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Skin Deep, and other marks of Beauty

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
September 17, 1998


I dig Del Mar. Always telling it like it is, the city has divided into two factions, the Greys and the Greens. Now I don't have to tell you that this same battle is being played out around the county. The only difference is the names used to distinguish alliances. In Oceanside the Greys are known as Pro-Manchester, in Carlsbad they are the Lego People, and in Encinitas the are the Good O`le Boys. Which is non-gender specific considering that Mayor Aspell is currently the designated puppet for the development interests that control the city.

Now for those of you who doubt that the city of Encinitas caters to developers, all you need to do is drive over to City Hall. The first thing one sees is the words "Development Services", looming above the parking lot. Coincidence? I think not. The Building, Planning, and Engineering Departments are located here. Why, you ask, didn't they just put the department names on the building's exterior? Well, it's a matter of making developers feel welcome at City Hall. It's sort of like the Republican majority in Congress renaming the Natural Resources Committee the Resources Committee. I guess some people want you to judge their book by it's cover.

I bet you are wondering what I was doing lurking around City Hall in the middle of a perfectly good afternoon. If you must know, I was there to get some more information in regards to the proposed Coast Highway 101 Downtown Beautification Plan. I had no problem getting copies of the Streetscape Plan produced by Warner Architecture-Design. At first glance they are very attractive.

One of the features of the re-engineering, is the pop-outs designed to calm traffic. I like the idea of calming traffic, and drivers. These pop-outs will include hardscape and landscaping. For the layman that means benches and trees. Environmental question #1, will the city plant drought resistant native trees? Answer. Yeah, right!

Another reason given for the redesigning of the historic downtown area is to enhance the small-town, pedestrian atmosphere while attracting more people to the area. This is a great idea if the people brought downtown are pedestrian, as well as the growing number of cyclists. And no, bike lines are not included in the plans. Who could argue with foot traffic being the future of historic Encinitas? As far as I am concerned the jury is still out on this project,  and there is still time for citizen input to help shape this redevelopment effort. I know there are still Environmental statements yet to be done.

What exactly is the impact of reducing the flow of traffic through the coastal corridor? Does it mean that automobiles will idle longer while waiting in a single line for the light to change. Environmental Question #2, what is being done to promote public transportation? You'll have to forgive my skepticism. I just can't seem to shake the feeling that there is something more here than what meets the eye.

Maybe it is just my aversion to gentrification. Maybe it is my fear that this is the jumping off point for the "beautification" of Leucadia. I am all too aware of those within the Chamber of Commerce who would like to see Leucadian charm replaced with hotels and upscale stripmalls. Sort of like El Camino Real the sequel.

Here's a thought, after they are done "calming" 101 maybe the can "heavily sedate" those responsible for the upcoming Leucadia Blvd. nightmare. For those of you who can't forsee Leucadia Blvd. becoming a feeder road to accomadate San Marcos's uncontrolled growth all I can say to you is, "I told you so."

Speaking of nightmares, what is up with traffic on I-5? Is it just me or is everyone fed up with standing still on the freeway at  two in the afternoon. Everywhere it seems on and off-ramps are being expanded. As if we need more people slowing down to see the latest fatality. I call this vulture traffic. Environmental question #3, How does promoting single occupant vehicles, help improve air quality?

La Costa Avenue is currently being beautified, in fact it's "beauty" is being more than doubled. I wonder what landscaping they have planned for the Batisquitos Lagoon. I don't know how much more beautification I can stand. Personally, my idea of beauty does not include automobiles. There I go with that heretic talk again.

I think it is time for a revolution, and not the kind dreamed up on Madison Avenue that uses house pets to sell lousy Mexican food. I want the type of revolution where people take to the streets demanding something more than just any easier route to environmental collapse.

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