ENCINITAS — The General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC) recommended places where housing could be built within the city at Wednesday night’s City Council meeting.
The 23-member GPAC, a citizen group, was asked to help the city decide where to locate 1,300 state-mandated housing units within Encinitas as part of the General Plan Update, a document that will guide housing over the next few decades.
After carrying out mapping exercises looking at which areas can best accommodate the housing, GPAC determined 26 percent of housing should be allocated in Old Encinitas, 26.6 percent in New Encinitas, 22.6 in Leucadia, 14.6 percent in Cardiff and 10 percent in Olivenhain.
Within the communities, there are five spots that “made the most sense for where multi-family housing ought to occur,” said Lee Vancer, a representative for GPAC. Those spots include El Camino Real and Encinitas Boulevard, the “four corners” in Olivenhain, parts of Santa Fe Avenue, some areas on the Highway 101 corridor and at Leucadia Boulevard and Saxony Boulevard, Vancer said.
To aid GPAC in identifying where housing should go, the group was given 14 categories that it had to rank in terms of importance.
Of the categories, GPAC’s greatest priority: housing should be near commercial services. Next on the list: an area can accommodate mixed-use residential housing. Least important in GPAC’s book: housing density is 45 units per acre.
Currently, most of Encinitas isn’t zoned for more than 25 units per acre.
On a related note, Vancer said Council should work with other cities to ease housing requirements imposed by the state.
The state demands cities build a certain number of units based on population growth.
However, some residents who spoke at the meeting made the case that population growth in Encinitas is based on outdated, pre-recession data, and thus overstates growth.
“The majority of the GPAC felt that the city should consider some kind of joint action with the League of California Cities to go after the legislature and ask them to make more friendly policies in regards to the local cities,” Vancer said.
Also, Vancer called on the city to turn down more developers who submit density bonus applications — a state law that lets developers increase density on lots in return for building low-income units.
City staff, however, said that might not be possible, because density bonus is a state law.
Mayor Teresa Barth said she was hopeful the city could work with the state. Specifically, she said the new director of the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development doesn’t believe in “one-size-fits-all” development.
“That bodes well for us,” Barth said.
Additionally, Vancer said planning for senior housing weighed heavily on GPAC’s decision making, as that segment of the population is expected to balloon in the coming years. Also, GPAC recommended town center developments.
The group’s report states that town centers create walkable communities that are near transit and commercial services.
Council thanked GPAC, received the report and said it would consider the recommendations.
More than a month ago, Council voted not to act on any information related to the General Plan Update until they’ve had a chance to complete a series of retreats and pinpoint their goals for the process.
Last week, Council heard the Planning Commission’s recommendations for the housing element of the General Plan Update. On Feb. 27, the Elemental Review Advisory Committee, the last of the groups reviewing the General Plan Update’s housing portion, will provide its recommendations for Council.