As the summer winds down, San Marcos students are headed back to school. With elementary, middle and high schools back in school this week and Cal State San Marcos and Palomar College back in session later this month, I-15 and SR-78 travelers can expect increased traffic delays during their daily commute.
While the increase in traffic congestion is familiar to city residents, students and commuters alike, the City of San Marcos is pleased to report that continued relief is on the way.
In the city’s ongoing efforts to get motorists moving and improve traffic flow, several roadway improvement projects are lined up over the next five years.
Ongoing and Planned projects include traffic management system enhancements, upgrades to the city’s traffic signal communication network to high-speed Ethernet, traffic controller replacements, and citywide installation of LED safety lighting. Traffic signal improvements are also planned for Rancho Santa Fe Road and Grandon Avenue and intersection improvements at San Marcos Boulevard and Discovery Street.
Over the next five years, plans are also in place to reconstruct the State Route 78 overcrossing at Woodland Parkway, reconfiguration of on/off ramps, and the widening of Woodland Parkway, Barham Drive and Rancheros Drive. The City is working with Caltrans on completing the design of this project. Future funding and total project costs are still being determined based on ongoing discussions between the two agencies.
During the school year and periods of roadway construction, drive with caution and provide ample time to reach your destination safely and on time.
During a wildfire simulation, students explored how drones could deliver hoses to crews
Last month North County firefighters gathered in San Marcos for a wildfire simulation, but this wasn’t your typical training.
The City of San Marcos rallied crews from several cities to help California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) students test a drone technology that could improve how wildfires are fought.
“Firefighters spend a lot of time and energy shuttling hoses from the engine to the actual wildfire,” explained Nick Blaylock, one of the students involved. “And they’re often doing this up steep slopes and across rough terrain, which is exhausting.”
Drones, however, could possibly help crews conserve some energy by air-dropping those hose- packs so firefighters don’t have to haul them. As part of a senior project, Blaylock and four other students spent months exploring that with Skylift Global, a San Marcos-based company that makes drones capable of delivering supplies to first-responders.
Though Skylift Global has been in business for three years, serving firefighters is new territory it wanted to explore–so the company submitted a proposal for the Senior Experience Program, which assigns CSUSM students to real-world projects like these.
The students began by researching what crews face during a wildfire. That led them to San Marcos Fire Battalion Chief James Colston, who oversees the department’s training and safety division.“We’re fortunate to have Cal State San Marcos right here in our backyard, so we were happy to help,” he said. “We invited them to observe our annual training, which I think opened their eyes.”
It did, in fact, says Blaylock. His team realized that a drone probably couldn’t help much during the early stages of a wildfire because the flames are too unpredictable. But it likely could help during the later stages, when a fire border has been established.
Based on that, the students designed a simulation that included fire hose packs every 100-feet, as if a drone had peppered them out for crews. Now, all they needed were firefighters to run the test.
“Thankfully, Chief Colston got an amazing turnout for us,” Blaylock said. “We were so thankful that so many firefighters were willing to come volunteer their time on a Sunday morning to help us.”
During the May 6 simulation, firefighters from the cities of San Marcos, Carlsbad, Escondido and Rancho Santa Fe—as well as the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE)—participated. Results showed that if crews did not have to manually haul hose packs, they worked about 18 percent faster—and theoretically, would be less fatigued during a real wildfire.
“While time is a good measurement, fatigue is really the key factor,” explained Colston, who added that he can see the potential support drones could provide. “If something like this can increase efficiency while reducing the chance of firefighters getting hurt, then I’m all for it.”
That exact sentiment is what inspired Amir Emadi to start Skylift Global. His father was working as a United States cooperative in Iraq when he was killed by Iraqi forces while protecting a city.
“Since then, I’ve spent my life finding a way to introduce technology to the people who dedicate their lives to protect us,” Emadi said. “I formed Skylift to help our first-responders save time, money and lives by delivering their critical supplies with our heavy-lift drones.”
As a next step, Emadi will use the research conducted by the CSUSM students to develop a plan to bring the drones to market. There are still hurdles to navigate, as drones are legally not allowed to be in the air during a wildfire, but Emadi is optimistic he can keep the momentum going.
