ENCINITAS — During a special session on Wednesday, the City Council overwhelmingly agreed to scrap a major portion of the draft general plan and the consultant who helped create it.The housing element is a crucial component of the document that will shape the city’s landscape by dictating where and how new housing will be built. The state mandated portion of the plan requires additional housing to meet projected population increases.
A group of business owners and residents in the new Encinitas neighborhood voiced its displeasure that the majority of the new housing was slated for the El Camino Real corridor.
“It’s already congested enough,” said Duff Pickering, a resident active in the group Citizens for Saving New Encinitas. “It just doesn’t go with the spirit of the community.”
The city’s longtime consultant on the project, MIG, Inc. of Berkley was chastised by some council members for not producing a more comprehensive housing plan.
Deputy Mayor Kristin Gaspar said the consulting company “failed us greatly” by developing a housing plan without community input. Numerous workshops were held over the past 24 months in each community and citywide.
Councilman Jim Bond disagreed. “I don’t think they did a terrible job,” Bond said. “They just gave us their view which didn’t match some people’s views on the ground.”
The general plan is a policy document intended to guide the city’s decision-making over the next 25 years, and is comprised of multiple elements that inform planners, developers, policymakers and the community.
Beginning in January 2010, a general plan advisory committee, along with city staff and a consultant, began the first phase of updating the general plan. The city’s blueprint has been updated to address new policy issues such as sustainable and healthy communities, green building codes and emissions standards.
The plan also speaks to traffic circulation, walkable communities, economic and environmental sustainability and recycling. The existing general plan was adopted in 1989.
The draft called for an additional 1,255 multifamily homes along El Camino Real and 640 more along Encinitas Boulevard.
The council created a 23-member panel to assist with the housing plan revision and other elements of the draft plan. The city’s regular committees and commissions also will weigh in on the process, with general public workshop sessions planned.
City Manager Gus Vina said host map-creation exercises would be held, where the public can choose the areas where the city could accommodate its future housing needs.