Name-change proposal causes stir in Encinitas
By Angela Lau
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
August 16, 2006
ENCINITAS – Change B Street to Amakusa Way, in honor of a sister city in Japan?
Some say no way. Others say it must be a joke.
The source of the commotion is a surprise proposal to change the name of B Street downtown, from South Coast Highway 101 to Moonlight Beach.
City officials who proposed the change – without City Council approval – had hoped to use it as a welcoming gesture to an Amakusa delegation that is expected to arrive Sept. 28 to participate in Encinitas' 20th birthday bash Oct. 1.
But what seems to have been an administrative move has thrown the city into a bit of a tizzy and prompted a business owner on B Street, who would be most affected by the proposed change, to ask: “Don't they have anything else to do?”
“Why in the world would they change the name of B Street to something that has nothing to do with us?” said Paul Rotsheck, owner of Moonlight Beach Motel.
“The sister-city program is a very exclusive group of people who get to participate. This is the only la-di-da cultural thing this city does.”
The objections were not directed at Amakusa, which politicians emphasized has been a gracious host since a friendship with the southern Japanese city started in 1988.
Instead, the spasm is about an official notice sent by the Engineering Services Department to 54 property owners around B Street without notifying the Encinitas City Council.
“This sounds like a prank,” Councilman Jerome Stocks said, laughing. “I find it hard to believe this is a serious issue.
“No, I don't support it. It is too arbitrary for me. We have A through K Street. The alphabet is all in order. I rather like an orderly way to do things.”
Stocks' counter-proposal is to give the sister city a nice plaque.
Councilman Dan Dalager said he would rather stick with B Street.
“It's been B Street all my life. It works really well,” Dalager said. “They want a new name, find a new street. If they want to do it as a temporary thing, it's absolutely wonderful. We can even rename Highway 101 (temporarily) to Amakusa 101.”
Councilwoman Maggie Houlihan saw little humor in the situation and accused city officials of bypassing the City Council.
“I was incredulous,” Houlihan said. “This is absurd. It costs money to change the name of a street. Why don't we name a park after the sister city instead?
“They are going to make the sister program into something ugly. This is a good program that needs public participation.”
Deputy Mayor James Bond said he prefers to name a new street after Amakusa, adding that Mayor Christy Guerin probably knows what's going on better than anyone else.
“She's the one with the passion,” Bond said.
Guerin did not return repeated telephone calls.
Parks and Recreation Director Chris Hazeltine said the proposal originated from a visit to Amakusa at the beginning of June.
At the time, Amakusa officials told the city's delegation they wanted to name a street after Encinitas.
Members of the delegation, which consisted of Hazeltine, City Manager Kerry Miller, Fire Chief Mark Muir, Guerin and Bond, said they wanted to reciprocate, Hazeltine said.
The proposal is expected to be discussed by the City Council on Sept. 13.
Those farther away from the epicenter were blasé about it yesterday.
A homeowner near B Street, Jerry Mendelson, said he has no problem with the idea.
“Some people just don't like change,” Mendelson said.
Another resident, Travis Higginbottom, said he didn't really care.
“Let them do whatever makes them happy,” Higginbottom said.