“It was refreshing to work with such a driven, intelligent and responsible team,” he said, adding that although the CSUSM students have now graduated, some have remained interns and he hopes to hire them. “I am so thankful that San Marcos is home to such bright young talent like this, as well as city leaders who value innovation and are open to collaboration.”
Marcos, CA – The City of San Marcos is home to about 25,000 residents 50 years and older who are approaching retirement–or are in the thick of it. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re ready to slow down.
In fact, the San Marcos Senior Activity Center is buzzing with action. It serves about 7,000 senior residents per month, largely thanks to the dozens of volunteers who help run it. They do things like work the front desk, help in the computer lab and lead activities.
“Our volunteers bring a variety of talents that improve our services, and their support allows us to offer them at lower cost. That’s especially helpful to seniors on a fixed income,” said Parks and Recreation Manager Brenda Sylvia, who oversees the Senior Activity Center. “Volunteers are absolutely critical to our mission.”
A collaboration with California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) will help the City attract more of those critical volunteers.
The City and CSUSM recently joined forces to launch Democracy in Action, a program that lets university students tackle city issues. Unlike an internship, students are not given direction—but instead, make research-based recommendations, more like a consultant.
In this case, a group of about 30 students developed strategies to entice more volunteers to the City’s Senior Activity Center. This included designing marketing materials, creating a formal orientation process and finding missed opportunities to recruit volunteers. City staff is now fine- tuning the student-proposed strategies and plans to start rolling it out within the next few months.
“As North County’s education hub, San Marcos is fortunate to have plenty of bright young minds that offer a fresh perspective—something we greatly value here at the City,” Sylvia said. “Well-run cities with engaged residents lead to vibrant, thriving communities. If we want that to continue in San Marcos, we need to connect with our next generation of leaders and Democracy in Action is helping us do that. ”
This gets at the heart of Democracy in Action. The program’s bigger aim is to show students how their classroom knowledge applies to the outside world.
Dr. Eliza Bigham, CSUSM Department of Human Development, oversaw the students who worked on this project and she’s confident they left feeling empowered.
“Working with city staff and meeting with elected officials required my students to try something new and go outside their comfort zone. But I can’t tell you how many of them thanked me for the opportunity to grow through this experience,” she said. “They discovered that their skill set is so completely beneficial to address real, current needs in their own community.”
And Economic Development Manager Tess Sangster, who helps oversee the program, points out that this project benefits the community at-large.
“By boosting volunteer support at the Senior Activity Center, these students are helping residents age in place so that they can continue enjoying a high quality of life in San Marcos,” she said. “That’s a legacy we want to continue offering for generations to come, and projects like these are one of the many ways we’re making sure we can.”
To learn more about the Democracy in Action program, visithttps://www.csusm.edu/community/civiclearning/democracyinaction.html.
San Marcos City Council Approves Massive Development Plan Some residents are concerned it’s too much change while others are looking forward to new housing options
San Marcos is moving forward with a massive development project, but not without a little bit of pushback from the community. Tuesday, the City Council voted in favor to develop a desirable 87-acre parcel just west of Cal State San Marcos and east of the San Marcos Creek.
Cal State San Marcos is looking to add a six-story building and a parking garage for more than 700 cars, a nearly $80 million development slated to go up on vacant land across from a main entrance to the university.The building will house the university’s Extended Learning program, which provides continuing education, accelerated degrees, certificates and customized training programs. The department also coordinates all the international programs and services, such as study-abroad offerings.The project — which also includes a pedestrian bridge to the main campus — still needs final approval from the California State University Board of Trustees, which is expected to consider it in the coming months, according to school officials.“From the university standpoint, all our I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed. We are optimistic for Board of Trustees approval, but it’s up to them,” said Mike Schroder, dean of the university’s Extended Learning program.If all goes well, the entire project, on the northwest corner of East Barham Drive at Campus Way, should be open for business in the fall of 2019.
As the summer winds down, San Marcos students are headed back to school. With elementary, middle and high schools along with California State San Marcos and Palomar College back in session this week, I-15 and SR-78 travelers can expect increased traffic delays during their daily commute.
