Union-Tribune: We used to work with someone who was a Carlsbad official and knows Carlsbad’s politics very well and he predicted that Caruso would lose. To me, he said that the City Council is out of touch with the city in general. Has that gotten better in three years or do you think the City Council’s still out of touch?
SCHUMACHER: It has not gotten better, which is largely to do with the reason that I’m running. The decisions that are being made are out of alignment and out of touch with the people of Carlsbad; who we’ve become and who we are becoming.
October 18, 2018
Cori Schumacher, a member of the Carlsbad City Council, is running for Mayor of Carlsbad, Eduardo Contreras / San Diego Union-Tribune
Residents of Carlsbad will be choosing a mayor on Nov. 6. Incumbent Matt Hall, a Republican, faces challenger Cori Schumacher, a Democrat. The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board met separately with each of the candidates. Here is the transcript of the interview with Cori Schumacher.
Union-Tribune: If you could just say your name and your office before we start.
SCHUMACHER: Sure. My name is Cori Schumacher. I am currently serving as a council member in the city of Carlsbad and a candidate for mayor.
Union-Tribune: What is the main rationale for you choosing to get into politics and to take on a mayor with a big name recognition in his hometown?
SCHUMACHER: Well, my initial choice to move into politics had everything to do with the fact that after Carlsbad’s Measure A, watching the Council take away a vote of the people and joining the movement of folks who eventually were able to get that Measure A on the ballot through a referendum process, the community asked me to run and I said yes.
So over the course of the last two years, the choice to shift into a position where I’m running for mayor had to do, one, with the process through which North County cities went through districting, so rather than being elected at large now we’re being elected by district and the Council majority chose to run my district, so I have to run for office anyway this year. Instead of running in my district and protecting my seat, I chose to move out of the way so that another voice from our community could rise up and join the dais in order to represent the community and my choice to run for mayor happened watching a couple different decisions, mostly around the distillery on the mayor’s property… his own property, which really led me to want to continue to fight to put Carlsbad residents in the center of decision making.
Union-Tribune: Lots of people were surprised that Caruso [development plan] lost. The project seemed better than many that have come in this county and some that have gotten approved. What do people from outside Carlsbad not get about why Carlsbad chose to reject it?
SCHUMACHER: The process. So on the top of the 397 pages of the… of the petition it said that this was an initiative to be submitted directly to the voters. So when the City Council chose not to submit that special plan to the voters it effectively disempowered the people from a very large and a very impactful project.
So eventually what ended up happening is the people weighed in on that and the Council decision was out of alignment with the community’s desire. So I think a lot of people don’t necessarily understand that a lot of the decision making was around the way that this was taken out of the hands of the people and also the taking advantage of the citizen’s initiative loophole when it came to the California Environmental Quality Act, CEQA.
Union-Tribune: We used to work with someone who was a Carlsbad official and knows Carlsbad’s politics very well and he predicted that Caruso would lose. To me, he said that the City Council is out of touch with the city in general. Has that gotten better in three years or do you think the City Council’s still out of touch?
SCHUMACHER: It has not gotten better, which is largely to do with the reason that I’m running. The decisions that are being made are out of alignment and out of touch with the people of Carlsbad who we’ve become and who we are becoming.
Union-Tribune: Is it an ideological thing? They’re for development and growth and they’re not caring about quality of life? What do you think contributes to this disconnect?
SCHUMACHER: I think largely it has to do with the fact that the Council has not proactively gone out and stayed connected to the community. So over the course of the last two years I’ve had eight… eight town halls. I keep open office hours.
I write newsletters describing how and why I vote, and there’s a very strong two-way dialogue that goes on between the community and myself and that has not been done by the Council and over the last 10 years the other thing that we’ve watched is this revolving door of city managers and so with the dynamics inside of city hall the connection to the community has grown weaker and weaker.
Union-Tribune: So back to the Measure A property. What would you like to see done with that in the future?
SCHUMACHER: Well, I think we need to go through a pretty stringent community outreach for that. It is already zoned for, and land use is tourist commercial… tourist recreational. So what we really need to do is we need to sit down with the residents and decide what we want to do with that property.
