This is the time of year I contemplate the ups and downs of the previous 12 months as your mayor. On balance, I’m feeling great about what we’ve accomplished.
As time passes, I understand more deeply what it means to serve as mayor. Author and cultural observer Malcolm Gladwell famously said that to master any major ambition, it takes 10,000 hours of practice. It helps to have a passion and a knack for it too, of course.
After nearly five years serving you in local elected office, I’ve got those hours under my belt, and I’ll share with you an insight. When we’re performing at our best, we’re working to solve the great moral and practical problems that face our community, while simultaneously inspiring the action and collaboration of our citizens.
What we strive to avoid is spinning our wheels with too much talk and rhetoric but no action. Or perpetual disagreement and analysis paralysis.
I believe people trust a process they can see. Integrating valuable public collaboration with the need to take definitive action creates forward motion. This artful balance is what Encinitas does so well.
Here’s my Top Five list of the accomplishments we’ve achieved together in 2019:
#1 Finally, a housing plan
For the first time, Encinitas has a state-approved housing plan. This ends the costly, wasteful lawsuits, charts a course forward for our city’s housing and gets the state off our back. I can’t overstate the importance of this feat, or the amount of time, money, and energy it took to get us here. One type of housing we’ve embraced is granny flats or accessory dwelling units. Think about adding one to your backyard! It’s housing that’s naturally more affordable. The city offers pre-approved plans and waived fees to simplify the process and reduce the cost.
#2 Community Choice Energy
Encinitas created a new Joint Powers Authority (JPA) to supply local, renewable energy to residents and businesses through Community Choice Energy (CCE). We’re in the vanguard here, helping lead the county with our environmental commitments. Forming this organization addresses climate change on the local level and gives residents a cleaner power source. Plus, our very own Encinitas City Councilmember Joe Mosca was chosen by his peers to serve as chair of San Diego Community Power!
#3 Leucadia improvements and pedestrian undercrossing
We secured approval from the Coastal Commission (and every other possible regulatory body) to build the city’s largest current infrastructure improvement, overhauling Highway 101 through downtown Leucadia and building the first railroad undercrossing in Leucadia at El Portal. Construction is slated to start next year. The collaboration, negotiation and compromises associated with getting this project over the finish line were monumental and intense throughout 2019.
#4 The Cardiff Rail Trail and more
We opened the immediately popular 1.3-mile Coastal Rail Trail in Cardiff, quieted the train horns there, added sand dunes and native habitat along the beach and Highway 101, and made it easier and safer to cross the railroad tracks and the road. It required a lot of drive, patience, and coordination between city, county, and state agencies. This is some expensive, once-in-a-generation infrastructure, folks!
#5 Proactively addressing our homeless issues
We’re getting in front of the homeless problem. This year the City of Encinitas commissioned a homelessness plan to really understand our local homeless population and what we can do to address it. We also took meaningful action by directing the next steps to open the city’s first Safe Parking lot for 25 pre-vetted participants who have lost their homes, but still own a car, so that they can get back on their feet.
I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in 2019 and can’t wait to see what we can do together in 2020. Welcome to a new decade!
— Catherine Blakespear serves as Encinitas Mayor.