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Encinitas council approves 14-home development

The Encinitas City Council last week voted to deny an appeal of a 14-home project at 560 Requeza Street, upholding earlier Planning Commission approval.

Resident Donna Westbrook filed the appeal, arguing the development’s lot sizes and reduced setbacks don’t meet city code.

City staff said units would be built as a “planned residential development,” a rare type of development in Encinitas where reduced setbacks are granted, in return for added open space. In this case, the twin homes will have a nearby community garden, landscaping and walking paths.

Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer said the project allows for smaller units to be built, adding diversity to the city’s housing mix.

“I’m glad we have this provision that allows for creative, innovative designs and common spaces,” Shaffer.

The 14-home development is a density bonus project with 13 market rate homes and one low-income unit — two more homes than Encinitas zoning typically allows. California’s controversial density bonus law lets developers build one or more extra units, in exchange for reserving at least house as affordable.

Westbrook also said city staff didn’t investigate whether the development complies with AB 2222, a recent amendment to density bonus law. It requires a developer to replace any existing affordable units on a property in order to be eligible for density bonus benefits.

Michael Vairin, executive vice president of Melia Homes, the project developer, said that the project was on the books before AB 2222 took effect in January. But, he added, even if it fell under AB 2222, the existing unit on the property hasn’t been reserved as low-income.

City staff said the developer originally proposed 16 homes and even smaller setbacks, but it was revised in response to community feedback.

The council’s vote was 4-0. Mayor Kristin Gaspar was absent from the meeting.


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