Encinitas gives initial approval to new density bonus housing regulations
Key change is new system for calculating how many homes can be built
The Encinitas City Council has given initial approval to a series of proposed changes to city building regulations related to the state’s Density Bonus Law.
The proposed ordinance changes, which will require a second council vote at a later point, covered a range of issues related to the controversial state housing law, which grants developers special exemptions from city building restrictions if they agree to incorporate low-income housing into their projects.
Encinitas has approved 32 density bonus projects since the state law was first enacted in 2017, and critics have charged that many of these projects haven’t generated all that much low-income housing but have greatly increased housing density on lots.
Kevin Doyle, a city planning commissioner who said he was speaking Wednesday, Dec. 9, as a private citizen, urged the council to adopt the proposed changes, which the Planning Commission recently backed.
“I think we’re doing to do the right thing here .... now’s our chance to get it right,” he said.
Key among the proposed changes is a new system for calculating how many homes can be built on a given lot under the Density Bonus Law provisions.
The new calculation system will match what’s being done in neighboring cities, including Carlsbad and Solana Beach. It’s the first time Encinitas has established a formal policy that it will use “net acreage” rather than “gross acreage” for calculating the number of homes that are allowed, Councilman Joe Mosca said.
“Net acreage” is the portion of a site that can actually be developed, while “gross acreage” is the entire lot, including any wetlands or other environmentally sensitive areas. Using the net acreage figure, rather than the gross acreage one, may result in fewer homes being permitted on a given lot, depending on whether there are wetlands or other environmentally sensitive areas.
— Barbara Henry is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune
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