Council begins series of strategic planning sessions

ENCINITAS — City Council met in a boardroom at the Encinitas Ranch Golf Course Wednesday morning for the first of its strategic planning sessions. 

Mayor Teresa Barth said the sessions, which will be held over the next few months, are about building trust among councilmembers and goal setting outside of the confines of council meetings.

“(The council meetings) are so limited and so structured,” Barth said, adding that the sessions will give council a chance to look at the big picture.

The sessions are open to the public. But Barth said that the retreats will be an in-depth exploration of each councilmember’s vision for the city. Hence, the sessions aren’t necessarily a platform for the public to weigh in on city policies.

With a young council and many new city staff members, Barth said that the city is positioned to make reforms.

“If we don’t succeed now I don’t know if we ever will,” Barth said.

In January, council voted not to act on information related to the General Plan Update, a document that will guide housing, infrastructure and land use over the next few decades, until the fall, when its had a chance to revisit its objectives for the process at the sessions. Council also plans on touching upon ideas for pensions and other financial decisions during the meetings.

Wednesday’s session largely focused on laying the groundwork for future policy discussions. As one goal, councilmembers said they would like to hold more public workshops and step up outreach for big issues.

“We need to go to them and not expect them to come to us,” Councilman Mark Muir said.

Also, for complicated issues, councilmembers toyed with the idea of city staff reports including multiple viewpoints.

Councilmembers said they’re looking forward to putting behind campaign mode in favor of working together. Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer joked that councilmembers should get “team tattoos” to cement the spirit of cooperation.

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