Letters/Opinion: September, December 2019, January, February, April, May 2020
Bike lanes, underpasses and StreetScape
I read Mayor Blakespear’s editorial with great interest. It seems the Mayor now is beginning to understand that a truly safe bike lane completely separates cyclists from cars.
Conspicuously absent was any mention of StreetScape, the design of which is deeply flawed when it comes to cycling safety alone.
Perhaps the Mayor can extend some of her bike safety commitment to Encinitas and Leucadia and accept the railtrail Cardiff extension offer. The rail trail is not only attractive in design, but it is safe utilization of space and it leaves auto traffic on 101 undisturbed.
Another project that should take precedent over StreetScape is the proposed train track underpasses. These underpasses create safe neighborhood connections across the tracks and encourage foot traffic to 101 and the beaches. The underpasses also facilitate riding bikes to school and shops. The underpass projects need to be pushed to the head of the construction line.
There are a number of options available to make our community more green and pedestrian and cyclist friendly. Our city council along with community input should vigorously explore options beyond the current Streetscape proposal.
Eileen Natuzzi, MD, MPH, FACS
Physically protected bike lane on Hwy 101 — what could possibly go wrong?
Those of us who ride bicycles to meet some of our commuting and other transportation needs — the real “poster children” in fighting transportation-related air pollution and global warming — have severe reservations about what is falsely being touted as an “upgrade” from the current Class II bicycle lanes along Coast Highway 101 in south Cardiff. In truth, bike lanes that have served cyclists well for decades are to be eliminated and replaced by a combined sidewalk, jogging path, vehicle loading/unloading zone (surfboards, beach umbrellas, coolers, strollers, etc.), and dangerously cluttered path suitable only for casual, pedestrian-speed cycling. We need safe and efficient facilities for motorists, for serious bicyclists, and for slower foot traffic, and we can achieve this with a bit of thought and better planning. Dismissing the valid concerns and interests of transportation cyclists as “the 0.5 percent of the population” is not a constructive argument.
Citizens of Encinitas, please speak up against this poorly conceived plan and demand that we do better. We should explore traffic calming and reduced speed limits and, at a bare minimum, sharrows and prominent “Bikes May Use Full Lane” signage. Narrowing the unused center divide, reducing travel lane width to the legal minimum of 10 feet, and narrowing the proposed multi-use path (which is deceivingly being touted as a Class IV bikeway), just might give us enough road width to preserve our bike lanes.
5G cell tower threat in Encinitas: We have each other’s backs
On Aug. 21, the Encinitas City Council passed an urgency ordinance that will allow 5G in every corner of the residents’ lives — home, school, and work. The residents of Encinitas should be outraged because no attempt was made to protect them from 5G towers that are going to literally be in their front yards. The FCC, EPA, and FDA admit they do not have a single study proving 5G is safe. 5G is virtually untested but for recently declassified experiments by the CIA in the 1970s where the millimeterwave was found to be harmful. Here is the message I would like my friends and family in Encinitas to share with their mayor and city council members.
Encinitas is an environmentally-minded community. We care about the land, the water and the air. But our most precious resource is our residents. We have each other’s backs. And we will have each other’s backs through this unquestionably dangerous imposition of 5G in our community. Instead of protecting the residents, the city chose to hire telecom attorney Jonathan Kramer. Mr. Kramer is not hired by municipalities to protect the residents, but rather to help telecom in its quest to expand. If you do not give us substantial setbacks and preferably an outright residential ban, here’s how we will have each other’s backs:
We will track radiation sickness symptoms among our fellow citizens. We will purchase the best measuring devices on the market and when we find towers that are over the limit, we will call in experts to quantify the levels of radiation in irrefutable ways. We will be holding the city and the carriers accountable to the fullest extent of the law. If Jonathan Kramer told the council members you are immune because of Section 704 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, he failed to tell you that Section 704 protects you only so long as the carrier stays within the safety limit. And we know from investigating super-4G/5G that staying within the safety limits is not possible. Thus you have exposure and you need to know that we are watching, and we are putting you on notice.
