The Coast News Group
Community CommentaryOpinion

‘You can’t fight city hall’: Leucadia Streetscape edition

The headline is a cliché because it’s a fact, here in Encinitas and probably everywhere else.

Our fine city has about 240 generously compensated employees. It has a city attorney who’s also well paid. Our City Council has mega-millions of taxpayer dollars to spend as they please. They have the power to issue bonds at will. The bottom line is they overpower the residents and do whatever they want, almost regardless of public input.

Our city government is supposed to be a representative democracy. The people we elect to the City Council are supposed to express the will of the majority. They shouldn’t ignore the minority, but they shouldn’t cater to it.

Candidates make promises like preserving paradise and having deep community roots, but as soon as they’re in office, they flip. They put on a show of representing the majority view, but in the end they serve minority special interests and their own agendas.

The then-City Council was unanimously against Proposition A. The current City Council was unanimously for Measure T. The voters passed Prop A and defeated Measure T. The voters expressed the majority view. The council and the staff it directs rarely do.

We residents elect the council members to represent us. We taxpayers pay dearly for the staff to serve us. We don’t get faithful representation from the council, and the staff conspires to do the opposite of what the majority public wants.

An example of the council and staff not representing the majority is the current Leucadia 101 Streetscape project (“Leucadia streetscape clears Planning Commission hurdle,” March 9). The great majority of the residents most affected oppose the project. We’re not against dressing up Leucadia a bit but not the way the plan proposes.

We don’t want one traffic lane in each direction and six dinky little roundabouts, five of them stuffed at the north end. We don’t want a traffic and public safety nightmare, monster buildings lining the west side and more alcohol soaking our neighborhoods. We don’t want the Mom & Pop merchants pushed out, and we don’t want to lose our big old trees, especially the iconic eucalyptus at Leucadia Boulevard.

But never mind that majority public view. The council and staff favor the tiny minority of merchants and commercial property owners who are members of the Leucadia 101 Main Street Association. A recent brochure showed that less than 15 percent of corridor merchants are members.

The City Council gives the association $30,000 of taxpayer money every year — public money to a private merchants’ association. On top of that, the council is ignoring the public will and imposing a streetscape project that the majority of corridor residents don’t want.

There are three ways for the public majority to get the City Council and staff to do what we want: 1) a winning ballot proposition, 2) a winning lawsuit, 3) an uprising so massive it threatens council members’ reelection. Each of the three takes big energy, big money and lots of time. The council and staff know that. They know they can play a long game and in the end do pretty much whatever they want.

Doug Fiske lives west of the 101 in Leucadia.

1 comment

Y. du Bois March 31, 2018 at 12:46 pm

Agree with Mr. Fiske’s opposition to the streetscape, and reasons. My family have been Leucadia (hill) residents since 1950 and 1953 (I was 7). How do RCP and the 101 businesses plan on getting deliveries from semis who will not be able to negotiate these ridiculously small roundabouts? How will a hook-and-ladder be able to negotiate a roundabout or even arrive on time for a fire? What do the Federal highway folks think about narrowing, obstructing and restricting access? Does the city need permission or have the legal authority to essentially decommission a highway? Does the City Council know what, if any, rules for driving the DMV has or if in fact there is any warning signage before a traffic circle? I believe the DMV has neither. A truck driver friend says the plan is completely impractical and unworkable, just from a trucker’s experience, and will cause all kinds of problems with access up and down the coast, and feeder streets. If a truck has a breakdown or does not know ahead that access has changed with the streetscape, enters a narrow one lane and finds a traffic circle, and becomes stuck, what a nightmare – no place to back, turn around, park. The whole plan needs to be redesigned, and the specifics and opposition put on the ballot. I hope the Coastal Commission has some interest and authority to send it back to the drawing board.

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