As we start the new year, I’d like to share my predictions for the top 2019 Encinitas stories with you.
The Never-Ending Housing Chronicles
The issue: A court ordered the Encinitas City Council to adopt a housing plan by the end of April 2019. Significantly, the judge required that the housing regulators for the State of California approve the plan in advance.
Why it matters: I’m hopeful that as a City Council, we won’t dither with proposals that don’t meet state requirements. We need to finally check this box and put it behind us. Here’s why: the state’s next housing cycle is right around the corner. We need to engage the community and each other in becoming forward-looking and visionary when it comes to housing, instead of being reactive.
Cooling our Climate
The issue: In January, the City Council will hear the results of our “feasibility study,” the next step in our pursuit of Community Choice Energy (CCE).
Why it matters: A CCE is central to Encinitas meeting its climate action goals of reducing carbon emissions locally. A CCE will allow us to get our energy from renewable sources and enhance our local control with no, or minimal, additional cost. With the City of San Diego also agreeing to pursue a CCE last year, the prospect of North County cities working jointly with the largest city in the county becomes a possibility. At this larger scale, there could be greater savings for Encinitas energy customers.
Improving Local Transportation
The issue: Major construction projects will begin, continue and conclude in several Encinitas locations – Interstate 5, the rail corridor at Chesterfield, the Coastal Rail Trail, the freeway underpasses at Santa Fe Drive and Encinitas Blvd., trails, paths and sidewalk connections throughout the city, and Highway 101 through Leucadia and Cardiff. These projects are being constructed not just by the city of Encinitas but Caltrans and SANDAG.
Why it matters: We’re dedicating a lot of money, time and energy to make it easier to move around town. These projects will enhance safety for everyone, both in and out of cars. Our dedicated focus has resulted in real progress with mobility enhancements.
Another Home in Your Backyard
The issue: The city is embracing the tiny homes, or accessory dwelling units (ADUs), that can be added or created in the backyards of existing homes. We’re hosting two “Everything ADU Workshops.” One is at City Hall, on January 22 from 6-8 p.m. and the other at the Encinitas Library on January 28 from 4-7 p.m. The city has put together a “permit-ready” program so that anyone who wants to build an ADU will experience a streamlined and straightforward process.
Why it matters: Local housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable. Baby boomer residents are aging and retiring. Young professionals are finding themselves priced out of the market, and there are fewer options for middle and lower income residents. I am excited about allowing homeowners to provide safe, habitable, and appealing homes in the backyards of our suburban neighborhoods. We need more homes in Encinitas, not only because it’s state law, but because it’s the right thing to do in our statewide housing crisis. ADUs will be a significant part of the solution.
City Council Changes
The issue: At the beginning of January, we’ll hopefully add a new colleague to our group of five decisionmakers. After Tasha Boerner Horvath’s ascension to the state Assembly, we have a vacancy to fill.
Why it matters: Encinitas City Council elections every two years inevitably bring changes to our mix of local elected officials. But creating a better future for Encinitas, project-by-project, takes substantially longer than a single term of two or four years.
Personally, I’m looking to fill our council vacancy with someone who is committed to championing the city’s strategic priorities. These commitments are focused around environmental issues, transportation improvements, housing compliance and rail corridor enhancements. We don’t need a bench warmer or someone who goes along to get along. I’m looking for someone with passion, zeal and dedication.
The issue: Major construction along the rail corridor in Cardiff will finish this year.
Why it matters: This complex, expensive and multi-year effort will provide residents with a completely separated bike and pedestrian path for 1.3 miles between Chesterfield Drive and the Santa Fe Drive underpass. The crossing at Chesterfield will be quiet, meaning train engineers won’t need to blow their horns every time they pass through the intersection. This is a big deal – the first quiet crossing in Encinitas. We have SANDAG to thank for this exciting project. I’ve been impressed with the efficiency, professionalism and technical competence of their team.
My crystal ball can only see so far into our future. There will undoubtedly be other major stories added to this mix, but I’m excited about the opportunities that await us in 2019 and I’m eager to lean into our challenges. Please join me in helping us continue to improve our great quality of life that we’re so fortunate to have here in Encinitas.