Encinitas about to embark on housing element outreach

ENCINITAS — A highly anticipated rollout of the city’s housing element public outreach starts this week, with two of five public workshops scheduled.

The housing element is the city’s first comprehensive overhaul of its housing and residential zoning map in more than 20 years, and will map out where an anticipated 1,300 units of affordable housing will be placed within the city. Voters are expected to vote on the plan in 2016.

The plan will require the city adopt a new zoning designation that would allow upwards of 30 residential units per acre in order to satisfy the state affordable housing mandate.

City officials said the plan is critical because the city faces lawsuits and state action if it does not update the housing element.

The workshops, scheduled to run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., start Nov. 13 in Cardiff-by-the-Sea at the Seaside Center for Spiritual Living. The second meeting this week is on Saturday at the library.

Next week, three meetings are scheduled beginning Nov. 17 at Beacon’s Bible Church in Leucadia, Nov. 18 at Ranchview Baptist Church in Olivenhain and Nov. 22 at Diegueno Middle School in New Encinitas.

City officials said there would be one or two “make-up sessions” held at city hall for residents who can’t make one of the five meetings, but no date has been scheduled for those workshops.

Additionally, the city this week opened its online portal where residents will also be able to comment and choose their housing strategy of choice by using the city’s E-Town Hall platform on the city Web site, encinitasca.gov. The city is asking all residents — including those who attend the workshops — to input their preferences for each of the five neighborhood’s housing plans on E-Town Hall.

The online platform allows for users to choose from one of several of the city’s prefabricated housing strategies, or create a custom housing strategy that helps each of the communities reach their affordable housing targets.

So far, 176 people have submitted their housing element strategies online, although a number of residents have been critical of the city’s use of the E-Town Hall platform due to questions about its security and validity as a scientific polling method.

City officials, however, stand by its use.

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