Who do you work for, City Council? Do you work for telecom? Do you take money from telecom for your campaigns? Or do you work for the people who elected you and the people who can work to defeat you in the next election? If you fail to have our backs and amend this ordinance, we promise you we will not only have each other’s backs, but we will have your seats on City Council.
Susan Foster is a medical writer from Rancho Santa Fe and an Honorary Firefighter with the San Diego Fire Department. She has advocated for the firefighters to keep cell towers off their stations for two decades. Foster advocated for a 300’ setback for all fire stations in San Diego County from 5G towers, passed by San Diego County Board of Supervisors on Aug. 7, 2019.
Providing a safe parking lot for homeless people should be supported
Thanks to Barbara Henry and your editors for covering our city’s effort to help the homeless (Dec. 6).
The increasing number of people living on our streets, in cars, in neighborhood parks torments me. I want to help, but don’t know how. I think about where we live, in the Encinitas highlands, and how lucky—blessed we are to live here.
Having volunteered at a homeless shelter, I can tell you that many of “those people” are the same as you and me. For many reasons—bad luck, mental illness, loss of a job, accident, high cost of housing—they’re on the street.
It could be me or my children.
So, when I heard about this program to provide a safe place for these families to spend the night, along with counseling, bathrooms, guidance and a modicum of dignity—wow, I was so relieved and grateful. Finally, we are doing something.
This is such a difficult and complex problem and it is not going away, so starting to take meaningful action should be supported.
As John wrote in his First Epistle, 3:17-18:
“But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (1)
(1) King James Version, 1611, published by the American Bible Society. Page 1056.
Jan. 17, 2020 issue:
Communist crimes against humanity: Not as well known?
My name is Matthew Hagan. Recently, at my school, San Dieguito Academy, there has been vandalism in the form of Nazi swastikas. Many are rightly upset about it. But when hearing about this incident, I couldn’t help but feel there was a double standard. At school, I’ve seen students draw hammer and sickles in class. Kids will bring toy fists painted with communist symbols. A third of millennials support communism, according to YouGov polls. It seems that if the vandalisms were of communist iconography instead of Nazi iconography, people wouldn’t notice as much.
Why is that? I know that we get told that communism is a failed ideology, but I don’t think it’s emphasized the human suffering it caused. In Europe, it led to the Soviet Union, a brutal dictatorship that would starve anywhere from 3 to 12 million Ukrainians in the Holodomor famine of 1933, and killing millions more dissidents in the Stalin-led purges, and countless human rights abuses and Soviet crackdowns against reform in the Eastern Bloc, such as in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. In Pacific Asia, Mao’s Chinese communist regime saw 30 million people die in his “Great Leap Forward.” China’s ally, the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia, started a genocide in the country during the 1970s that would see death for one Cambodian in four, and that’s not even mentioning North Korea, or the hundreds of thousands of Laotians and Vietnamese killed by communists. But that’s just the prominent examples. In Central Asia, the Soviet Union killed up to 2 million Afghan civilians, and communists started a brutal civil war in Nepal. Communists destroyed societies in Latin America (Cuba, Peru, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Colombia), Africa (Ethiopia, Madagascar, Somalia, Angola and Mozambique, and several other countries as well.
Despite its supposedly egalitarian principles, communism has shown itself to be absolute cancer to society. To many, the hammer and sickle and the red star are as much symbols of violence and destruction as the swastika, including some whom I know. My grandfather was born in Hungary, lived under Nazi and Soviet occupation, and left during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. My neighbor is the son of Afghan immigrants who fled during the Soviet war.
So why is it that communism, while certainly frowned upon in modern society, is nowhere near as universally loathed and recognized as an evil ideology in the same way Nazism is? In my opinion, the main reason is that people are ignorant of communist crimes against humanity.
