ENCINITAS — From Seaside Market to the state campgrounds and everything in between, Cardiff-by-the-Sea’s stretch of Coast Highway 101 has long been identified as the community’s main drag, its pulse.
Now, after years of paperwork and preparation, the state has certified the heart of the community as a “California Main Street.”
City officials joined with business representatives and representatives of the Cardiff 101 Main Street Association on Wednesday to celebrate the certification, which gives Encinitas three such main streets — the others are along stretches of Coast Highway 101 in Old Encinitas and in Leucadia.
Encinitas is believed to have more than any other similar sized cities in California.
“It is certainly a unique situation, when you have an urban community like San Diego that only has two such organizations,” said Laura Cole-Rowe, the executive director of the California Main Street Alliance, who was on hand to celebrate the certification. “Cardiff is a very unique community, like all of our Main Streets are, and the team here in Cardiff has done a tremendous job promoting and building the area.”
Cardiff has its own ZIP code, post office and school district, which sets it apart from other communities inside of Encinitas.
In order for Cardiff’s 101 Main Street organization to become certified, it had to submit planning documents, submit an inventory of the buildings and write a history of the community, all the while using the state Main Street Alliance’s four point approach to bolster its main street: Organization, promotion, design and economic restructuring.
The association did that by bolstering its staff and rallying the local business owners to the cause, hosting a number of popular promotions, including the Cardiff Kook Run and Dog Days, which attract thousands to the community; and supporting efforts to make the community’s unofficial entrance — the Chesterfield Avenue/ Coast Highway 101 intersection, more inviting and safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.
“This is a celebration of our growth of our downtown and the ability to bring our community and its diverse views together,” said Tess Radmill, executive director of the Cardiff 101 Main Street Association. “We have our own identity, and we would like to believe the association is representative of that identity.”
Peder Norby, a Carlsbad economic consultant who previously spearheaded the promotion of Encinitas’ Highway 101 corridor — including the creation of the Leucadia and Cardiff 101 Main Street Associations — said the associations do an excellent job leveraging minimal taxpayer dollars to create and promote vibrant, walkable spaces.
The city currently contributes $60,000 to the three main street groups, which between the three of them have seven staff members.
“The beauty of these organizations are that they made up of stakeholders and they interpreting the community’s vision,” Norby said. “Each organization is different, but they take those city dollars and are able to listen to the community and establish effective partnerships to effect change.
“The organizations in Encinitas do this remarkably well,” he added.