Council takes strong stance against density-bonus bill

Council takes strong stance against density-bonus bill
Encinitas Arch. Photo by Vistor7 courtesy of WikiMedia

ENCINITAS — Encinitas officials have come out in strong opposition of a state Assembly bill that they believe will strip cities of local control over two key issues involving density-bonus development.

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.

State lawmakers said that Assembly Bill 744, which has passed through several committees and is headed for consideration by the full assembly, would do two things to current density bonus law:

• Reaffirm current state law that cities round up in the event the number of units proposed on a site of the number of allowable units is a fraction.

• Waive parking requirements for such units within a half-mile of a transit center.

The City Council unanimously approved a second letter of opposition to the bill. In it, the city argues that those issues should be decided at the local level, not at the state level.

“We maintain that density rounding and parking are local issues and local land-use decisions should be made at the local level,” the letter states.

The city’s opposition to the rounding up has been well documented, as Encinitas is currently being sued by the Building Industry Association of San Diego because of its attempt in July 2014 to close off several loopholes that are popular with the density-bonus developers, including rounding up.

“The City of Encinitas recognizes and values the need for affordable housing. But rounding up density calculations results only in additional market rate units, not in additional affordable units,” the letter continues.

As for the parking issue, the city argues that not requiring parking near a transit center would exacerbate the city’s current lack of parking in its downtown area — the only place in the city with a transit center.

“Our city has only one transit center and the radius the bill prescribes encompasses an area that already presents a parking challenge,” the letter states. “There appears to be an assumption that seniors aged 62 or older do not require automobiles, or do not have visitors requiring parking. We have several senior developments in our city and all of them are heavily dependent upon cars to meet the needs of residents and visitors.”

The city’s stance has been hailed by local residents who have decried the proliferation of density bonus developments in Encinitas, which they believe developers have used to create super-dense subdivisions without delivering the affordable units that the law prescribes.

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