By Olivier Canler
What’s the best way to make sure your controversial plan gets approved? Have a committee of handpicked people review it.
That’s what appears to be happening in Encinitas.
The General Plan Update, the roadmap for land-use zoning that will change the character of our city, has met with public outcry. This flawed document allows for the construction of 1,255 new apartments on El Camino Real, another 1,100 throughout the city, an increase in building heights, and much more.
Questions have been swirling around the plan’s creation and intent, so the Encinitas City Council created the Element Review Advisory Committee (ERAC)—a committee charged with reviewing the General Plan Update.
The Encinitas City Council picked the committee members, and the results are now public. Twelve (12) out of the 21 appointees are either developers or are some way involved in real estate. Seven don’t even live in Encinitas.
Some have direct ties to the majority council members. Only one individual will represent New Encinitas (where most of the proposed development will happen). The original candidate for New Encinitas actually lived in Old Encinitas and was the president of the Encinitas Rotary Club where Mayor Stocks, Deputy Mayor Gaspar, and Councilman Bond are members. Not surprisingly, they voted for him. This individual will be removed after a protest was lodged, but it makes one suspicious about the entire selection process. There is even one candidate picked for a position for which he appears to have no qualification or interest. His background in real estate finance must have made the difference.
It is very revealing that the majority council will allow out-of town developers and real estate professional to have a say on what our General plan Update should look like. These people are not concerned about preserving community character. It does not impact them since they don’t live here. The only impact they will care about is what the General Plan Update will do to their pocketbook.
Cutting to the chase, the General Plan Update is really about the size, type, and extent of new construction that can happen in Encinitas. Considering that 12 of the newly appointed ERAC members make their living in real estate, it would be surprising if they don’t come out in favor of an aggressive development plan.
The Encinitas City Council can start to clear up this seeming conflict of interest by clearly explaining their relationships with all ERAC members, and requiring all ERAC appointees to disclose the specifics of any real estate interests they have in Encinitas and any contributions made to Encinitas political campaigns in the past ten years.
Otherwise, we can assume that the ERAC is a group already predisposed to the General Plan Update and is simply giving its seal of approval to a plan no one wants—other than the Encinitas City Council majority and developers.
It’s not too late to put an end to these shenanigans. Visit the website at SaveNewEncinitas to find out how the General Plan Update will affect you, and to sign our online petition.
Olivier Canler is a member of Citizens to save new Encinitas. He resides in new Encinitas.