Crest Drive residents and supporters filled Wednesday night to argue they said would destroy the character of the Encinitas street.
In a 5-0 vote, councilmembers sided with the Crest Drive supporters and approved an appeal filed on behalf of Rick and Tammy Backus, the owners of a vacant lot on the street, who were required by the city to make public improvements to the street in order to construct a new single-family home and barn.
“We’ve been battling this because of the neighborhood,” Rick Backus said. “Everybody up there loves their neighborhood, and we don’t want to change it.”
Architect Kevin Farrell, who also resides on Crest Drive, filed the appeal on behalf of the property owners.
Farrell said the city’s requirement to dedicate part of the property edges to the public right of way, build a decomposed granite pedestrian trail along the edge of the land and create a containment area to keep storm water from running off the property would eliminate the vegetation in the area.
“The root systems of these trees will not survive if we implement these concrete mandates,” said Farrell, who added that he acquired 425 signatures from community members for his .
For more than an hour, roughly 30 people urged the council to prevent unwanted changes to the street.
“We have a very special street – big houses, small houses, old houses, new houses, of all different styles and personalities. That’s what makes it so great,” said one Crest Drive resident. “But one thing that doesn’t fit are these sidewalks, trails and other said improvements.”
Another resident, who originally hailed from New York, said there is “nothing like Crest Drive” in her former home state.
“Please, please hear our plea to you,” she said. “This is not the way to go for the people that live on our street.”
Deputy Mayor Kristin Gaspar said she sympathized with the Crest Drive residents, especially when they began to boo after city senior civil engineer Masih Maher showed a photograph of another home that had followed the standards.
“There’s a great reason why we have these appeals because we can look at things on a case by case basis, and we can let common sense prevail,” Gaspar said.
In addition to approving the appeal, councilmembers agreed to further discuss the city’s existing development policy standards and whether they should be changed at a later date.
“We have to make sure our standards meet our community,” said Councilwoman Teresa Barth. “It’s not about lowering our standards. It’s about raising our standards to the level that our community expects our standards to be, and that’s to protect our community character.”