Open space, community grants, Leo Mullen trees, CFD, retaining walls and housing 
March 22, 2017 Encinitas City Council Update
Dear Friend,

For the first time this year, I had a few days off last week. This allowed more time for long range planning, community engagement and meeting with constituents. If you would like to talk about an issue or invite me to meet your organization, please contact the council secretary, Brandi Lewis at blewis@encinitasca.gov to schedule an appointment. I look forward to meeting you!

Cheers,

The week at a glance.
  • Approved 5-0 adding open space and trail acquisition to the purview of the Parks and Recreation Commission.
  • Approved 5-0 the 2017-2018 Community Development Block Grants for $260,757 for public services, capital improvements, program administration and fair housing.
  • Approved 5-0 tree planting at Leo Mullen Sports Park to shield residential areas from lights and increase our urban forest.
  • Approved 4-1 (Muir voting no) to support Federal Revenue-Neutral Carbon Fee and Dividend (CFD) Program.
  • Authorized 5-0 the Commission for the Arts to work with SANDAG on the aesthetic elements for the proposed retaining wall in the San Elijo Lagoon Double Track Project and include the Cardiff 101 in that process.
  • Received an update from the Housing Element Update Task Force on finding a consultant to identify viable alternatives to our Housing Element Update and status of housing legislation.
  • Approved unanimously a number of administrative items, including Senior Nutrition Program, legislative position letters, and funding for DigAlerts, street light maintenance and repair services.
  • We also met as the Encinitas Housing Authority and approved 5-0 funding for repairs of the 16 city-owned units at Pacific Pines as well as endorsed Deputy Mayor Kranz’ suggestion to look for ways to purchase more units.

March 22, 2017.

OPEN SPACE AND TRAIL ACQUISITION
Kudos to Council Member Muir for suggesting a mechanism to acquire open space and trails to increase connectivity of our trail network. This item consistently is reported in surveys and when I’m out in the community as a high priority for our residents. But creating a way to identify and actually acquire open space is much more difficult. The past council asked staff to come back with a proposal for an ad-hoc committee recommendation.

Streamlining governance is important for transparency and consistency. We have commissions, working groups, committees, sub-committees and now an advisory committee. Adding another form of governance could be confusing. So I welcomed Mayor Blakespear’s suggestion that open space and trail acquisition sit within the purview of the Parks and Recreation Commission, which was passed 5-0. They already have a subcommittee looking at this and adding a few citizens (or other commissioners from the Planning or Environmental Commission) will be a great way to ensure that we move from idea to action on open space.

One thing we didn’t discuss was funding. Open space in high land value cities like Encintias is expensive. If this is a real priority for our city we need to fund it and make sure that the process is as nimble as possible to be able to act when a parcel comes on the market.

Here is a San Diego Union Tribune article on open space/trail acquisition.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANTS
We had several applicants for federal funding through the community development block grant program. While this program is being debated at the national level, these grants make it possible for us to fund local services, capital improvements and fair housing. Only a certain amount can be used for public services and for 2017-2018 we funded five groups:

One organization, ElderHelp, which was meant to connect seniors with improved co-housing situations, did not received renewed funding, due to low performance in 2016-2017. Deciding against continuing funding for any organization trying to do a good in our community is difficult. But funding is limited and we need to make sure that we base decision-making on actual performance. I encourage ElderHelp to keep making progress and apply again next year.

Interfaith Shelter Network was a new applicant and I was very much encouraged by their work they have done setting up shelters in Encinitas with several of our congregations. They keep the shelter small (10-15 people) so as to not place a large burden on the surrounding community and receive most of their funding through church donations and volunteerism. For Encinitas, the CRC serves as the navigator and would recommend homeless individuals who meet the qualifications to the shelter wherever they are in San Diego County.

