May 12, 2014
PUBLIC SAFETY/TRAFFIC COMMISSION BUSINESS
SUBJECT; Removing the unwarranted stop signs on Rancho Santa Fe Road in Olivenhain. Encinitas City Hall, 5:00 Pm, Encinitas City Council Chamber.
“I call it the law of the instrument, and it may be formulated as follows: Give a small boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding.” Abraham Kaplan’s, in 1964.
CONFUSING THE MISSION ON SAFETY
First, the traffic commission has been transfigured to make safety a secondary consideration to ‘land-use’.
Traditionally the commission’s mission is to advise the council on the thresholds of requested changes in and to the overall traffic laws in the City of Encinitas.
Recently, the Encinitas City Council proceeded to change the mission of the commission to accommodate ‘land use’ in rendering additional challenges to property-owners who wish to add to or change their properties: by having projects as small as a duplex-conversion add the time and cost of a local traffic study prior to submission to the Planning Department for processing.
ALTERING AN OBJECTIVE MISSION, TO THE SUBJECTIVE?
This alteration of the mission has confused the overall focus of the group as a whole, and perhaps, has become the first clear indicator that the council’s fundamental changes moving the specific focus of the Traffic Commission from solely traffic safety to an added and perhaps contradictory ‘land-use’ mission, has quickly and fundamentally, altered one of the most straight-forward science or math-based ‘OBJECTIVE’ commissions, not to a stand-still, but into chaos.
CHANGES TO THE COMMISSION
By extending/increasing the representative membership from 5 members based on location, one rep per community, totaling 5: for the reason of adding ‘others’ not bound or loyal to their specific community, but to be ‘At-Large’, thus altering/upsetting a 25 year ‘balanced’ commission, with the unexpressed Council intent of affecting group/commission decisions in a more anti-density/No growth manner: plus adding to that the 3 year increase in service, up from the traditional 2 years, the Council has basically brought the crisis in this commission upon themselves and those who are serving on the commission: at the sacrifice of objective decision-making. How does that help Community Character?
TIPPING POINT FOR HOME RENOVATION/BUILDING
In an unexpressed attempt to create extra ‘hoops’ for property owners to expensively jump through, with the attendant increased costs to home and business builders, the current Council majority has literally created a political maelstrom that renders the public safety traffic commission less effective.
ADVISORY MEANS ADVISE, NOT REVISE
The commissions were designed in the late 80’s to ‘advise’ the council, to be part of an extended early warning system that filters out requests from the public so that the Council’s public hearing time has had something vetted for legality and common sensibility before/prior to reaching the council.
COMMISSIONS FILTER FOR CITY COUNCIL
Up until now, the goal of the Traffic Commission was to be an early-warning indicator for the City Council: editing out and/or solving problems before they get to the council; NOT literally creating more problems for the Council; as is NOW occurring. (See Tonight’s Public Safety/Traffic Commission Agenda)
COMMISSION WASN’T BROKEN, ISN’T FIXED NOW
To be clear: the Traffic Commission for 25 years has been comprised of 5 commissioners, one from each community, Cardiff, Olivenhain, New Encinitas, Leucadia and Downtown Encinitas.
CREATING NEW PROBLEMS, NOT SOLVING
This past February, the current Council Majority (Yes, the $10 million Dollar Council) saw fit to transform the Traffic Commission in fundamental ways and then rename it: they wanted 7 commissioners, not five: instead of directing commissioners to use the or safety-point system ‘warrants’ in an easily objective manner, to serve as the basis for decision-making on ‘How’ to advise the Council, they asked for these seven volunteers to create a ‘mission-statement’ free of, and perhaps inconsistent with, the Council’s beliefs (Imagine sitting down with six strangers and trying to agree on a restaurant for dinner that pleases everyone) and the Council extended the service commitment from two years to three. Why? Perhaps so their appointees are still in power after the electorate has vanquished them themselves?
THE RESULT OF ALTERED COMMISSION
One of the added ‘At-Large’ commissioners has designed his own ‘Mission’: removing stop signs. (Sort of like the firemen in Fahrenheit 451, eh?)
While these alterations of size, duration and ‘mission’ sound minor, in fact, they were major. And they were made for political reasons, not public safety reasons.
One of those changes is personified by Mr. Al Rodbell. Mr. Rodbell is one of two residents who was appointed to serve ‘At-Large’ on the commission.
Over the weekend, ‘At-Large’ Mr. Rodbell e-mailed the entire Encinitas City Council Traffic Engineering staff, the Carlsbad City Council and one or two friends, to ask them all to attend tonight Public Safety/Traffic Commission meeting. Why? Mr. Rodbell wants to begin his tenure by possibly convincing his fellow commissioners into removing stop signs that are unwarranted.
While Mr. Rodbell is ostensibly using the Socratic or Scientific Method of evaluating traffic safety in the city, he is unfortunately addressing it from a similar position as the current Council Majority that appointed him: and that is one that doesn’t trust government.
RSF RD STOP SIGN REMOVAL MIGHT PROVE POPULAR?
Mr. Rodbell has chosen the unwarranted stop sign locations forced upon Olivenhain by then Councilwoman Christy Guerin along Rancho Santa Fe Road 14 years ago: an action by the Council in August of 2000 that located the stop signs along that route for private/personal/political/Council reasons: meaning that the stop signs did not meet the public safety point-system/warrants: and that they were perhaps more about making the drive from Leucadia Boulevard south along Rancho Santa Fe Road more ‘unpleasant’ and time-consuming for through-traffic commuters on their way to Highway I-5, and the unwarranted signs were perceived by many to be an action to help keep Olivenhain more private and rural (Like the closing of cross-streets from New Encinitas onto Rancho Santa Fe Road by Marjorie Gaines and Gale Hano) at the expense of the other 4 communities and having nothing to do with ‘safety’, an unexpressed idea that Mr. Rodbell is attempting possibly to ‘right’ a ‘wrong’ (In ‘Classism’ terms) in his subjective opinion, which is in now taking center-stage on a commission that clearly has been made ineffective by the addition of ‘land-use’ criteria to supercede safety and that is also subjective in basis, rather than being traffic safety only. (Mr. Rodbell also served notice last month that he is interested in being able to oversee police corruption in Encinitas)
So, while we applaud Mr. Rodbell for his idealism, generosity of spirit and willingness to act, rolling over your fellow commissioners so early in your tenure as a commissioner-at-large isn’t necessarily a long-term indicator for future success as part of a group, or advisor to the Council.
When you change the form and shape and time-commitment of the commission for political reasons, and in addition, do not clarify what the ‘mission’ of the commission is in reality, then you are rendering this particular commission to ‘spinning’ its wheels without a roadmap on where you want this group to arrive in advising you, nor ‘How’ you want them to get you there.
And it becomes a big, frustrating, painful, waste of time and energy.
NEXT? At least one councilperson wants roundabouts added to Saxony Avenue whether they are ‘warranted’ or not.
DANGER WILL ROBINSON:
When commissioners are asked to use a ‘point system’ 99% of the time to determine collective public safety, has suddenly thrust upon them by the Council a request to ignore the ‘warrants’ or the ‘point-system’ for Council ‘Pet Program’, then the commissioners often feel that their volunteer time is being wasted and that the council they have been appointed to be advisors to, are not interested in their work nor opinions and feel, reasonably that they are wasting their volunteer time.
Network Director, Mike Andreen has appeared before the Traffic commission on 10 separate occasions: and served on a Safe Routes To School Ad Hoc committee that lasted 18 months and was tasked with locating the best locations for Crossing Guards.