More people know about the Holocaust than the Holodomor. So if the next notable act of public vandalism is a hammer and sickle, and we don’t hear our leaders go on and on about rejecting hateful ideologies, ask yourself, why?
Time to act is now
Every day there is news of climate catastrophes that may be linked to climate change. Every day we hear the same excuses from world leaders and legislators: It’s a hoax; we can’t do anything unless China and India do something; climate has changed before; there’s no scientific consensus.
Unless we act, history will show a lack of moral leadership that caused one of the greatest human failures.
But there is hope and a path forward. Scientists agree that climate change can be stopped by ending the burning of fossil fuels. A fee on carbon does exactly this in addition to generating jobs and encouraging energy innovation. If you want to be part of the solution, join a group like Citizens Climate Lobby, a nonpartisan group that is working on getting Congress to pass carbon reduction legislation.
Jan. 31, 2020 issue:
Kudos to City Council for supporting the Safe Parking Program
Last week the Encinitas City Council voted 4-1 to approve the Safe Parking Program (SPP) allowing people in up to 25 cars, who have been vetted and are receiving case management services, to park overnight at a secure lot at the Leichtag Foundation. Listening to the over 100 public speakers, and reading much of the social media chatter, it is apparent that some are coming from a place of fear based on misinformation, and many lack a basic understanding of governance and civics.
SPP was never intended to solve all homelessness. Some speakers told horror stories of chronically homeless people dealing with drugs and mental health problems. This is not the population to be served by the SPP. SPP aims to prevent temporarily unsheltered people from becoming chronically homeless. Some projected traffic and crime problems with no evidence to support their claims. Claims of major traffic problems from these 25 vehicles exiting onto Quail Gardens Drive is bogus – they have to leave by 7 a.m., before any rush hour impacts.
Many speakers were just uninformed about basic civics. Some questioned or challenged the HEAP (Homeless Emergency Aid Program) grant won by Jewish Family Services. This is a state program, so people with issues with how much money was awarded, or what the money will be used for, need to address their comments to our State representatives, Sen. Pat Bates and Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath. The City Council has no control over HEAP funding.
Some speakers expressed frustration about how difficult it was to get information and said they felt like their voices weren’t heard. Residents seem unaware of how to get notifications from the City about upcoming meetings. The City website has a link where anyone can sign up for email notices about any number of areas of interest – commission and Council meeting agendas included. People seem unfamiliar with Council protocol – public comment at a City Council meeting is the opportunity for people to speak to the Council members on the particular agenda item. It is not the place for a campaign rally, and it is not appropriate to address comments to people in the audience.
Some called for direct democracy, outraged that there was not a public vote on this proposal. We have representative democracy – voters choose the mayor and Council members to make policy on behalf of our community. There are certain fundamental issues that do require a public vote, such as new taxes and zoning changes. It is unrealistic to expect voters to invest the time and energy needed to be informed on every issue that comes before the Council. Elected officials devote many hours every week including working with experts on the City staff in order to vote intelligently on the wide range of issues that arise.
I support SPP. I’m proud of our Council for listening, adapting, and supporting a well-structured initiative. I hope the public engagement will evolve into informed citizen activism, based on facts, not fear and misinformation.
Lisa Shaffer, Former Deputy Mayor and City Council Member
Significant step toward a climate solution
I was thrilled to see that BlackRock, the largest investment management firm, will “put climate change and sustainability at the center of its investment approach.” The climate crisis is an incredibly important issue to me, so seeing large companies recognize and take leadership on this issue is incredibly uplifting to see, so a big thank you to BlackRock! This is a significant step toward a climate solution. With support from other large companies combined with federal action to put a price on pollution (through the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act), real change can be implemented globally to preserve Earth as we know it for future generations.
