Rail working group selection causes flap

ENCINITAS — Two Encinitas council members and several residents were not happy with the way the council majority selected a 13-member working group to assist with the creation of a long-term vision for the rail corridor.

Recently hired contractor WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff drafted a proposal for the rail corridor vision study working group, putting together a list of 15 nominees out of the 46 people who applied,

But City Councilwoman Catherine Blakespear offered an alternative list of candidates for the working group, which was met with surprise and disapproval from Mayor Kristin Gaspar and Councilman Mark Muir.

Blakespear said her alternative list reflected a desire to give voices on the panel to several city commissions, which were originally precluded from appointment to the panel, as well as having more input from community stakeholder groups in the neighborhoods impacted by the railroad corridor.

“I would like to have a two-way street between the technocrat, bureaucrat and legal arm of this…and have people who represent our constituency groups,” she said.

Tony Kranz and Lisa Shaffer sided with Blakespear and approved the alternate listing.

Gaspar said she couldn’t support the alternate group because she felt it was important to stick to council’s original guidance, which was to let the consultant independently choose the group.

The group will consist of 13 positions, including one from the Hispanic community that has yet to be determined.

A member from each of the city commissions will serve in a non-voting role.

In the days after the vote, several residents circulated an email questioning how the vote was handled and asked City Manager Karen Brust how much money the city paid the consultant to draft the list that the council majority dismissed.

“To conclude, I am deeply disappointed at the way this was handled,” wrote Julie Thunder, a member of the “No Rail Trail” group. “And, I’m hoping my questions will be answered quickly.”

For more about the working group, visit encinitasca.gov.

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