Encinitas considers borrowing money to complete Leucadia Streetscape

Encinitas considers borrowing money to complete Leucadia Streetscape
Debt payments currently comprise about 5 percent of the city’s operating expenses.

ENCINITAS — City officials want to complete a long-awaited overhaul of Coast Highway 101 in one phase, and are considering borrowing $30 million to do it.

The City Council voiced its unanimous support for the plan at a March 28 strategic planning session.

The project will dramatically transform the stretch of 101 into a bicycle-, pedestrian- and transit-friendly enclave complete with six roundabout intersections.

Streetscape plans call for six roundabouts between A Street and La Costa Avenue, bike lanes, pedestrian paths and crosswalks, bus facilities, on- and off-street parking and the planting of more than 1,000 trees to restore the street’s famed tree canopy.

At least 80 of the nearly 400 mature trees — mostly eucalyptus — will be cut down as a result of the project, but officials said the addition of 1,000 trees more than makes up for it. Those trees, however, will be a mix of different variety and sizes, meaning the canopy will look different.

The City Council voted earlier in March to approve the project’s permits and environmental impact reports, but Mark Muir voted against the plans, which he said wouldn’t address vehicle traffic concerns along the stretch of road.

But the entire council, including Muir, voiced support for financing the project in one phase.

Previously, the city has considered breaking up the project, known as the Leucadia Streetscape, into three phases. Currently, the city has $10 million set aside for the first phase of the $29.96 million project.

But the council at the nearly five-hour planning session said that borrowing to do it now would allow the city to take advantage of historically low interest rates and would allow for the project to be completed in a much shorter time frame.

Borrowing the money would also allow the city to use the money it previously earmarked for the project, which came from the city’s capital improvement budget, for other projects. Mark Muir mentioned a proposed overhaul of Birmingham Drive, which includes the undergrounding of power lines and a roundabout at Newcastle Avenue.

Debt payments currently comprise about 5 percent of the city’s operating expenses. Over the years, the city has borrowed money to purchase Pacific View Elementary School, build a new lifeguard tower and acquire the land and build the $44 million Encinitas Community Park.

Assistant City Manager Mark Delin told the city at the workshop that it has the capacity to borrow for the project and stay below an 8 percent debt load, which is the recommended amount by local government experts.

3 Comments
  1. Allen 3 months ago

    There’s a reason well over a thousand people leave the area here every year. And I have personally known a whole lot of people to have left Encinitas and the neighboring areas. What we have is a governing system that effectively blocks most everybody, except the leisurely affluent, to run and become a city council “representative” who do NOT represent the wishes of our population. This forces people to put up with their decisions or move away. It’s a very costly mistake to cut such beloved trees and only plant small trees. It’s another disaster of a nightmare that will kill the charming character that Leucadia has always had, and will be replaced with sad memories, lack of pride in it’s distinctiveness, and deadening vitality that locals and visitor had come to love and look forward to. Government “leaders” have no real vision for the local citizens. What they value is more tax revenues, more people, more businesses, less available parking, sidewalks being pushed into the streets so that restaurants/drinking establishments can extend outward with tables outdoors for day and night use, no cars for people but only if it’s for business use (to create tax revenues), a delusional pipe-dream of ‘everyone’ riding bicycles, etc. even though we have a maturing population and more handicapped people. It’s all so the billionaires will push out the millionaires, and homes will be vacant or filled with vacation rentals. And all formerly middle class people will be forces to live far away with the every increasing homeless people. What I have heard tonight is that with financial, institutions, integrity and all collapsing, our nation will become less and less a representational democracy (which we have already), and the forces of chaos will encourage and invite revolution that will somehow and someway bring about an invasion in full force (more than what is going on now). If we sincerely love our children and grandchildren, why do we allow such policies that they will be forced to deal with. What a legacy, huh? Hey, I don’t want to be a climate change and/or overpopulation told-you-so! Get ready for fascism, because it’s hidden and already here.

  2. Fred Caldwell 3 months ago

    Thank you to everyone who attended so many meetings over so many years and to the City Council for your unanimous vote for making Leucadia Streetscape in one phase. I’m usually the one against change of any kind, but this project has evolved including two decades of input from the public and finally feels on track. Traditional intersections kill 9000 people per year in the USA. Roundabouts however slow people down and make them pay more attention. But I would venture to say all 9000 of those folks last year who died in old style intersections would have preferred approaching a roundabout instead (except for suicidals and high speed chase folk). Currently, it is very dangerous for residents to exit onto N Coast Hwy 101, especially when wanting to turn left. I have a growing number of pictures showing many of these 90 degree collisions that happen WAY too frequently here that you seldom hear about unless you’re within earshot of the tons of metal crashing. Sometimes there are deaths, but those collision usually total both vehicles involved. With the Leucadia Streetscape, up to 24 locations where you now have to stop will be for yielding only when you have to. They save on gas because traditional stops make you stop even when you don’t have too – as well as everyone behind you. And without the roundabouts, yet more stops would be the only other alternative to better cross the street (see Del Mar sometime around 5pm. Their 10 stops through their small town back traffic up daily all the way up to the top of Torrey Pines.) I love the science behind roundabouts; their opportunity for art; that they’re cheaper in the long run that light signals; that they look great but especially because they save lives. In Birdrock, they had 5 lanes of busy traffic through their heart of town. They removed all the stop lights for five blocks and replaced them with roundabouts and just 2 lanes. As a result, people move slower through town, but get from point A to point B faster most of the time for the simple reason they don’t have to needlessly stop and wait for the lights to change. In 1990, an Orange County fella came to town promising pie in the sky and tempting our Council with adopting a Redevelopment Agency. Locals quickly learned what that was all about. It was the first time I saw monks from SRF at a Council meeting. I went up to one of them on break and asked “Do they want some of your property too?” The woman said “All of it! All 12 acres!” The OC guy in the suit thought is would better serve the community as a resort hotel, taking it and every “postage stamp sized lot” (like ours1) and selling it to someone who can put something nice and big on it. Well, that didn’t fly in 1990, nor did it again 10 years later when they tried pulling the same crap. (Thanks again to those Council members for doing the right thing!). Then the downtown Encinitas Streetscape happened for their first phase of 5 blocks. They did all the improvements without a penny from Redevelopent. As a result, in a few years their sales tax base went from $800K per year to over $2 million. Improving roads, landscaping, walkability and infrastructure is good for the economy too. So, to cut is short (ha!), I’m very pleased with the vote last night and look forward to a safer, more efficient and more beautiful Historic Highway.

  3. M. Frick 3 months ago

    They Paved Paradise and put up Leucadia Streetscape

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