Much has happened since the March 7 reboot of the General Plan Update. The Element Review Advisory Committee (ERAC), the General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC), the planning commission and the public workshop have been working on alternative plans. The public workshop results were presented in front of City Council.
What we can expect from all these exercises is that the growth of high-density units will be more spread out with some "hot zones" for growth such as El Camino Real (yes it's back), Encinitas Blvd, the four corners area in Olivenhain, the strawberry fields off the I-5 Manchester Exit, various empty lots in Old Encinitas and Leucadia and what the planners call "underutilized lots" meaning agricultural or low density residential areas currently occupied by our dying agriculture and flower industry in Encinitas. One of the recommendation from the ERAC should be of concerns to all of us: This committee reached a concensus to allow zoning up to 45 units per acre (read 5 story tall buildings in Encinitas). They do add that such development would have to be context-sensitive -meaning fitting with their immediate environment—but it hard to believe that such density could not affect our community characters.
Residents from all areas of Encinitas have started the Encinitas-Right-To-Vote Initiative which, if successful, will close a loophole in our current General Plan. This flaw allows a 4/5th majority of our council to approve density increases, and you the residents and voters of Encinitas, can't vote on this. We think that the voters in Encinitas should be allowed to vote on major up-zoning changes, typically dictated by the General plan Update. More about this initiative can be found at www.EncinitasRightToVote.com. There you'll find information about when and where you can sign this initiative. If you had enough with traffic, pollution and are concerned about the stress that added density brings to our daily lives, you need to sign the initiative. Would you rather live in Encinitas or UTC or Newport Beach? In fact 98 percent of residents according to a recent city surbey like Encinitas just the way it is.
With our council elections right around the corner, we strongly urge all residents to consider the candidates very carefully and pay attention to their views on future development in Encinitas. This is critical for the future of our town and probably the most important issue during this election.
I attended all three forums for council candidates, and here are my recommendations:
-Lisa Shaffer and Tony Kranz are the preferred candidates. They will listen to the residents, are concerned how the General Plan Update can change our communities, and are supporting the idea of having the community being engaged in a meaningful way in future land-use changes. They both want to maintain our beach-town character, and want to preserve open spaces and our precious natural resources. Beyond the General Plan they are very familiar with issues facing our city. They will bring fiscal responsibility to our council.
In contrast, Jerome Stocks and Kevin Forrester are pro-growth and are backed by special interests made of developers (most are out-of-town). They have very little regards for what residents want when it comes to growth. Mr. Stocks has been quoted saying things like, "This is just a planning exercise, none of these units have to be built", or "I'll try to respect community character". Mr. Forrester, a realtor and attorney, specialized in mitigating land-use disputes, is more blunt: He does not believe the public should be involved in zoning exercises adding that these exercises are best left to the "professional planners". He wants to expedite the planning process. Here is what Mr. Forrester said to the Union-Tribune: "The biggest challenge facing the city of Encinitas is re-establishing the policy-setting role of the City Council in land-use planning, and avoiding the takeover of planning by a vocal minority of Encinitas citizens". Characterizing the people behind the Right-To-Vote Initiative as a vocal minority is offensive and a gross distorsion of the facts. In reality, most Encinitans are deeply concerned about further developments in our town.
Both Mr. Stocks and Mr. Forrester strongly oppose the Right-To-vote initiative.
Mark Muir is all over the map when it comes to zoning changes. He takes credit for the reboot of the GPU (when the vote was unanimous and it did not take a genius to understand that this plan was vastly unpopular). He is not in favor of density bonus but does not support the Right-To-Vote Initiative. He is also aligned politically with Jerome Stocks and Kevin Forrester. We can't trust Mark Muir.
The other candidates, Barb Yost, Brian Ziegler, Thomas Brophy, are all concerned about zoning changes. Their hearts are in the right places. All three support the Right-To-Vote initiative but are newcomers on the Encinitas public scene. I would encourage everybody to visit each of these 3 candidates website and decide for yourself.
Peter Schuh, the ninth candidate, is a complete unknown and has not shown up to any of the candidate's forum.
Vote for Shaffer and Kranz for sure! Pick your third wisely. It's time to change our council so that a meaningful dialogue can take place between the residents of Encinitas and their representatives.