Sunday, November 4, 2018

Mayor Blakespear Doesn’t Represent the Majority of Encinitas Residents

On October 14, 2018, Mayor Catherine Blakespear posted the following regarding Leucadia 101 Streetscape in her weekly newsletter:

Last Thursday the California Coastal Commission approved Encinitas’ largest infrastructure project, Leucadia Streetscape. After an appellate hearing on the second day of the commission’s three days in San Diego, the vote was unanimous to approve Streetscape and the city’s underlying policy documents.

Encinitas City Councilmembers Tony Kranz, Tasha Boerner Horvath and I addressed the Commission in support of Streetscape. Dozens of residents showed up to passionately speak both for and against the project.

Leucadia Streetscape will transform 2.5 miles of Highway 101 through Leucadia from Encinitas Blvd (also known as A street) north to La Costa Ave. This major road deserves to be a destination in itself, not merely an alternative for those trying to avoid the traffic on the I-5 freeway.

The project involves installing roundabouts, wider and continuous sidewalks for both outdoor dining and pedestrian use, dedicated bike lanes so cyclists don’t have to travel in the same space with cars, planting 1,000 trees to restore the iconic tree canopy, and creating almost 200 dedicated parking spots in the rail corridor.

If, like me, you’re justifiably concerned about the severe consequences of a warming planet, you’ll appreciate that many of Encinitas’ climate action goals are addressed in this single project – less driving, more biking and walking, more carbon-eating trees, and slower continuous speeds instead of stop-and-start vehicle traffic.

Bold and effective evolution of our transportation sector depends upon projects like this.

Change is never easy. I can viscerally feel the emotion of those opposed to this project. But if we’re going to effect change locally and for our planet, we have to summon the political courage to repurpose public space and dedicate some of it to users who aren’t in cars.

On the same day, I replied as follows:


Very unfortunately for the community, you are grossly and woefully misinformed. You have supported a project you don’t know much about. That’s irresponsible. It’s not leadership.

• Encinitas Blvd west of 101 is B Street. One block north is A Street. From there to La Costa Ave is 2.4 miles.

• Ninety mature trees will be removed; 839 broomstick-diameter new trees will be planted.

• Net gain on parking spaces is 134; the three parking bays total 176. That means 42 parking spaces must be lost on the west side. Parking capacity for the corridor will decline because curbs and sidewalks on the east side will prevent parking anywhere but in the bays.

• NCTD has not agreed to yield the ground for the bays and the roundabouts. Unless you and your cronies can corrupt them as you corrupted the CCC staff and commissioners, they won’t. It’s their policy not to yield property they plan to use for transit. There’s not enough room in the ROW for parking along Vulcan, the CRT, a second set of tracks, parking bays along 101, a sidewalk, and the buffer space needed between all those elements.

• What about the 16,535 sq ft of private property that must be taken for Streetscape to squeeze in? What scam does the city have going to steal that?

• Bikes and walking are not going to replace cars. That’s a downright silly notion. A few recreational bikers and walkers in Leucadia won’t do a thing to affect climate change. Virtually nobody uses a bike for transportation. You didn’t ride a bike or walk to the Cardiff forum. One person in the audience did. That represents the zero effect of your feel-good policies that are impractical and have no beneficial effect whatsoever.

• Anybody who wants to bike or walk through Leucadia can use Neptune. It’s safer and much more pleasant.

• If two traffic lanes and dedicated bike lanes will be great for Leucadia 101, why don’t we have them from Encinitas Blvd south to Solana Beach?

• Those of us who are paying attention know the true purpose of Leucadia Streetscape is to create a linear shopping mall. The tragic irony is there’s not enough commercially zoned property on the west side, and there’s not enough parking anywhere to sustain a shopping mall. For the sake of that monumentally stupid goal, the project you ignorantly support will squeeze the traffic into two lanes and force it through pointless roundabouts. Traffic gridlock and failing businesses will be the result.

Your great failing as mayor and the gross failing of the council you lead is you don’t practice representative democracy. You don’t reflect the majority view in the community. You pursue your own and the special interests’ agenda, the public be damned.

It’s a shameful and reprehensible performance. You, your council and your predecessors have destroyed my faith and confidence in elected, selected and employed Encinitas people, many of whom are my neighbors, to do the right thing.

