Last month, Encinitas showed what is possible when the stars align, the community comes together, and leaders collaborate.
The City Council unanimously gave direction for the staff to work with the Encinitas Arts, Culture, and Ecology Alliance (EACEA), a newly formed 501(c)3 organization, to develop a full business plan and financial strategy to develop the Pacific View school site.
The initial letter of interest states the EACEA mission, “To create a rich and dynamic visual, cultural and intellectual arts and ecology learning experience at the new Pacific View Campus; … presenting a … self-sustaining educational venue; … to boost the City’s economic development by establishing an outstanding arts resource and coastal culture destination.”
The founding members of this alliance include Switchfoot, Rob Machado, the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce, the 101 Artists Colony, the Encinitas Historical Society, and many, many others — truly a “who’s who” of Encinitas.
The purchase of the Pacific View property from EUSD was controversial, but Council member Tony Kranz persisted in finding a way to secure the site, supported by then-Mayor Teresa Barth and me. The negotiations were challenging, and the financing strategy hit a few bumps, but in the end, we purchased the parcel while maintaining the highest credit rating and a balanced budget.
Once the deal was done, Tony Kranz and I served as a subcommittee, conducting public meetings and developing a strategy for site activation. We wanted to avoid the extended delays that plagued the Encinitas Community Park, completed about 14 years after the land was purchased.
It was very gratifying to see a community-based plan come together so quickly. Even the nay-sayers had to admit that this team truly reflects Encinitas and thus demonstrates that there is support for public investment to keep open space in the public trust and support the arts, culture and ecology education.
I am confident that our new city manager will guide the negotiations to a mutually beneficial agreement. This kind of investment is key to our economic development strategy, not a competing effort.
In another example of community-city collaboration, on Oct. 3 we dedicated a fruit tree grove in Glen Park and launched a one-year organically-managed park pilot project. It took less than two years to move these ideas to reality, building on initiatives begun in 2013 with a Kranz-Shaffer subcommittee on urban trees and edible landscape.
When I initiated the idea of a tree planting to recognize former Mayor Barth, I was encouraged to reach out to all the council members and invite them to participate. I did, and was gratified that every council member contributed. It took leadership from the council, contributions from the community, and coordination with staff to make this all possible.
The pesticide-free pilot project idea came from a community member who offered the suggestion in a spirit of shared interest in public health and environmental stewardship. The council heard a well-researched, practical path forward, and staff made it a reality. And so council members proudly joined the city manager, Cardiff 101, Healthy Day Partners, and local residents for the dedication celebration in Cardiff. This is the best of local government. With careful vetting and good mentoring, I believe future council members can continue this approach to productive, community-based investment in moving Encinitas toward a more sustainable future.
Lisa Shaffer is a member of the Encinitas City Council. You can reach her at LShaffer@encinitasca.gov.