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Community Commentary Opinion

What happened to less government is more?

Having watched the May 20 “alcohol ban” issue on the city website, I’m blown away that this non-issue made it all the way to this dais. Who’s driving this thing? The only real take-away from this session that I could see is the potential liability in the combination of skateboarding and beer in the new Encinitas Community Park. Well then, set up new parameters for that park for 12 months and monitor that. End of story.

The rush by Parks and Recreation to legislate an across-the-board, scatter-shot law that will give teeth to policing Encinitas adults enjoying a glass of wine as they celebrate the setting sun is highly disturbing. What happened to the “less government is more” as a template for governing? Especially when it comes to creating legislation that cannot easily be undone, as long-time resident and speaker Denis Puscas noted at the podium. Mr. Puscas speaks for a much larger group of people, you may be sure.

As Puscas mentioned, it’s about the larger neighborhood coming together to appreciate community and celebrate sunset, most with dogs, once a week. Not everyone knows one another. And that’s part of the beauty of it: people are plugged in to different degrees. Welcome to the neighborhood! It’s about neighbors, enjoying the quality of life right here, where we live.

This proposal by Parks and Recreation Director Lisa Rudloff banning alcohol at all city parks — citing cookie-cutter “continuity and consistency” for Encinitas Sheriff’s — is unnecessary and punctilious in the way that big government, unchecked, becomes its own worst enemy.

Why not regard each park as its own entity, with its own community identity? There is no homeless/alcohol problem at Orpheus Park, for example, and only an occasional skateboarder. Ms. Rudloff further mentions the other cities that have alcohol bans, but fails to include the many others that do not. Her lobbying for more government regulation loses credibility quickly. The four Encinitas parks where alcohol has been banned all had everything to do with the combustible combo of homeless and alcohol. Period.

Even more ridiculous bureaucratic rhetoric was put forward by Jason La Riva, Encinitas Parks and Beach Superintendent, who along with Director Rudloff is proposing new sunrise to sunset hours because the city doesn’t want people congregating at night. Yes, he said that. When did Marshall Law arrive in Encinitas? Mr. La Riva went on to clarify that “tripping, falling, and other safety hazards are a greater risk at nighttime.” Yes, he said that, too.

So the real question before the City Council seems to be: Should Encinitas create a greater governmental monolith because something might happen in the future? Or because we tidily want to make things “consistent” for the Sheriff’s Department? At what cost do we do that?

Although respected, the opinion of the Encinitas Sheriff Department is not sacrosanct, nor should it be. It serves the people, and the peace — not the other way around. The city council creates legislation for the citizens who put their trust in them at the ballot box. The Sheriff’s Department did not elect the City Council. Nor did the council staff, or the head of parks and recreation. Curtailing rights that citizens here now enjoy should not be so flippantly put forward. Once gone, they are lost. That’s the political rule-of-thumb.

I am genuinely surprised by the opinions of Mr. Kranz and Ms. Shaffer. I think Catherine Blakespeare is wise and magnanimous in seeing a bigger picture — we’re lucky to have her broad mindset onboard. I did not vote for Mr. Muir or Ms. Gaspar in this last election, but with what I see, I am completely open in the next election. Thank you, you three, for your wisdom and sensibility in this vote.

Long live free Encinitas.

Stephen Keyes is a Leucadia resident.