I’ve lived in Encinitas longer than you’ve been on the planet. I’m ashamed of you.

Doug Fiske
West of 101

P.S.: Don’t give me the “respect” line. Respect has to be earned. It’s not granted simply because you’re sitting in the chair.

Result: Blakespear dropped me from her newsletter mailing list.

My P.S. is a reference to an earlier post from Blakespear in which she said she would discuss issues with me only if I treated her with respect. I’ve heard the same line from Tasha Boerner Horvath. Politicians use it to shame opponents.

My response: You don’t deserve my respect. You don’t represent the majority of the residents. You’re violating a fundamental principle of representative democracy. When you consistently respect that principle, you will have earned my respect.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Encinitas Deceived the Public and the Coastal Commission About Streetscape 

The city and its allies used increased parking and a tree canopy as selling points to convince the public to accept Leucadia 101 Streetscape and the California Coastal Commission to approve it.

First, parking. Documents obtained through a Public Records Act request show the city knew the parking areas were temporary at best.

The railroad right-of-way is 100 feet wide for nearly its entire length from La Costa Avenue to Encinitas Boulevard. Parking and the Coastal Rail Trail will very likely go along Vulcan Avenue in Leucadia as they go along San Elijo Avenue in Cardiff. The city and the Coastal Mobility and Livability Working Group have stated that preference. That would put the second set of tracks west of the current set — where the Streetscape plans show the three parking pods.

The North County Transit District notified the city: “Proposed parking pod locations are too close to existing NCTD track. Any approved encroachment into NCTD right of way shall provide a minimum perpendicular clear distance of 25 linear feet to the nearest running rail.” The bold type above and below is NCTD’s. Note “existing” track in each context.

The city responded: “The City respectfully requests a meeting with NCTD staff to discuss potential encroachments and easements. 22' from centerline of rail to be discussed.” From the centerline to the outside of either rail is about 2.5 feet. That means NCTD’s standard prohibits encroachments within 27.5 feet of the centerline. The city wants to shave 5.5 feet off that safety standard.

A 27.5-foot safety space is more than half the 50 feet from the centerline of the tracks to the Vulcan Avenue or Highway 101 pavement. That leaves 22.5 feet on each side for encroachments NCTD might approve.

Further, NCTD notified the city: “Proposed parking pods are too close to existing NCTD track. Any approved encroachment into NCTD right of way shall take into account the future installation of an additional Main Track within the limits of the North Coast Highway 101 Streetscape project limits.”

Further still, NCTD notified the city: “Proposed parking pods are too close to existing NCTD track. Eliminate parallel parking row closest to NCTD Main Track. Consider shifting parking lots closer toward Highway 101, elongating parking pods with a single row of parallel and/or diagonal parking.”

In a September 18, 2018 letter to NCTD, the city said, “The parking areas are designed to be truncated or eliminated as necessary to accommodate future double‐track, coastal rail trail, or other future improvements that will benefit our region.”

The bottom line: There’s not enough room for parking along Vulcan, the Coastal Rail Trail, a second set of tracks, wide parking pods along 101, a sidewalk, and the necessary safety spaces between those elements. That’s not what the city told the public and the Coastal Commission.

Second, trees. The city and its allies claimed Streetscape will add 1,000 trees in the Leucadia Highway 101 corridor. According to the EIR, the real number is 839. They will be broomstick-diameter saplings. If they ever grow to form a canopy, many decades will have passed. The city hides the fact that 90 existing trees will be removed, including the iconic Leucadia Boulevard eucalyptus.

NCTD notified the city: “Proposed trees shall be of the variety that do not grow overly tall or with large diameter canopies in order to avoid future potential to foul the Main Track or impact signal sight distance.”

In other words, NCTD prohibits tall trees and the large crowns necessary to form a canopy.

The city responded: “Existing and proposed trees and canopies are indicated on the proposed plans.” It sounds as if the city conceded NCTD’s point.

The city and its allies have been deceiving the public since Streetscape’s inception about 12 years ago. Between July 27 and September 28, the city somehow got the San Diego CCC staff to flip its position from effectively prohibiting Streetscape to permitting it. On October 11, the Coastal Commission approved the project.

