Kranz: Housing element should result in affordable units
Deputy Mayor Tony Kranz said during a Dec. 3 forum at the Encinitas Library the city should look into “creative solutions” to ensure the housing element actually generates affordable units.
During the two-hour forum, which was organized and paid for by Kranz, he fielded a wide range of questions from residents regarding the housing element, a plan for housing growth across all income levels. It’s due to appear on the 2016 ballot.
For the state-mandated housing element, the city must rezone select sites for higher density to accommodate 1,300 low-income units. But as several residents pointed out, the state department of Housing and Community Development defines low-income as parcels zoned for higher density of 30 units per acre. So, under current rules, many of the housing element units would potentially be sold at market rate.
In response, Kranz said the city should do everything possible to require that developers set aside a significant number of housing element units for low-income residents.
“These creative solutions — these ways of making sure this just doesn’t become market-rate bonanza — are things I’m looking to implement,” Kranz said.
However, Kranz said the city has to be careful, adding any such limitations on developers would have to pass constitutional muster.
“You can only do so much before you’re considered to be taking someone’s property,” Kranz said. He added: “I will be as creative as possible.”
Resident Susan Turney said reserving the housing element units as affordable in perpetuity would fulfill the spirit of the state law. Having only market rate units, she added, would hurt the community and line developers’ pockets.
“Affordable units would be more palatable for people,” Turney said.
Planning Commissioner Glenn O’Grady, another person in attendance, suggested the city consider special zoning designations dedicated to affordable housing projects, called overlays. The Poway City Council went this route in 2012 to meet state-housing demands.
“Those are the creative solutions I’m interested in exploring,” Kranz said.
Kranz said it’s also critical the housing element takes into account and mitigates traffic impacts.
He stated about 5 percent of cities in California, including Encinitas, don’t have an approved housing element. Consequently, Encinitas is losing out on infrastructure grant dollars and is more susceptible to lawsuits from affordable housing advocates, Kranz said.
Kranz said he organized the forum to address misinformation surrounding the housing element and answer questions.
The city has been collecting online feedback for the housing element through E-Town Hall, which can be found at encinitasca.gov. The online forum closes Dec. 5.
Next year, residents will have more opportunities to weigh in on the housing element during council meetings and online as well.