From the Mayor: Encinitas 2021 Top 10

Happy New Year to you and your loved ones! As we begin the new year, it is worth taking a moment to reflect on the great things accomplished in 2021, despite the pandemic.

Catherine Blakespear, Mayor of Encinitas

(Courtesy)

It’s also important to note how different this year is. Last year, in January, the circumstances were truly dire. We were in indefinite confinement, with vaccines barely available. COVID was skyrocketing, schools were closed and hospitals were at zero capacity.

We’re not out of the woods yet, of course.

Here is Encinitas Top 10 of 2021.

Last year we …

10. Started our innovative organic waste recycling program

In 2021, our residents and businesses started recycling their food waste in green bins for treatment, instead of being landfilled. Our EDCO waste hauler has spent the past three years building a digester that can turn green and yard waste into natural gas and fertilizer.

We embraced this program from the start, offering kitchen caddies and compostable green waste bags to make the habit change easier.

9. Adopted stricter regulations for short-term rentals

We have updated our Rules for Short Term Vacation Rentals (STVRs) for the over 600 units that owners rent from Encinitas.

We have approved a three night minimum and are considering an overall cap on the number of units that can be converted to STVR. We have also strengthened regulations to facilitate the application of consequences in the event of an infringement.

8. Switching to renewable and cleaner energy for all

Encinitas has adopted 100% renewable energy as the default power source for all of its customers and has approved the county’s most ambitious building electrification ordinance to wean our future buildings from their reliance on fossil fuels. Electric power is cleaner than gas power, and we are committed to reducing our city’s carbon footprint.

7. Creating new, safer ways to walk and cycle

The city continued to prioritize cycling and walking projects, including approving a new two-way cycle path on the west side of Highway 101 between downtown Encinitas and Cardiff, and improvements along Vulcan Ave and El Camino Real.

We continue to rethink the use of public space to make the choice to travel without a car easier, safer and more enjoyable.

6. Shops and public places reopened

As quickly and safely as possible, we have reopened our city’s businesses, schools, beaches and parks. We have also restored important community events such as the Holiday Parade and Dia de Los Muertos and the Art Night celebrations. Among the many aids offered, we have supported local businesses by allowing them to use the right-of-way of the city’s sidewalks.

5. Commemorated Jody Hubbard and welcomed Joy Lyndes

Early last year, our beloved former city councilor, Jody Hubbard, was diagnosed with lung and brain cancer, and she passed away in June. She was known for her love of the outdoors and for improving the ways of walking, biking and running in Encinitas. Jody wasn’t just a force of nature, she was a force of nature. Jody’s seat on Encinitas City Council was occupied by skilled landscape architect Joy Lyndes.

4. Opening of Olympus Park, our new Encinitas gem

In May, we opened our new three-acre Olympus Park in Leucadia, created on a hill east of I-5. The designers included whimsical play structures, a dog park, a zipline area, basketball and pickleball courts, a skate area, a pumping track for bikes, skateboards and scooters, and a stretching yoga area. Olympus Park also features hiking trails, a belvedere, a botanical garden and 76 newly planted trees!

3. Relocation of our successful safe parking program

We voted to continue and move our “safe parking” program for homeless people who still have a car to spend the night in a protected and safe place, where they will receive counseling services. It has operated successfully on the Leichtag Foundation property and is now moving to the parking lot of the Encinitas Elderly and Community Center. The program helps people and doesn’t hurt anyone – I’m proud we did the right thing.

2. Development of an inventive housing plan and approval of an “agrihood”

For the first time in the city’s history, the city council approved a one-time housing plan that encourages the construction of affordable housing for low-income people. Based on this successful plan, we approved the city’s first agrihood in Leucadia, Fox Pointe Farms. This exciting project consists of houses and apartments with an agricultural theme. We have also approved several other smaller housing projects that will provide housing in our city with high potential.

1. Highway 101 reinvented with Leucadia Streetscape

In 2021, we kicked off the city’s largest infrastructure project, a complete overhaul of Highway 101 in Leucadia, and continued construction of a new pedestrian underpass at Old Encinitas in El Portal.

Once completed, it will be easier to get to the beaches on foot or by bike, and the Coast Hwy in Leucadia will be much more walkable and suitable for families. This project with roundabouts, bike paths, trees, parking lots, wider sidewalks and better drainage lasted 15 years, and we really did it this year!

One last thought

As we begin 2022, my sincere gratitude goes to our City Council members, city staff and the generous people of Encinitas for working together to improve our paradise during these many difficult months. We must be proud of what we have accomplished together.

Let’s keep going, believing that our hope, energy and vision will create a safer and more fulfilling year 2022!


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