ENCINITAS — Encinitas Planning Commissioner Jody Hubbard tossed her hat into the City Council ring, announcing her decision on June 10 through a campaign launch party. Hubbard will vie for District 3, which represents constituents in Cardiff and part of New Encinitas.
Mark Muir currently occupies the seat and has not publicly stated whether he will run for re-election in November. No other District 3 candidates have emerged yet.
Hubbard stated her belief that she “can do more for the city as a council member than as a planning commissioner,” a civic position she has held since February. While Hubbard values the work she’s undertaken at the Planning Commission and will continue there if not elected, she thinks her professional experience could be of better value at City Council, where guidelines are shaped and decisions made.
Hubbard is a retired CPA who owns and runs a business specializing in long-term care planning and insurance. “I understand finance and fiscal responsibility,” Hubbard said, “and will make sure the city remains in strong financial standing.” She lauded Encinitas’ decision to pay down the pension debt brought on “by past sins” at a faster rate than required.
Like her parents before her, Hubbard advocates for recreational open space and an environmentally friendly approach to city planning. She remembers her father, a P.E. teacher, creating in 1969 in their family’s living room the plans for the Santa Monica Mountains Backbone Trail. He served as the organization’s first president for what eventually became a 67-mile stretch of nationally protected recreation space.
“I grew up watching my parents actively participate in government,” she said. “They taught me to give back and that democracy doesn’t work unless you do your part.”
Hubbard served as a member of the Coastal Mobility and Livability Working Group for the last two years, participating in Encinitas’ Rail Corridor Vision Study and Active Transportation Plan.
If elected, she would push to speed up the construction of pedestrian rail crossings in Encinitas by, for example, finding funds for the planned Verdi crossing in Cardiff, which faces a financially uncertain future. “It’s critical that we create better pedestrian access as soon as possible.”
Along those lines, Hubbard said she’s “passionate about pedestrian access that’s safe for both an 8-year-old and an 80-year-old.” She supports the Coastal Rail Trail, noting she’s “thrilled to be getting a safe place to walk and bike that’s located away from cars.”
When asked to address some residents’ frustrations about the extensive construction happening in Cardiff from the freeway to the lagoon to the train tracks and more, Hubbard said, “It’s really hard to move a city’s infrastructure forward without some temporary disruption.” She explained that while she too dislikes seeing everything “ripped up” now, she thinks the planned improvements will pay off in the future.
As for the growth and change experienced in Encinitas and across the state, Hubbard expressed that it can be “painful” to experience, “but you can’t stop growth and change; you can only manage it. I can’t say ‘I got mine, so too bad to everyone else.’”
A position on City Council would mean tackling the divisive and difficult task of building high-density, affordable housing to become compliant with state law. The city, currently out of compliance, has been roiled by the controversy in recent years.
Hubbard has experienced the struggle and complexity up close while on the Planning Commission and wants the first step to be compliance. Once that’s achieved, she believes Encinitas will have leverage to “push back” by asking the state to help fund the housing it’s requiring.
As someone who worked from 1986 to 1992 in finance for a residential developer, Hubbard says she’s familiar with the process of balancing land costs with construction costs to “make a project pencil,” a saying that refers to ensuring a margin of profitability. Hubbard thinks her experience on both sides of the aisle, with development and city planning, will help inform her decision-making were she to be elected.
Hubbard has been endorsed by Teresa Barth, former mayor of Encinitas, and by Lisa Shaffer, former deputy mayor.
She describes herself as an “avid cyclist and year-round bodysurfer.” Hubbard is also an advocate for art and believes it contributes to the “richness of society” and has tourism value for Encinitas.