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Community group can turn in housing element map

The Encinitas City Council decided Jan. 21 to invite a potential community group to submit a map showing which sites could accommodate units for the housing element.

As a result of a 3-2 vote, the council will consider a map from a community group, should one form, alongside residents’ earlier input.

Headed for the ballot in 2016, the housing element looks to rezone parcels to add about 1,300 units throughout Encinitas. Last fall, the city collected residents’ input on possible locations for housing element units via E-Town Hall, an online forum.

Based on feedback, the council will ultimately finalize one or possible multiple maps for the ballot.

Councilman Mark Muir, who initiated the agenda item, said a community map would allow the city to collect input from those who felt disenfranchised by E-Town Hall.

“While the city has made significant investments in educating and receiving feedback from the community, there are some within our community who feel disenfranchised, non-represented and/or believe the methodology is inadequate in determining the final housing map to be considered by the council,” Muir wrote in the agenda item’s report.

Muir said he didn’t know of any such community group or who might be interested in heading one. A week after the meeting, Muir said a few individuals have subsequently contacted him expressing interest in forming such a group.

During last week’s meeting, Muir stated the city wouldn’t have a hand in creating or running the group. He also said it would be up to the potential organization to contact the city regarding criteria for developing a housing element map.

Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer opposed the plan. She said the city already conducted a robust outreach effort through E-Town Hall. She added a community map would drain staff time and possibly throw off the tight schedule to put the housing element on the 2016 ballot.

“It’s rewarding the people who didn’t want to play by giving them extra time and maybe torquing the whole schedule,” Shaffer said.

Earlier in the meeting, the council received a report from city staff summarizing fall outreach for E-Town Hall.

City Planning Director Jeff Murphy said the city notified the public about E-Town Hall through workshops in each of Encinitas’ five communities, a media campaign, by holding meetings with key stakeholder groups, sending out direct mailers and other means.

Murphy said as a result, quite a few new faces got involved in the process and gave input on the housing element.

Overall, the council said they were pleased with the level of outreach and community engagement.

Muir called outreach thus far a “triple,” adding the city should move forward with a community-based map for a “grand slam.”

Councilman Tony Kranz, who voted against the agenda item, also expressed concern with the amount of staff time required.

Deputy Mayor Catherine Blakespear said she liked the idea of “opening our arms wide” in search of the best ideas for the housing element. Mayor Kristin Gaspar echoed her.

The agenda item didn’t draw any public speakers.

The council will settle by April on housing element maps, which will then undergo environmental review. Thus, the community group would have to present its map by mid-March, giving the council enough time to possibly incorporate any ideas from it.

After environmental review, the council will pick one or multiple maps for the ballot.

In the meantime, the council and Planning Commission will hold a special joint meeting at 6 p.m. on Feb. 3 and Feb. 5 at City Hall to review the results of E-Town Hall and get the ball rolling on developing maps for environmental review.

The public will have the chance to comment at the meeting and future dates.


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