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Encinitas: Grow or Else…

What will the two city workshops accomplish?

Over the last two weeks, all five Encinitas communities had a chance to attend a community open house and listen to the city planners tell us what is driving the need for additional multi-family housing, and what growth will look like in the future. 

The meetings were pretty well attended with roughly 50 to 60 people at each one, except New Encinitas where roughly 160 people showed up at Park Dale Lane Elementary.

Each meeting started with an introduction from Gus Vina, the new city manager, followed by a presentation by Michael Strong, associate city planner, who told the audience where the “required” number of 1,300 multi-family units is coming from and why we need to comply with the state housing mandate. Following, was a presentation by Patrick Murphy, director of the planning department, that detailed what could be expected at the two upcoming workshops (May 7th and Mat 14th at the Encinitas Community Center from 6 to 8pm). This is when the residents will give their input as to where these 1,300 high-density apartment units should go.

The most entertaining part of the presentation was witnessing the city planners and Peder Norby attempt to answer some of the tough questions asked by the public. Unfortunately, questions were submitted on 3x5 cards and answered by staff with no opportunity for the public to engage in a discussion on some of the most contentious items of the presentations.  The format of this Q&A was regrettable and did not allow for a dialogue, but it may have been the best format for the organizers to avoid having the discussions degenerate into an all-out verbal fight.

Judging from the questions, the public was not enthusiastic about the plan for growth. Some questions were very community specific, but most of them revolved around city-wide issues that could be summarized in a few bullet points:

1.  The population forecast presented by the State Department of Finance is way too aggressive and does not account for the latest population trends in California. It also does not take into account the 2010 US population census, which SANDAG itself proclaimed to be the “gold standard”. Since 2008, the net migration has been negative with more people leaving than arriving, and the birth rate has been declining since the onset of the recession. Both of these factors should continue for the foreseeable future according to a SANDAG demographer. Marginal growth is coming from the aging baby boomers.

2. The State, through the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), is concerned about showing the ability to offer housing for all ranges of incomes. That sounds like an honorable idea, but unfortunately not a likely outcome in Encinitas. According to the HCD logic high density (30+ units per acre) is the only way to yield affordable housing. Since there is no mandate to control rent and affordability, these high density units will be available at market rate which, given current conditions, would garner a rent of $1,500 for a one bedroom apartment and $2,000 for a two bedroom apartment. Not exactly what you would call affordable.  In the end, we are planning for luxury condos and apartments. Let’s not pretend we are planning for affordable housing, we are really planning for high-density dwelling units.

3. Very little information was presented as to how these new potential housing developments will impact our city infrastructure. How will public safety, schools, water needs, traffic, and pollution be affected by this plan? This is short-sighted planning at best.

4. The city planners were very skilled at not accepting any blame for the failure of the first round of planning in which El Camino Real and Encinitas Blvd were targeted for most of the growth. They projected the blame on the public that attended the city workshops in 2011, mentioning that there was very adequate representation from Encinitas residents. They failed to mention that New Encinitas residents were unaware of the plan, and therefore the recipients of the growth.

What will these workshops accomplish? They will most likely result in communities turning against one another and neighbors putting this unwanted growth in someone else’s backyard.

All this for what purpose? Just to make sure we comply with Regional Housing Need Assessment (RHNA) guidelines so that we won’t have to fear potential litigation from builder/developers associations and low-income advocates? The city has not had a compliant housing element for two decades, with no monetary or legal penalties imposed, so why the urgency to push compliance through now?

We need to preserve our quality of life and community characters and not support a dubious allocation process.

We like our communities just the way they are: Olivenhain with its rural charm, New Encinitas with its highly functional suburban feel with good amenities, Old Encinitas with its beautiful coast and its many landmarks, Cardiff with it beautiful views and its small community charm, and Leucadia with it funkiness and patch work zoning.

Ultimately, this will be resolved in November with your choice of candidate.

