‘Update’ plan is more ‘extreme makeover’

Encinitas is rewriting city zoning calling it the “General Plan Update.” Residents who went to city workshops call it the “General Plan Up-Zone,” saying land use changes threaten property values by allowing high density, destroying small town character, and increasing traffic.
When government calls things what they are not, we notice. It usually means taxpayers are about to lose something of value, and someone else, let’s say a developer or campaign contributor, is about to strike it rich with a government handout. It looks like Encinitas is calling things what they aren’t.
For 25 years the Encinitas General Plan has protected property values. The General Plan is referred to as the Constitution and sets the standards for community development. Because of the current General Plan we have a small town. That may soon change.
Will the city allow the Henry’s-Sprouts Market on El Camino Real to become a 3-story parking garage next to a 4- to 7-story mixed use building? Residents call it “The Irvinization” of Encinitas. El Camino Real could increase in density by 400 percent. Where will the cars go?
Any homeowner can tell you “updating” a house means keeping the things you love while adding some new paint or a few fixtures. What the city is proposing isn’t an “update,” it’s an “extreme makeover.” City Hall wants to scrap the current General Plan that protects residents and replace it with a New General Plan that promotes urban density like Oakland.
When the city updated zoning in other parts of the city, like the Cardiff Specific Plan, they made a copy of the original current zoning document, along with the proposed changes, available to the public. Residents were able to update the zoning line by line. Those with an interest can learn more at savecardiff.com.
The city, Encinitas Planning Director Patrick Murphy, and consultant Iacofano must make a copy of the current General Plan, with any proposed changes, available to the public. This lets the public go through the current General Plan, with the proposed changes, word by word, so the current General Plan is “updated” not scrapped. The council must demand this. So far Murphy and Iacofano have refused.
Failing to release the current plan, with the proposed changes, keeps the public in the dark. We need to see the current zoning to compare with the proposed updates. We need to know that Henry’s is currently zoned for a 2-story building, before it is approved to become a taller building that increases traffic and reduces property values.
Much is at stake. Council members like Deputy Mayor Jerome Stocks, who the Encinitas Taxpayers Association reports received some 70 percent, of his campaign contributions from the real estate and development industry, may find themselves between a rock and hard place. Bureaucrats in Sacramento and SANDAG tell us what to do calling it a “housing element,” but if they are such great planners, why is the state in such a mess?
We don’t have to follow their direction. Developers want loose language and “loopholes,” while residents want tightly worded language, like the US Constitution, that protect property rights. It is time the city comes clean with the public.
If their intent is to write a New General Plan they should tell us, and stop calling it the General Plan Update. If that’s the case then a new General Plan that threatens property values and quality of life needs to be voted on by all 60,000 residents of the city, not just a few council members who might happen to get campaign money and support from developers.

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