A few weeks ago, as a Leucadian I read The Coast News with some despair.
There was reference to the results of the May housing exercise and the large number of dots that had been placed in Leucadia.
This surprised me, because when I undertook the exercise, for the second time, I didn’t place a single dot in Leucadia. You may be thinking that this is a simple matter of NIMBY (not in my backyard), and that I write this as a selfish resident of Leucadia. But I beg to differ. You see, there’s an elephant in the room that I haven’t heard mentioned at any of the workshops I’ve attended: LEUCADIA ALREADY HAS ITS SHARE OF HIGHER DENSITY HOUSING.
With its many trailer parks, apartments on Vulcan and elsewhere, duplexes on Hermes and Hygeia, Leucadia is already doing its part in the mathematics of housing density in Encinitas.
For this reason, to allow more of such housing in Leucadia would be patently unfair; it would be asking Leucadians to bear a yet more disproportionate burden of higher density housing. And not only would such a decision be mathematically wrong, it would also be shortsighted from the perspective of both business and aesthetics. I think most people would agree that our coastal strip is what makes Encinitas truly special. It is the reason we have high property values; it is the reason everyone wants to live here. Degrading that element of our city would be like killing the golden goose, like the Rolling Stones firing Mick Jagger.
On the other hand, New Encinitas and Olivenhain have very little higher density housing. Those areas, not Leucadia, should be the ones asked to accept their share of the burden. Yes, I’ve seen references to housing needing to be placed near transportation lines.
But this disingenuous argument doesn’t hold water, since bus lines can be changed with relative ease, and there are so few of them at present, anyway.
I suggest that if the second of these dot-placing exercises does, in fact, yield substantially different results from the first, perhaps the results of both should be averaged. Wouldn’t that give us a more “democratic” total result?
When my family moved to Encinitas in 1974, I walked onto the streets of Encinitas and the campus of San Dieguito High like an alien arriving in the Garden of Eden. We had moved from Riverside, which at the time had the distinction of having the worst air quality in the nation. Here, we had the fresh westerly zephyr most every day. There was a sense of harmony, of peace, that permeated the area. It was like a refuge from the rest of Southern California.
What drove the tranquility of Encinitas were not merely the gifts Mother Nature had bestowed upon it, though those are substantial. There was also an idealism, a general sense of contentment. This idealism came, I suspect, from so many surfers, spiritualists, nature-lovers, vegetarians, and seekers of all types having come here to escape the problems of the world. Unfortunately, many of those folks, but not all, departed as the city grew in the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Now, instead, we have Jerome Stocks and his clan trying to turn our little paradise into the very antithesis of those old ideals, into just another faceless suburb. The lack of ethics and concern for the environment, the drive for incessant development, these are the ideals upon which Stocks and Company operate. And the city has many new residents who have little idea what this town used to be like. It’s these folks, evidently, who voted to put the likes of Stocks and Gaspar in office.
I don’t mean to cast any negativity their way. But these newcomers may lack a sense of Encinitas’ past, a sense of what a truly special place this has been, and still is. They may lack a sense of what’s at stake: Encinitas is the last of the less-developed beach towns in Southern California.
Leucadia, specifically, is the final frontier. This is still the best place to live on the entire south coast. Yes, it’s changed, but it still has plenty of magic left. However, we must be vigilant in order to preserve the remaining magic.
The first step we need to take, those of us who really love Encinitas, is to protect our invaluable coastal strip by rejecting any new housing or development in Leucadia, coastal Encinitas, or Cardiff.
The second step should come this November, when we have a chance to take Encinitas back from the developers (who don’t even live here), from the cynics, from the Jerome Stocks Destruction Brigade, which includes Kristin Gaspar and Mark Muir. We need to protect what’s special about Encinitas, and we will have that chance in November.
Darius Degher is a Leucadia resident.