Before and since that approval, the city has been trying to persuade NCTD to compromise its safety standards. The city turned the Coastal Commission. Whether or not they can turn NCTD remains to be seen.                    
Doug Fiske

Friday, October 19, 2018

Encinitas Deserves Better Candidate and Issue Forums

As well-intentioned as they are, the League of Women Voters doesn’t do a good job of moderating candidate and issue forums in Encinitas.

The League cites members not being residents of Encinitas as a plus. In the sense that ensures their lack of bias, maybe it is. But because none of the members live here, they don’t know the issues. That means they don’t know which audience questions to ask. They don’t know a good question from a bad one.

On top of that, they take way too much time talking up the League. Then they conduct the forums at a very slow pace. The residents want more and better questions and answers. We get shortchanged.

Suggestion to improve Encinitas forums: Have them moderated by local journalists. Aaron Burgin of the Coast News, Brittany Woolsey of the Encinitas Advocate, Alison St John of KPBS and Jesse Marx of VOSD are possibilities. Choose two or three. Let them ask their own questions and select questions from residents in the audience.

Journalists moderate national, state, county and other city forums. They generally do a good job. Chances are journalists would do a good job in Encinitas.
—Doug Fiske

Saturday, October 13, 2018

City namesake Señorita Encinita.
Encinita’s Cross to Bear

Jeff Spicoli told me Encinita’s is named after a Mexican señorita who was here before anybody except the Indians. That must be right.

Two things pushed me into paying attention to Encinita’s politics: the Streetscape “workshops” and Dan Dalager’s getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

I was first here as a visitor in ’63, came to surf Cardiff Reef, Swami’s and Beacon many times in ’66, and became a Cardiff resident in September ’69.

Like most residents, I assumed because it was still a small town when the city incorporated in ’86 — a place where you’d often cross paths with council and staff members — that the City Council would do right by the residents. After all, government is a representative democracy and, further, these people are our neighbors.

I was shocked and disillusioned to find that the same selfish, dishonest, backstabbing crap that goes on in county, state and federal government happens right here in little ol’ Encinita’s.

Well, I thought, they can’t be all bad, so a few years ago I devised a little test of the council’s decency, honesty and integrity. I did deep research that proved the authentic, historically accurate name of Leucadia’s midway beach access is Beacon. There was an aeronautical navigation beacon on the bluff there. That’s where the name came from. I demonstrated that the City Council circa 1986 had made a mistake in naming it Beacon’s.

I showed the documentary evidence to council and staff members. Nobody could say it was wrong. Some groped for lame reasons to keep the name wrong. The issue was agendized for a council meeting. In effect, the council said, we know it’s wrong, but we’ll keep it that way. They didn’t have the decency, honesty and integrity to admit the error and fix it.

Some people think this is a small thing. It’s not. It represents the attitude and action of every City Council since I started paying attention. They were against Prop A, they were for Measure T, they are for Measure U. With one weak exception, they are for Streetscape. Those are four examples among a countless number where the council does not represent the majority of residents. We elect them to serve us. They don’t. They do whatever they want, residents be damned.

Encinita’s cross to bear is local government that serves itself and special interests, not us.

Doug Fiske

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

City of Encinitas LCP Amendment No. LCP-6-ENC-18-0034-1
(North Coast Highway 101 Streetscape)

October 11, 2018

I’m Doug Fiske. I’ve lived in Encinitas for 49 years. For 21 of those, I’ve lived west of 101 and north of Leucadia Boulevard. I worked in Carlsbad for 15 years. Highway 101 was my commute route. I’ve driven, biked and walked it thousands of times. That’s my traffic study.

This appears to be a complex issue. It actually boils down to a few simple points.

There’s an extraordinarily long light at 101 and Leucadia Boulevard. It jams southbound traffic two lanes wide up to 1.4 miles. It jams northbound traffic two lanes wide up to half a mile. Drivers spill off the freeway whenever it plugs, which is most often at commuting times and on summer Fridays and Saturdays. The southbound jams are much longer because most visitors come from the north, and it’s much easier to get to 101 from the freeway north of Leucadia Boulevard than south.

If Leucadia 101 shrinks from four to two lanes, those traffic jams will be single file. They will double in distance and time.

The project would make Leucadia 101 two lanes for 83 percent of its 2.4-mile length. It would restrict beach access and increase transit time. The project would confine east-side parking to three bays. It would prevent east-side parking everywhere else. That would reduce the parking capacity of the corridor.

