Encinitas council denies developer’s appeal

The Encinitas sign
The Encinitas sign hangs above South Coast Highway 101 near the historic La Paloma Theater.
(Karen Billing)

Officials say permits for Surfer’s Point project had long since expired


The Encinitas City Council on Wednesday, Aug. 19, unanimously rejected a Leucadia hotel/timeshare developer’s appeal of a recent city Planning Commission decision, saying they agreed with the planning commissioners that the project’s permits had long since expired.

In the works for about two decades, the proposal known as Surfer’s Point would create a 25-unit, hotel/timeshare complex on a nearly 2-acre, prime bluff-top location overlooking Batiquitos Lagoon. The site is at the northeast corner of La Costa Avenue and Coast Highway 101 , across the highway from a large hotel complex that’s currently under construction.

In a lengthy statement, the city’s mayor, who is an attorney, said she had many serious issues with the proposal, including:

  • The latest version of the development plans appeared to be “substantially changed” from the original version years ago when the development was proposed to be built in one phase, not two;
  • There was “strong evidence the permits are expired” and had been for years;
  • And that the now-second phase of the project, which is proposed to go on an area that that the North County Transit District controls through an easement, is likely never to be built because the transit district may put a second railroad track in the area.

Given these issues, Blakespear said, the council ought to reject the appeal and encourage the developer to submit new plans for a single-phase project that doesn’t include the NCTD area. Council members Tony Kranz and Kellie Shay Hinze, who represent the city’s northern coastal regions, said they concurred with her view that there were many, substantial issues with the project and its previously approved permits.

Kranz said he agreed the NCTD easement situation was likely going to complicate the developer’s plans because obtaining funding any time soon for a NCTD railroad double-tracking project in the area is “going to be challenging” and the project may take years to become a reality.

Hinze said she believed the hotel/timeshare developer needed to redo the project’s environmental paperwork and take into account climate change concerns in the coastal region, especially flooding worries and sea level rise.

Dan Reedy, the developer’s representative, told the council that he strongly disagreed with their view that his permits had expired years ago and the project was substantially different now than what was originally proposed. He stressed that he has worked with the city’s planning department for years to make his plans comply with city and state regulations.

“We followed everything the city planners told us to do,” he said.

Reedy also noted that while the commissioners voted in June to deny the project the permit modifications it needs to proceed, city planning department employees have recently recommended that the City Council overturn that decision.

The developers have been seeking to modify the permits they obtained years ago, rather than submitting a new development proposal because a new proposal would require a whole new environmental review process.

Reedy and his attorney indicated Wednesday, Aug. 19, they may appeal the council’s decision to the state Coastal Commission and could decide to revert to their original, less-attractive development plans for the site if they aren’t allowed to proceed with their revised, two-phase proposal.

—Barbara Henry is a freelance writer for The San Diego Union-Tribune