By Olivier Canler
On Sept. 1, 2011, the Encinitas Planning Department released the draft of General Plan Update 2035 — the official document guiding the growth of our town for the next 25 years. So what’s in the General Plan Update that should make you concerned?1. 2,300 new multi-family dwellings: The plan recommends the building of 2,300 new multi-family dwellings (apartments and condos) citywide by converting existing commercial areas to mixed residential areas, and allowing three-story buildings up to 40-feet-tall.
Encinitas still has a small town feel. This much construction will turn our town into an urban environment.
2. Most of the growth on El Camino Real: Three areas of the city, representing less than 5 percent of the city, will absorb 100 percent of this growth: The El Camino Real Corridor (1,255 new apartments): the Encinitas Blvd/Interstate 5 area (847 new apartments); and the Santa Fe/I-5 Interchange (280 apartments).
Just a half-mile stretch of El Camino Real (from the 99 cent store to the Michaels’ mall) could be home to 3,000-plus new residents.
3. Honk if you like traffic jams: Many residents use El Camino Real and Encinitas Blvd to commute to work or as essential traffic routes throughout the day. However, the General Plan admits that traffic will get worse to the point of gridlock (technical term they refer to in LOS-D and LOS-E). The traffic along El Camino Real is already dense and boarder line gridlock during peak rush hours. Allowing traffic to get any worse is unacceptable.
The proposed remedy to traffic congestion is to encourage residents to use their bikes and walk more by building more inviting bike lanes and walkways.
This may be an honorable idea when time permits, but is not a good or practical one for commuters and the elderly. Deteriorating traffic along El Camino Real also will encourage drivers to use adjacent road to El Camino Real, making these residential streets congested and unsafe.
4. Declining property values: To comply with the Regional Housing Need Assessment (RHNA) requirements the city has to come up with a certain number of low to extremely low-housing units.
The only way developers can ever hope to make money under these circumstances is to push for maximum density and even density bonuses. This does not fit well with maintaining property values along El Camino Real.
Many residents of Encinitas still do not know about the General Plan Update and how it will change their lives for the worse. But the concerns of a few residents of New Encinitas have prompted the City Council to conduct a new outreach effort.
Visit our website at savenewencinitas.com to find out more about the poorly designed plan, and to sign our online petition.
Olivier Canler is a member of Citizens to save new Encinitas.