A controversial proposal to add more than 2,000 residential units to New Encinitas near the El Camino Real corridor is going back to the drafting table and may be nixed altogether.
The Encinitas City Council made that decision Wednesday night when it met for a special session to discuss the General Plan Update, a document that outlines community growth for the next 20 years and includes that proposal for more housing in New Encinitas.
The state mandates that all cities have a General Plan and requires them to have a set amount of affordable housing based on projected growth. In an effort to comply with that, the draft of the General Plan Update includes proposed zoning that would allow for those additional residential units near the El Camino Real corridor. That idea has not sat well with and business owners who say that area is , and worry that property values would suffer.
After hearing from several of those opponents Wednesday night, City Council agreed that it was time to seriously reconsider the housing proposal and possibly replace it with a new option altogether.
The city’s Planning Commission, General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC), and will all consider the housing element and brainstorm other ways to meet the state’s mandate. The community will also have a chance to weigh in through public workshops.
Encinitas Mayor Jerome Stocks also pointed out that the state only requires cities to have the proper zoning in place for growth. Whether or not that actually happens according to plan is another matter.
“We have to show that we have the capacity, but not one permit has to be issued,” he explained.
If the city fails to get its General Plan Update approved by the state, it could face some sort of legal action, though city attorney Glen Sabine said it was difficult to speculate exactly what that would look like.
Though that housing proposal is just one piece of the General Plan Update draft, it is connected to other parts of the plan, which means the review process is being hindered by this sticking point.
“We need to get to that housing piece and have it resolved because we can’t talk about things like traffic or rezoning until that happens,” City Manager Gus Vina told council during his presentation.
Council also directed city staff to not pay any more money to MIG Inc., the firm that prepared this draft of the General Plan Update. It also directed staff to not hire any consultants affiliated with the firm. Though the city has already paid more than $1 million to MIG Inc., Stocks said that was not necessarily money down the drain.
“We did not waste one million dollars. We have a lot of baseline data we can still use. I just think we can move forward better.”