Encinitas will fight BIA lawsuit

ENCINITAS — The city of Encinitas, as expected, has decided to fight a lawsuit filed by the Building Industry Association of San Diego seeking to void the city’s recent action to close several loopholes that have been popular among developers of so-called “density-bonus” projects.

The City Council earlier this month pulled its discussions of the new policies behind closed doors after the attorney representing the developer of the Desert Rose project threatened to sue the city because he said enforcement of the policies on the development, which is currently tied up in the courts, would violate state law.

Days later, the BIA hit the city with a lawsuit targeting the actions the council took July 16, which were hailed by opponents of density-bonus developments as a step in the right direction by the city.

The council emerged from a closed session hearing at the Oct. 22 council meeting with its decision to defend itself against the lawsuit, but the council directed the city to hire outside counsel to represent the city in the case, rather than using in-house attorney Glenn Sabine.

On July 16, the City Council nearly unanimously adopted a series of motions that memorialized its intent to stop the practices that they said have led to the proliferation of the oversized, super-dense residential developments citywide. Currently, eight of the 10 projects in the city’s planning queue are density-bonus projects.

State law allows for developers to build extra homes on land to offset the cost of building homes within the development reserved for affordable housing, but residents said the city has taken too liberal of an interpretation of the law, which has allowed developers to build far too many homes than the law intended.

The BIA’s lawsuit argues that the council’s actions, which they say were politically pressured, either violate state law or make it infeasible for developers to build the projects, and that the action would further damage the city’s ability to provide state-mandated affordable housing allocations.As part of the lawsuit, it is requesting the court order the city to update its housing element, which has not been updated since 1992.


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