It is going to be developed, but how it gets developed… I’ve been hearing different things from the community about wanting something to the effect of a cultural arts amphitheater, something that actually represents the people rather than being more commercialized and that’s a big decision point moving forward because it is private property. It’s SDG&E’s and, you know, the… the lease on that property is, I believe, still in the hands of Caruso who is most likely waiting to see what happens after November.
Union-Tribune: But Carlsbad’s already pretty close to built out, I understand. It’s almost done. There’s not much more place to go. So is this a real issue anymore? Is development a real issue in Carlsbad?
SCHUMACHER: It is. It is and the reason for that has to do, I think, two reasons. The first is that a lot of our Growth Management Plan, for instance… the Growth Management Plan, which is largely controlled growth from the 1980s forward, was developed during a time when sprawl was the way we were developing and so it no longer matches with the type of development that we’re currently doing, which is infill development, right?
We’re going up instead of out and so people are seeing the impacts of that largely in the village and the Barrio area, and then also in the South Ponto area where we’re looking at a pretty large development down in the South Ponto area. The other piece of this has to do with traffic impacts, you know, and people realizing that the larger projects that have been built are mitigated properly for traffic.
So there’s… there’s some issues and people are very sensitive and I think the sensitivity truly comes from the last three years and the people of Carlsbad realizing that they are… that the council no longer represents their desires and their lack of trust in the decision-making around development is nil, so we have to do the work of rebuilding the trust before we can actually effectively execute on the responsibilities that we have to fulfill our mandates for housing.
Union-Tribune: On the mayor’s website, he says we can build on the successes of the past, which would make Carlsbad the most desirable and livable city in San Diego County, or we could take a radical new approach, which puts at risk our economy and our quality of life. Is there anything to your mind that’s radical about what you stand for?
SCHUMACHER: No, there isn’t. The key piece of this is listening to the residents say we don’t want to become Newport Beach or Huntington Beach or become a really tourist heavy enclave and where we’re going, once we see the developer dollars dry up because of how close we are to build out, the next question really is well, where are we going to sustain our revenues moving forward into the future? And right now the three main sources of revenue are property taxes, which are very stable and they won’t be… you know, they won’t be growing, and then sales taxes and hotel taxes.
So if we are going to sustain ourselves past build out then we have to invest more heavily in commercial or retail, and that’s… you can look at what’s going on with that right now and you can’t really, you know, throw all your eggs in that basket and you also can’t spread all your eggs across the sales taxes, hotel taxes baskets because of what our people in Carlsbad have said.
So the idea here is not to take a radical turn, but it’s to introduce a fourth source of revenue through a Community Choice Energy and a distributed energy system in order for… in order for us to have a new stable source of revenue moving forward that is based in, like I said, Community Choice Energy and that will ensure that we’re not having to invest overly much in commercial, retail or hotel side of things, which means that we’ll begin… we would become a tourist enclave.
So it’s building on the successes of our past steadily and our general plan and our community values say that we want to be leaders in sustainability and innovation, and this is the idea… energy and water security and money coming back into the city through that.
Union-Tribune: Why are you so interested in CCAs? Why did that become a central focus of your campaign?
SCHUMACHER: It has been a central focus since I ran for council, and the reason has to do with the fact that it is a unique source of revenue for cities… for Marin County down to Lancaster and because of the shift toward renewable energy it makes sense that a city jointly in collaboration with neighboring cities takes what the future will become as far as clean tech jobs, blue tech and ensures that the revenue generated from energy goes back to the communities where it’s generated rather than to shareholders.
So this new model, which is catching fire up and down California, is really how cities in the 21st century continue to attain local control, have political leverage, and ensure that their affordable living and affordable business, as far as energy is concerned, is able to sustain over generations.
Union-Tribune: We met advocates of CCA for San Diego last summer, and to me they made a completely smart and… straightforward presentation until the very end when one of the speakers said and then after we do this we could start growing our own food, we can start manufacturing our own things.
