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Wayfinding signs go up downtown on Earth Day

CARLSBAD — A disagreement between a city official and a resident has unfolded on social media and captured the public’s attention, for better or worse.

ENCINITAS — Making one’s way around downtown Encinitas just got a lot easier.

The city recently installed a series of “wayfinding” signs and monuments throughout downtown, which were the fruits of a partnership between the city and the Encinitas 101 MainStreet Association.

The City Council and E101 celebrated the installation on Earth Day, two weeks after the signs were installed. 

“We are thrilled to have our highly anticipated wayfinding signs go up,” E101 Executive Director Irene Pyun said. “These eye-catching signs will help guide visitors and residents to unique and important areas in downtown. We saw a need for comprehensive signage in downtown and with the help of our E101 board and the city of Encinitas, we were able to successfully implement this program while incorporating colorful artwork.”

The city on April 9 began installing the freshly designed signs and monuments, which are color coded to guide visitors to destinations such as the beach, parking lots, City Hall and the library; landmarks such as the Boat Houses; preferred bike routes and the downtown business district.

They finished on April 11. 

Most prominent among the new signs would be three so-called “monument signs,” located at the northern and southern edge of downtown at Coast Highway 101 and Encinitas Boulevard and the Santa Fe Pedestrian undercrossing, respectively, and one at the corner of Vulcan Avenue and Encinitas Boulevard, the vehicular gateway to downtown. 

The City Council approved the signs, which E101 donated to the city, in August 2018. E101 created them as part of a $15,000 grant it received in October 2017 from the San Diego County Neighborhood Reinvestment Program.

Pyun said the signs have a tangible financial benefit to the city. 

“Wayfinding signs improve the local economy by encouraging exploration of an urban area while providing useful information to make the urban experience more enjoyable,” Pyun said. “We are excited to put a modern twist on the designs to reflect our unique beach town.”

The spat between Carlsbad Councilwoman Cori Schumacher and resident Linda Breen began last summer during the general election but has recently gained significant attention.

Schumacher posted a message on April 17 to her official City Council Facebook page regarding alleged “attacks” from Linda Breen, a former candidate for the City Council.

“After a year of constant public attacks, I want to take a moment to make something very clear,” Schumacher wrote. “I have tried to ignore a series of attacks that began during the campaign season and has persisted past this point, and is spilling over into our Council meetings and at our community meetings here in Carlsbad.”

Schumacher suggested that Linda and Noel Breen have launched a campaign of “bullying, outright lies, projections and manipulations” against her after she endorsed Barbara Hamilton in the last election.

Hamilton went on to defeat Linda Breen to claim the District 1 seat.

Supporters applauded the councilwoman for defending herself from a steady stream of perceived transgressions by the Breens over the past several months.

But others chided Schumacher, suggesting it was “inappropriate” and “distasteful” for a public official to “call out” private residents using an official city social media account.

Schumacher did not respond to requests for comment.

The Breens said they are in disbelief that a public figure would so brazenly attack private residents. 

Several points of contention between the two women, ranging from the 49th Congressional race to questions about Schumacher’s financial assessments of several ongoing city projects, have only heightened tensions.

The simmering discord boiled over when Noel Breen was allegedley “called out” by Schumacher during an April 14 Town Hall meeting. 

The Breens said Schumacher’s public attempts to publicly humiliate them sends a negative message to residents who disagree with her position. 

Noel Breen said he knows he’s made a lot of people upset over the years, but there must be a line for public officials.

The Breens also took issue with being blocked from Schumacher’s personal Facebook page, which they contend is used as a source of delivering information on official city issues and her work for Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath (D-Encinitas).

“Donald (Trump) uses his personal Twitter and it’s pretty unprecedented. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Noel Breen said comparing the president and Schumacher. “We used to be one of them. The message she’s sending is, if you make her mad enough, she’ll embarrass you in public … and put you on blast. They know what they’re doing.”

In her post, Schumacher said the attacks “are couched as issues-oriented, but they are driven by personal animus that stems from a vindictiveness tied to feeling entitled to my support for a candidate during the last campaign season.”

Schumacher continued with an allegation contained within a letter from Linda Breen to Schumacher saying Noel Breen was ready to “initiate a vendetta.”

“It is crystal clear Ms. Breen remains very unhappy about my endorsement of Ms. Hamilton. As she said in her letter, ‘I deserve the Democratic endorsement, and you know I do. I also deserve your support,’” Schumacher wrote.

“I am hoping that with this post, folks who have seen this play out over time will understand the Breens’ behavior for what it is: revenge for not supporting Ms. Breen.” 

Schumacher’s open letter said the Breens have gone after other candidates, but have upped their rhetoric in their interactions with her.

Schumacher later addressed Linda Breen and others who questioned her statements regarding Community Choice Energy. In a post published in March, Schumacher touted a possibility of $200 million in revenue, although the feasibility study projections do not reveal such a number.

Schumacher cited a KPBS story where Gary Sabalea, a consultant for EES Consulting who conducted the study, said a joint-powers agreement with Carlsbad, Encinitas, Del Mar and Oceanside could be a $200 million outfit in the future.

The Breens said pushing that narrative will hurt the community choice energy effort as residents begin to ask more probing questions from their elected officials. 

Noel Breen said this isn’t the first time he has been critical of Schumacher’s remarks on financial matters.

The Breens recalled Schumacher’s mayoral campaign when the councilwoman claimed a battery farm in Australia could generate about $450 million per year, and should be applied to Carlsbad.

Another example came during the Jan. 8 City Council meeting where Schumacher claimed an $18 billion deficit for the San Diego Association of Governments, then corrected herself saying she was mistaken and it may be $18 million. 

Minutes later, Schumacher “clarified” that it was between $15 billion to $18 billion.