Council candidate Blakespear wants to preserve Encinitas’ quirky charm


Editor’s note: This is the first in a series profiling all Encinitas City Council candidates

Catherine Blakespear’s family ties to Encinitas run deep — her great-grandmother moved to the area in the 1920s and ran a diner on Highway 101, which was then the main north-south route from San Diego to Los Angeles.

“The history of the city is ingrained within me,” said Blakespear, one of four people running for an open seat on the Encinitas City Council in the November election.

Blakespear, 38, an estate-planning and probate attorney, faces three other candidates: Julie Graboi, Alan Lerchbacker and Bryan Ziegler. No incumbent is running.

Blakespear’s grandfather, a contractor, built the Cardiff school where her mother and siblings attended, and where her own two children go today. If elected to the council, she said, she would work to preserve the city’s quirky charm and character, enhance infrastructure such as sidewalks and parks, and maintain the cleanliness of local beaches. Other priorities include public safety and fiscal responsibility.

“My interest as a policy maker is to maintain and encourage the authenticity of the communities” within the city, she said. “I want the city to be as great for my kids and future generations as it was for me and my mom and grandma here.”

Although this is Blakespear’s first run for office, she cited other leadership positions she’s held, from editor-in-chief of her law school journal to president of a networking group. She runs her own small business, a law office. Before she launched her practice, she worked as a journalist for the Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press. She serves on the city’s Traffic and Public Safety Commission as well as two council subcommittees.

While her campaign platform focuses on such issues as preservation of Encinitas’ character and enhancement of its infrastructure, Blakespear seemed particularly passionate about environmental issues. (She recently won endorsements from the local chapter of the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters.)

She volunteered to represent the owner of the two-acre Coral Tree Farm, who had run afoul of city code enforcement after complaints from a neighbor about parking by visitors.

“We have a history in this city of agriculture ... and we have lost sight of that,” she said. To that end, Blakespear urged the City Council to form an urban agriculture subcommittee, and she is advocating for the city to allow small-scale farming that would include activities such as produce sales and classes on everything from composting to yoga.

A strong supporter of the city’s $10 million purchase of the Pacific View property from the elementary school district, she wants to see it turned into a facility that supports arts programs. “I think it would have been a tragedy if we had lost that property, and we can afford it,” she said.

Ambivalent about last year’s successful Proposition A, which requires a public vote for any zoning change, Blakespear opted not to cast her ballot on the issue. She said she was concerned the measure will hamper small, innovative projects, but she is happy the public will get to weigh in on big zoning changes. She also supported a recent 3-2 council decision to ban single-use plastic bags in Encinitas, and supports in concept an extension of that ban to plastic foam cups and containers used by stores and restaurants.

When it comes to fundraising, Blakespear appears to hold an advantage over her opponents. According to the most recent campaign reports filed with the city clerk’s office, Blakespear raised $24,708 in cash and non-cash contributions through June 30. That total included $5,253 from herself.

Graboi reported $3,148 in total contributions, Lerchbacker reported a $5,000 contribution from himself, and Ziegler did not list any contributions. The next report — due Oct. 6 — runs through Sept. 30, said City Clerk Kathy Hollywood.

Blakespear is supported by two current council members, Lisa Shaffer and Teresa Barth, but is not aligning herself with any particular council faction. “I am running in the middle,” she said.

She said she is open to ideas from all of her council colleagues and members of the public on addressing the city’s problems, and her approach would be to seek common ground.

“You don’t have to always have the environment versus business,” she said. “You can find solutions if you work hard and you’re looking out for both sides, that are environmental and pro-business.”