It was part of this agenda that I could see why someone would call radical… this idea that we don’t need to be part of an interdependent world, we can do it all on our own and so that kind of struck me as radical. Are your thoughts along those lines, too, that this is about eliminating our dependence in the outside world?
Union-Tribune: Or is it just a one a la carte thing… just energy?
SCHUMACHER: No, this is… this is not a let’s become completely self-sufficient. I think that that… we can’t go back to an isolationist mode, especially at the local level. This is actually about being more collaborative, but also retaining control of our future. So it’s not as though I want to put walls up around Carlsbad and say we’re self-sufficient, that’s it, get out. It’s that I want for our people to have the power, energy, democracy, and I want our people to be able to really have control of their future moving forward without having to overinvest in the tourism industry.
Union-Tribune: The two critiques I’ve seen of CCAs, one is common, one is not that common. The one that’s common the county taxpayers looked at the city proposal and said it’s fraught with risks. It makes assumptions going forward about costs and about access to the grid that aren’t necessarily there. So that’s the conventional one. What’s your response to that?
SCHUMACHER: After the last 10 years, Marin County has proven that that is false and they’re saving the ratepayer 7 percent over what PG&E actually charges, so it’s a proven model. The thing that is currently… and I’ve been working on this just independently, but then watching also is… is the cost of exit fees and so we have a PUC decision coming down about those exit fees that will give us a lot more clear understanding of what the cost will be over time.
Union-Tribune: The second issue has to do with the power of utilities… investor-owned utilities. Six years ago, Edison, the think tank that not… it’s associated with Edison International, but is a think tank, had a meeting [of power utilities] at which they warned of an existential threat going forward and they’ve talked about doing all they can to build up allies in state governments.
And so what did we see in August? We saw an insane bailout of utilities approved with almost, you know, little cursory effort by the Legislature. So it just seems to me that if push comes to shove, the political power of the utilities will come to play… come to the fore and try to get in the way of local efforts to break away from utilities. Is this something that you’re worried about or you see coming?
SCHUMACHER: It is happening now, and the reality is, again, that San Diego County is not on the forefront of this. Northern California is on the forefront of this and has proven that they can work with utilities in order to make a more resilient and redundant… which is what you want… grid and it’s been successful and has kept energy costs low, and it actually allows for local municipalities and JPAs to bring and be more flexible and nimble when it comes to bringing local renewable energy job and generators to the local level.
So I believe that there is… rather than an either/or situation here… it’s an and/and… that we can work side by side with utilities and effectively create a model moving forward that really makes a lot of sense.
Union-Tribune: Excuse my ignorance about Carlsbad, but is this an idea that you came up or are you joining with other folks? Is there a movement that’s already well-established towards this end?
SCHUMACHER: There’s CCA movement, in general, in San Diego County that’s well-established. The key piece of this that is Carlsbad specific and specific to my run and what I’ve… what I’ve created is what we can do through that CCA, which is energy, utilities… utility scale energy storage on Encina power plant property as we transition because that property is the last gas-powered (unintelligible) plant being built in the state of California. We have that happening right in Carlsbad.
So it’s this transitional property where we can put a utility scale energy storage pump in, all of the solar that would be also a part of the next step after the CCA is fully funded and… and pumping along, and then the unique opportunity with five hydroelectric generating stations. There’s three there being contemplated by a local… a local blue tech company in Carlsbad.
We already have one out at Maerkle Reservoir that’s generating three megawatts of energy, and then one additional that will be added in where the outfall for the desalination water is piped in to the county system. All of that gets piped into utility scale energy storage and then… because we have a desalination property right there and the desalination plant then what we do is we would actually pump in, for the first time the world has ever seen, 100 percent renewable energy to bring the costs and the energy intensity of the desalination plant down, which would have a region-wide impact because of the desal plant supplying between 10 and 12 percent of the county’s water.
Union-Tribune: You ran noting that the city needed more transparency, that people are appointed to boards from the local business community with not a lot of vetting. Can you talk more about that? Is that something that’s been a problem in Carlsbad?
