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Encinitas City Council race taking shape

The Encinitas City Council race officially starts next month, but two residents have already thrown their hats in the ring for the one seat up for election.

Respectively, the mayor’s race has one confirmed candidate, with two council members considering running for the role.

So where do the early candidates stand on the issues?

Council candidate Catherine Blakespear said she’d like to overhaul the city’s farming ordinance to jumpstart agriculture operations.

“The city should make agriculture a part of its economy,” she said. “We’re in danger of losing our greenhouses to development.”

Blakespear is an attorney who is representing Coral Tree Farms and Nursery. The small farm lost its ability to sell produce and host educational classes because it ran afoul of city code.

She argued the farm has been “regulated out of business.”

Blakespear also said the city should review why construction costs are so high, noting the new Moonlight Beach lifeguard tower could cost up to $3 million.

She added the council should be able to choose from different project designs, from basic to more expensive.

“Not every facility needs to be the Taj Mahal,” Blakespear said.

Blakespear, a member of the Traffic and Public Safety Commission, also said she’d work toward a more general goal: preserving quality of life.

Mayor Kristin Gaspar, whose term ends this year, is running for office. But she’s yet to decide whether she’ll vie for the mayor or council spot.

An opponent of the $10 million Pacific View purchase, Gaspar has said the city needs to prioritize funding core services like roads.

A few months ago, the council majority floated the idea of a sales tax increase to bring in extra revenue, which Gaspar opposed.

“Council should hold the line on spending instead of raising taxes,” Gaspar said.

Gaspar also said she’d like the city to focus on economic development. She suggested setting up forums or workshops with various stakeholders to learn about challenges facing the business community.

Additionally, she’s passionate about the city’s housing element, a blueprint guiding growth for the next two decades.

Essentially, the city has to map out where to place state-mandated housing.

Instead of clustering the units, Gaspar said they should be evenly distributed throughout the city.

Julie Graboi, the other candidate in the council race, said her platform centers on land-use issues.

“In this area, the council is out of touch with citizens,” Graboi said.

For example, Graboi said council didn’t fully vet the Desert Rose density-bonus development to address traffic and safety concerns.

California’s density bonus law allows developers to build extra homes on a property if one or more of the units is dedicated to low-income residents.

Recently, the projects have sparked protests across the city.

Graboi, a regular at council meetings, said it’s a laudable law on the surface. But in practice, it entails packing too many homes on a parcel, threatening the surrounding community character.

Additionally, Graboi said she’s “closely watching” the housing element to make sure it reflects residents’ views.

Graboi said she’d also uphold Proposition A, the growth-control initiative that passed last summer despite the council coming out against it.

The initiative says that proposed buildings over 30 feet and zoning changes must go to a public vote.

Deputy Mayor Tony Kranz, a vocal advocate of the Pacific View deal, said he’s still mulling over whether to enter the mayor’s race.

If he runs and loses, he’ll still remain on council because his seat expires in 2016.

So far, only Alex Fidel has announced he’s running for mayor. He did not respond to a request to comment.

Fidel has criticized water fluoridation and what he sees as the militarization of the Encinitas Sheriff’s Department.

Residents will directly elect a two-year mayor for the first time in November. Previously, a council majority chose the position, but that changed when Proposition K passed in 2012.

The council seat, which is a four-year term, and mayor filing period starts July 14 and ends Aug. 8.

Visit the city’s website at ci.encinitas.ca.us for more information about requirements to enter the race.


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