Letter to the editor: Thanks to council for standing up to BIA on density bonus law

Dear Encinitas City Council,

On behalf of more people than you likely realize, thank you each for officially, and in unison, standing up to the Building Industry Association (BIA) that is attempting to sue the city of Encinitas over the City Council’s conservative interpretation of the poorly written state of California “Density Bonus Law.” It is right. And courageous.

Thank you for endeavoring to hold at bay the numerous carpetbagger developers from further blighting our Encinitas neighborhoods with many crammed developments of $1M-plus homes — typically adding a token lower-market rental as an appeasement to this law. What a ruse.

By invoking the Density Bonus Law, these developers are often given a green light to zoning changes, have the numbers of houses they want rounded up (not down) in order to fit more homes, and accorded other various waivers and concession loopholes by obsequious planning commissions. The building industry is gaming the system, and everyone —starting with them — knows it. Access to transportation hubs is often overlooked, as is parking availability.

The spirit of this law is absolutely being violated throughout the state by development companies, who are often the “storefront” for investment groups. They acquire the land, invoke Density Bonus with a municipality, overbuild, bear their profit and get out of town. The losers are not the buyers, not the builders, but the people of that neighborhood. It is plain wrong for the state to not allow the individual municipalities more say in the application of these often specious Bonus Density invokings by the building industry, who are lining their pockets whenever they can get away with it.

On the face of it, this law seems well-intentioned. But it needs retuning and more latitude granted to individual cities. As it stands, this law is generating ill-will in neighborhoods and city governments throughout the state — it is being wildly over-invoked. It is all too apparent that the building industry had everything to do with foisting this law upon our elected officials in Sacramento, starting with the pro-Density Bonus Law Patron Saint, Assemblyman Ed Chau. It is embarrassingly transparent. As someone recently wrote about this, having the building industry dictate the terms of our growth is disturbingly Kafka-esque. This law cannot stand as is.

Though I’ve had my various differences of opinion with Encinitas City Council decisions at times, I tip my hat to you on this for having the backbone to stand up to the Building Industry Association, the bully boy on our city block. Thank you, on behalf of us, your constituents and neighbors.


Stephen Keyes, Encinitas