The Morning Report
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As other North County cities have done already this year, Encinitas too will move toward district elections.
The Coast News’ Aaron Burgin writes that the Encinitas City Council unanimously approved beginning the process of switching to district elections, with the usual grumbling about being bullied by an out-of-town lawyer.
And like the other cities, Encinitas was accused of diluting Latinos’ voting power with at-large elections. The city has elected two Latino members to its City Council over the city’s 31-year history.
For that reason, two Council members aren’t ready to give in without a fight, and are waiting to hear the results of demographic and legal analyses.
“Personally, this isn’t the time to make a decision to fight or not,” Councilman Tony Kranz said, according to Coast News. “I am not prepared tonight to say it’s worth a fight, I think it’s important we have the facts in front of us. But I am relatively certain we are right with the law and it’s worth defending.”
Mayor Catherine Blakespear noted the city’s lack of a housing element, a plan to add affordable housing, means the “optics aren’t good” for the city’s reputation with minorities. She also called that failure a “black eye” and “liability” in her weekly newsletter.
San Marcos Finds It’s Tough to Make a Downtown
It always seemed a little backward – build the town, then find and build a town center – but San Marcos is considering overhauling its plan to build a downtown in light of falling demand for retail space.
The original Creek District plan was developed 10 years ago, and called for a mix of office, retail and residential development. But consultants the city hired last year recommended eliminating the office space, and reducing retail.
Some development has already happened within the Creek District, but the city will hold a workshop later this month to consider changes to the plan.
San Marcos has historically had a bit of a wandering downtown, having formed in one place, only to move after the arrival of the railroad. The city has made strides toward walkable neighborhoods in recent years, but still has to contend with nearly a century of selling off farmland to build far-flung planned communities.
Decision to Outsource Library Leaves Lingering Questions in Escondido
When the Escondido City Council weighed outsourcing the library to a private company, supporters of the plan touted the cost savings it would bring to reduce the city’s payroll and pension obligation.
Councilwoman Olga Diaz took the argument to its logical conclusion: If outsourcing the library is meant to save money, why not outsource the police department, the single largest expense to the city? (Disclosure: Diaz is a member of Voice of San Diego’s board of directors.)
The Union-Tribune took a look this week, and found that though other city services are on the chopping block, the police department isn’t.
What set Diaz off, according to the U-T, was a passage from City Manager Jeff Epp’s report touting the benefits of outsourcing the library.
“For example, the cities of San Marcos, Vista, and Poway would have lower unfunded liabilities because their law enforcement services are outsourced to the county sheriff,” Epp wrote.
Epp and other supporters of outsourcing the library were quick to distance themselves from any talk of outsourcing police services to the Sheriff’s Department, including Mayor Sam Abed.
No city has outsourced its police services to the Sheriff’s Department in nearly 34 years, according to the U-T, but one city, Del Mar, has long sought to end its contract and establish its own police department.
Also in the News
• Valley Roadrunner talks with Oceanside City Councilman Jerry Kern, who is running for District 5 county supervisor. (Valley Roadrunner)
• Encinitas will test hiring two retired Sheriff’s deputies to inspect downtown bars on a regular basis. (Union-Tribune)
• The only Council members pushing for a new aquatics center in Oceanside seem unfazed that the city’s only pools – which suffer from a lack of maintenance, and limited hours – are in their newly created districts. (Union-Tribune)
• Oceanside is still building consensus for new marijuana rules, despite an outside effort to put the decision on the ballot again. (Union-Tribune)
• Solana Beach ain’t very thrilled about Del Mar’s plans to build a blufftop resort. (Union-Tribune)
• Encinitas wants to make it easier to calm traffic in problematic neighborhoods. (The Coast News)
• The scandal of Rep. Duncan Hunter’s questionable campaign expenditures started years earlier than previously thought. (Union-Tribune)