1913 school bell will still hang on the new campus.

The city is a separate legal and political entity from the Cardiff School Board and administration, and both entities jointly received a grant in 1993 from the California State Department of Parks and Recreation to improve the park on the school campus known as George Berkich Park. The agreement required the park to remain in perpetuity.
Now the Cardiff School District is in active litigation with a local community group about the boundaries and ultimate use of a portion of George Berkich Park.

The school district’s plan for “phase two” is to build a new multi-purpose room on land that is currently part of Berkich Park. The district needs the approval of both the state and the National Park Service to endorse a boundary change that would require the district to replace any lost park land with a corresponding amount of land.

The city has established a subcommittee of City Councilmembers Tony Kranz and Kellie Shay Hinze to work together with the school district to resolve the dispute. Beyond the park issue itself, it’s important that the city not jeopardize future federal or state grant opportunities, which the city has applied for and received in the past.

In other news, I recently joined more than 200 of the nation’s mayors at the 87th annual U.S. Conference of Mayors, where I presented on two topics. The first was the city’s innovative permit-ready “Housing for Generations” granny flat program. You can find the plans for an accessory unit or granny flat that are already pre-approved by the city at our website,

It’s unusual for a city to go so far as to provide actual architecture plans to make it as easy as possible to permit granny flats. Our program has been lauded throughout the state and now the nation for its innovation.

My second presentation was on a panel titled “Toward a Carbon-Free Economy,” about SANDAGs regional transportation plan that will build more transit, and result in less dependence on driving in single-occupancy vehicles, plus the city’s emerging Community Choice Energy program.

A resolution related to the ongoing Tijuana River Valley sewage catastrophe drew several mayors from our county’s southern cities to the conference as well. This is an urgent environmental and health issue for the entire county and I’m glad it’s getting attention at a national level.

I’m tremendously inspired by other mayors from across this diverse country. As an avid student of the role mayors play in governing, I love seeing mayors acting on the values of broad, inclusive leadership.

Mayors tackle the great moral and practical issues of our time. They offer me insight into how they articulate their responsibilities, the problems they face, and how they work to inspire their communities. Seeing them embracing the spirit of action feeds my soul. Honestly, it reduces me to a pool of gratitude that I’ve been chosen to represent our beloved city of Encinitas in such a profound and important role.

Now that the sun has come out, I hope you’re enjoying the warmth of summer and the cool ocean breezes in beautiful Encinitas!

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

1 comment

taxpayerconcerns July 12, 2019 at 11:55 pm

Mayor Blakespear should be proud of the ripping out and cutting down many of the heritage trees on the Cardiff school property. Apparently, it was too much trouble to design the buildings and also leave the trees. One of the big problems found with global warming or climate change is the number trees that have been cut down for development. Mayor Blakespear hasn’t yet connected that cutting down trees increases global warming, and she and the rest of the Council that approved the permits for the Cardiff school have in Encinitas violated the easiest way to be good stewards of the environment. Stop cutting down trees!
Mayor Blakespear seems enthralled to mingle with the big city mayors. The US Conference of Mayors was held in Hawaii. Did the city (the taxpayers) pay her expenses?
Mayor Blakespear has forgotten that her role and duties as mayor would be the same as if the Council members had elected her to a one year rotational term. She may have the title of Mayor, but she isn’t above the other Council members.
The election of the Mayor should use the previous rotational system of one year.

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