Feb. 14, 2020 issue:
One lane 101
I live near the 101/LaCosta intersection. I take my dogs to the open fields at Avenida Encinas to run every morning. If, for any reason, the work on the new hotel requires the closure of one of the two southbound lanes of the 101, I have seen traffic backed up to the Hilton Hotel, which is well over a mile. I can’t imagine the impact on traffic caused by closing that second lane all the way through Encinitas.
Before spending $30+ million on permanent changes, wouldn’t it make sense to block the second lane with secured poles/markers for a 6-12 month period to see just how well, or poorly, such a drastic change is tolerated? And then let taxpayers vote on whether or not they approve?
Feb. 28, 2020 issue:
Thank you to Barbara Henry for your excellent coverage of the Safe Parking Program in Encinitas. Thank you to the Leichtag Foundation for your compassion and willingness to do something that some perceive as unpopular, and thank you to our City Council for their efforts to serve all in our city.
Yes on B: A better choice for all
With the Primary Election season in full swing, San Diego County voters are faced with many choices when heading to the polls. All San Diego County voters will be voting on Measure B. It would affirm the Board of Supervisors’ unanimous 2018 approval of 2,135 homes and 1,209 acres of permanent open space located in North San Diego County next to Vista, Escondido and San Marcos. The County General Plan currently designates this property for the development of a massive 2 million-square-foot office and retail center in addition to parking lots and 99 estate homes. Instead of that regional commercial center, voting Yes on Measure B will create critically needed homes attainable for varying income levels with parks and trails.
Encinitas voters can make a positive impact locally by voting Yes on B – the Better Choice Measure.
Sustainability is a top priority with Measure B, as it will create one of first carbon-neutral communities in San Diego County. Each home will have solar panels on the roof and electric vehicle chargers in the garage. The community will offer a free shuttle service to connect residents to transportation hubs located nearby in Escondido and San Marcos. There will also be electric bike stations placed throughout the community to provide residents with alternative transportation mode within the community.
Currently, the intersections and local roads surrounding the proposed community are unsafe and put cyclists and pedestrians in harm’s way every day. Voting Yes on B will greatly improve roads in this part of the County by contributing $56 million for local road and bikeway improvements. As part of this improvement package, Deer Springs Road will be widened between I-15 into San Marcos. Bikeways and pedestrian pathways, where none currently exist, will also be added along Deer Springs Road.
This project was unanimously approved by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors in 2018 following a rigorous public environmental review process.
As responsible neighbors in San Diego County, I hope that my fellow Encinitas residents vote “Yes” on Measure B!
April 10 issue:
In support of CSAs during COVID-19
We have a strong and supportive community. In the last few weeks I’ve seen examples of local people helping and relying on each other, from neighbors checking up on one another, others sharing flowers and produce, to a toilet paper exchange that an Encinitas man started on a street corner.
At the same time, our grocers have been scrambling to keep up with demand as concern about the viral spread increases and our grocery stores get more crowded, even as we’re supposed to social distance and stay home.
Our grocery workers deserve our gratitude and support for their tireless work on our behalf, but the flooding of grocery stores and resulting intermittent shortages of items like eggs and produce leads me to think of our local systems of agriculture.
Many of our local farms offer CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscriptions to produce and fruit boxes filled with their harvest. Some even offer dairy and eggs produced locally.
Let’s take this time to support our many local farmers and build the strength and resilience of our local food production systems. By doing so we can help protect our most vulnerable by staying home more, we can increase our regional food security, and we can contribute to lower carbon emissions. Together we are stronger.
A heartbreaking but predictable scenario to keep in mind
Families are mourning a woman who was killed, and several others severely injured when a driver, allegedly impaired by marijuana, plowed into them at 2:35 a.m. on March 14. The driver is charged with manslaughter. This is a heartbreaking but predictable scenario. Liberty Mutual Insurance found that 24% of surveyed adults did not believe driving under the influence of pot was dangerous. Yet even small amounts can affect coordination, peripheral vision, reaction time, decision making, and the ability to judge distances and stay in one’s own lane.
