ENCINITAS — About 100 people took part in a workshop Monday that will guide future housing projects in Encinitas over the next several decades.
The city has held five open houses and two workshops this year in hopes of resolving a continuous sticking point: where to place state-mandated, low-income housing units.
“There’s the challenge — we know from the onset that we’re not going to make everyone happy,” City Manager Gus Vina said.
Residents were given 10 blue stickers and asked to mark on a map of Leucadia, Old Encinitas, New Encinitas, Cardiff and Olivenhain where 1,300 multifamily, low-income housing units should be built.
Attendees had to take a number of factors into account when placing the blue stickers, including whether the land is vacant, the environmental impacts of construction and if the land is near transit opportunities, commercial services and schools — among other considerations. Further, residents were directed to indicate whether they prefer dispersing the units in a concentrated area or throughout the five communities.
Jordan Vasic, an Encinitas resident, said he contemplated putting most of his stickers in Olivenhain because of the lack of existing multifamily units. But he reconsidered after examining a map showing few major transit routes in the area.
“It’s tough — there are so many things to consider,” he said.
The low-income housing units are the most controversial part of the General Plan Update, which outlines development in Encinitas through 2035. In September, a draft of the General Plan Update was released to the public. It immediately faced backlash from businesses and residents who said the draft disproportionately focused low-income housing units on a small cluster of El Camino Real. In response, the City Council voted three months later to start anew by creating a new advisory committee, along with open houses and workshops.
The state requires most cities to have a set amount of affordable housing based on projected growth and population trends. Should Encinitas fail to comply with low-income housing requirements, it could face lawsuits from developers. Also, if low-income housing units aren’t approved by the state, they would carry over into the next planning cycle.
State law defines the density of low-income housing as at least 30 units per acre. With the exception of the Pacific Station building and a stretch of downtown Encinitas, the city’s zoning currently allows for only 25 acres, according to Patrick Murphy, the city’s planning and building director.
The state mandates Encinitas to have the proper zoning in place for affordable housing. Although areas will likely be rezoned to allow for low-income housing, there’s no guarantee construction will begin soon after. According to a chart at the meeting, which may also be found at encinitas2035.info, only 13 percent of low-income housing units were built in Encinitas during the last planning period.
A household of four people with an income of less than $64,000 is considered low income.
Murphy said the map survey results will likely be tabulated next month.