An Encinitas planning commissioner is looking to take over a council seat held by a three-term incumbent
Jody Hubbard, a 19-year resident of Encinitas, is the lone opponent running against District 3 councilmember Mark Muir, who has sat on the council since 2014. The pair is vying for one, four-year term in the newly created District 3, which represents Cardiff and is one of two districts up for grabs this year.
The City of Encinitas adopted district-based elections last October, following threats from a Malibu-based lawyer who claimed racial discrimination in the city's former at-large election policy. The mayor's seat remains based on an at-large election.
Hubbard, a 62-year-old retired certified public accountant and current business owner, has said she has a positive vision for the city that includes "happier" and "healthier" residents. In candidate forums, she has touted traffic as the city's most pressing issue, along with finding an adequate solution for the city's housing problem.
She recently spoke about her candidacy and why she believes she should be elected to the city council.
This Q&A is the second of three in an ongoing series with candidates who are challenging incumbents for seats on the Encinitas City Council. The Encinitas Advocate published stories about the incumbents when they announced their candidacies over the summer.
Q: You've said at past forums that you consider traffic to be Encinitas' biggest problem. Why is that?
A: I've been out walking the streets. I've knocked on the doors myself. I asked people, 'What's your biggest issue?' By the time I got done — although people were really concerned about housing — I would say what they're more concerned about is the traffic and the traffic related to the housing. If you have to put in additional density from, say Measure U, there's traffic that comes with it. If you were to take from 2013 to 2018, there is significantly more traffic. It's just the way it is because we live in a place where everybody wants to live. California has always been that way. There is a significant portion of our population that, if they were given the alternative [to driving], many times they would take it. It's been studied that if a person has to bicycle or walk more than 30 percent out of their way, they won't do it. The opening on the Encinitas Community Park is a perfect example. You hear people say, 'Well, they can just go around to the other entrance.' That takes them far more than 30 percent out of their way, therefore they won't do it. They just stay on the road and go up Burkshire, which is a dangerous little connecting street.
Q: What are your thoughts on housing in Encinitas?
A: I think it's really important. It's good for the city that I will have nine, 10 months under my belt on the planning commission. I come onto city council with solid base knowledge. If we can get ahead of the state, we need to start putting housing where it belongs. That means we need to do it because it's the right thing to do and not wait to be told to do it. That means you use good design and land use principles. We were not able to do that. We were told from the state where we're going to put it. We've basically thumbed our noses at the state. I don't think it's a small thing that our multi-family housing percentage in this city is at 19 percent compared to Del Mar at 28 percent. I consider that to be a very significant difference. It's not something I'm proud of in our city. It's a special place, and we need to step up. We can take on more housing and put it in the right places based on transit, retail services and jobs where the local business employees work.
Q: What is your stance on Measure U?
A: I'm pro-Measure U. I don't love what we're doing but we're in a very deep hole with the state of California. If you look at the differences in the regulations that have occurred from P to U, if this doesn't pass and let's just say the state doesn't do anything and we're back at this again in two years, the regulations will double or triple on us again. If we think it's ugly this time, it will be even worse. That's one option. The other option is, the state's going to come in somehow. I don't know what that will look like. None of us do. But we do risk losing local control. The other concern I've heard is our roads can't handle it. That's where city council comes into play. If some of these projects end up going in and the mitigation isn't sufficient, this is where city council needs to step up and say 'No'... and do what's right for the residents that live there. I want to see us move it forward where it makes sense. If we can prove to the [California Department of Housing and Community Development] that we're actually doing it, it's a lot easier to push back when you're in compliance and you're actually doing something. Just saying no doesn't work. I'm all about us being proactive.
Q: How should Encinitas handle affordable housing?
A: We've ignored three demographics: seniors wanting to downsize, young professionals starting out and all the employees working at the local businesses. Our units -- which should be affordable by design -- go for a lot more money. It's because it's the biggest shortage we have.
Q: What are your thoughts on public transportation?
A: We have regional and local issues with that. Locally, Encinitas needs to start looking at how we can do something with public transit that would be successful. That's going to take some more dialogue, but I believe it's doable. There's going to come a point where either it's going to be too difficult to park or someone's not going to want to deal with the traffic, and they'll say, 'You know what? I'd rather take the little bus that comes by every 15 minutes to do my errands.' That day's going to come, and it will be a good thing. I actually think our city has something to look forward to.
Q: What are some other issues that are important to you?
A: We've gotta get the citizens engaged. I don't think the city has done a real great job of that. I think they're trying. We've gotta try to find the right medium or social platform to use. I really want to see a lot of this grassroots [action] come up from citizens in the community, especially when you get into traffic calming. In downtown Cardiff, there are a lot of things we should do but I can't come in and say we should do plan A or B. I really need to get the residents because they're the ones that are saying, 'Hey, we don't like this.' Let's sit down and see what are their ideas and what they see that would help their neighborhood. At a certain point, they have to come to some consensus or majority, and from there I can take their vision and make it happen.
Q: Why did you decide to run?
A: I've probably thought about [running] on and off over the last 10 years. The difference is, the world has changed. I walked petitions for Prop A to get it passed. Seeing that -- and seeing what happened when we got to T and realizing that if you're going to take the power away from your city council to make zoning changes to your city -- as a resident you then need to step up and take that responsibility. What I saw was the residents passed A and sat back and thought they were all done. It doesn't work that way. ... When [Measure] T failed, and then when Greg Drakos decided he did not want to be on the planning commission anymore, I thought, I need to do this. When I got on the planning commission, I saw everything that was going on and realized when you're talking about in-fill affordable housing development, it's so much harder. ... While on the planning commission, I realized the bigger issue was changing policy. You can't change policy as a planning commissioner; you can only interpret it. I decided to run for city council. It's a perfect time for me. I have a business that is successful, it's running and it doesn't require the time like it did when I started it. I have the knowledge, energy and the flexibility. ... If our biggest problems were water, fire and safety, then I would say Mark is the guy in the right spot. But that is not the world we live in right now. We live in an incredibly safe city. He's done a great job with water and as a fire chief, but those are not the issues we have today. The issues we have today are circulation and housing. That takes a city council that works well together and has a vision. I've got a vision. ... [When it comes to open space] all my opponent has said is we should put money aside, but I haven't heard a plan of what we're going to use that money for. Sometimes along the way if there's an easement you can buy from somebody to open up connecting neighborhoods, that's worth it. People love stuff like that. I have lots of ideas like that. ... I wouldn't be running for city council if I didn't feel strongly about wanting to give back and wanting to make our lives better.
Q: How will you balance your priorities as a District 3 representative, as well as a council member for Encinitas as a whole?
A: For me, it's easy. I have friends and family all over Encinitas. Why would I throw one of the other districts under the bus when my friends live there? The other thing is, frankly, District 3, to me, is a microcosm of all of Encinitas. I have a little bit of everything in my district. I have Cardiff, New Encinitas, a college, a lagoon and businesses. The issues that are important to the District 3 voters are the same across the city. To me, it's not an issue. I feel like I can represent District 3 and all of Encinitas very even-handedly. I also think it's great that you have a council member you know to reach out to when you have an issue. I never had that, and I would have liked it.
For more information, visit www.jodyforcitycouncil.com.