Meet Joy Lyndes, newest member of Encinitas City Council

Joy Lyndes will represent District 3 on the City Council.
(Joy Lyndes/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The newest member of the Encinitas City Council is the sort of person who comes up with innovative ideas and then turns them into reality in a low-key way that wins over doubters, her friends and supporters say.

Joy Lyndes, 63, a landscape design business owner, will participate Wednesday, March 10, in her first meeting as the District 3 representative on the City Council. She was appointed to fill out the two remaining years of Jody Hubbard’s term.

“She’s just easy to work with, non-confrontational, soft-spoken,” said Carolyn Cope, president of the Encinitas Historical Society.

Lyndes first became involved with the historical society about seven years ago after she moved from Tucson to Encinitas. She’s served on the society’s board for at least three years, but she’s going to have to step down now because of her appointment to the City Council, Cope said, adding that her presence on the board will be greatly missed.

The society, which maintains a historic one-room schoolhouse adjacent to the former Pacific View Elementary School, currently has limitations on what can be planted at the old schoolhouse while it waits for the Pacific View property to be transformed into a city arts facility. Lyndes came up with a creative way of dealing with the situation by proposing raised beds and landscaping in pots, and produced “the most unbelievable grant request” to get a garden club to fund the project, Cope said.

“She’s not just an idea person; she takes it all the way to fruition,” Cope said.

Kristine Schindler, who has known Lyndes for three years through her work with the EncinitasBikeWalk advocacy group, credits her with being a leading force in the establishment of “Cyclovia” — an annual, vehicle-free event that celebrates the use of bicycles, skateboards and other self-powered modes of transportation.

“She’s an incredibly good listener,” Schindler said, calling the two-term city Environmental Commissioner “very thorough, very focused, very intelligent.”

Lyndes’ interest in environmental and equity issues makes her a good fit for the council post, she added.

“I’m incredibly pleased she got the appointment ... I just think she has the right background for this time right now,” Schindler said.

A native of Vermont, Lyndes comes from a family of farmers and educators, and she continues to manage a woodland in Vermont that her grandfather once owned.

“I was raised with a real strong connection to the land and a desire to teach,” she said.

Her direction in life took a sharp turn westward when at age 20 she decided that an East Coast college degree in plant and soil sciences wasn’t quite right for her, dropped out and decided to do some cross-country traveling.

“I ran out of money and my car broke down in Tucson,” she said as she explained how she ended up becoming a Tucson resident for decades. “It is a funny story, but I don’t regret any of it. ... Sometimes you take a leap ... and see what happens, and that’s what I did then.”

She figures that her willingness to leap into the unknown has given her the ability to problem-solve.

“I’m not always successful, but I’m not opposed to trying,” she said.

As a council member representing District 3 — an area that covers much of Cardiff, as well as part of the city’s mid-section along Encinitas Boulevard — she plans to focus on a wide range of issues, including everything from infrastructure improvements to homelessness, she said. She’s already planning meetings with the Cardiff 101 Main Street association.

“Because I’ve owned a small business, I feel a specific concern for small businesses” given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, she said, adding that she will be looking into what more the city can do to help businesspeople.

Lyndes has a master’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Arizona and founded a company in Tucson. She sold that company, SAGE Landscape Architecture & Environmental, in 2010 and then relocated to San Diego County. She founded Coastal Sage Landscape Architecture, which has its office on Second Street in downtown Encinitas, in 2014.

She and her husband Rob Ashley, a biochemist, share five adult children between them, three living in San Diego County. They have four grandchildren.

— Barbara Henry is a freelance writer for The San Diego Union-Tribune