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Playground politics undermine the interests of Encinitas

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
February 22, 2007


Sitting in council chambers, seconds before the start of an Encinitas City Council meeting a well respected community activist whispered over my shoulder "I feel like I'm in a Fellini film." Without missing a beat I replied, "It's more like a David Lynch film." Concern citizens, we shared a nervous laugh. We had been here before.

Encinitas politics have always been an ugly business. Ever since incorporation a battle has been waged between development interests and residents concerned about the environment and quality of life. Never has the divide been so wide.

Currently the "development at all costs" crowd is winning. With an all male majority of self-defined anti-environmentalists, going out of their way to eliminate proponents for restraint or ecological stewardship from entering the decision making process for the city of 63,000 residents, the women on the council are marginalized with a wink and a smirk.

The latest example of petty politics eclipsing pragmatic, future focused leadership: Mayor James Bond has refused to bring the proposed the endorsement of Councilwoman Maggie Houlihan's nomination to the California Coastal Commission on the the council agenda.

In response to Houlihans' nomination by the County Board of Supervisors, endorsement by the Sierra Club, California Coast Keepers, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, Mayor Bond's unwillingness to bring the issue up for discussion in a timely manner stinks of partisan politics in a nonpartisan elected body. Such a decision reflects poorly on the City of Encinitas, and the emotional maturity of Mayor Bond, and councilmen Stocks and Dalager.

If these men, who were elected to represent every resident of Encinitas, oppose Councilwoman's Houlihan's nomination and potential appointment to the California Coastal Commission they should declare so publicly, as part as an open discussion, instead of their current course of purposeful inaction. The residents of Encinitas deserve to hear the reasons why they feel Encinitas should not have a representative on the Coastal Commission.

The California Coastal Commission, established by voter initiative in 1972, and made permanent by the legislature with the California Coastal act of 1976, plans and regulates the use of land and water in the coastal zone. Besides coastal development, the coastal commission addresses issues such as public shoreline access, recreation, visitor accommodations, terrestrial and marine habitat protection, visual resources, commercial fisheries, water quality, and oil and gas development.

Appointment to the California Coastal Commission of any Encinitas City official will only benefit the city of Encinitas, now and in the future. The knowledge gained from sitting on such an influential body could then be passed on to city staff, as to better prepare them in the planning of projects likely to come before the Coastal Commission. It would also afford Encinitas a voice in the state-wide decision making process while increasing it's influence in San Diego County.

By allowing personal vendettas against colleagues who do not share their personal world view, or an anthropocentric definition of quality of life, to take priority over giving the City of Encinitas wider influence in the economic and environmental stewardship of California's coastal communities, James Bond, Jerome Stocks, and Dan Dalager undermine the best interests of all Encinitas residents. This behavior is not only a shamefully juvenile, it is a disservice bordering on malfeasance.

Encinitas deserves better representation.

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