New Encinitas councilwoman to be sworn into office Tuesday

Jody Hubbard

A retired public accountant who's an avid body surfer will be sworn into office Tuesday, Dec. 11, as the city's newest council member.

Cardiff resident Jody Hubbard, 62, will represent the city's District 3 region, an area that covers much of Cardiff as well as part of the city's mid-section along Encinitas Boulevard.

She'll be taking the council spot previously held by Mark Muir, a retired city fire chief and two-term incumbent councilman who placed second against Hubbard in the city's first district-based elections in November.

People can expect Hubbard to be a "straightforward and direct" councilwoman, who is "interesting and interested in things around her," said longtime friend Karen Paterson, who lived next door to her on Warwick Avenue for 15 years. She'll also be extremely engaged in community activities and willing to admit when she makes mistakes, Paterson added.

She said she doesn't remember the first time she met Hubbard, but has no doubt that it was Hubbard who made the first move to introduce herself, rather than the other way around.

"She's certainly not shy about approaching people and talking to them," Paterson said.

Mayor Catherine Blakespear, who endorsed Hubbard as a candidate, said Friday, Dec. 7, that she's excited to have her join the council.

"I think we have a great team and we're poised to accomplish the city's goals," particularly improving bike, pedestrian and vehicle routes, she said.

Hubbard, she added, is coming onto the council at an exciting time, given how many major construction projects are occurring in Encinitas. These include the overhaul of Santa Fe Drive and Encinitas Boulevard underpasses at Interstate 5, the habitat restoration work at San Elijo Lagoon and the many improvements to the city's railroad corridor. A grand opening for the now-under-construction rail trail through Cardiff is set for April, Blakespear noted.

When asked what she's likely to focus on as a council member, Hubbard mentioned a lengthy list of items, ranging from helping the city finally get a state-certified Housing Element plan to expanding city trails and making sure the Verdi Avenue railroad undercrossing gets built.

"I want to help us get out of the penalty box on housing," Hubbard said Thursday, Dec. 6, referring to the city's longstanding lack of compliance with state housing law, which has currently landed Encinitas in court defending itself against two lawsuits.

Hubbard said she would like to "change the conversation" and encourage the building of some specially designed, high-density housing projects that could win state support. She also wants to assist with the city's continued efforts to win approval for a state-mandated housing planning document.

When it comes to traffic congestion -- something she said she often heard complaints about on the campaign trail -- Hubbard said she'll be backing ways to get people out of the cars, including expanding and improving city trails.

"You can't force anyone to do anything ... but what I do know is, if you build it, they will come," Hubbard said, adding that she had just returned from a trip to Sweden where people of all ages ride bikes to get around day and night. "(That) lets you know what's possible."

Hubbard is a Southern California native, and her father was the first president of a group that helped create what is now the 67-mile Backbone Trail through the Santa Monica Mountains. She says her parents met on a beach playing volleyball, so a love of the sea runs in her blood, and she body surfs as often as she can.

She attended California State University Northridge, received a bachelor's degree in accounting in 1981 and collected her certified public accounting license in 1983. Her first job was at the international KPMG accounting company and she later went to work for Deloitte.

"(As an accountant), you're thrown into situations that you have to constantly figure out ... it was a great life lesson and it's constantly served me well," she said.

She jokes that in the 1990s she had her "mid-life crisis," left the accounting world and established a business that provides long-term care planning advice to families with ailing relatives. Helping families work together to reach good decisions about health care issues is something she's passionate about because two of her grandparents didn't do such planning, were short of cash and ended up staying in low-cost nursing homes, she said.

Initially, when she first moved to San Diego County with her then-husband in the 1980s, she lived in Carlsbad, but she moved to Cardiff in 1999. Her mother also has moved to Encinitas, and she's an equestrian who's active in the Encinitas Trails Coalition.

--Barbara Henry is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune