Encinitas council candidates discuss housing, other local issues in back-to-back forums

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(Karen Billing)

Encinitas City Council candidates addressed issues including infrastructure, housing and homelessness during separate, back-to-back online candidate forums on Oct. 11.

District 3

In a district that covers Cardiff, as well as parts of Old Encinitas and New Encinitas, Julie Thunder is running against incumbent Joy Lyndes. Lyndes was appointed to the council in 2021 to replace Jody Hubbard, who resigned in 2021 shortly before she died from lung cancer.

“I’ll be very clear,” Lyndes said. “We couldn’t be more different in style and in substance. I work hard to unite us in achieving common goals, not fan flames of discontent.”

Thunder, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2020, has been critical of state housing policy that limits local control of zoning and density.

“I know it can’t stay the way it is, but I also know it doesn’t have to change as quickly as our City Council wants it to,” she said.

Thunder said she would be more of an advocate for local control.

“When these decisions about housing come before your new City Council,” she added, “do you want a representative who is pro-housing? Or do you want me? Someone who loves our town and doesn’t want to see it changed by forced urbanization.”

Lyndes said she would want to avoid litigation with the state government over failure to meet housing requirements, but the city still has room to carve out its own agenda.

“We have many opportunities to improve how we preserve our open space and preserve those things that are important to us, that are part of our character and part of our uniqueness here as a coastal community,” Lyndes said.

On the related issue of homelessness, Lyndes pointed to the city’s Homeless Action Plan and the “Safe Parking” lot managed by Jewish Family Service.

“It has found solutions for 154 people who were homeless and now are housed,” she said.

Thunder said the city needs to do more to assist those experiencing homelessness who struggle with addiction.

“There are no solutions for the drug-addicted or the alcohol-addicted, and that is where our problems lie,” she said.

District 4

The four candidates running for the District 4 council seat, which represents Olivenhain and other eastern portions of the city, also discussed homelessness.

“Violations of vagrancy camping and parking laws should be enforced, but with a humane, evidence-based effectiveness,” said Stacie Davis, a small business owner and former vice chair of the city’s Senior Citizen Commission. “We need to start addressing root causes of all these individual cases to see if they need to be possibly institutionalized for psychosis.”

Bruce Ehlers, a former member of the Planning Commission, said he’s seen people experiencing homelessness refuse assistance.

“If they do not want the help,” he said, “then we still must enforce our local laws on those people that refuse shelter, and I do agree we need to provide that shelter both locally and regionally.”

Candidates were largely aligned on questions related to managing new development in Encinitas spurred by state housing mandates.

Dan Vaughn, who serves on the Olivenhain Town Council, said it’s important that “as we build responsible development for the much-needed affordable housing, we do this in high-density, high-transportation corridors, like near the transit station.”

On infrastructure, candidates also agreed that plans to develop the El Camino Real corridor will provide a safer environment for residents and visitors who want to walk, bike or use other modes of transportation to get around town without their cars.

“I’ve seen some great examples in Oceanside of microtransit, where there are electric vehicles that open-air golf carts that people can hitch a ride on,” said Pam Redela, who teaches in the women’s studies department at CSU San Marcos.

The winner of the District 4 seat will replace Deputy Mayor Joe Mosca, who is not seeking reelection. Mosca was appointed to the council in 2017 and edged out a victory in the 2018 election with about 51% of the vote.

Voters throughout San Diego County have begun receiving their ballots in the mail for the November election. On Oct. 29, 39 voting centers for in-person voting will operate from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to the county. More than 200 voting centers will be open starting Nov. 5. Voting hours on Election Day, Nov. 8, will be 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.