EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to include links to complete transcripts from interviews with the candidates.
ENCINITAS — For the first time in city history, voters will not go to the ballot and elect a slate of council members.
Residents living in Cardiff-by-the-Sea or a small corner of New Encinitas, or a much larger swath of New Encinitas and Olivenhain, will have a chance to directly elect a representative from their part of the city in Encinitas’ first district-based election.
Only two of the city’s four electoral districts are on the ballot in November: District 3, which has been dubbed the “Cardiff” district, and District 4, referred to as the “Olivenhain-Village Park district.
In each race, a lone challenger squares off against an incumbent.
In District 3, longtime Councilman Mark Muir faces Planning Commissioner Jody Hubbard. District 4 sees incumbent appointed Councilman Joe Mosca face former Planning Commissioner and tribal judge Anthony Brandenburg. Among the issues facing voters is whether to vote in favor of the city’s most recent attempt at gaining compliance with state housing laws. The housing element update has support from the majority of the elected officials running for office, with the exception of Brandenburg.
In District 3, Muir and Hubbard recently shared the stage at a candidate forum and shared many of the same views on key topics.
Both believe that the city’s traffic issues are a primary issue facing the district’s residents, and both cite the passage of the city’s housing element as a chief priority.
However, the pair differ on the approach getting there.
Muir has frequently espoused a populist tone on the campaign trail and in council chambers, leaning on the community for input on key decisions. Hubbard has stated that she has talked to residents and believes her vision reflects their desires, but believes the elected official should be responsible for driving the vision.
They also differ on a key issue in Cardiff — southern access to the Encinitas Community Park. Hubbard believes that concerns that initially drove residents to request no access be in place — such as traffic and parking limitations — aren’t going to be an issue now, and believes that southern access would be good to promote safe routes to school.
Muir, however, believes that the park should remain sealed off from the south, and the city should respect the verbal agreement it made with residents during the park’s planning.
Additionally, Muir champions open space, recreational trails and community preservation as his final major priority, while Hubbard said that the actual production of affordable housing for seniors, young people and business employees should be a city priority. Jody Hubbard Full Interview Transcripts Mark Muir Full Interview Transcripts
In District 4, Mosca — who the council majority appointed in 2017 — faces Brandenburg, who has run unsuccessfully for City Council on several occasions, most recently in 2016.
The council actually chose Mosca over Brandenburg to fill Catherine Blakespear’s vacancy when she was elected mayor.
Brandenburg hasn’t forgotten, and has come out on the attack against Mosca, who he has labeled as a carpetbagger.
For example, when asked whether he supported or opposed the Leucadia Streetscape, a city proposal that would reduce the driving lanes along Coast Highway 101 from four lanes to two lanes and install up to six roundabouts, as well as other amenities, Brandenburg took the opportunity to point out Mosca’s relative recent entry into the community.
“This ridiculous plan allegedly to ‘beautify Leucadia’ is supported by my opponent who is new to our community and is attempting to tell us what he thinks is best for Encinitas,” Brandenburg said. “As a resident of Encinitas for over 50 years, I can honestly state he has no idea of the true history of Encinitas nor the desire of most residents to keep the natural beauty and feel of Encinitas in place.”
Brandenburg, throughout his questionnaire, criticized Mosca and the council majority of being out of touch with the majority of residents.
Mosca, who moved to Encinitas earlier in the decade after serving on the Sierra Madre City Council from 2006 to 2011, said that his family has found a home in Encinitas.
“My family loves Encinitas, and I want to see our communities of Encinitas thrive so my family can continue to enjoy it for decades to come,” Mosca said. “I deeply believe that public service is important, and that one person can make a difference. Over the past two years in which I have served on the City Council, we’ve made much progress toward improving the quality of life in our community and toward addressing our most pressing challenges.”
Mosca and Brandenburg have staked nearly polar opposite positions on many of the key issues in the race. Mosca said he supports Measure U, the city’s proposed Housing Element update, because it gets the city in compliance with state law.
“While Measure U is not perfect, it is our solution to our current challenge of being out of compliance with State housing law,” Mosca said. “Measure U is a compromise developed after many public hearings and much public input.”
Brandenburg opposed Measure T during the last election cycle, and opposes Measure U this time. He cites an argument made by local resident Peter Stern at a recent forum, in which he said the ballot language would give the City Council the authority to vote on future housing elements without a vote of the public, a crucial element of the city’s 2013 Proposition A.
“Measure U kills our Prop. A protection. It’s a great deal for developers, giving them 30-plus units per acre, and allows them to exceed height limits with reduced setbacks and parking requirements with no true guarantee of affordable homes,” Brandenburg said. “The concept of low- or very-low-income housing is not feasible nor realistic here.”
Brandenburg, however, offers no alternative solution to the city’s affordable housing and housing element quandaries.