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General Plan Update: Housing Proposal Going Back to the Drafting Table

Encinitas City Council made the decision based on community feedback during a special session Wednesday night.

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.”  

Encinitas Brad March 08, 2012 at 11:45 AM
A million bucks wasted on ripoff consultants. Nice work, council. And now they are not challenging the SANDAG forced-development mandate based on phony numbers, but they just want to shift the development around to other parts of the city. What a pathetic city council we have.
Jeff Jones March 08, 2012 at 05:10 PM
What a great decision by the council! Now that the citizens have been made aware of what COULD have been, they can now get involved in the process and help draft a document that works. Yes, there are laws that have been put in place by our STATE LEGISLATORS that we are forced to consider and include, but at least we can all have a say on how to best address them. We have to plan for growth - it's the law. If you don't like it, elect new representatives at the STATE level! Blaming our council for everything is really gettijng kind of old. Last night they showed concern for, and listened to, ALL the various groups who spoke at the meeting. The decision to re-start the housing component was a win for the city as a whole!
Ralph Wiley March 08, 2012 at 06:21 PM
The state mandates that cities must have General Plans. The Encinitas City Council proposed the controversial development along El Camino Real and Encinitas Boulevard. After an organized and justified public uproar, the City Council dropped the El Camino Real development and dismissed the consultants who proposed it. The City Council endorsed the development and would have permitted it had it not been for the public uproar. Since it's in the City Council's tax-revenue interest to promote commercial and residential development, it's likely similar development will be proposed elsewhere. It's correct to attribute the specifics of the General Plan to the City Council because that's where the proposals originate and are approved or denied.
Jeff Jones March 08, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Ralph- True, the state mandates that cities must have General Plans, but part of that plan MUST contain a housing element to address future projected growth. I guess you weren't at the meeting when the draft plan, prepared by MIG and STAFF, was released to the council. None of them liked it, and they were as shocked as the citizens at what it contained. They didn't "endorse the development" nor would they "have permitted it had it not been for the public uproar." Just where do you get that? They were just as blindsided as the rest of us. Although I agree ALL the members of the council (except for Mark Muir and possibly Mrs. Gaspar) could have been more involved in overseeing the creation of the draft document, I think they relied on the city managers (past and current) and staff - all of whom I believe failed us miserably. You can hate the council all you want, but hate them for facts and not fiction. They (ALL of them), did it right last night.
Marianne March 08, 2012 at 07:39 PM
The uproar about zoning was only regarding one of the 3 areas proposed. Feels like a NIMBY to me. Dont forget about the proposed zoning changes for the Encinitas/I5 and Santa Fe/I5 corridor as well. Citizens who live along those routes have the same complaints, but the petition circulating online was only disputing the ElCamino Real site. NIMBY.
Ralph Wiley March 08, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Yes, the state mandates a housing element to address future projected growth, but it didn't specify urban development along El Camino Real and Encinitas Boulevard. This citizen doesn't think you can absolve the pro-development majority of the City Council of responsibility for the General Plan content. Do managers and staff work in a vacuum? The Council's objections came very late in the game and, curiously, after the public uproar.
Olivier Canler March 08, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Marianne, Before you pass judgements on people that have raised questions about the housing element you should know a little bit more about the group behind the uproar. While it is true our group targeted its outreach effort to New Encinitas residents, we were surprised to see how many people from other communities were behind us and really cared for what was on the plan for El Camino Real. As a matter of fact, residents from other communities helped us in our efforts. We also were against future mixed used proposals along Encinitas Blvd. NIMBYs has a pejorative connotation and it does not help an honest discussion on how we can move forward and build a consensus across communities on where the growth should go. There will be growth in New Encinitas, just like there will be other communities. Let's move pass the blame game and have a constructive dialogue.
Marianne March 08, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Good point. I actually did sign the petition as well. But I feel we need to examine the whole enchilada to be fair. My comment was not meant to blame but to raise the issue of examination of the whole city, not just one part of it. Impact on traffic, schools and community feel will be felt most by those nearest these projects. It needs to be fairly dispersed. If all the areas involved can be equally represented, then that will make for a fair discussion.
Olivier Canler March 08, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Last night, the city council members made the right decision. I am happy about the reboot. It does take some guts to admit "yes, it's a screw up, we wasted some taxpayer's money with MIG", but long term Encinitas should be better off. They spent $1.1M with MIG which amounts to $46 per household in Encinitas. I'd be happy to send a check for $46 so that we can have a better plan. I do find it a bit strange that city council is so willing to throw MIG and the planning department under the bus. They acted as if the planning department was calling all the shots and did not report back to council on how the draft was going. Who is the boss here? City council should have demanded more frequent updates on how things were going. They are supposed to be the fiscal stewardesses for the city. When you have such an important project and $1.1m is being spent you'd think they should have had a more proactive role in the process. We should also remember that SANDAG voted back in June 25th, 2008 for the regional smart growth map. This map identified El Camino Real as a potential mixed-used traffic corridor. This is when the "ugly baby" was conceived. The planning department adopted the "ugly baby" along with cousin MIG. The bad genes were already there. There was very little they could do to beautify that baby. Let's move on pass the ugly baby. He is dead now. Let's work on creating an acceptable baby.
Olivier Canler March 08, 2012 at 09:30 PM
I'm glad you signed the petition. Your signature has helped repeal the housing element not just growth on Ell Camino Real. Going forward all the communities affected should be involved in the design of the housing element.
Mum March 09, 2012 at 08:12 AM
If everybody goes NIMBY it works out for the whole town, no? Why do we need any more housing in Encinitas? It is already too crowded. If more people want to come here let them move into the empty units. If there are no more empty units then its a matter of supply and demand. That might actually help the property value situation. What right does the state have to tell us that we have to grow? "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,” And as far as the statement above goes..sounds like a mortgage broker circa 2006. "We have to put this down on paper. How it really works out is another story." Do we really want to keep doing buisness like that?
Leonard Kroeker March 11, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Leonard Kroeker To the Encinitas City Council a big thank you for taking taking our concerns about traffic along the ECR corridor, etc., into account in your decision to rework the General Plan. I look forward to working with you in solving this planning problem.
M Gudgeon March 13, 2012 at 07:52 PM
All I have to say is that our once small quiet beach town is no more and I do NOT like the snobs moving in here! They're giving locals a bad rap! NO MORE HOUSING!

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