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Love Letters in Triplicate

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
June 24, 1999


As many readers of the Coast News know, my commitment to coastal North County goes beyond the mere act of throwing out words bombs designed to cause civic unrest, and character assignations. As an environmentalist it is important to me that my words are followed through with action. Besides providing a voice for native species that share our fragile coastal habitats, I occasionally wade into the politics of civic planning. Both are a very serious business.

Recently I have been involved in the effort to protect the interests of Leucadia residents, in regards to the placement of a resort hotel on 4.23 acres of coastal land at the western end of La Costa Blvd. I'm sure to many, 131 hotel rooms seems like just the answer for any self-respecting beach community. The question is how does yet another tourist hotel set our community apart from all the other cities pinning their hopes on the tourist trade.

Like the other North County cities competing for the tourist dollar, Encinitas must find ways to balance the needs of residents with the expectations of business interests seeking to cash in on the quality of life the community has fought so hard to preserve. Making it easy on developers, at the expense of residents is not the answer.

Of course there are those community members who have no problem selling off community resources, as long as they get there share, that is to be expected. It is my desire to see that planning choices are guided by the spirit of the law put in place to protect the rights of all citizens, not just the few development interests promising the highest rate of return.

On Wednesday, June 23rd, the Encinitas City Council will be asked by community members, such as myself, to look out for the best interests of those of us who have decided to call Leucadia home, before allowing people with no connection to our city, the opportunity to turn our livable neighborhood into just one more roadstop along Interstate 5. Below is the cover letter I included in my appeal. I do this so that my motives are not left to be interpreted by some court jester scribbling endlessly in the sand.

Council Members,

I would like to take this opportunity to assure you that the intent behind the filing of this appeal, is that of a Leucadia resident concerned about the livability of his community. Questioning the Planning Commission action of May 27, 1999, which granted yet another extension for the resort project planned for 2100 S. Coast Highway 101, is not about stopping the project, but only to see that all affected infrastructure is upgraded before this project is allowed to continue in any form. This includes the intersection of La Costa Ave. and Sheridan Rd. The best way for this to be done, is a Council action demanding that a subsequent Environmental Impact Report be completed.

Considering that a remarkable amount of extensions have been granted since the project was first approved, despite the Leucadia Citizen Advisory Board recommending the denial of the Sport Shinko application, it seems only reasonable that the knowledge provided by a subsequent analysis of the area strongly impacted by the development in question, would serve the City of Encinitas in numerous ways. The most beneficial outcome could possibly be the reassessment of mitigation requirements placed on those wishing to profit from a development that will attract a significant amount of traffic, while removing coastal open space.

It is my belief that it is well within the council's privilege to request a closer look at what exactly the developer is willing to contribute to our city, for allowing them the privilege of developing in a city near build-out. Recently a precedent was created when the Planning Commission waved a mitigation requirement established in the original EIR. This should be seen as an opportunity for you to save the residents of Encinitas a great deal of stress, and perhaps even the considerable amount of money that will be required to widen La Costa Ave to accommodate resort traffic.

In recent dealings with development services staff, my inquiries where met with catch phrases such as rough proportionality, running models, and reasonable expectations. All of which were being used to explain why more was not being asked of a corporation that was planning to completely alter the character of Leucadia, without for once considering the residents that live within walking distance of the beach front property they wish to dominate.

It is my belief that trying to stop this resort would be as sensible as banging my head against the ever-growing sea wall. So, again I state, my only intent is that the applicant be made to mitigate the effects of their private enterprise responding to the needs of Encinitas in the year 2000 and beyond, and not to those of the fledgling Encinitas of 1991. A lot has changed since then, and if a Subsequent EIR is done, we will all be able to see how much. It is also my belief that if this project is as environmentally responsible as city staff says it is, then there should be no problem with an Environmental Impact Report bearing the year date 2000.

Thank you for your consideration,

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