STATE OF CITY ADDRESS
MARCH 26, 2010
MAYOR DAN DALAGER
MARCH 26, 2010
MAYOR DAN DALAGER
I want to thank you for inviting me to share some of my thoughts on the State of City this evening and thank the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce for putting on tonight’s event. It is an honor and pleasure to serve as your Mayor for 2010. I’d like to frame my remarks tonight around the three guiding strategic business priorities that were adopted by the City Council in 2009 and just recently reaffirmed by the Council last February for 2010.
These strategic business priorities are:
-Infrastructure maintenance; and
These three strategic priorities guide the City on how it allocates funds, prioritizes capital projects and provides direction and focus in providing city services. Let’s start with Public Safety. The City enjoys the second lowest crime rate among all cities served by the San Diego Sheriff’s Department. Much credit can be given to Captain Don Fowler and his crew at the Encinitas Sheriff’s Station for their proactive law enforcement and prevention activities. While many other cities in the region were forced to reduce law enforcement personnel in 2009, Encinitas maintained its level of law enforcement. In fact, one School Resource Officer, slated to be dropped by the School District because of budget cuts, was saved and re-deployed to provide City-wide law enforcement service. The deputy is now part of the Sheriff’s Community Oriented Policing team providing specialized law enforcement for the entire City.
The Fire Department provides fire protection and emergency medical services protecting the life and property of all citizens of Encinitas. The Fire Department employs 48 full-time fire fighters including Deputy Chiefs, Captains, Engineers and Firefighters. They are trained in everything from Emergency Medical Service to swift water and confined space rescue. The Fire Department responded to over 5,000 calls for service in 2009.
In October 2009, four North County Fire Agencies entered into a Joint Fire Management Service Agreement. The Encinitas’ Fire Department now provides senior fire management support for the cities of Del Mar and Solana Beach, including the sharing our own Fire Chief, Mark Muir. We picked up battalion chief coverage from Rancho Sante Fe Fire Protection District personnel. We now have better coverage at a lower cost. Alexis de Toucqueville said, ‘Americans love change, but fear revolution’. We’re taking it one step at a time, but if this agreement works out as well as we hope, it may open the door to better service at even lower cost in the future.
A new fire station was completed in 2009. The old Fire Station #3 in Leucadia was torn down and a new station constructed on the same site with many money saving “green building” features. The bottom line is, more efficiency equals lower costs. The station has excess capacity in the event of regional disasters such as wild fires or other large-scale emergencies. During the fire station’s construction, no emergency service levels or staffing levels were reduced. The new Cardiff station is in the final design phase and will be the next fire station under construction.
Our lifeguards provide beach safety for 4 miles of Encinitas beaches. In 2009, our Guards conducted 2,034 service contacts - from minor incidences and first aid, to rescuing swimmers from rip currents and other dangerous conditions. In March 2009, Encinitas, in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard, hosted a multi-agency regional emergency drill at Moonlight Beach simulating a major oil spill. Hopefully we’ll never need to use the acquired knowledge. The City has a very active Community Emergency Response Team or CERT program. The CERT program trains volunteers in skills to assist in large scale regional disasters. The City now has over 200 certified CERT volunteers which are ready and able to assist in emergency situations.
The City places a high priority on maintaining and improving our City streets, sidewalks, parks, beaches and water, sewer and storm drain systems. Over the past year, several projects to improve our City’s infrastructure were completed.
o Encinitas Boulevard was repaved from Highway 101 to the City limits;
o San Elijo Avenue was just recently repaved from Sante Fe Drive to Interstate- 5;
o New curbs, gutters and sidewalks were installed along McKinnon Drive and
Regal Road providing missing sidewalk links and other street improvements;
o And in the long awaited Cardiff Alley Improvement project was completed.
2009 also saw the addition of 22 new parking spaces in downtown with the construction of parking lot on the corner of Vulcan Avenue and E Street. Across the street, a contract was just awarded to construct an additional 80 space lot. This second project will be completed in 2010.
Two local excavation projects have helped our beaches this year. Sand from the Pacific Station development on Coast Highway 101 placed 39,000 cubic yard of sand on our northern beaches. We got the award from the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association for the best restored beach in the country. Last month, the Scripps Hospital parking structure excavation provided 4,500 cubic yards of sand that was placed at Moonlight Beach. The best part is that the sand was free and delivery was paid by short term rental taxes recently approved by our voters. We want to thank these visitors for picking up the tab to improve our beaches.
We are committed to the maintenance of infrastructure in Encinitas. I would like to share how we did on some key performance measures last year:
o 78% of reported potholes were repaired within one day;
o 79% streetlight outages were repaired within 3 days;
o 100% of all sewer spill calls were responded to within 1 hour;
o 207 miles of sewer and storm drain pipes were cleaned;
o 60 cubic yards of debris was removed from our storm drains;
o And 100% of speed limit signs on arterial and collector streets were replaced.
Water conservation is an important issue in 2010. In 2009, both the San Dieguito Water District and the Olivenhain Water District declared a Level 2 Drought Alert. Water users have stepped up to the plate, reducing potable water usage in 2009 by 10.4% in the San Dieguito District and 14% in the Olivenhain Water District from the prior year.
