Candidates make their pitch at Cardiff forum


A candidate forum Sept. 16 at Ada Harris Elementary touched on everything from field lighting for the community park to downtown bars to trenching the railroad tracks.

Five mayoral candidates, along with four vying for the one open council, fielded residents’ questions and made their case to about 75 people.

When asked by a resident about large field lights at the soon-to-debut Encinitas Community Park, all but one of the candidates said they’re against them.

“If the lights are 90 feet, it’s going to be right in my backyard, so I’m right there with you,” council candidate Alan Lerchbacker told the crowd.

Lerchbacker added the council wouldn’t necessarily have the final say on the field lights. He said this is because they would likely trigger Proposition A, a law that requires a public vote for structures over 30 feet.

Catherine Blakespear, another council candidate, said park visitors will be able to enjoy the fields and other amenities during daylight hours.

“To me that’s perfectly appropriate, so I don’t support lights at the park,” Blakespear said.

A number of Cardiff homeowners over the years have raised concerns about lighting at the park, which will debut sometime this fall. City staff has stated there are no current plans for lighting. However, there are conduits in the ground in case any lighting proposals come about.

Current Mayor Kristin Gaspar, who is vying for mayor, said the park won’t be able to accommodate all sports leagues during the day. She added the lighting would provide more opportunities and bolster youth fitness.

“There’s no reason why an Encinitas resident should be driving out to Ramona to play on a dirt field,” Gaspar said.

However, Gaspar said if Prop A indeed applies, then voters would have the chance to decide.

One resident asked about how the candidates would address noise and public drunkenness outside of downtown Encinitas bars, an issue that reached a fever pitch last summer.

“The proliferation of bars in this town is unbelievable,” mayoral candidate Sheila Cameron said.

Cameron said the city should have approved a deemed-approved ordinance that would impose tougher noise and trash regulations on bars.

“It would make bars more responsible,” Cameron added.

The ordinance went before council earlier this year, failing with two council members in favor and three against.

Deputy Mayor Tony Kranz, also running for mayor, supported developing the ordinance, but ultimately voted against implementing it.

Kranz said the city recently stepped up code enforcement checks downtown. If enforcing existing rules on the books fails, the city could “take the ordinance off the shelf” and approve it, he added.

Gaspar, who has opposed the ordinance, said the city’s new code enforcement officer will monitor late-night bars and keep the council in the loop.

“Then we need to see whether or not this is working,” Gaspar said.

Mayoral candidate Alex Fidel said the flawed federal banking system has allowed so many bars and businesses revolving around consumption to open.

One resident promoted trenching the train tracks into the ground — like the railway in Solana Beach — as a solution to noise and safety problems. She then asked if candidates support this. Council candidate Julie Graboi said lowering the tracks would be great, but only if the city can find funding. Graboi noted Solana Beach was able to secure grant funding to lower the tracks.

“We don’t have money for a lot of necessary things like road maintenance, and a lot of different areas have fallen by the wayside, so it all depends on where the money would come from,” Graboi said.

Kranz, Encinitas’ representative on North County Transit District, said the city is working on a rail corridor vision. To move forward, he said the council should consult past reports that outline alternatives for the railway and update the costs to reflect today’s dollars.

“We want to proceed with a unanimous council, approaching regional, federal and state sources of money,” Kranz said.

Cameron was also in favor of trenching the railway. However, she noted regional agencies haven’t prioritized the approach, making funding a challenge.

She added the city should also pursue wayside horns, which are directionally angled speakers that are quieter than train blasts.

A mayoral candidate forum, moderated by the League of Women Voters, is slated to begin at 7 p.m. on Sept. 25 at the Encinitas library.

Additionally, the Olivenhain Town Council is hosting a forum for candidates in both races at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 1 at the Olivenhain Meeting Hall. A council forum is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Oct. 9 at the Encinitas Library.