ENCINITAS — The Cardiff Specific Plan is nearing the finish line.
After reviewing the Cardiff Specific Plan in October, the Coastal Commission agreed to adopt it on the condition that Encinitas make changes related to public views, off-street parking and potentially invasive plants. The Encinitas City Council approved all of the suggested modifications last week with little discussion.
The Cardiff Specific Plan outlines future development for residents and the community’s business district. The plan, nearly a decade in the making and often contentious, was approved by Council in 2010 and then submitted to the Coastal Commission in 2011. The Coastal Commission sent it back to Council with three requirements.
First, the Coastal Commission said the city should dedicate more space for ocean views. Under the Cardiff Plan, it’s against the rules to construct large buildings or walls that could block the view for 30 areas that overlook the ocean. But upon the Coastal Commission’s recommendation, just two of those areas were quadrupled in size — parking lots at the Cardiff Town Center and 7-Eleven in Cardiff — to further protect coastal sights.
Laurie Winter, associate planner with the city, noted that the parking lots are currently in compliance with the Costal Commission’s plan, but in the future some kinds of development are not allowed in or near the areas.
Second, the Coastal Commission said the Cardiff Specific Plan would have led to less public parking being available near the coast. Most outdoor restaurants must provide a certain number of off-site parking spots, but the draft of the Cardiff Specific Plan would have let some sidewalk and outdoor cafes count spots in the public-right-of-way toward this requirement.
As such, restaurant goers could have potentially taken up spots intended for beach access. In response to this concern, the Cardiff Specific Plan now includes language that spots in the public-right-of-way don’t apply toward the number of parking spots sidewalk and outdoor restaurants must have.
Third, based on issues raised, the Cardiff Specific Plan now forbids Catalina Cherry and Weeping Bottlebrush from being planted in the community. Both are “moderately invasive species” that could threaten the San Elijo Lagoon, according to Winter. And even if placed several miles away, their seeds could be transported by wind, animals or runoff.
“We’re not going to be removing any plants that are currently there,” Winter said. “This is a rule for new developments.”
With the amendments being approved, the Cardiff Specific Plan will go back to the Coastal Commission, and then to Council for a final vote. Winter said it could go into effect in March.
The Cardiff Specific Plan includes all the properties between San Elijo Avenue and the alley west of Manchester Avenue, and from Mozart Avenue to the north and Orinda Drive to the south.