From guerilla-style environmental artwork to the future of the city, there was a lot going on in Encinitas this year. Here's a look, in no particular order, at the top 10 stories.
- Surfing Madonna: It seemed like an Easter weekend miracle when the mosaic — Our Lady of Guadalupe riding the waves — underneath the train overpass on Encinitas Boulevard near Vulcan. Pilgrimages soon ensued, with people flocking from all over to take their picture with the Madonna, followed by a storm of media coverage. But the Virgin — whose creator, Mark Patterson, — couldn’t stay there and was . Will she next year?
- The : Dedicated to civic service, Houlihan was known for her love of animals and her passion for Encinitas. Elected to City Council three times (and getting the most votes of all candidates twice), Houlihan served until her battle with cancer ended earlier this year. As Crystal Crawford, a former Del Mar councilwoman, said , “I recently heard that happiness is found somewhere between community service and love, and I think that’s Maggie.”
- Contentious Council: Houlihan’s passing threw divisions among councilmembers into even sharper relief. Things came to a head this past fall, when the to fill Houlihan’s seat, on a council subcommittee, and the council majority then earlier this month.
- General Plan Update: After many meetings and workshops, the draft of the document that will guide city development decisions for years ahead But instead of kudos, there were questions, many of them centering around the urban streetscape plan for El Camino Real, and the proposal to greatly increase housing and density on the city’s major retail artery. There have been so many questions that the City Council recently decided to to inform people about the plan and form a 23-member subcommittee to review and comment on the document.
- Blackout: The left 1.4 million SDG&E customers without power. After a power failure at an Arizona plant, but emerged without any major problems. While parents tried to figure out how to keep food from spoiling, kids had it the best of all, getting to run around in the dark with flashlights and not having to go to school the next day due to countywide closures.
- Pacific Station Arrives: After five years in the planning and construction phases, opened in January on Coast Highway 101. The modern-style building has 47 housing units, plus shops and restaurants. Six months later, the biggest tenant — — opened and since then the courtyard tables have been packed.
- Happy Anniversaries: It was a banner year in town. , culminating with a parade and community picnic in July. And with a blowout at the San Dieguito Heritage Museum.
- Pacific View: Even though it was closed in 2003, the old school site in downtown Encinitas was . As the Encinitas Union School District looked for someone to take the property off its hands— and began a legal over zoning — the Downtown Encinitas MainStreet Association on the grounds. The deadline for submitting development proposals to the school district comes Jan. 4, ensuring more headlines in the year to come.
- Cyclist’s Death: Coast Highway 101 is a magnet for bicyclists, so in April affected the community, sparking safety discussions and debates over how drivers and cyclists could better share the roads. Carlsbad resident Joseph Ricardo Fernandez later turned himself in and was
- Speaking Out: Perhaps it’s the influence of the national Occupy movement, or perhaps many civic issues came to the forefront this year —Encinitas residents are making themselves heard. at the old Expo site seemed to catch many residents by surprise, but it may be hard for something like that to happen again. New Encinitas has and a Facebook app, New Encinitas Residents, that are rallying residents to get involved in the general plan discussion. Residents in other parts of the city, as well as business owners, have also registered complaints about the general plan. A Facebook group, Envision the View, is lobbying for the preservation of Pacific View for public use. And residents don’t have to speak to be heard, as witnessed by Whether all these voices will coalesce to make change in the city could be the biggest story of 2012.
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