The commission’s principal concerns are access to and enjoyment of the coast. The project would restrict both.

I urge the commission to deny the LCPA. If you approve it with conditions, the city will spend another year and probably hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to meet conditions that a two-lane highway stuffed with roundabouts can’t meet.

The city has wasted 12 years and millions of dollars on a project that’s inconsistent with the Coastal Act of 1976. I urge the commission to deny the project and stop the waste. 


Thursday, October 4, 2018

Every Claim on the Sign Above Is False

Sad to say the only way Leucadia Streetscape supporters can get any traction is to deceive their neighbors.

The city of Encinitas and the Leucadia 101 Main Street Association have wasted 12 years and millions of taxpayer dollars pushing a plan that makes no sense, contradicts its main goal, is opposed by the majority of residents, and violates the California Coastal Act of 1976.

First False Claim: Alleviates congestion and cut through traffic.

Shrinking a four-lane highway to two narrowed lanes and stuffing it with roundabouts cannot alleviate congestion. That’s physically impossible. It would do the opposite. It would make the current traffic jams twice as long in distance and time.

By “cut through traffic,” Streetscape supporters mean weekday commuting traffic. They want to prohibit people who commute between beach cities from driving on Highway 101. First, it’s outrageous and monstrously arrogant to presume to stop a certain category of drivers from using a public highway. Second, just how would Streetscape distinguish between commuters and any other driver on the road? Do the city and L101 plan to issue passes that allow only locals and visitors to use the road? Third, yes the project would increase cut through traffic on Vulcan, Melrose, La Veta, La Mesa and Neptune.

Second False Claim: Pedestrian track crossing at El Portal.

The proposed Streetscape has nothing to do with the planned and funded undercrossing at El Portal. The two are completely separate projects. Streetscape provides no new track crossings from La Costa Avenue to A Street. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

Third False Claim: 4 Roundabouts for safe Hwy 101 crossing.

First, for clarification because people keep getting this wrong: The plan proposed six roundabouts. The two northernmost were to be at La Costa Avenue and New Road, which is the driveway to Cabo Grill. The fate of those two rested on what the developers of the hotel opposite the foot of La Costa Avenue did and when. What they wanted and whether they or the city started working first determined what would come of those proposed roundabouts. Since the developers will start their project before the city, they get their way. They don’t want those two roundabouts.

That puts the remaining four roundabouts at Bishop’s Gate (the private driveway to Sea Bluff condos), Grandview, Jupiter and El Portal. The first three are in the half mile from Bishop’s Gate to Jupiter. The fourth is 1.2 miles south of Jupiter at El Portal.

So to say that three roundabouts in a half mile at the north end of the corridor and another one more than a mile away are somehow going to benefit the entire 2.4-mile corridor is ridiculous. It’s laughable. The supporters should be embarrassed!

Crossing Hwy 101 to what? The proposed Bishop’s Gate, Grandview and Jupiter roundabouts aren’t opposite any of the proposed parking bays, so the only 101 crossers there would be what? Crossing to a bus stop maybe? Going east to check out the dirt in the railroad right-of-way? Going west after illegally crossing the tracks?

Granted, if the proposed project is built and when the El Portal rail undercrossing is dug, crosswalks at that proposed roundabout would probably make crossing 101 safer there. So would a ped-activated light like the one near Swami’s.

Fourth False Claim: Creates a beautiful walk & bike corridor.

How many people want to walk or bike alongside long, single-file traffic jams? It’s much safer and more pleasant to walk and bike on Neptune or Melrose or La Veta or La Mesa.

This gets us to what Leucadia 101 Streetscape is really about. The city and L101 want to create a linear shopping mall. To achieve that, one of the disingenuous, deceptive tactics they’ve used is, Hey, it will be a beautiful place to walk and bike! Gee, honey, let’s go for a lovely walk next to the traffic jams on Highway 101 in Leucadia.

As it is now, cars outnumber bikes by 50 or 100 to one, depending on what day of the week it is. Why jam traffic and grossly inconvenience drivers for the sake of a relatively few bicyclists? Especially good question when bicyclists have much safer and more pleasant alternatives. And while we’re on this point, is riding on 101 through downtown Encinitas, Solana Beach and Del Mar a beautiful biking experience? Highway 101 through south Carlsbad is a nice ride, but north Carlsbad and Oceanside are not.

