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Mayor’s Minute: Exciting city updates as ’21 nears

The last several weeks have been a roller coaster for all of us, with the ups and downs of the election followed by worry and anxiety about the current surge in coronavirus infections.

It’s critical that here in Encinitas we continue to do our part to avoid large gatherings, wear our masks, physically distance, and keep ourselves and others well.

The city is diligently following all state and county guidelines, while doing everything possible to support our local business community as they weather this extremely difficult period.

The challenges and opportunities facing the City of Encinitas go on, with exciting prospects for building a better future here at home.

Just around the corner, 2021 beckons.

Here are some recent developments:

Designing the future of El Camino Real corridor

The city recently approved the acceptance of a $300,000 state grant to create an El Camino Real Corridor Specific Plan, which will allow the community to plan for future residential and commercial uses in this corridor.

As the city’s staff report stated: 

“Existing conditions of the El Camino Real Corridor include a series of commercial (strip mall-style plazas) with varying depths and uses.

Several buildings and uses … were developed prior to the incorporation of the City (before 1986), and as such create inconsistencies of development from adjacent properties and uses.”

The Specific Plan will lay out how future residential and commercial uses will function and work together.

The public outreach portion has not yet started, but community leaders and engaged citizens will take a strong role in helping the city create a holistic plan for this corridor to allow the area to evolve in ways that meet the community’s needs.

Cannabis is coming

Encinitas voters appear to have approved Measure H by a slim margin, allowing up to four stores that sell cannabis products and a full supply chain, from growing to cannabis kitchens, manufacturing to sales. At this writing, the measure has garnered 19,962 votes in favor to 19,077 opposed (51% to 49%).

Recognizing the will of our voters, the city’s elected leadership and professional staff will implement Measure H. Interestingly, a cannabis initiative in Solana Beach failed 62% to 38%.

Given that the election results are not yet certified the city does not have a process established for accepting applications or locations but future details will be forthcoming.

Encinitas continues environmental leadership

The city approved an update to our Climate Action Plan, lauded by more than 20 speakers including members of the Climate Action Campaign and other environmentalists.

The city’s environmental commission also unanimously favored it.

Some of the highlights include more bike parking, better data tracking to document transportation choices before and after a project, electrification in new construction and a municipal telecommute policy, among other things.

In coming months we’ll be unveiling a program for your home food waste to be diverted from the landfill and placed into the green bins currently used exclusively for yard waste.

We’ll also be officially launching our Community Choice Energy program, providing electricity sourced from 100% renewable sources. This is exciting!

At the Dec. 9 City Council meeting the election results will be certified and the re-elected members will take the oath of office.

This meeting is usually festive, however, the Zoom format won’t easily substitute for the feeling of energy in the room.

It appears that all the same City Council members will remain on the City Council, a happy outcome.

On Dec. 9 at 6 p.m., the City Council will introduce a new density bonus ordinance being driven by requirements in state law, and we’ll discuss providing more aid to small businesses as part of the CARES Act funding.

At this holiday time I’m feeling grateful for you, the residents of Encinitas, and the opportunity to resume writing these newsy columns as your Encinitas Mayor now that the election is behind us!

The promise of COVID-19 vaccines on their way has shown us the light at the end of the tunnel.

Even though this holiday season has been more difficult than others, I hope that it will inspire memories of this unusual time-out-of-time that we’re all experiencing together.

Catherine Blakespear is the Mayor of Encinitas.