Cardiff 101

Community Spotlight: Cardiff-by-the-Sea

CAMSA Quarterly | Fall 2020
By: Alison Wielechowski, Program Director, Cardiff 101 Main Street


Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California

Cardiff-by-the-Sea is a small community located in the city of Encinitas, California. Founded in 1911, the community and most of the street names took on inspiration from Wales and England. In the past two or three decades, Cardiff-by-the-Sea went from being a sleepy beach town to a destination for transplants as the surfing community gained recognition with famous surfer Rob Machado putting Cardiff Reef on the map. 

How has your commercial corridor transformed over the past few years?

In 2014, Cardiff 101 Main Street along with the City of Encinitas completed a Cardiff Specific Conceptual Streetscape Plan, which identified several goals for improving our commercial corridor. Some goals included a greater connection and walkability to surrounding areas in the community, improved circulation for pedestrians, bicycles, and cars, as well as proposed means for allowing for a “quiet zone” to minimize or eliminate the need for train horns.

This plan incorporated previous studies and designs into the final conceptual streetscape plan, (Cardiff Parking Study, Rail Trail, and the Cardiff Specific Plan). We are happy to say that over the past five years, several goals from this project have come to fruition. The coastal rail trail recently opened, providing pedestrians with the opportunity to safely walk in Cardiff with an ocean view. Several crosswalks were put in, improving the safety of both bikers and pedestrians. A four-quadrant railroad gate was installed at the busiest and only access point into our downtown center, along with implementing quiet zones to reduce noise from train horns. 

Name a Downtown Difference Maker (a property owner, business owner, volunteer, etc.) and tell us how they contributed to your downtown vision.

Both Pete and John Najjar, owners of Seaside Market, have been longtime supporters of creating a strong and successful downtown Cardiff community. Pete is a previous Cardiff 101 board member and part of the Cardiff Specific Conceptual Streetscape Plan. They donate to many organizations in Cardiff, Encinitas, and the greater San Diego Community. They are currently working on a Newcastle Place Project, which will hopefully bring an additional pedestrian and shopping experience to our downtown area. We hold pop up's on a monthly basis in front of the market as well as host our Small Business Saturday, Taste of Cardiff, and Kringle Mingle in the Town Center.

Name a successful downtown project (historic rehab, new construction, innovative programming, etc.) that can serve as a model for other communities.

In Cardiff’s downtown district, the original train station built in 1910 is now home to retail, event, co-working, and gallery space. Renamed The Guild Venue 100, the buildings gallery has several historical photographs and history of the Cardiff community. The owner has worked hard to preserve the integrity of the building while modernizing to fit the needs of our modern times.

How has COVID-19 affected your commercial district?

Like most commercial districts, COVID-19 has hit our commercial district hard. We are proud of our locally owned restaurants and retail shops in Cardiff, and when businesses were closed, Cardiff 101 worked tirelessly to provide our businesses with ways to apply for grants and loans to help support our community. Cardiff 101 MainStreet along with Encinitas 101, Leucadia 101, the Cardiff-by-the-Sea Foundation, and the Harbaugh Foundation worked to raise over $100,000 to provide grants to small businesses in Encinitas. More than 60 grants were given to small local businesses.

In addition, we started a Cardiff Strong Campaign with a video produced by one of our members, posters we gave to all of the businesses in Cardiff, and shirts which a portion of the profits will go back to our local businesses. We have also partnered with other businesses to help promote the campaign.

How will your Main Street efforts complement the ongoing economic development work happening throughout the City? 

Cardiff 101 is working with the City of Encinitas to promote the CARES act grant they are allocating, help our businesses understand, and apply for the correct permits to utilize public outdoor spaces for their businesses as well as promote the mask campaign and proper health precautions to support stopping the spread of the virus.

How will collaborating with CAMSA help strengthen your Main Street organization?

CAMSA has been helpful in providing resources for staff and for businesses alike. By utilizing the resources of other California Main Streets in our biweekly calls, we are able to learn from each other.

This year, we are hoping to be able to survive without hosting our traditional Taste of Cardiff and Cardiff Dog Days of Summer events. We are hoping that CAMSA will be able to help us continue supporting our businesses, and I know that CAMSA is doing everything it can along with Main Street America to make sure we come through this pandemic and hopefully be stronger.