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I do believe it's getting better

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
August 30, 2007


The city of Encinitas was once considered a vanguard of environmental governance in San Diego County. I realize that isn't saying much, still, it was something. Historically, San Diego's leaders have never been big on restraint, efficiency, or sustainability. As a tree-hugger I'll take any evidence of wise stewardship, or ecologically motivated policy as a sign of hope.

Perhaps it's the weather, maybe it's a midlife crisis, definitely out of character, I'm actually feeling a twinge of small-scale optimism because summer 2007 has been a season of hope in Encinitas. After 5 years of corrupt priorities it seems the Encinitas City Council is finally getting it's "Eco Mojo" back. Also out of character, Councilman Jerome Stocks is actively advancing the environmental agenda long called for in the city of over 63,000 people.

My Pollyanna mood is directly related to the fact that Encinitas City staff is doing due diligence regarding the creation of an appointed environmental commission. Long overdue, the proposed Environmental Quality Commission, was a centric plank in Councilwoman Maggie Houlihan's first campaign for office in 2000.

Shortly after being elected, Houlihan raised the bar on effective leadership, most notably her successful efforts to prohibit circuses and the display of exotic animals in Encinitas, and her tireless work to include off-leash dog and people zones to the city's park portfolio.

At a 2002 goal setting session council asked then City Manager Kerry Miller to appoint a "blue ribbon environmental review committee." Completely non-politicized, this group of qualified residents and professionals quickly got to work, and in 2003 submitted to the city council their findings. In keeping with their findings, the even handed and future-focused report was issued in electronic format.

Reason for hope, right?

Between 2000 and 2004 the Encinitas Parks and Recreation Department managed the development of eco-friendly parks throughout the community. Sun Vista park on the east side of town, and Cottonwood Creek park in downtown feature biologically motivated creek restoration. All three are designed for biofiltration and support an impressive variety of native plant species. Major progress.

With the help of Teresa Barth, Councilwoman Houlihan will soon see her goal of a Environmental Commission come to fruition, now that Councilman Jerome Stocks has picked up the banner of sustainable stewardship, 2007 will finish out with a renewed commitment to a greener and cleaner Encinitas. Is was Stocks that made the motion, that put the staff in motion. Like most Encinitans, I can count to 3. And contrary to Councilwoman's comments, Hell didn't need to freeze over before Stocks did the right thing. Merely the realization that environmental quality, and overburdened infrastructure will be the driving issues for Encinitas voters in 2008 was sufficient.

Another sign of progress is the recent formation of a committee who's sole purpose is to consider policy regarding a ban on invasive non-native species in new development in particular, and possible incentives to encourage residents to remove existing invasives and to replace them by planting resource wise natives species. Stocks made the motion that Maggie Houlihan should Chair the invasive/exotics committee.

Personally? I could get use to this Pollyanna thing. Who knows, soon I may be able to write about Carlsbad and San Marcos discovering the nexus between over-development and over population.

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