This is important to keep in mind for voters in Encinitas and Solana Beach who will soon face ballot initiatives sponsored by the pot industry. Have you seen the many billboards in San Diego advertising marijuana? How many have you seen warning of the dangers of drugged driving? I haven’t seen any.
April 24 issue:
A future worth fighting for
As we grind through the difficult days of the pandemic, I’d like to share some hope.
My daughter, the fashion designer, is making protective masks--dyed with turmeric and beet juice, and they are lovely.
In every city around the nation, feats of valor, creativity and grace are being accomplished every day. We will win this battle. This gives me hope: the power of our teamwork and solidarity. People are doing things they’ve never done before. Resilience abounds. And these are just the qualities needed to confront and lick the next pandemic: the looming climate crisis.
At this moment, these are just the tools we need to ensure a healthy, livable and prosperous future. From cleaner air in our cities to reduced water pollution in lakes and oceans to quality clean energy jobs--sourced from limitless supplies of sun and wind. So as we work through the current challenges, let’s take stock of our boundless ingenuity and keep in our sights a future worth fighting for.
Closures are about safety
I watched the April 19 protest in Encinitas about the closure of the rail trail and beach with great sadness. With over 40,000 deaths and millions of people out of work worrying how they can pay their bills or even put food on the table how can people protest a trail closure? I cannot think of anything more petty, selfish or self centered than that. It’s not about their “rights,” it’s about safety! It’s about the community. If in this horrible epidemic, the worst thing that happens to someone is that the trail that they like closes, then they need to stop and count their blessings.
May 8 issue:
Opinion: Grade, ‘Credit/No-Credit’ or both
On April 21, during the last San Dieguito Union High School District board meeting, the board had what some would consider a simple choice to make on a critical decision.
What type of grading system should the school district utilize during this school term?
b. Credit/No Credit
c. All of the Above
After three hours of focused discussions, the board majority (3-1-1) gave the superintendent direction to move forward on “Option B. Credit/No Credit.” I strongly spoke out against the issuance of only C/NC this school term. Parents and students should be allowed the option to choose between C/NC or grades. As a parent, I would select grades, but allowing for Option C. “All of the Above” seems to work for everyone. Even in college, students have the choice between grades or C/NC. The advantages and disadvantages are well known and the choice is up to each student. Offering only C/NC appears to be an academic risk that could impact our students’ academic futures. We also need to continue to motivate our students to reach higher. Do you really believe C/NC is a better motivator than grades?
This is an important decision for our college-bound students. As students pursue the colleges of their choice, grades may make a difference in the very competitive college acceptance process. Grades may also impact the ability for students to receive merit aid or scholarships. Our neighbor, the Carlsbad School District, just voted this week for “Option C. All of the Above.” This will allow the students to choose a traditional letter grade for all courses (with GPA weight) or receive C/NC for all classes (with no impact on student GPAs). While many school districts are currently in discussion, all local private high schools (that I have spoken with) are giving grades as an option. According to the College Board AP Exam Webinar in April, 86% of AP teachers are still giving letter grades. Once again, the district students could be constrained when competing with students across the nation for admission and scholarships. Letter grades will also give our junior students a chance to improve their GPAs this semester, since ACT and SAT exams will not be required for college admissions in 2020-2021.
Our district is known statewide as a leader in academics. We raise our children to become future leaders and professionals within their chosen fields. Our children are educated here to conquer their challenges, reach their educational goals, and be successful in whatever occupations they choose. Our bar has never been simply “Credit or No Credit.” Offering students a choice is a win-win option for everyone, so why is the district struggling to reach this conclusion? During these unfortunate and challenging times, the question is easy and the answer is obvious. What’s best for the students? The answer is clear: “Option C. All of the Above” (grades or C/NC)!