SCHUMACHER: Sure. So I… I’ve never said that it was the local business community that was being benefited through the appointment process, but we have definitely seen favoritism or favors being meted out by the mayor using the boards and commissions and being able to bring transparency to that process and showing that the municipal code and how the current process for appointing boards and commissioners or the nomination process was occurring, seeing that that was out of alignment allowed for us to go through an entire municipal code update where we’re now going through and we’re bringing consistency in closing the loopholes in our municipal code because it has never been addressed in the entire time it’s been written.
So yes, the transparency piece has been really effective at moving the ball forward in updating and bringing Carlsbad to a point where it’s… the council is doing what it should, according to our code, rather than tradition which is not in alignment.
Union-Tribune: Has there… have there been a lot of problems with the traditional way they’ve been doing it?
SCHUMACHER: Yes, yes.
Union-Tribune: Could you give me some examples?
SCHUMACHER: In fact, I’m building on Lorraine Wood’s legacy, who I unseated and she brought this up as well when she was serving. Nothing was ever done about it, but that’s because she didn’t use the same strategy that I did, which was to invite the people into seeing what was actually happening.
Union-Tribune: In 2011, when you were a champion surfer, you opposed an event that was held off Hainan Island in South China because of your concern about China’s human rights record. So you were an activist and outspoken in sports before the current wave of athletes.
Union-Tribune: Did you think it made a difference in your sport?
SCHUMACHER: It did. It absolutely did. We saw a lot of increased transparency in the supply chain. We got the conversation started specific to environmental standards and how our jobs were being offshored and where those jobs were going and why, which was environmental standards.
So in the years after that… three to four and it’s still impacting… we’ve seen shifts… I’ve seen shifts in… surfing that have been monumental from the transparent supply chain side of things to women’s equality. So just two weeks ago surfing… you saw that… yeah… came in first U.S.-based sports league to achieve prize money equity and so that’s largely… well that’s everything that I was working on in that sport.
Union-Tribune: Doesn’t women’s tennis have equity at the majors at least? No?
SCHUMACHER: Not as a league.
Union-Tribune: So what would you say has been the…
SCHUMACHER: It might be not… it might not be U.S.-based, so…
Union-Tribune: What accomplishment of yours are you most proud or what do you feel has been your best accomplishment thus far?
SCHUMACHER: Sure. Within the context of the council position, the residents have been… had been asking for about 30 years for public safety presence on our North Beach in Carlsbad. We have seven miles of beach. Six miles of that is controlled by the state, but one mile of it is controlled by the city and so residents had been asking for lifeguards for 30 years. Within two months of my getting into office, I was able to get the pilot part… pilot project started, and we’re in our second year. So I’m really proud of that.
Union-Tribune: Why didn’t they have lifeguards? Cost. Wasn’t that the nominal reason?
SCHUMACHER: There was multiple reasons that were mentioned, none of which have made sense, as proven by the program.
Union-Tribune: You were one of the 18,000 same-sex couples who got married in 2008, but then were put in limbo by Proposition 8. What did you learn from that? How did that affect your career and how you felt about your fellow Californians?
SCHUMACHER: Sure. It was a really tremendous experience that I think has added to how I believe change should happen. My wife and I being married in 2008… and we were all grandfathered in because of California law. So while nobody else was able to get married, the 18,000 individuals that ended up getting married during that time, we were in this period of… you know, we’re defined differently.
Our relationship is defined differently by the federal government. We have to file our taxes differently at the federal level, and state level is very different. So any health insurance, any taxes, all of these things were very strange and required a lot of conversation, which was a key part of what ultimately led to all of… all of us… all of, you know, the LGBTQ community going out and having normal conversations with folks about taxes and health care that ultimately changed the cultural tide and the opinion of people between 2008 and 2015 when DOMA was overturned.
What I learned during that process was that going out and having conversations with people who may disagree with you is the most effectively way to start to shift things and doing it out of a sense of love and connection is the most powerful way that you can actually bring change rather than bringing change in a way that is led with an ax or causes fragmentation and I think that that, more than anything, has been what I’ve tried to deploy in my work in Carlsbad in creating community.