In addition to the public services, we approved 5-0 capital improvement funding for facility upgrades at the CRC, ADA accessibility in Cardiff and residential rehabilitation program through the City of Encinitas, program administration and funding for fair housing services through the Legal Aid Society of San Diego.

Here is a Coast News article on the CDGB grants.

TREES AT LEO MULLEN SPORTS PARK 
Balancing the use of one of our most popular sports fields by youth and families with the rights of adjacent residents to dark evenings has been an ongoing effort. Staff worked with both the neighboring HOA and Encinitas Express to shift the lights and to suggest planting 13 low-water, slope-loving, fast-growing, long-lived Tristania trees to provide a buffer from the field to the adjacent residences. This is a great solution that will make the sports field more compatible with its surroundings and we voted to support staff recommendation 5-0. I suggested that in the meantime, Parks and Rec could look at adding shade cloth to lessen the impact of the lights in the short term.

This is a case where our staff has really taken a collaborative approach and reached a better outcome for everyone. As Mayor Blakespear said, “Director Campbell makes getting to yes look easy!” Kudos to the Parks and Rec Staff and Director Cambell!

Here is the Encinitas Advocate article on our decision.

Here is a Coast News article on the proposal.

FEDERAL REVENUE-NEUTRAL CARBON FEE AND DIVDEND (CFD) PROGRAM
We received a recommendation to support a federal revenue-neutral Carbon Fee and Dividend (CFD) Program. This was brought to us by the Evironmental Commission and is an endorsement not of a particular piece of legislation but rather a concept. The idea is to add a tax at the point of extraction of fossil fuels and then return these dividends via income taxes. 

I have a general value of making our world a more sustainable place, and a revenue-neutral CFD is a market-driven mechanism to do just that. It keeps the negative environmental externalities where they belong -- with the extractor and that's the really important thing. We voted 4-1 to support the CFD and have Council Member Muir (who voted no) to help with public outreach to help educate our residents on the nuts and bolts of a CFD. To Council Member Muir’s credit, he said he felt this concept was not well known enough and more education was necessary to be able to support the resolution. I agree that more outreach is a good thing and look forward to the event.

It is also important to point out the dozens of emails and members of the public who took time out of their day to ask us to support this resolution and we had no voices opposed to it. Much like with the plastic bag ban, the more municipalities that support resolutions like this, the more comfortable federal and state lawmakers will be supporting it in the future. This was another way to do our part to make the world more sustainable for our community and the next generation.

DESIGNING THE SAN ELIJO LAGOON DOUBLE TRACK RETAINING WALL
Mayor Blakespear and Deputy Mayor Kranz met with SANDAG recently on the design of the retaining wall that is part of the San Elijo Lagoon Double Tracking Project. The wall, as currently designed, looks much like a freeway retaining wall with little character or aesthetics. Community groups like Cardiff 101 have been trying to influence this process for a while and I am thankful to Blakespear and Kranz for taking this initiative to try to make the project as compatible with our community as possible.

The suggestion had been to get a vegetative wall with plantings that would blend more seamlessly with the surroundings. According to SANDAG staff this was not possible with engineering, the right of way and slope. So the suggestion was made to allow the Commission for the Arts (along with Cardiff 101) to help design that wall, which was passed 5-0. My personal hope is that we can get something that is not just along the top area (like SANDAG suggested), but we can have a more mural-like solution that better integrates the entire wall, which is significantly noticeable from Coast Highway. We also included the rail cap design with letters that spell CARDIFF on one side and local bird images on the other side.

HOUSING PLAN UPDATE TASK FORCE (AND SB 431)
Mayor Blakespear and Deputy Mayor Kranz reported on the Housing Plan Update Task Force. An RFP (request for proposals) has been issued to find someone who can help us to improve our housing plan update. This is great news and thank you to the task force for your constructive, hard work! 

Additionally, Deputy Mayor Kranz reviewed a presentation on affordability by design and I hope ways to actually implement this will be coming forward in the coming months.

