On Friday, February 19, a San Diego County superior court judge dismissed a defamation of character lawsuit against the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber’s former CEO, Gary Tucker (also the former owner of the downtown 7-Eleven on Coast Highway), filed the lawsuit. Though the case was dismissed, it is just the latest bad publicity for the chamber.
Since Tucker resigned early last year, a few board members also resigned. One started a new chamber organization catering only to larger businesses on El Camino Real. Last year, Encinitas’s city council was reluctant to provide funding for the chamber based on questions of financial audits and staffing policies. Locals noticed a recent change in the political direction of the chamber as well.
The biggest bombshell came last month, upon the city council’s approval of a controversial plan to alter Coast Highway 101 through Leucadia. Under Tucker’s leadership, the chamber had opposed the plan on the grounds that it would damage businesses. The Leucadia 101 Main Street Association (a quasi-chamber of commerce) was intent on turning Coast Highway 101 into a reduced-traffic, bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly, art-infused, curbside dining “village.”
At last month's council meeting, the newer leadership of the chamber reversed its previous position and came out in favor of the plan to reduce the northbound lanes to one lane, install five roundabout traffic circles, and increase bike lanes by eliminating some parking spaces. The plan will take ten years to fully fund and implement. As one Highway 101 merchant put it, “It looks like the hippies in Leucadia have finally won one.”