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Encinitas hires its housing consultant

Encinitas will have professional help on its Housing Element Update, following the approval of a housing consultant at the May 10 city council meeting.

Dave Barquist, project manager San Diego-based Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc., was hired by the city in a $54,500 contract to help it develop its housing element after a unanimous approval by the council, with Council member Mark Muir absent from the meeting.

His hiring was first approved by the Housing Element Update Task Force — consisting of Mayor Catherine Blakespear; Deputy Mayor Tony Kranz; No on T spokesman and Planning Commissioner Bruce Ehlers; and former Planning Commissioner Kurt Groseclose — at the group’s May 4 meeting.

One of the task force’s priorities since it formed in February has been finding a housing element expert to advise the city about possible options and legal matters. It is also looking for a city to model a housing plan after.

The task force’s next meeting will be in about two months, once Barquist has done a site-specific inventory and analysis of all the sites on the previous housing element map, according to Blakespear.

Barquist, a North County native, has had more than 20 years of experience forming housing elements and general plan updates in more than 50 California cities, including Fountain Valley, Montclair, Oakley, Chula Vista and Placentia.

Barquist was not present at the May 10 meeting due to a previously scheduled conflict, he told the Encinitas Advocate in an email.

Blakespear advocated for Barquist at the meeting.

“He has the right attitude of trying to be creative and understanding what we want as a community,” she said.

According to a report from Kimley-Horn, the consulting group believes successful outcomes for the housing element update are based on effective definitions of the issues and challenges of the community and stakeholders; spatial/economic analysis of development feasibility; policies and programs that are a “win-win” for the community; effective negotiation and consultation with the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD); and strategic preparation for future voting measures.

Kimley-Horn will participate in up to three meetings with the task force; conduct community workshops with residents to inform and gather thoughts; consult with the city and stakeholder agencies, including SANDAG and the Coastal Commission; analyze the 15 pre-selected areas and sites developed by the city to demonstrate the relationship between the city’s Regional Housing Need Allocation (RHNA) numbers and dwelling unit capacity; attend city public hearings; and be the city’s liaison with the HCD.

Encinitas is the only city in San Diego County without a 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, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. The city’s original plan, which it is still working off of, was created in the 1990s.

State law currently mandates Encinitas should zone for 1,093 high-density units, according to city officials.

The city’s last effort for a Housing Element — Measure T — failed in the November election. The plan called for allowing additional housing on a series of sites along busy roadways in all five communities of Encinitas. In order to meet state targets for new housing growth, the plan proposed easing city height restrictions and allowing 20 to 30 dwelling units per acre on those sites.


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