Encinitas City Councilman Dan Dalager

June 13, 2011, Judd

If anyone can claim to be a workingclass guy in a town that’s lost some of its blue-collar appeal, it’s Encinitas City Councilman Danny Dalager, currently serving his fifth year and second term in elected office.

Dalager has lived on the same Leucadia block since 1977, 30 years after Hans Dalager, Danny’s late father, started a tool-sharpening business out of a chicken coop on Hygeia Street.

Dalager’s Sharpening Service was a fixture in downtown Encinitas since 1960 when it flew the coop and became a storefront on 2nd Street, until this past june, when after 60 years in business- 4 7 of them on the same block-Dalager’s closed its doors for good.

“I stopped the business because everything has a life cycle,” says Dalager, who started working for his dad at age nine.

“Thirty to 40 years ago, Encinitas was much more of an agricultural place,” Dalager says. “Demographics change. And after physically lifting objects all day long, it was time to put it to rest.”

Shaded from the heat under an umbrella on his porch overlooking his compound, which will soon add at least three houses to the lot for his family, Dalager could be a fill-in for one of the cast of “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Dalager is a combination of the oldfashioned Mayberry gang : one part Sheriff Andy Taylor, one part Deputy Barney Fife and one part Floyd the Barber.

As Floyd the Barber stood outside his shop and was a lifeline of Mayberry’s social fabric, Dalager also was a flowing source of information for Encinitas folk, who would come into the sharpening store, needing a lawn mower blade brought back to life.

“The hardest part about the shop closing is the friends we’ve made over the years,” Dalager says. “We served anywhere from 50-100 customers a day.”

Dalager’s greatest accomplishment as city councilman (which has included a stint in 2005 as mayor, a rotated position) has been forging friendly ties between both of Encinitas’ main power brokers: the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce and DEMA (Downtown Encinitas MainStreet Association) .

“What had formerly been head butting and personality conflicts has become good-natured one-upsmanship,” says Dalager of the two organizations.

Dalager is one of five council members that create policy, which ultimately determines how the city budget, with revenues approaching $70 million, is spent.

But being the humble man he is, Dalager doesn’t brag much about fostering an era of friendly competition and helping unite the five distinct boroughs of Leucadia, Olivenhain, Cardiff-by-the-Sea and new and old Encinitas.

One of Dalager’s proudest moments was immortalizing the life of jim Matsumoto, a japanese-American resident of Encinitas since 1956, who served and led a unit within the U.S. Army’s 442nd Division during World War II.

The 442nd was one of the most decorated units in combat history and comprised all of japanese-Americans, who were spared being forced to live in detention centers during the war, but paid for that freedom with their lives.

Of the 256 men in Matsumoto’s unit who came to rescue a battalion from the Texas National Guard who were fighting Nazi troops, only eight men, including Matsumoto, survived according to Dalager, who proclaimed january 14, 2006 – Matsumoto’s 88th birthday – Jim Matsumoto Day.

“I’ll never forget when jim told me how proud he was that his town recognized him for his service,” Dalager says.

Dalager does acknowledge that Encinitas has serious issues to face, more so than renaming holiday parades, as he did last year, changing the annual Encinitas Holiday Parade, re-christening it as the Encinitas Christmas parade, a move that attracted some controversy as well as national media coverage.

“More important,” thinks Dalager, “is balancing sustained economic vitality without sacrificing quality of life and also avoiding the pitfalls of other near-by beach communities who have sacrificed functionality for glitzy facades .”

“One issue I think is extremely important is the railroad,” Dalager says. “How are we going to put it underground so people can cross it legally and safely?” he asks.

“Also, the freeway will expand but we can’t do anything about it. In the mean- · time, however, we can connect trails 1 and build pedestrian crossings at the freeway so kids can get on a bike and gc to little league.” This, Dalager predicts, will be one solution to our increased traffic congestion.

With his throw-back, working-class image intact after 57 years of living in Encinitas, one might assume Dalager is nostalgic for the past.

“Darn right I am,” he says. “When you get to be my age you always get nostalgic. But you can’t look back, you must keep looking forward.”

Judd Handler is a freelance writer and wellness/lifestyle coach in Encinitas, California. He surfs uncrowded, fun reef breaks; plays instrumental alternate-tuning guitar; goes hiking in the backcountry; and is amazed on a daily basis by just being alive.