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.

1 Comment
  1. Allen 3 days 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.

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