Proceed cautiously during the general election. A lot is at stake for the character of our communities.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Barbara Cobb May 05, 2012 at 01:47 PM
The state did indeed impose a penalty because Encinitas did not have a certified housing element last time around and that was 230 additional mandated state units were added to Encinitas' total requirement.
William May 05, 2012 at 02:44 PM
The State requirement is ridiculous and should be unconstitutional. How is it that central planners in Sacramento can dictate to cities their housing infrastructure?
Eric F Schaller May 06, 2012 at 12:32 AM
In reading the pdf from the url below, I get the impression that the conflict will be with us as long as SB 375 is with us. If that's the case, what should be done, can be done, and is being done to stop SB 375 and prevent Big Brother dictating to Encinitas what kind of community it must become? http://www.scag.ca.gov/pptac/pdfs/agendas/011111/pptac011111_5_2a.pdf
Eric F Schaller May 06, 2012 at 12:37 AM
If the courts won't resolve these questions, who will? "A courtroom is not the location to settle disputes over regional fair-share housing allocations. So ruled the Fourth District Court of Appeal on June 30 in a closely watched case involving the City of Irvine. As a result of the ruling, the city apparently is stuck with having to plan for development of 35,000 additional housing units — equal to about half of its existing inventory – over the next five years. The appellate court’s decision bolsters the authority of the Southern California Association of Governments and other councils of government (COGs) that allocate fair-share housing numbers to cities and counties. The decision raises questions about local governments’ planning authority. " http://www.cp-dr.com/node/2371
Eric F Schaller May 06, 2012 at 01:33 AM
On the other hand, some are of the belief that SB 375 doesn't go far enough in creating "vibrant transit villages and transit corridors", and that the state needs to exert even more more authority to ensure "Smart Growth" and "Sustainable Development". http://sustainablecalifornia.berkeley.edu/pubs/SB375-FULL-REPORT.pdf
Tina May 06, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Tina What are we doing. I oppose the state requirements. Where do we draw the line. Why is the community stripped of its ability to create the kind of density its residents desire.
change4encinitas May 06, 2012 at 11:49 PM
If the only penalty is a carryover of 239 units, I'm fine with it. Whatever can be done to stop or slow down developers to build up Encinitas is fine by me.
Jay Berman May 07, 2012 at 11:54 PM
Encinitas is a member of ICLEI http://www.iclei.org/ A global organization that steers "sustainable development" or the United Nations Agenda 21 ... In a nutshell, it takes away our freedom by restricting how we move around and forcing us to live in ultra dense urban housing on transit corridors. " Smart Growth", smart meters, electric cars, charging stations, sucking money from highways and putting it into transit projects ... all part of it. The state's mandate for planning is also a part of it.. It all came out of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio - the same meeting that gave us the bggest hoax manlind has ever witnessed, global warming ... http://www.un.org/esa/dsd/agenda21/ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzEEgtOFFlM The county 2050 plan makes development in rural areas almost impossible by down zoning which basically steals the value of the land from the owners
Saul May 08, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Saul I agree, it is non of the State's business what we do here and how many house we build.
Eric F Schaller May 09, 2012 at 03:24 AM
Jay is 110% correct. It's either stop being isolated by intimidating comments such as, "Seen any black helicopters lately?", and, "Your tin hat must be too tight", or resign ourselves to the loss of property rights and individual freedoms. Encinitas may soon be upzoning and creating large areas that could hold up to 45 units per acre in 4 story buildings. If that doesn't sound like the community you want to live in, speak up! Contact your representatives, write letters, attend meetings, demand media attention. Encinitas is definitely not the only community involved in this struggle, but the war can't be won without a united front. A local landscape architect, Darcy Brandon, has cofounded a group dedicated to preserving property rights. Check it out at. http://americansprotectingpropertyrights.com/ For a more in depth overview, listen to this recent presentation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Hyl9YzJsQg&feature=player_embedded The days of believing that we as individuals don't need to be proactive to preserve our way of life are over. Too much has taken place while we were too trusting and doing too little checking up. You don't have to invest a huge amount of time. Just do what you can, or be prepared to explain to your grandchildren why they're playing on an apartment balcony in high density housing instead of in a backyard. If we don't take action to protect ourselves, why should we expect someone else to do the job for us?
Lynn Marr May 12, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Good article, Olivier, which I only now saw, thanks to Teresa Barth's link. Thank you for caring and for helping to inform us!
patrick oconnor May 13, 2012 at 04:40 PM
My problem with the issue is the form, or the approach in the discussions. Asking for answers by 3x5 card questions to a moderator is just a form of Encinitas style political correctness . In the next forum let's open the discussion with live participation Q and A's.
patrick oconnor May 14, 2012 at 06:06 PM
In all past meetings and postings no one has mentioned the first commandment of infill development " Thou shalt not CHANGE the character of the neighborhood" So much for local control. FYI no sane bank will lend on mixed use projects. without a long term take out financing. No sane developer is interested without 100% funding going in and the investors want a reasonable 12% nnn on their investment. Any body interested ???

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