Running a New City Hectic but Exciting

Marjorie Gaines is the first mayor of Encinitas

Being the mayor of a new city is a lot like being on a merry-go-round without a brake.

Generally speaking, new cities come into being when a majority of the public wants to see major changes in their community.

After the election, these same citizens want to see immediate proof that those changes are taking place.

At the same time, those who voted against incorporation also want their slice of the pie, as do the candidates who were not elected.

All this makes the merry-go-round move faster.

Charitable and youth organizations inside and outside the community all send letters of congratulations, invitations and requests for time, money or proclamations.

Businesses and business organizations send invitations and requests for speakers, memberships and information. Developers and consultants of all varieties want meetings and information.

My husband wants clean socks.

Political organizations and political aides of national, state and local renown send invitations and requests for speaking engagements, meetings, social events and fund-raising activities. Churches and schools send invitations and requests of all kinds. Small children write letters requesting information to help them with their homework.

And my husband eats pizza for dinner again.

Woven through all these communications is an absolute flood of phone calls and messages from people with pressing problems and concerns. There are reams of paper and reports to be read, books, studies and legislation to be studied. In addition to running the city, the council serves as the boards for four special districts that have not yet been incorporated into the city structure. I now attend meetings four nights most weeks.

The dizzying cycle has no end.

Being a part of a new city is a lot like assisting at the birth of a baby who is born middle-aged, opinionated, slightly paunchy and tending toward baldness.

The City of Encinitas was created during the June, 1986, election by a 69% majority vote centered on the issue of uncontrolled growth. The official incorporation occurred Oct. 1, leaving a four-month period during which the City Council-elect could take only limited action to hire staff but could not collect or spend money or deal with issues of law.

During that time, the council-elect held weekly public meetings to discuss and assist in solving local problems, and to make preparations for the October start-up, utilizing volunteers and part-time county staff in every way possible. The council advertised for the positions of city attorney, city clerk and city manager, and requested proposals for a City Hall location.

Workshop sessions were held weekly to instruct council members-elect in all phases of city responsibility, including planning, zoning, public works, parks, finance, legal issues, sanitation, fire, police, water and personnel.

The City of Encinitas was created by combining the communities of Leucadia, Encinitas, Cardiff-by-the-Sea and Olivenhain. To assure that our communities will have the right to retain their own character and identity, the council adopted five separate community advisory boards to make minor zoning and design-review decisions and recommendations on all major zoning and land-use issues.

Another charge of all new cities is the creation and adoption of a general plan, which will become the land-use constitution for the city. In Encinitas, a volunteer committee has been working to update the old county plan while collecting new information and mapping all areas of our city.

The adoption of existing county ordinances was a distasteful but necessary act that we now must remedy. Over a period of time, all ordinances will be reviewed and rewritten to suit the new city's needs. That process has begun and will be a substantial part of city business for many months to come.

We are now beginning to put together Encinitas' first budget, which will further define the future direction of our city. Being a new city, few decisions are cut and dried.

There are, for example, people who would like us to put money into social services, although that was not a major issue in the incorporation referendum. We also need traffic signals and, possibly, road improvements as well as parks and playing fields. Some residents want to see services they never got when we were governed by the county, such as street sweeping. Two items that already have a consensus among the council members are increasing police protection and establishing a parks and recreation department.

The incorporation fight was dominated by the issue of land use. But now that we have become a city, some residents feel we should also be helping the organizations in town that assist those without food or shelter. As soon as you find a way to allocate money to one social service agency, though, you have 20 more organizations that would like some, too. My view is that we first have to take care of those things we've promised. Then if we have money left for other projects, we will have to establish a priority.

So far, we have seen a few people who opposed incorporation moderate their view and decide it might not be so bad after all, and, unfortunately, a few who worked hard for incorporation have been disappointed at not receiving appointments to city posts.

The new City of Encinitas will be a city to watch in the years of 1987 and 1988, as the commitment of our new City Council is in complete alignment with citizen concerns.

The excitement and energy of this wonderful combination newborn/middle-aged infant will keep our new city staff hopping for years to come.

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