Mayor Blakespear also reported on our bill for legislative relief for unpermitted accessory units, SB 431 (Bates). One change was the exclusion of these units from counting for our state required low income housing allocation (RHNA) numbers. I suspect this is due to the fact that many lawmakers would be uncomfortable with lower building standards for lower income people. But the good news is that it is going forward, because these unpermitted accessory units form the de facto affordable housing for many young professionals, elderly, and members of our community. Ensuring basic health and safety standards while keeping them as part of our housing stock is important for retaining the diversity and safety of our community.

Here is the Coast News article on our bill for legislative relief for unpermitted accessory units.

Here is the Coast News article on the new lawsuit about our non-compliant housing element.


Thank you very much to Tijuana Council Member Ivette Casillas (also a member of the SANDAG Border Committee) for the invitation to attend the launch of the new Tijuana Tourism Plan on Thursday, March 23 in Tijuana. I was honored to join the outstanding group of officials supporting international economic development and tourism. 

Other News.

COMMITTEE UPDATES

  • SANDAG Borders meeting: Once a year elected leaders and staff from both sides of the international border come together to talk about important international infrastructure projects. So on Friday, March 24 our usual borders committee was joined by City Council members from Tijuana, Tecate, Playas de Rosarito and the State of Baja California. It was great to see so many women elected officials in this group, who all expressed commitment to similar values we have on our side of the border: sustainability and the environment; women and youth; economic development and tourism; innovation and preserving historical districts. Even as far north as Encinitas, our community is influenced by border policies and binational collaboration is the key to ensuring the prosperity of our mega-region. We heard reports on the State Route 11/Otay Mesa East Port of Entry; progress on the San Ysidro reconfiguration, pedestrian improvements and expansion project; and climate change and resilient communities along the US-Mexico Border. 
  • San Elijo JPA: On March 13 the SEJPA Board authorized the General Manager to prepare legal documents for a negotiated bond sale not to exceed $22 million dollars to improve wastewater and recycled water infrastructure at no additional increase rates. We also authorized architectural services for a new building that will meet today’s needs with flexibility for future demands. The final approval of member agencies for the bond sale will come before the City of Encinitas in the next few months.
  • League of Cities San Diego: Heard a run down of important bills that are being proposed in the legislature from housing, homelessness, protecting local revenues, transportation funding, public safety, pensions and the environment. The LCC policy committees are meeting next week and will decide which bills to recommend for support, neutrality or opposition. As I sit on the Housing, Community and Economic Development Policy Committee, I will report on those in detail next week.
  • Upcoming meetings:
    • Cultural Tourism: 4/6, 9-10 AM at the San Diego Botanical Gardens
    • School District Liaison: 4/19, 8:10-9:30 AM, City Hall
    • League of California Cities Housing, Community and Economic Development Policy Committee: 3/31 from 10 AM - 1 PM in Ontario, California
    • Youth Commission Liaison: 4/5, 4-6pm, City Hall

Welcome to Roberta Walker as the new Executive Director of Cardiff 101 and thank you Annika Walden for your years of service!
Here is a Coast News article on the transition.

PUBLIC SAFETY AND PROTECTING OUR COMMUNITY
Several public speakers during oral communications on Wednesday asked the Council to ask the Sheriffs Captain to report on collaboration with immigration officers on the reported ICE raids. I was happy to share that Paul Ecke Central Elementary School held an event on March 15 to talk about protecting the rights of everyone in our community. What I took away from this meeting is that 1) our Sheriffs do not do immigration activity and act in the public safety of all residents; and 2) the ACLU is coming up with a great mechanism (an app, I believe) to better share information and alerts. 

In response to public comment, I requested that the Sheriff come in to the City Council and give that same, balanced report to the City Council at a future meeting.


