Encinitas slates workshop on Housing Element


The Encinitas City Council is seeking community input regarding the housing element update at a meeting Feb. 1 following the failure of Measure T.

According to pamphlets from the No on T campaign, naysayers believed the plan — which was the city’s proposed Housing Element which went up for a vote in the November election — would have added too high of density in the city, required no additional affordable housing, caused a lack of on-site parking requirements, and provided huge profits for developers with no benefits to residents.

But the developments are necessary to comply with state law — which currently mandates Encinitas should zone for 1,100 high-density units — and avoid lawsuits, Mayor Catherine Blakespear said.

The city, which currently has about 20,000 housing units total, is already facing two lawsuits — one from the Building Industry Association and another from a local developer.

Additionally, Encinitas is the only city in San Diego County without a state-certified Housing Element, a required document that spells out how a city proposes to rework its zoning to accommodate its future housing needs, particularly those of low-income people. The city’s original plan, which it is still working off of, was created in the 1990s.

“The bottom line is, we will have to have a housing plan,” Blakespear said. “That is state law. So what should be in it?”

She said the city council could do nothing and wait for the issue to play out in court, but she would rather have a Housing Element that the city can suggest to the court that is agreeable among elected officials, staff and residents that is also compliant with state law.

The meeting, held at 6 p.m. at the community center, 1140 Oakcrest Park Drive, will include two 20-minute presentations on how to move forward — one from the No on Measure T group and another from a different group, Blakespear said.

She said she hopes that because the meeting is at a less formal setting than city hall, people won’t feel intimidated to bring their ideas forward.

However, Blakespear said she is not just looking for reasons why people didn’t approve of Measure T; she hopes attendees will suggest how to move forward with a housing plan.

Blakespear, who was originally against any high-density development when she began getting involved with the city in 2013, said it is important for people to recognize the move just calls for areas to be zoned. It does not necessarily mean they will be built on right away.

However, she said that in a high-income area like Encinitas, the building will likely happen at some point.

“But I don’t think we’ll have a bonanza of building,” she added. “I’m hoping to reestablish a connection between the elected officials and the populace of the city around the housing and, in good faith, try and come up with a solution together.”