San Dieguito Union High School District, board member
Students, parents protest SDUHSD’s ‘Credit/No Credit’ grading system
For our San Dieguito Union High School District School board trustees, managing education through the global COVID-19 pandemic will be the most important test of their educational and political career. Their legacy will be defined on how they led/governed through this crisis.
While there is no precedent for managing education in a global pandemic, there is a precedent that establishes the district as high performing and demonstrates that our students are prepared for the next level. Given this elevated status, it is unbelievable that the district choose a “Credit/No Credit” grading policy.
The minute our students hit junior high they are bombarded with planning for college and the importance of grades on future success. This pressure is not restricted to the straight A students, AP students or the elite, it is applied to all students. Our students use grades for all sorts of reasons: to motivate or demotivate, to receive kudos, to please the adults, to torture the adults, to stand out above their peers, to demonstrate rebellion, to be the first in their family to go to college and on and on. Grades for the high school student are the very fabric of what drives them to achieve a goal. Students work really hard for a variety of reasons: to secure the highest GPA possible to get into elite colleges, to apply for Merit Scholarships, to just work really hard to get a 3.0 GPA so they can get to a UC campus, or to work to get 2.0 GPA so they can participate on the athletic field or play Tuba in the band.
What makes SDUHSD special is the push given our students to excel, be better — improve your grades, improve yourself and soar. Now – they are being asked to do the work, but not receive a grade?
One thing we can all agree on, no one knows the best answer. So, let’s err on the side of caution and allow a choice, the same choice being given by UC system schools to their students and private colleges like USC.
Give the same choice as the millions of high school students in the three largest school districts in California (LA Unified, San Diego Unified, Fresno Unified) and many of San Dieguito’s peers, Los Gatos/Saratoga, Alameda, Sacramento Unified, Sweetwater UHSD and Corona Norco, to name a few, being offered a choice of a grade with a hold harmless clause.
As leaders, this board has taken an extremely short-sighted (almost panicked) view and crafted a plausible excuse to justify their lack of decision. It is time to consider the short-, mid- and long-term ramifications on the psyche of a young mind.
The school board’s primary role is to set policy, not the superintendent, or the San Dieguito Faculty Association, or the executive directors of the Foundations; it is the school board’s job.
Demand our school board give our students the choice to continue to soar.
San Dieguito Union High School District
Community member and long-time student advocate
Now is the time to sacrifice for the greater good
During this terrible pandemic, I feel especially privileged to have a stable retirement income and to live in a nice house in a beach community; but in my career as a social worker, I was exposed to people with much less privilege, many of whom probably did not get their nails and eyebrows done or go to a gym, but got their haircuts at a barber shop, rarely ate out except for fast food, and probably rarely got to go to the beach.
Instead of protesting for the right to get your nails done or go to the beach, wouldn’t it be better to be protesting about the inadequate federal response to this crisis for the working people who have not received promised income relief and loans to keep their small businesses going, and about the inadequate support for local governments and health care systems which are overstretched? When this is over, wouldn’t it be nice to look back on our own behavior and be grateful that we behaved with grace and patience, that we showed compassion for the least fortunate, and that we were willing to sacrifice for the greater good?
Beach opening appreciated
Members of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and members of the Encinitas City Council:
Congratulations on re-opening Moonlight Beach to surfers and others to once again enjoy our wonderful beach and ocean.
I witnessed the most fantastic, well attended, and joyful surfers’ Dawn Patrol that I have had the pleasure of witnessing in my 50 years of living on the ocean bluffs! Fantastic!
When I was up at the crack of dawn, I looked out my window at Neptune Avenue. All I saw was a steady stream of surfers on their bicycles with their surfboards racing south to Moonlight!
Congratulations again for your courage and well-considered phased approach to re-opening our San Diego County North Coast.
To some people this may look like baby steps. However, to those of us that treasure our way of life, it constitutes a giant step back towards normality.
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