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North County Report: Encinitas, the Slow-Growth Bellwether

More headaches for the Coastal Rail Trail, San Marcos releases drafts of potential new districts, men continue to define women by their shoes and more in our weekly roundup of North County news.

What to do when the state wants your city to shoulder its share of the region’s housing need, but your city likes its suburban development the way it is?

Encinitas came up with an answer, and increasingly cities are following its lead. Cities across the state are pushing for  “slow-growth” measures that place additional restrictions on new development. Encinitas’ Proposition A, for example, requires that any zoning amendments get approved by the voters.

Maya Srikrishnan writes about the other cities pushing similar measures, including Del Mar, where proponents of the slow-growth “Voter Approval of Certain Development Projects Initiative” qualified forthe November ballot.

An analysis performed by the city says if approved, it would trigger a popular vote for large projects, projects requiring zoning changes, or projects requiring any exceptions to rules meant to limit the size of projects.

The report concluded such a measure would violate state law (Page 66 of the PDF). Encinitas, the local inspiration for these measures, is facing a struggle to comply with state law when voters have the final say.

Rail Trail Plans Go Stale

The Coastal Rail Trail, originally planned in the 1990s to provide a separated bike path from Oceanside to San Diego, is still giving people headaches.

At the northern end in Oceanside, the trail is complete except for a connecting section over a creek, which has come under renewed scrutiny by opponents of a road diet on nearby Coast Highway.

They see the completed trail as an alternative to narrowing the road to accommodate bike lanes, and have been vocal about getting funding for the environmental reviews. The city recently allocated $150,000 for an environmental report on the project that is expected to begin in 2017, according to the city’s traffic engineer.

But this spring, in Encinitas, the City Council changed course on the Rail Trail where it passes through Cardiff, because a fence along it would stop residents from crossing over the tracks illegally to access the beach.

Talks stalled for months, but last week, the City Council took up the issue to establish a working group to assist with the design. The decision didn’t come without some hang-ups, though. The city had hired a consultant to establish a vision for the working group and select 15 members from a pool of applicants, but ultimately their recommendation was rejected in favor of an alternate list presented by Councilwoman Catherine Blakespear.

San Marcos Drafts New Districts

San Marcos has released draft maps of what future City Council districts could look like, after the city was threatened with a lawsuit for its at-large voting system, which was said to alienate Latino voters.

Latinos make up about 37 percent of the population of the city, but none have been elected to office in 20 years.

The two maps provide for one district where a large number of voters are Latino, according to the Union-Tribune. In the first map, 42 percent of voters are Latino, although about 72 percent of the population of the district. In the second map, it’s 45 percent of voters, and 70 percent of the population.

It’s expected the new system won’t be in place until the 2018 election, however.

All in the Family

The mayor’s race in Encinitas took an interesting turn this week, when three – count ‘em, three! – husbands of current and former electeds took out papers to explore a run for office.

First up was Paul Gaspar, the husband of Mayor Kristin Gaspar, who is running against Dave Roberts for County Supervisor District 3. Paul Gaspar is a political newcomer and runs Gaspar Doctors of Physical Therapy, but heads up lobbying efforts for the physical therapy trade association, according to The Coast News.

Shortly after that, the husbands of Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer and former Mayor Teresa Barth –  Steve Bartram and Don Barth, respectively – took out papers to explore runs.

Bartram told the Union-Tribune it’s more than just a joke at Paul Gaspar’s expense.

“I’m real serious,” he said Tuesday. “If Paul thinks he can walk in Kristin’s high heels, I can certainly walk in Lisa’s Birkenstocks.”

Also in the News

This summer has been another deadly season for the horses in Del Mar. (Union-Tribune)

It’s a good time to be selling: Home values are crazy in Carlsbad and Oceanside right now. (MarketWatch)

Encinitas will defend itself against a lawsuit filed by residents upset with a settlement agreement between the city and the Building Industry Association from 2015, which permitted a density bonus project in Leucadia. (The Coast News)

I can’t even: Oceanside ranks 134th of America’s 150 stressed cities. Also in the region were San Diego (141) and Chula Vista (127). (WalletHub)

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