Happy 4th of July! Lots to tell you about…

Happy Fourth of July!

Today I was excited to celebrate America’s 245th birthday in the Rancho Santa Fe Independence Day Parade! 

Like many Americans, the 4th of July stirs deeply patriotic feelings about who we are and how we came to be a nation. We recognize and celebrate that we are a glorious country and that we are so fortunate to live here, while at the same time identifying that there is much work that remains to reach the “self-evident” goals adopted in our Declaration of Independence.

I also think it’s great that Juneteenth and the Fourth of July are so close to each other because they both celebrate independence. It’s so important to honor the history of all Americans. 

I recently came across this article in The Atlantic“The Happy Patriot, The Unhappy Nationalist,”  that I found enlightening, and I thought you might, too.

Thank you for helping us make an amazing debut!

When running for office, raising money is a necessary part of a campaign. It’s not called a “race” for nothing. Like it or not, donations provide the fuel for us to win.

So here’s some great news – thanks to your support, our campaign for State Senate raised $238,000 before the end-of-June deadline. In the final 24 hours alone, you really stepped up to support me and donated more than $13,000, from more than 90 individual contributions.  

In this first reporting period of the 2022 campaign cycle, we received over 700 contributions, the majority of which were $100 or below – indicating strong, broad-based support.

At a recent campaign training, one tidbit of information struck me – to be taken seriously in a legislative race, a candidate needs to raise at least $100,000 in the first reporting period. At $238,000, we’ve made a thunderous statement, thanks to you!

If you’d like to participate in our campaign as a volunteer, we could really use you and would love to have you on board. Click here to help!

Streetscape reigned in and back on track

Artist’s rendition of Streetscape near Athena St.

Plans for Leucadia Streetscape, the city’s largest capital project, are good to go after some necessary re-evaluation over several City Council meeting. I’ll be frank, projects whose design goes on for many years can run into problems because of two things – mission creep and construction inflation.

In this case, the Streetscape project had so many goals that it became a gargantuan and financially impractical undertaking.

More than a decade ago, the original intention was to completely remake 2.5 miles of Highway 101, stretching from the edge of the commercial buildings on the west side to the railroad tracks on the east.

But it’s become clear that if we design a single project to solve every problem, its scope becomes too large, and the result is endless delay.

After years of talking and planning this project, and with the first phase of Leucadia Streetscape thankfully under construction at El Portal, we felt it was worthwhile to step back and ask ourselves two questions: 

What can we afford? What is the core of the project? 

At the center of Streetscape is a changed traffic pattern to create a community-friendly environment — this means a dedicated bike lane, a couple of roundabouts, traffic calming, and safety/parking improvements. We can afford to do this in two stages – both of which need some additional re-design and regulatory review. Phase Two involves the roundabout construction and will require financing, which is well within the city’s financial capacity. 

The last three months of discussion around this reminded me of the adage, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” This is indeed a good project, and we can afford to actually build the most important parts of it. Let’s do it!

To realistically manage expectations, it’s important to remember that we’re still one to two years from construction for the next phases. Here’s the Coast News article.
 
Leucadia icon Charles Marvin passes away

I’m sorry to report that beloved longtime Leucadian and strong Streetscape supporter Charles Marvin III passed away on May 16. “Leucadia is a state of mind,” he used to say. (Speaking of Streetscape’s long gestation period, Charley always joked that it was an open question as to whether the grim reaper or Leucadia Streetscape would happen first.)

There will be public paddle-out to celebrate his life at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 7, heading south from Stonesteps. It can also be viewed from shore at the Roseta St. overlook. You can read more about Charley and his contributions to Encinitas here

Another step toward more affordable housing

Did you know that if you’re a single person who makes less than $68,000, you are considered low-income and would qualify for an affordable unit?

Where do these affordable units come from, you might ask? From developers who are required to build them as part of any development project. The question of how many affordable units a developer has to build is what the City Council recently decided when we updated what’s called our “inclusionary ordinance.”

The City of Encinitas increased the inclusionary percentage by 5% to a project total of 20%. That means that if a developer builds 20 units in a development project, the developer can rent 16 of them at market rates and four of them can only be rented to individuals who show proof of an annual income below $68,000 for a single person.

The City of Encinitas hired an outside expert, Keyser Marston Associates, to do a nexus analysis considering what was the maximum percentage of affordable housing that we could require of developers before a project would become infeasible.

It’s unlawful for a city to require such a high percentage of affordable units that housing projects become infeasible. The financing of these housing projects is such that the profit from the market rate homes cover the costs of the affordable ones.

And there’s this – the state of California, which closely watches the City of Encinitas and sets housing regulations, would not have approved the city’s adoption of a higher inclusionary percentage than 20%, without other requirements that many would find unacceptable. 

More info can be found in these Encinitas Advocate and Coast News articles.

I get around!

Encinitas is trying out three sweet electric vehicles; one’s called an FUV (or Fun Utility Vehicle), another is the Deliverator, and then there’s the Rapid Responder. The idea is to contribute to a transportation system that’s cleaner, greener and faster.

During this pilot program, they’ll be used by various city departments and the marine safety division. I got to try one out, and it was a great feeling to be behind the controls of one of these futuristic clean machines!

You’ll find more details in this Coast News article.

At SANDAG, we’re publicly recognizing that the new $2.1 billion Midcoast Trolley extension is going to start operating in November. The project includes nine new transit stops over 11 miles, plus it’s on time and on budget!

It’s really exciting, and the project embodies all aspects of something that is truly transformational. In the past, you could only drive to the places that are now served by transit. You’ll soon be able to take a one-seat ride from the border all the way to the jobs, medical appointments and commerce in the UCSD and University Town Center area. 

Last week, we celebrated the VA Medical Center transit stop and this week I handed the ceremonial key to the first train to Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, the Chair of the Board of MTS, the agency that operates the trains, seen in the photo above. SANDAG designs and builds, while MTS runs the new trolley line.

In the above photo, we’re at a press conference overlooking the new Otay Mesa East border crossing, now under construction. Dignitaries from both sides of the border signed a “Shared Vision Memorandum of Understanding,” to share toll revenue, create a binational financial strategy, commit to completion by 2024, and build a single toll collection point within the U.S. on State Route 11. To the far left in the photo is San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, and at the far right of the table is Supervisor Nora Vargas. 

Finally, I hope you have a great remainder of our July 4 holiday weekend with your friends and family. With the pandemic hopefully fading away for good, there’s so much more to celebrate and I hope you’re doing it in the way that’s most meaningful to you!

In service,