Love your Neighbor: How to become a citizen ally event at Paul Ecke Central Elementary School on March 15 (from left to right): Maria Figueroa (Professor of English Composition, Literature and Humanities at Mira Costa College), Susie Castillo (Teacher Paul Ecke Central, Encinitas Unified School District), Bardis Vakili (Senior Staff/Attorney ACLU San Diego/Imperial), Timothy B. Baird, Ed.D. (Superintendent, Encinitas Union School District), Rick Shea (President, San Diego County Board of Education), Captain John Maryon (San Diego County Sheriff’s North Coastal Station). Thank you all for speaking on this important topic!

PLANNING COMMISSION UPDATE ON ALCOHOL REGULATIONS
Before I left the Planning Commission, my final act was to ask staff to re-examine the zoning and requirements for minor use permits for alcohol in Encinitas. I have been following this closely and you can find my summary of the 2/16 Planning Commission meeting here. The next steps include the Planning Commission meeting on Thursday, April 6 at 6 pm with suggested policy recommendations. Results of that meeting are planned to be on April 19th Council agenda. 

I get emails and texts every day and even get stopped on the street by constituents asking about what’s going on with alcohol, specifically in downtown Encinitas and Leucadia. Some people want to make sure new businesses are not being punished for the behavior of a few bad apples. Others want to see a ban on all bars, but want to be able to have a beer at a new restaurant. And others just want to better control the noise and crowds in our downtown and they see limiting alcohol licenses as a means to this end. Finding a reasonable approach that balances legitimate residential needs for peace and quiet with maintaining a vibrant downtown, might be better than a reactionary, heavy handed, one-size-fits-all solution.

Upcoming events.

Taste of Leucadia
Thursday, April 6 from 5:30pm-8:30pm, Leucadia
If you haven’t been to the Taste of Leucadia, you don’t know what you are missing! This a a great event where our Leucadia main street comes alive with an amazing celebration of the culinary flavors and local libations that make our downtown Leucadia district so unique. The Taste of Leucadia will highlight our local restaurants, retailers, craft brewers and local vintners. Ticket sales start on 3/16 at 10 am and they sell out every year! See you there! 
http://www.leucadia101.com/events/taste-leucadia/


SHOUT OUT!
The Climate Action Campaign nominated the City of Encinitas for their Agent of Change Award for public institutions moving toward 100% clean energy as part of their NightCAP Annual Awards Celebration on April 12, 2017. Thank you! As one of the subcommittee members for Community Choice Energy (along with Mayor Blakespear and Environmental Commissioners Leah Bissonette and Jim Wang), I am proud that Encintias was nominated for leading the North County coalition of coastal cities exploring a joint Community Choice Energy program. Please VOTE today for the City of Encinitas!


RECOMMENDED LINKS
  • Council Member Joe Mosca's Newsletter: Getting different perspectives on our city from various sources is important. I appreciate Council Member Mosca's succinct summaries and thoughtful overarching commentary. You can subscribe here.
     
  • Mayor Catherine Blakespear’s Newsletter: If you don’t subscribe already, I’d like to encourage you to subscribe to Mayor Blakespear’s email newsletter. Her journalist prowess, strong leadership and sound judgement shines through and offers a different perspective on our city.
     
  • SeeClickFix: This is a smart phone app by the City of Encinitas that let's you easily report issues -- from potholes to graffiti. I just had a Cardiff resident email me and rave about how easy it was to fix a problem in her alley. The app directs the issue to the proper city department, so you don't have look up phone numbers or staff. It's free and easy to use and I'd encourage everyone to install it on your phone. It's great!
     
  • Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS): Some may know that a friend’s son, Ben, was diagnosed with Leukemia four years ago. I have been inspired for the last four years, not only by how Ben has fought and beat leukemia but how families and friends have rallied to support LLS. I have decided to join the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training and will be running a half marathon in June to raise money to fund cures to bone cancers. If you are interested in finding out more, please visit my LLS page.

 

Check out my most recent interview with Brad Pomerance from Cox-Charter Local Edition on homelessness and housing.
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