San Elijo Life email Interview with Rebecca Jones Candidate for Mayor of San Marcos
Here is an email interview with Rebecca Jones who is running for Mayor of San Marcos. San Elijo Life has invited all candidates for Council in District 2 and Mayor to answer the same set of email question.
Why should the residents in San Elijo Hills vote for you?
I first moved to San Marcos in 1987, I’ve raised my kids in San Marcos, I’m so blessed to call this my home. I was a community activist prior to joining the council in January of 2007. I didn’t agree with the city council at the time over a few land use decisions that I felt would have changed the character of the community. I was encouraged by two councilmembers at that time, one Democrat and one Republican, that my love for the city would make me a great leader. They both still encourage me today.
I’m running for Mayor because I love this city! I will work diligently to provide traffic solutions, Community safety, and thoughtful growth. I regularly serve in many capacities as a volunteer. I recently had a San Elijo resident tell me that he is supporting me because “I’m the People’s Mayor”, I roll up my sleeves regularly because I care and serve. I feel strongly that as a leader you should lead by example. I feel it is especially important to teach our kids to serve others and give back to their community. My philosophy is don’t just say what you want to do, actually do it. I want our children to grow and come back to our city. In order for our city to have longevity I believe that Traffic solutions, safety, education, and thoughtful growth with affordable housing are imperative.
I have served the youth of the community, for over 15 years, through the Boys & Girls Club and am a current Advisory Board Member. I am also a member of the San Marcos Promise Board. I am supportive of the San Diego County Sheriff Department’s RESPECT Program, a gang intervention program for “at risk” youth. Before joining the San Marcos City Council, I petitioned the City to provide Megan’s Law information to residents (prior to this info being available to the public online) and worked to develop an ordinance to strengthen Jessica’s Law. When dangerous synthetic drugs were emerging, I was the councilmember that created, with city staff, an ordinance that prohibited these drugs. Along with that effort, I pushed for tougher enforcement of the laws, preventing the sale of smoking materials to minors. I crafted an ordinance to stop these sales and in 2016 was awarded the Excellence in Prevention Advocacy Award by the Red Ribbon Commission. These are some of the reasons that the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association have endorsed me to be the next Mayor of San Marcos.
Our San Marcos Firefighters are top notch, I am very supportive of their efforts, making sure they are provided with the best training and equipment available. Under my leadership we have built the San Elijo Hills Fire Station, invested in several new firetrucks and ambulances, and enacted “boundary drop”. This is a collaborative effort with surrounding districts that ensures the best service using the closest emergency vehicles and personnel to respond to any emergency. This is important to San Elijo since Carlsbad has a station just outside the entrance to San Elijo Hills. The “boundry drop” enables either station to respond to San Elijo emergencies, which is like having two stations in the community. I served on the North County Fire Dispatch Joint Powers Authority for 6 years including as chair.
I have been an advocate for small businesses in San Marcos. I routinely meet with small businesses to better understand the constraints they face when growing or opening a business in the city. When the Bellows was having issues with red tape I stepped in to help bring about a resolution enabling them to open on time. Our small businesses need community support to thrive, and when they thrive so does our city; that is why I will always work tirelessly to support local business. I worked with the development partners of the San Elijo Town Center to bring in small businesses and I believe it is important to frequent locally owned businesses. I’m excited to say that a supporter of mine will soon be opening Sourdough & Co. in the town center! I enjoy meeting residents at locally owned coffee shops or restaurants to help support our small business community. I am the only council member that has voted against the congestion management tax on new businesses that are moving into a location that previously had a business, or for businesses that are moving within our city limits.
This allows new business to come to San Marcos and established businesses to stay here. I always have voted to require developers to pay this congestion tax for new development.
Collaboration is key to success, which is why having the support of 2 of my colleagues for Mayor is so important. I also have the support of many Mayors countywide in order for us to receive State and Federal Dollars; San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond and our SANDAG representative must work collaboratively with others on boards like SANDAG to bring improvements to the 78.
How can the council/mayor help address cut through traffic and school traffic in San Elijo Hills?
I have spent over a year working to find ways to ease traffic congestion. We cannot just build new lanes through San Elijo, there isn’t the room. As surrounding communities continue to grow and workforce housing is pushed further north to Riverside, we will always continue to struggle with this challenge, it’s been an issue since I first moved here in the late 80’s. What I have learned is that while our technology is supposed to synchronize, it is antiquated technology and the newer technology is 3 steps above what we currently have. The latest technology is artificial intelligence (smart lights) and doesn’t require processing through normal sequences like traditional lights. I’m so excited to see how these dynamic sequencing lights will work in San Elijo! There are many studies and examples of this successful program locally and nationally. Carlsbad and Chula Vista have just voted to bring this technology citywide. This technology talks to each other across city boundaries. I am also working with Council Candidate for District 2 on a concept, called SMARTS, that will also bring traffic relief through school buses. This program will be partially funded by congestion management funds. I recently met with current Mayoral candidate Brad Zink and put politics aside to discuss collaborative opportunities to get the SMARTS school bus program funded.
What is your position on future housing and commercial development around San Elijo Hills?
I believe that all development must pay for its portion impacts – this includes schools, traffic mitigation, as well as park fees. Earlier this year I asked the council to pause the Creek District Specific Plan because the amount of housing seems too dense based on infrastructure needs and the loss of redevelopment. This pause is not a pause on the bridges at Via Vera Cruz and Bent or the widening of Discovery, those projects will move forward. This was a difficult decision for me personally, as I was on the last task force in 2005, and then approved the plan as a city councilmember. This project is also incorporated into our general plan and though it is not adjacent to San Elijo, it will bring more homes to our city. This general plan, that I mention, is a plan both my opponent and I approved in 2012, which includes nearly 11,000 more homes.