Union-Tribune: After the November election when the results were in doubt, you wrote on your blog… this is in 2016… to continue to ignore each other, to not listen deeply, to not engage each other in the hardest conversations, political, religious, ideological is both idiotic and suicidal. In the nearly two years since then it sure seems like we’ve seen even more of that. What do you… do you still retain the optimism of that or are you beginning to get jaded?
SCHUMACHER: No, I’m not jaded at all and the reason for it has to do with our community at the local level is the place where we practice this every single day. I’m happy to be campaigning again because I’m asking residents to go out... neighbors… to speak with neighbor.
We’re going to as many different doors as you can possibly imagine. We haven’t limited ourselves to just one side because that’s the easy way, but it encourages people to go knock on stranger’s doors and invite them into a conversation during a time when people are deathly afraid of each other. They’re deathly afraid of their neighbors.
They’re afraid of the other… the stranger and so this is really the place where we start to do the work of healing what we see at the national level, and we can only do it at the local. So this is the place where we practice. This is the place where I practice that philosophy.
Union-Tribune: Senate Bill 35 passed the Legislature last year. It requires cities to give expedited treatment to projects that meet certain criteria… housing projects that meets certain criteria. In January the State Housing Agency said 98 percent of the cities in California, including Carlsbad, had not met their requirements.
Yet pushing housing in North County has always been slog even for projects out in the middle of nowhere. What’s Carlsbad doing and is it adequate?
SCHUMACHER: I think that those numbers show that it’s not adequate. I think we’re halfway through the last RHNA [Regional Housing Needs Assessment] cycle of fulfilling that, and we know that we’re not fulfilling the lower income, right? The lower, the extremely low or the very low. We know that we’re not hitting our targets in that area, but we also have the opportunity to open up some other areas that have still yet to be explored that would be less of an impact.
Over by the shops, which is where the old Westfield Mall was, the city owns a parking lot there and we can… we can actually work on eliminating legal encumbrances there in order to make it easier for us to really to fulfill some of those numbers and there’s also some other areas around the Poinsettia Station.
It’s another smart… smart growth opportunity area, but the idea really… and again, I keep going back to this because if you’re going to accomplish something like this where people are sensitive about development and growth and traffic… and we know that that’s true… then the first thing you have to do is… is establish a process… a community engagement process and put people in place that the community trusts is going to make the right decision for them. If you invite people into the conversation not for buy in, but that they take ownership of the process and the project then you’ve accomplished something with your community because I haven’t met very many people… very, very few people are anti-growth in Carlsbad.
They understand that we’re changing. They just want to make sure that decisions are being made with them rather than above their heads or behind closed doors.
Union-Tribune: There’s a ballot measure that would allow local cities to impose all kinds of rent control and overturn the 1995 state law. What are your thoughts about the prospect of Carlsbad considering rent control?
SCHUMACHER: So right now… and I know that that’s the… it’s the… it’s the repeal of Costa-Hawkins.
SCHUMACHER: And I can’t remember what the proposition number is for it right now, but the…
SCHUMACHER: I’m supportive of that because it gives back local control to cities, and then after that Carlsbad residents decide. Carlsbad has tried to push through two rent control items or ordinances, and they both failed. So we know that Carlsbad isn’t supportive of rent control, but what it… but the… what’s on the ballot right now would give the community the right to choose.
Union-Tribune: What do you say to the economists who say that the preponderance of evidence shows rent control discourages new construction and encourages wars between tenants and landlords and forced evictions and lesser maintenance, things like that?
SCHUMACHER: Well, I’d have to read all of the… all of the studies and make my own determination, which is typically how I go about my decision making.
Union-Tribune: So your opponent ran unopposed last time, which would imply two things. A, that the community isn’t that engaged in local politics, isn’t that interested and, B, that maybe they think he’s just doing a pretty darn good job.
So this time he has an opponent. How are you going about this race? You said you’re going door-to-door and meeting a lot of people, but how are the… what are the other ways you’re… what’s your path to victory here?
SCHUMACHER: Sure. Well, I think it’s important to put this in the context of the last three years. So what happened in 2015 with Measure A changed the dynamic of North County politics and it changed the dynamic of Carlsbad residents and paying attention to their local elected office. So the special election around Measure A was the highest voter turnout of any special election in the county.