More needs to be done as the region and state face challenges in our water supplies. We are working with a number of agencies to come up with long-term solutions.
Locally, creating and utilizing existing resources such as waste water is an infrastructure improvement that has been made. In coordination with the San Eljo JPA, the San Dieguito Water District offers recycled water in lieu of potable water for landscape irrigation. Recycled water for landscape and agricultural use represents 11% of the total water usage within the Water District. New facilities that came on line in 2009 with recycled irrigation water include the San Diego Botanical new Children’s Garden, the San Elijo Nature Center, Ocean Knoll Elementary School and the Quail Point residential development.
I encourage all of us to continue and increase our water conservation measures. The San Dieguito and Olivenhain Water District’s web sites and conservation personnel are great resources to obtain water saving programs and incentives. There are many other citizen services that are provided everyday; maintaining our drainage and water ways and clean water at our beaches, providing good planning, keeping our neighborhoods safe and clean, all contribute t the quality of life we enjoy in Encinitas.
There are 326 acres of City parkland, 3.5 miles of City run beach, and 40 miles of recreational trails. The City has a very active Community and Senior Center that is open 6 days a week. In 2009, 12,500 youths, young adults and seniors participated in one or more of the City’s recreation programs.
A project that the community has waited for many years is the 44-acre future park site off Santa Fe Drive known as the Hall property. The City acquired the site in 2001 and has been in the master planning and design approval process for over 8 years. The planning phase and preparation of necessary environmental documents have been completed, and various legal challenges have been addressed and dismissed by the courts. Construction plans are now underway and it’s time to build the park!
Work has begun on clearing the site. Phased development of the park will follow. The new park will be a tremendous community asset providing much need active and passive park facilities for all users. The time is right to begin construction of the new park. Construction costs are lower than they’ve been in years and later this year a contract will be awarded to construct the first phase of the park. The investment the City made in the Encinitas Library has paid off in citizen services. Over 400,000 visitors passed through its doors in 2009. The Encinitas Community Library has become the second most visited library facility in the San Diego County Library system, and our energy upgrades to city hall have made us the first city in San Diego County to win the EPA’s Energy Star award. I want talk a little about what really makes us a community. Public art can really bring out a community’s personality.
Since its unveiling in 2007, the Cardiff Surfer sculpture is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s hard not to chuckle at the various “costumes” the sculpture has adorned. We thank Mike Clark and Brad Maasen for showing us our town’s sense of humor. The Art Alive banner program is great! DEMA, Leucadia 101, and Cardiff 101 sponsor a program that showcases works of art hung on the streetlight posts up and down Highway 101. It’s business supporting art and art supporting business, with a lot of volunteers.
Our newest sculpture, the “Encinitas Child” is an example of what’s special with our town. It was commissioned by the Downtown Encinitas MainStreet Association in honor of their 20th anniversary. The bronze sculpture was designed and created by local artist Manuelita Brown to represent a generic little girl and the welcoming spirit of downtown Encinitas. But the site selected for the installation also had a history. Forty-three years ago, a little Encinitas girl, Paula Smith, was killed near that site when a car struck her bicycle. Forty three years later, no name, no date, just a memory of the tragedy, what other community would have made the effort? With a lot of local effort, her family and her history were tracked down. Her brother, Art, was located in Seattle. Through the generosity of locals, he was flown down to the sculpture’s dedication. If Paula had been wearing a helmet, or if there had been specialized attention close by,
she would probably still be with us.
Scripps Hospital has stepped up to work with DEMA and to incorporate her story into their brain injury education program for local kids. Do things like this happen in other places? This is a great town! Thank you DEMA, and Mrs. Brown and all others who made this possible.
2009 was a financially challenging year. As you know, many cities and school districts in our region and the state have reduced services, closed facilities and laid off employees. This was not the case in Encinitas.
We continue to plan our budgets on a 6 to 10 year horizon. We have a 20% reserve fund, $2 million emergency reserve, have switched to zero based budgeting and have used ‘golden handshakes’ in certain instances, to insure fiscal sustainability. We have started the process to update the city’s general plan. The public has shown up in droves at workshops to help chart our course for the next 20 years. It is this long-term planning that seems to set municipal government apart from other forms. We are a city manger form of government. The council sets policy, the staff works out the details. We are one of the best managed cities in the county. I want to thank Phil and our staff for making us look so good.
2010 will present new challenges. The State Legislators continue to seek ways to “raid” local government’s pocket book. They just don’t seem to have the ability or desire to put their financial house in order. We plan our budgets 6 years out. They still budget 1 year at a time.
The courts and state are also rumbling to take away local land use decisions. We’ll fight tooth and nail for the physical and the fiscal control of our city. City revenues have dipped during the past year. Sales tax was down just over 10%, and is anticipated to continue to be weak throughout 2010, but we have accounted for this in our fiscal planning.
But concentrating on the adopted strategic priorities: public safety, infrastructure maintenance, and citizen services –will serve us well. Thank you for the opportunity to share these thoughts with you tonight. Life is good!
We live in Encinitas! I look forward to a great 2010.