Encinitas Deputy Mayor Joe Mosca wants to continue his commitment to helping Encinitas in areas like financing, the environment and infrastructure.
Mosca, a 45-year-old attorney for San Diego Gas and Electric who was first appointed to the council in January 2017 following a seat vacancy when Catherine Blakespear was elected as mayor, began campaigning for his re-election bid in May.
Mosca is running to represent district four, which encompasses areas like his community of Olivenhain and New Encinitas and is one of two district-based seats available in the coming election. The City of Encinitas adopted district-based elections last October, following threats from a Malibu-based lawyer who claimed racial discrimination in the city's former at-large election policy. The mayor's seat remains based on an at-large election.
"[Districting] was something that was kind of foisted upon us and not something that I supported from the beginning," Mosca said in an interview June 18. "Having said that, I'm excited about how districts will increase representation for each of the communities of Encinitas."
In his district, Mosca believes the number one issue is traffic congestion. He believes the city needs to continue working to find solutions to be able to move people safely around the city. In his area, he’s pushed for fixing the roads on Rancho Santa Fe, Willow Springs and El Camino Real. The city has also invested money in trails in the area, as well as fixing water and sewer infrastructure, Mosca said.
Mosca — who previously served four years on the Sierra Madre City Council from 2006 to 2011, including one year as mayor — said he was instrumental in helping Encinitas secure a guardrail on a portion of Encinitas Boulevard, where cars have been crashing onto residential properties for three decades likely due to an increased speed limit and a curve that some residents say can make it hard for people to drive safely.
The deputy mayor expressed a commitment to working with his council colleagues as a team to tackle issues across the city, including ensuring the city is financially sound, staying ahead of market trends and encouraging the growth of the business community.
Climate change is also something the city needs to focus on, Mosca said. In Olivenhain, he has worked to educate the community on emergency evacuations, including those for large animals, such as horses.
"We need to make sure that we're planning for the future and we're looking at the fact that we're going to have more heat days, more intense wildfires, flooding and sea level rise," he said.
Further, he believes the city's climate action plan — which passed in January and focuses on proposed reduction strategies, such as building efficiency; renewable energy; clean and efficient transportation; water efficiency; zero waste; reducing off-road equipment; and carbon sequestration — is "one of the most forward-leaning documents," and now it's time to implement those goals.
Mosca also considers working on the city's Housing Element Update as one of the "toughest discussions" the council has had to endure.
Encinitas is the only city in San Diego County without a Housing Element, a required document that spells out how a city proposes to rework its zoning to accommodate its future housing needs, particularly those of low-income people. The city’s original plan, which it is still working off of, was created in the 1990s.
The city’s last attempt at a housing element, Measure T, failed in the November 2016 election. Residents are expected to vote on the latest housing element update in November.
In April, Mosca proposed removing a controversial piece of city-owned property, L-7, from the list of sites for consideration after an outcry from neighbors on Quail Gardens Drive. Mosca's motion was seconded by council members Tony Kranz and Mark Muir, removing the site from the housing plan. Some residents, Mayor Catherine Blakespear and Council member Tasha Boerner Horvath criticized that decision as they believed the city would have had the most control over affordable housing at L-7.
The council continued the discussion of the Housing Element Update sites on June 20 following this article’s deadline.
"Working with the state, [the housing element] has been a moving target with the laws changing and the viewpoint of the state in terms of which sites are on or off or acceptable is incredibly difficult,” Mosca said. “I'm doing my best job to make sure that we're balancing all interests and we're putting forth an initiative that has the greatest potential to pass at the ballot but will also produce real affordable housing for our city."
Mosca said, if elected to a second term, he will continue to help solve the challenges before the city.
"I'm not only focused on all the goals that I want to accomplish in terms of quality of life for the city," he said. "I'm 100 percent engaged in the challenges such as the housing element and all the challenges that have come up in the last few months with district elections and marijuana. I'll continue to bring objective comments and an objective approach to it for what makes the most amount of sense for our city."
Also running in the November election, so far, are Mayor Catherine Blakespear and Planning Commissioner Jody Hubbard, who is vying for the district-three seat, which is currently occupied by Council member Mark Muir. As of press time, Muir had not announced his decision regarding a re-election bid.
The filing period for the November election in Encinitas does not officially open until mid-July and runs through mid-August. No candidate can officially enter the race until that filing period opens.
For more information about Mosca's campaign, visit www.joemosca.com.