Residents are paying attention. Residents are paying so much attention and becoming so involved that the two incumbents who are running… who were going to run with the mayor have decided to drop out. So we know there is time for change and we know because of the last couple of election cycles… the general and the primary… that the demographic of Carlsbad has shifted substantially and a lot of it has to do actually with the growth, right? We have new people coming in, younger families.
A different… a different way of seeing the world and a different way of wanting to engage with the community has settled in Carlsbad. So while the mayor may not have had any pushback the last election, he certainly did the election before that and had a hard run of it with Keith Blackburn. The strategy here really is continuing to do what I’ve done over the last two years, which is staying connected with the community. We have dozens of meet and greet set up.
We’ve been visible all throughout the community with what we call pop-ups just making sure that we’re actively out there speaking to residents, a really substantial volunteer base that has been strong since 2015. This is a really powerful group of volunteers who have continued to do the work in Carlsbad of pushing back against issues when the council is… is not making decisions, again, that are in alignment with the will of the people. So it’s grassroots plus… is what I like to call it… which is the strong support that we have.
We have 300 donors, and we’re talking about a massive amount of people who are invested in this campaign and people who are… who are hoofing it. They’re out there calling on the phones, knocking on the doors and also the other strategy to that is because we ran an effective, positive campaign last time that was full of dignity, we’d like to redefine political spaces in that regard.
Lorraine Wood who… who I defeated to get on council was the first one out to endorse my race for mayor this time around, so we have a good crossover appeal that we’re a nonpartisan race. It’s hard to be nonpartisan this side of 2016, but the proven ability to work with residents at the local level regardless of what our stripes are.
Union-Tribune: It’s nonpartisan, but it looks like most of your endorsements are from the Democratic side.
SCHUMACHER: Sure, as the mayor’s does from the Republican side, but just because you’re a Democrat or a Republican doesn’t mean you can’t join the others at the table. So again it’s… everything that’s going on at the national level, Carlsbad is… Carlsbad is illustrating… and it’s through our campaign and through what we’ve been doing is illustrating that this is where we begin the work of healing that divide and it’s because we can work on issues that don’t have anything to do with Democrat or Republican, as long as we can keep the Washington politics out.
Union-Tribune: The idea comes and goes over the years of making the airport there more a central part of the economy. What do you think about the prospects for the airport?
SCHUMACHER: Because it’s a decision that’s going to be coming before Council, I’m going to forgo actually giving my… my opinion about whether I’m pro or con, but what I can say is that the community and the city staff and our independent counsel are really pushing against the Council… sorry, the county right now to ensure that their environmental impact report is… and the master plan is sufficient and it’s been insufficient, and there’s a complete lack of trust about the county is doing.
So we’re working side by side really hard with our community to ensure that… that whatever happens on that property, whether it’s an expansion or it stays exactly the same, that… that the residents will be well represented in that.
Union-Tribune: The 78 is so bad, it’s tough to exaggerate. I house-sat in Carlsbad a few times, and it’s just amazing how it’s an ordeal just to… to make short treks around there. Do you feel that North County has pulled its weight or has done a good job in representing the urgency of trying to get a better freeway, a bigger freeway or more access?
SCHUMACHER: I think what… what you see at SANDAG and what you see as far as the transportation side of things, I do see that there’s been a pretty strong advocacy from the mayors in North County for freeway expansion, but what often doesn’t get talked about is the fact that over a pretty large period of time the way that the planning has actually spread out to put the lower income dwelling units east on the 78 while all the jobs that those folks fill are on the west end of the 78 that what you’ve done is you’ve essentially created the traffic kerfuffle.
So if people can’t afford to live where they work and you have 75 percent of your residents leaving Carlsbad every single day and the rest filling in those jobs as they come with the hotel, the industry sector, which is our largest job sector, then what you’ve done is you’ve created the traffic problem and then not funded North County Transit District in order to ensure that you’ve got good… good transit.
