Your voice counts and is needed

This month, the city of Encinitas embarked on an effort to update its Housing Plan to ensure that we are prepared to meet the future housing needs of our residents.  Called the Housing Element, this plan has not been updated since the 1990s and a lot has changed in the last twenty years.

Our population is growing and changing, housing prices continue to rise, and we do not have the variety of housing choices to meet the needs of our changing demographics.

Like it or not, our city is evolving and growing.  Between now and 2035, our senior population is projected to double.  Many of these seniors will seek to downsize their homes and locate closer to transportation, services, and amenities, but we don’t have plans in place to meet this need.  On the other end of the demographic spectrum, our younger residents, often referred to as Millennials, are having a hard time entering the housing market financially.

At the same time, many of them are looking for something different.

They are driving less and want to live in pedestrian- and bike-friendly neighborhoods close to entertainment, shops, and transit. We have to provide choices that meet their needs.

While the situation is not simple, it is very clear.  We MUST adopt an updated Housing Plan.  It is State law, period.

While I don’t always agree or embrace all the laws we face, Encinitas (as a City) must comply.  If we don’t, we face severe consequences, including losing the right to decide how our local land is used.

I do not want ANYONE but Encinitas determining how we plan for our future.   The voters adopted Prop A to have more control over how our land is used.

Losing it to the State would take us many steps backward by overriding Prop A.    Also, without an adopted Housing Plan, we are losing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in state and regional grants that could help us pay for infrastructure improvements such as roads, parks, rail underpasses, and bicycle facilities.

The consequences of not complying are just too great.

Updating our Housing Plan does not mean that the whole city needs to change — nor should it.  We want to keep what we have but look to this process to help make things better.  Based on our housing needs assessment, we will need to plan for less than 1,300 attached homes.  The key word here is ‘PLAN’ for homes.  The marketplace will determine if those homes are actually built.  Depending on how this housing is distributed and what design characteristics are applied, it would only rezone less than two percent of Encinitas.  But, we need your help.  Community participation is critical to creating a plan that meets our needs.  Full disclosure and full participation!  We want to hear from residents, property owners, businesses, and other stakeholders to decide the best locations for future housing, and most importantly, improve the community characteristics that are most valued by ‘Encinitans’.

This November, the city is hosting a series of Community Dialogue Sessions — one in each of Encinitas’ five communities.  Be a part of the process!  If you can’t attend a meeting, you will still be able to share your input through e-Town Hall online.  Visit AtHomeInEncinitas.info to sign up to participate in e-Town Hall and for details about the Community Dialogue Session in your neighborhood.  With your help, we can create a Housing Plan that benefits all of Encinitas.

Kurt Groseclose is the chairman of the Encinitas Planning Commission and resides in Old Encinitas

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