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Residents participate in annual goal setting session

ENCINITAS — Residents weighed in on the issues facing the city during City Council’s annual goal setting session Jan. 20. Among top concerns voiced by the public at the meeting were increased traffic congestion along the city’s roads, infrastructure improvement along Leucadia’s Highway 101 corridor, and quality enhancement of the city’s beaches.
An unprecedented number of residents filled the room to capacity. Until last year, Councilwoman Teresa Barth said that typically only a handful of residents attend the meeting each year. “It was gratifying to see so many people make the time to come down and address the council,” Mayor Maggie Houlihan said.
After lengthy staff presentations on the fiscal challenges facing the city and the overall status of major capital and works projects, Finance Officer Jennifer Smith said the budget will assume a two-year recession.
City Manager Phil Cotton revealed the staff’s prioritization results. This year, no scores were given to projects ranked in three tiers. The highest priority projects were those that met public safety and infrastructure goals.
Sandford Shapiro, a Parks and Recreation Commissioner, gave the council a report on a 2007 survey of beachgoer satisfaction. “They raved about the quality of the beaches,” he said. However, he added that there were a couple of complaints about Moonlight Beach. “They had some complaints about the condition of the restroom facilities,” he said. “They also commented on the lack of handicap parking at the lower level.” Shapiro cautioned the council to keep in mind the deteriorating lifeguard tower at Moonlight Beach. “The public didn’t comment on it because they don’t use it,” he said. He asked that rehabilitating the tower remain on the list of council priorities in the year to come.
Gordon Smith, a longtime resident and professional chef, spoke on behalf of SlowFood, a nonprofit organization that makes people aware of the food they eat and how it is grown. He asked the council to consider a partnership with the organization to build a community garden.
“I think we will be able to explore that with productive results,” Houlihan said after the meeting. Smith said it would be volunteer-run and would bring more sense of community to the city.
Houlihan also said that the improvement plan to North 101 Coast Highway corridor was a high priority. “I think we are moving forward in a very constructive way on this project,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of public input.”