Council signals hesitant support for ‘community conversations’

ENCINITAS — Encinitas officials have signaled support — albeit hesitantly — for a housing element outreach plan championed by new City Manager Karen Brust.

The “community conversations” concept calls for the mayor, a council member and staff to host informational sessions about the housing element at residents’ homes or businesses, a break from the large-scale workshops the city has employed to disseminate information about the proposed housing plan.

The council voiced support in the concept, but expressed concern that given the voluminous amount of content and information surrounding the housing element, the conversations could quickly stray from their intended objective.

To that end, the council requested staff to return with details about the content that would be discussed at the meetings so that the focus could be narrowed in scope.

“It is not clear to me with all the complexity of the housing plan how much you can cover in one of these sessions in somebody’s living room with people who are starting with a wide range of knowledge or ignorance on the topic,” Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer said. “I am tentatively supportive, but reserve final commitment until I see what the content is, because it could go either way.”

Brust, when she was first hired, told The Coast News she would propose the use of the community conversations to the council with the goal of reaching people where they were most comfortable, which would stimulate honest dialogue on the controversial housing element update, which voters will decide on in November. She said she successfully employed a similar strategy in Del Mar.

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