So the freeway expansion is one tiny, tiny piece of a very much larger puzzle that has to do with the five mayors who got together who decided that they were going to shape in the planning North County in a way that eventually led to the traffic that we have. Now, what the solution to that is, is to invest further in public transit and to ensure that we have the lower income housing where the jobs are.
Union-Tribune: One of the aspects of the housing debate here in San Diego is Airbnb. I’m unaware if Carlsbad has taken a position with its own regulations. Is it a problem there or an issue there that you…
SCHUMACHER: Sure. Carlsbad decided with the short-term vacation rentals a while back that they would not fight the Coastal Commission when it came to the coastal zone, so we allow short-term vacation rentals in the coastal zone and then a tiny little… a tiny little area that was included in it, which is the Omni, and then the rest of Carlsbad has prohibitions against any short-term vacation rental at this point.
Union-Tribune: And it’s worked? It seems… you’re not getting the complaints or… or is there compliance with the portals?
SCHUMACHER: Well, we just recently started to… we recently allocated funds in order to do enforcement because we were actually having noncompliant short-term vacation rentals in the rest of Carlsbad. So we’re getting up to speed on all of those and we recently had an ordinance come down, and a lot of residents showed up and were concerned about the fact that it seemed as though there was this one portion of Carlsbad and it wasn’t equality for or opportunity for other portions of Carlsbad to enjoy the same privilege essentially.
So I’ve been watching and paying attention to what they’ve been doing down… or what you’ve been doing down here in San Diego, and I think some of the unique ideas moving forward when we’re talking about folks who are able to age in place, for instance, and what they would be able to do with their… with their homes, their own property, you know, potentially excluding those companies who want to come in and invest just for the short-term vacation rental, I think there’s… there’s a conversation about that to have moving forward.
Union-Tribune: You were the only no vote on a City Council measure to reject the sanctuary state laws and to lobby against them. Have you seen your colleagues change their minds on this issue or where is… is this something that was just a one day-affair? You guys… they made their point and it doesn’t come up or does it come up?
SCHUMACHER: That caused a lot of division, and there was a lot of questions… I had a lot of questions about why it was brought in the first place especially given the deadline to join the amicus brief had passed. It was… it hasn’t been brought up much in my purview. It has been used on the campaign for the other side with my opposition.
I think folks have been able to do the nuanced work. We have a very intelligent voter in Carlsbad. I think folks have been able to do the intelligent work of actually looking and seeing what the California Values Act means, and then also with the preliminary injunction that came out that, you know, really, says hey, this is a state’s rights issue. The federal government is trying to come in and… and get in the way of state’s rights essentially.
That people are starting to see that that conversation really was just about political division and, again, if you have a really strong bipartisan group of people who have come together and unified against a single candidate the only that you can disempower that group is by bringing in Washington politics and dividing, which is really unfortunate and sad.
Union-Tribune: How’s your fundraising going?
Union-Tribune: You… Hall had a big edge earlier. Does he still have a big edge or are you…
SCHUMACHER: So he had a big edge earlier because he had a war chest moving into it. We had the nearly equivalent fundraising over that first period. Since then we’re at about three-quarters of our goal.
Union-Tribune: When I worked in North County there was a bit of friction between the city of Oceanside and the city of Carlsbad. Does that still exist?
SCHUMACHER: I wouldn’t say that there’s friction between the two cities. I won’t say anything about Oceanside politics more generally, but yeah, there’s… I think they’ve… Oceanside’s been really… had some challenges. I will say that they joined us for the feasibility study… Encinitas, Del Mar, Oceanside and Carlsbad. We are… we’re altogether doing the feasibility study for Community Choice Energy, so I think there’s more opportunity to do more collaboration building coastal… in the coastal area. So yeah, it’s looking pretty good.
Union-Tribune: And how’s… how is the homeless issue in Carlsbad compared to… I know in Oceanside it’s a real problem.
Union-Tribune: Is it a real problem in Carlsbad?
SCHUMACHER: So from 2016 to 2017 our homeless population grew by 143 percent. So we were seeing a lot more of an impact, but since then I think Council has moved really fast and I’m very pleased with the work that’s gone in by staff around the Homeless Outreach Team that we created, and then our Homeless Response Plan.