The past 2017-18 legislative session the State has passed approximately 17 new bills that regulate housing and development, many of these bills bring penalties if we ignore State law to deny projects that comply with our 2012 general plan. The Housing Accountability Act (SB167, AB678 and AB1515) states that a city cannot deny a project or reduce the density of a project (for both affordable and market rate housing) if it complies with the general plan, without a preponderance of evidence. One of the criteria it must meet to be denied is an adverse impact on health/safety. In essence, the State wants housing built and if we attempt to ignore state law we will be taken to court with litigation fees and fined $10,000+ per unit just to be forced to approve the project anyway.
I’m transparent, I will follow the law and not incur unnecessary fees and litigation costs only to ultimately be forced to approve a project. I am working hard to balance the wishes of our residents and these mandated state laws. I have the courage to stand up to developers to pay for extra infrastructure. I have been and will continue to be transparent about our General Plan and Laws that affect local control.
How can you work with San Marcos Unified School District to solve school crowding?
I have met monthly with one school board member for the past year discussing strategies of how to better work together. I will no longer dwell on past shortcomings with further finger pointing, I want to move forward together with solutions collaboratively. San Marcos Unified has done an excellent job of educating our children, this is a fact. When the city council and school board met in 2017, SMUSD told us they needed 12 new schools, which seemed excessive (they now are telling us they will need 3). It became obvious the school district needed assistance, so I immediately contacted real estate agents, community members and former City Manager Rick Gittings to work on locating new school sites or current sites that could be built quickly. This group worked together and provided the district with a list of over a dozen sites district wide in 2017. To date the city has sold one piece of land, on Twin Oaks Valley, for a school. I know that under my leadership we will be able to work more closely with the district and experts in the field to come up with more solutions. The BIA is currently suing the District over what they deem excessive fees and in September I wrote a letter to the BIA asking them to give the district an extension of the time required, in the suit, to continue negotiations with SMUSD in an effort to find a resolution on school fees (they agreed). My understanding is that there is a disconnect in information sharing, and believe that collaborative efforts will bring resolution. I am a leader who works with others to accomplish what we all want- a great place to call home, educate our children, and create a life that is exceptional.
What are your goals to improve the quality of life in San Marcos-(events, parks, trails)?
I brought forward the county initiative to support us becoming a Live Well San Diego city. Live Well San Diego is the County of San Diego’s vision for a region that is Building Better Health, Living Safely and Thriving. It aligns the efforts of individuals, organizations and government to help all 3.3 million San Diego County residents live well. I take this to heart in every decision, since joining the council we have built or rebuilt 12 parks and have grown our trail network to over 60 miles. I am working with partners on several entertainment ideas that I believe will significantly improve our quality of life. This is one of the areas that I see we can collaborate with San Marcos Unified, CSUSM, and Palomar College to bring music entertainment to the community. I love hearing ideas from our community on how San Marcos can be improved and figuring out how to turn these ideas into action. When a member of the community came to me with the idea about the National Fitness Campaign Fitness Court I was thrilled to see how many residents from San Elijo Hills could use this and what an asset it would be. I love being healthy and this fits right into my Live Well San Diego initiative. I can’t wait to see this actually built. I’d like to see this same concept built throughout the city with San Elijo leading the way.
If elected what are the top 3 issues you would focus on for San Elijo Hills?
My top focus is the quality of life for our community. This will require traffic solutions that will include implementing my SMARTs program and the dynamic sequencing lights. I’m a leader that does my homework, coupled with the tenacity to follow through with implementation. I’m excited to bring this technology to San Marcos and specifically San Elijo Hills to improve our quality of life.
I will continue to make sure we are safe and remain the safest city in North San Diego County. I’ve served on the board and as Chair of the SANDAG Public Safety Committee. This experience along with my support of the RESPECT project, and my Prevention Policies are some of the reasons why the San Diego County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association supports me as the next Mayor of San Marcos. When our Captain approached us in June asking the council to approve another school resource officer I quickly agreed because the safety of our kids is a priority. I’m proud to have always supported the city’s funding the SRO program, when the district unable. I will always support this program at the level that our expert, the Sheriff’s Captain, asks us to because our kids should feel safe at school. I will continue supporting our Fire Department and the Boundary Drop program which translates into a higher level of service for San Elijo Hills.
I will continue working to bring entertainment venues to San Marcos and will focus on the Rancho Tesoro Park because I know the field space for our kids is limited. My daughter played soccer for many years in San Elijo so I know first-hand how many of our youth depend on sports to keep them healthy and fit and how limited our field space is with such incredible participation. I also want to make sure the National Fitness Campaign Fitness Court is built. I will work hard to make sure we continue to provide park space so we can keep our nickname “San Parkos”.
As Mayor, I will continue to have transparent discussions and will continue to bring solutions to the table that include implementation of plans. I have the experience and support of other local elected officials to secure funding for regional improvements like the 78. This election is our first district election with district’s One and Two being voted on this year and Three and Four in 2020. The role of Mayor is vital in bringing district representatives and community members to the table to make decisions that benefit the entire city. For any one member of the council to get their agenda passed, it takes collaboration and support from other members of the city council. I have the experience and record of doing just this, I have two members of the council and many city commissioners supporting me because they believe in my leadership and know that I care about our community. I am always ready to serve. I’m accessible and have always included my personal contact information on my campaign materials. I’m grateful for your vote and I am looking forward to serving you for the next 4 years as your Mayor.
Editors Note: We have invited all 2018 District 2 – City of San Marcos City Council and Mayor Candidates to answer the same questions. Please search our site to read interviews.