While the increase in traffic congestion is familiar to city residents, students and commuters alike, the City of San Marcos is pleased to report that continued relief is on the way. In the city’s ongoing efforts to get motorists moving and improve traffic flow, several roadway improvement projects are lined up over the next five years.
Planned projects include Improvements to the intersection of Las Posas Road and Mission Road near Palomar College and the transit center; Construction of two new bridges to replace Bent Avenue and Via Vera Cruz between San Marcos Boulevard and Discovery Street; San Marcos Boulevard and Discovery Street intersection improvements; and construction of Twin Oaks Trail north of Borden Road.
During the school year and periods of roadway construction, motorists should drive with caution in and around work areas, and provide ample time to reach destinations safely and on time.
San Marcos and CSUSM join forces to benefit the community
As North County’s education hub, San Marcos is building tomorrow’s workforce—and thanks to a new initiative, some of that homegrown talent is being channeled to help city staff better serve the community.
The City and Cal State San Marcos (CSUSM) recently joined forces to launch Democracy in Action, a pilot program that lets students spend a semester working on city projects.
“Some of the region’s brightest minds are on that campus, right down the street from City Hall, so this partnership felt like a natural win win,” said Economic Development Manager Tess Radmill, who helped oversee the effort.
Over the past few months, about 100 students tackled projects that included: finding ways to curb unnecessary 911 calls; developing a marketing plan for the Double Peak Challenge race; analyzing data to help reduce stormwater pollution; and creating a promotional video about the city.
Already, the project has delivered tangible benefits. For example, students created a trash collection map that will help staff meet new environmental state guidelines. And the video produced by students is already being used to attract potential businesses and residents.
“We’re also graduating students who leave with a deeper understanding of a how a local community works—and with that, they can influence outcomes down the road,” explains Scott Gross, CSUSM Associate Vice President of Community Partnership Engagement.
Fostering civic minded graduates is especially important to the region because many stay local after graduation. In fact, about 80 percent of CSUSM alumni continue living in the region. By comparison, about 60 percent of San Diego State University (SDSU) alumni stay local—and the same is true for only about 25 percent of University of California San Diego (UCSD) alumni.
Democracy in Action was inspired by the University of Oregon’s Sustainable City Year Program— which works in largely the same way, but focuses on boosting sustainability. CSUSM liked the concept, but felt it was important to focus instead on civic engagement.
“We wanted students to realize they can inform and impact their local government,” Gross said. “They’re not just sitting in a classroom talking about theories—they’re actually putting their knowledge to work in a meaningful way, and their eyes light up.”
CSUSM student Kristina Kalchev is a testament to that.
“It was great working on a project that extends beyond an assignment and impacts people,” said Kalchev, who worked on the city’s promotional video. “I’m proud to include the video in my reel. I don’t feel so fresh out of the water now. I feel ready for the workforce.”
Kalchev plans to stay in San Marcos and earn her graduate degree while working locally. She says as a San Marcos resident, she now has a deeper appreciation for what the city does.
“We were able to see how much city staff does behind the scenes to keep our community safe. The project really opened my eyes to what local government does,” she said.
Storm Water Program Manager Reed Thornberry also saw a ha moments happening when he took students out into the field.
“I wanted to take them beyond the data. A lot them live in San Marcos—some have even grown up here—but they’ve never explored our creek system,” he said. “They spotted bullfrogs, turtles and crawfish—entire ecosystems thriving. And seeing the impacts of trash, they got a sense of why they’re worth protecting. I think that drove home the mission.”
These students will be among the approximately 3,000 graduates CSUSM produces every year— which is partly why San Marcos is North County’s education hub. In fact, San Marcos is responsible for about 10 percent of the region’s total academic program completions.
“San Marcos is fueling a workforce pipeline that will strengthen our region for generations to come,” said San Marcos City Manager Jack Griffin. “But beyond that, our partnership with Cal State San Marcos underscores how we can collaborate to benefit our community, and we are proud of that.”
To learn more about the Democracy in Action program,