So the challenge now, of course, is once you have made these contacts and you’ve… you’ve started to do the real work of, you know, what we’re… what we’re doing in Carlsbad, which is a compassionate approach to homelessness because we want to get those folks off the streets, not simply moved around the county. The… the challenge for everybody in North County right now is, number one, the mental health issue with Tri-City, right, them closing that… that area down, but then also with transitional housing.
What are we going to do to… to get these folks off the street? And so that’s another part of the affordable housing crisis that we’re looking at, and it needs to be done with a regional perspective collaboratively. So there’s… there’s more work to be done, but I’m really proud of what Carlsbad has done with the Homeless Response Plan and our two social workers that we’re bringing on. I mean it’s pretty tremendous.
Union-Tribune: The county government we’ve been pounding on for years and years because it only cares about its credit rating and it doesn’t really care to follow through on many, many services, but now we’ve got a former Encinitas mayor on the board and we’re likely to have this former San Marcos mayor… the current San Marcos mayor on the board. Do you think that the county can do better by North County cities?
SCHUMACHER: Yes, I do think that the Board of Supervisors can do a better job by North County. What that looks like, I think, is a question that immediately with the mental health issues… that’s the first thing that comes to mind or the mental health care.
The fact that we have Tri-City on the brink of closure is going to put so much pressure on our public safety and our resources and really get in the way of a lot of our efforts as far as homelessness and that… and the county has the ability to step in and help that. Also I think the county really needs to… and I think this is good for the entire region, but it really needs to get clear on its Climate Action Plan.
There’s some issues with the Climate Action Plan and how it’s… it’s being deployed that simply… it’s just… it’s not functional. So those are just two things top of mind that… that I think need a lot of work. With the reserves as well they can lend a hand with the homeless issue specifically and really do a more effective job at supporting the regional efforts.
Union-Tribune: But these days it’s very few hotels that… Very few hospitals that want to maintain those types of units anymore. They’re just…
SCHUMACHER: They’re costly.
The idea really is to take back the city for the people.
Union-Tribune: They’re very expensive and they’re just a big drain on everything. So what could you at the city level do to assist with that?
SCHUMACHER: Well, I mean… so the county… it’s really interesting. The county does actually have a pretty large reserve… a pretty large amount of money specifically for health care… in mental health, and they’re not spending it, right? So that needs to be released to the people… to the cities.
We need to work collaboratively with them with that. With working on issues that are regional, we’ve got to do a better job at collaboratively working not on the business end of things. I think there’s been a really huge focus on the economics and the business side of things.
Innovate 78 is largely about attracting and retaining businesses, and we have to drill into these issues that are social issues, these issues that are impacting the quality of life of our residents, homelessness and when you have issues… hepatitis A… that end up flourishing in San Diego County and affect all of us we’re… there’s… we’re missing the mark when it comes to your basic social and human services. So the collaborative piece with a different focus is really important.
Union-Tribune: Do you consider the mayor’s position a full time job? Will you continue surfing, for example?
SCHUMACHER: So I surf for pleasure now. I retired in 2011.
Union-Tribune: Well, okay.
SCHUMACHER: I do consider this position, even as a council [member], a full-time job, and I’ve committed my entire… all of my time to it and I’ll continue to commit all my time to it.
Union-Tribune: Well, do you have a closing 30-second elevator pitch on why you’re the person to be the mayor?
SCHUMACHER: Closing elevator pitch for why I… why the community in Carlsbad deserves better than what they currently have? It’s all about putting the community at the center of decision making and ensuring that everything that we do moving forward in this pivotal time for Carlsbad surely is about putting our residents first.
Right now decisions that are being made are not being made in our residents’ best interest and I, along with new members on council, they’re a very strong group of women who are running and the… the idea really is to take back the city for the people and that’s… that’s what I’m setting out to do.
Union-Tribune: Well, thank you very much for coming in.
SCHUMACHER: All right. I appreciate it.
Union-Tribune: Thank you.