ENCINITAS — A nearly five-hour long City Council meeting saw council members address an appeal on Crest Drive and a medical marijuana initiative Wednesday night.Council members voted unanimously to forgo mandated requirements that residents on Crest Drive say would have impacted trees, vegetation and the community character.
Around thirty residents spoke in favor of the Crest Drive appeal.
In order to build a home on the corner of Birmingham Drive and Crest Drive, the city’s engineering department told the owners of the property they would need to put in a curb, parking, sidewalk and a trail, as well as widen the street. In response, residents launched a “Save Crest Drive” petition, gathered signatures and appealed the decision to Council.
Kevin Farrell, representing the property owners and Crest Drive residents, said the mandated requirements would cost an estimated $120,000 to $170,000, which the property owners would have had to foot. But he argued more was at stake than an unnecessary financial burden. The mandated requirements would threaten old trees and vegetation on Crest Drive, he stated.
“The root system of these trees will not survive if we implement these concrete mandates that are put in by engineering,” Farrell said.
Farrell said Crest Drive and a portion of Birmingham Drive should be added to a list of special streets that are exempt from public improvement mandates that new homes have to meet. There are 87 streets in Encinitas that have the exempt status, he said.
Residents lined up to speak about the unique character of Crest Drive, fearing any major changes to the street.
“I want to live here and raise my own children one day in the same nurturing environment that I was given, and I do plan on living on Crest for the rest of my life,” Jessica Lutz said.
As well as approving the appeal, Councilman Mark Muir’s motion asked the Council to revisit the city’s policy on special streets at a later date.
“That is to bring back the special case streets policy and have a comprehensive discussion so we can really talk about some criteria-based decisions as it relates to other streets within the community,” Muir said.
Council also heard arguments for and against a proposed medical marijuana initiative. Ultimately, council members decided they needed more information on the initiative, ordering a staff report. They will decide whether to place it on the 2014 ballot at a later date.
Citizens for Patients Rights received enough signatures to put forth an initiative that would let medical marijuana dispensaries open in Encinitas should they fulfill the necessary conditions. The group tried to place the initiative on this November’s election, but narrowly missed the deadline.
Council had the option of adopting the ordinance, placing it on the 2014 ballot without changes or ordering a staff report on the initiative.
Last month, the Del Mar and Solana Beach Councils voted to put similar initiatives on the November ballot.