Planning Commission approves long-delayed subdivision

The Encinitas Planning Commission on May 5 unanimously backed a 10-lot subdivision that’s been in the works for nearly 13 years.

Developer Pacific Canyon LLC sought approval from the commission to exceed the city’s mid-range density — 10 residential lots instead of nine — at the 5.23-acre site, a stone’s throw north of Redeemer Presbyterian Church on El Camino Real, near the San Elijo Lagoon.

As part of the project, Pacific Canyon pledged to improve the eroded Lux Canyon drainage channel, which would lead to more natural vegetation. It will also sow native plants in the area. Commissioner Anthony Brandenburg said these improvements will benefit the now-vacant property.

“The developer has gone out of their way for viable solutions,” Brandenburg said.

While the commission approved the lot subdivision, home development at the site is subject to future commission approval, senior city planner Roy Sapa’u confirmed in an email after the meeting. Two public speakers opposed Pacific Canyon’s plan.

“The reason it has taken 13 years is because it’s a tough lot to build on and maybe we shouldn’t be building so much on it,” said Timothy Gendreau, who lives near the site.

The city stipulated that Pacific Canyon must pay a $350,000 “in-lieu” fee. Encinitas requires that one of every 10 homes in a new development be sold or rented to those who are eligible for housing assistance, but instead of building the affordable units, developers can pay an in-lieu fee.

That money goes into a fund that lets the city purchase housing and dedicate it to low-income families.

Cyrus Raoufpur of Pacific Canyon said the project has taken so long because various agencies had to sign off, given that the proposed development is near a wetland.

Also, the in-lieu fee was an issue, according to a San Diego Union-Tribune article in 2010. Raoufpur previously asked the council to lower the in-lieu fee, but the council voted against the proposal.

The commission vote was 4-0. Commissioner Greg Drakos was absent from the meeting