SAN DIEGUITO — Going, going and gone. That's the consensus of opinion about three incorporation efforts along the North County coast that would turn communities into cities.
Going along at a rapid rate, and a predicted shoo-in at the polls in June, is Solana Beach incorporation. Benefiting from the mistakes of past crusades for cityhood, Citizens Intending To Incorporate (CITI) are confident but predictably nervous about their front-running position. A certain amount of opposition is necessary to keep interest up and bring out the voters, they feel.
Going along on schedule and with plenty of no-sayers baying at their heels are members of the North Coast Incorporation Coalition (NCIC) who are seeking to form a city, as yet unnamed, composed of the towns of Encinitas, Cardiff, Leucadia and Olivenhain. The CITI and NCIC proposals cover different areas and would not be in conflict.
Gone are the early hopes of the Party to Incorporate Encinitas (PIE) when, last week, a three-month effort to gather enough signers to place an Encinitas-only incorporation measure on the ballot failed by 883 valid signatures.
Yet to approach the starting line for the obstacle course that precedes any incorporation vote are Rancho Santa Fe residents. A $10,000 study is under way to determine how best to protect this rich estate community's rural life style from street lamps, stoplights, freeways and other urban niceties required in populated areas under county regulations. The Ranch wants none of them, but ranch leaders may have trouble explaining to residents why the area must become a city in order to protect its rural quality of life.
NCIC leaders smell victory in their effort, the umpteenth time that an incorporation of the San Dieguito region has been attempted. Other efforts stumbled and failed for a variety of reasons, one of which was the need for a new name for the merged hamlets.
Marbello was a catchy name, but it turned voters against incorporation in the 1950s. Carlana, an effort to create small craft harbors in several coastal lagoons, fared no better in 1962. At the last incorporation try in 1982, NCIC steering committee member Marjorie Gaines recalls that the name "San Dieguito" or "The Villages of San Dieguito" was a factor in the negative landslide that buried the cityhood effort. "Some people voted against the name," she said.
This time, Gaines said, voters will have a choice of three names for the new city. The name candidates are to be listed on the ballot along with the incorporation proposal and the candidates for the new city council. The contenders chosen in a name-the-city contest held earlier were: Encinitas, San Dieguito and Rancho San Elijo. The city name that receives the most votes will be selected if the incorporation measure passes.
Other city names that made the finals but not the ballot included Playa del Sol (beach of the sun), Villa Pacifica (Pacific home), Flora Vista (flower view) and Poinsettia, a traditional Christmas bloom shipped from the area to buyers around the world.
Although proponents of the four-community incorporation were equally optimistic before the 1982 defeat, there are signs that San Dieguito's incorporation time is now. The city, if it succeeds at the polls in June, would be equal in population to annexation-hungry Carlsbad to the north. Incorporation would halt the southward march of Carlsbad boundaries which already have hit Leucadia on the north and east and are nibbling at parcels to the south. Former opponents of what is characterized by its foes as an anti-growth incorporation effort now say they have joined the cityhood drive as the lesser of two evils.
Even opposing PIE spokesman Bob Weaver admits that he has found no signs of opposition to either incorporation effort in his door-to-door campaign to gain signatures for an Encinitas-only incorporation vote.
PIE resorted to paid petition circulators to overcome a late start in May and learned last week that its effort fell short of valid signatures of the required one-fourth of Encinitas voters. Fred Schreiber, a PIE supporter, said the effort to gain another 900 or more signatures will be "far from easy" in the two-week extension period granted by the Local Agency Formation Commission.
But PIE leader Weaver calls the signature-garnering, "a piece of cake." All that needs doing, Weaver said, is to "raise the ante" from 25 cents per signature paid previously to $1 a name.
This time, however, Weaver plans to add some quality control to the signature-gathering system to cut down on the high percentage of invalid signatures submitted. More than 35% of the signatures gathered earlier for PIE were declared invalid by the Registrar of Voters office. This time, petition circulators will be paid only half of their commission initially and will receive the remainder only after signatures are validated by the county registrar's office.