Fifth False Claim: Adds 1000 trees & 134 parking spaces.

The proposed project would remove 90 existing trees, including the iconic eucalyptus at Leucadia Boulevard. It’s six feet in diameter a short way up from the base.

The number of trees the project proposes to add is 839, not 1000. They would be saplings the diameter of a broomstick. It would a dog’s age before they even started to look like trees and several decades before they became a canopy — and that’s only if the city consistently waters and maintains them, which we know the city doesn’t have a good record of doing.

There would be 176 parking spaces in the three proposed parking bays in the NCTD right-of-way. If the net gain of spaces is 134, that must mean 42 spaces would disappear from the west side of 101.

But there’s an overriding point the city and other Streetscape supporters don’t mention: NCTD has not agreed to yield the ground for the proposed parking bays in the railroad right-of-way. NCTD says they don’t want to give ground now that they might have to take back later. That has to do with the Coastal Rail Trail and doubling the tracks. There’s not enough room for the CRT, parking along Vulcan, two sets of tracks, parking bays and a sidewalk along 101, plus the necessary buffer space between all those elements.


Without greatly increased parking capacity and a much wider strip of commercially zoned property on the west side, the Leucadia 101 corridor cannot become a linear shopping mall. The very limited geography defeats that goal. On top of the severe limitations that kill the mall idea, the proposed project violates the California Coastal Act of 1976. It’s highly unlikely the city and L101 will get around that law.

—Doug Fiske

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Comments to CCC Regarding Leucadia 101 Streetscape LCP Amendments

August 8, 2018 California Coastal Commission Meeting
Agenda No. W18f
City of Encinitas LCP Amendment LCP-6-ENC-18-0034-1 

Doug Fiske
I oppose the project.
I support denial of the amendments.

California Coastal Commissioners,

I urge the commission to reject the proposed amendments outright.

The city of Encinitas has pursued the ill-conceived Leucadia 101 Streetscape project the amendments would allow for about 12 years. If it were a good, legal project, it would have been implemented long ago. The city has wasted millions of dollars on a project that the majority of residents don’t want and that would violate the Coastal Act.

If the commission were to approve the amendments with the modifications the staff suggested and the city were to pursue achieving those modifications, the traffic reports would inevitably show that the project would be inconsistent with the Coastal Act in these respects:

• It would restrict beach access by reducing a four-lane roadway to a two-lane roadway and by stuffing it with roundabouts, four of which would be in the first public road. It would make the current traffic jams more frequent and worse.

• It would increase transit time through the Leucadia 101 corridor individually and, if Carlsbad and Oceanside were to implement similar projects, cumulatively.

In both respects, the effect would be to restrict public access to and enjoyment of the coast.

I’ve lived in Encinitas for 49 years. For 21 of those, I’ve lived west of 101 and north of Leucadia Boulevard. I worked in Carlsbad for 15 years. Carlsbad, Leucadia and Encinitas 101 were my commute route. Cumulatively, I’ve driven, biked and walked the route thousands of times. I know the traffic patterns 24/7/365.

Anybody with driving experience and a lick of common sense knows that a four-lane road accommodates heavy traffic better than a two-lane road. Widening roads lets traffic flow better. Narrowing roads congests traffic.

The traffic study the city commissioned was done in April 2015. It omitted summer traffic, so its results have no validity. If the city commissions an inclusive, truly objective traffic study, it will inevitably show the current frequent congestion, especially when nearby I-5 backs up. If the study projects the current situation into the future, including reduction from four lanes to two and addition of six roundabouts, it will inevitably show frequent, unacceptable LOS E and F levels.

Parking is another thorny issue in the Leucadia 101 corridor. There is nowhere near enough parking capacity now. The project the proposed amendments would allow would confine parking on the east side of Leucadia 101 to three parking bays. It would prevent east-side parking anywhere else. That would reduce the corridor’s parking capacity, thereby restricting public access to and enjoyment of the coast.

Setting a bad precedent is an overriding issue. If the commission were to approve the amendments with the suggested modifications and the city were to achieve those conditions and implement the project, that would mean any coastal city could make Highway 101 anything it wanted. Trends and whims would potentially be indulged. There would be no more iconic, historic Highway 101.

I respectfully urge the commission to deny the proposed amendments outright for the reasons I have stated.

Doug Fiske
West of 101