Planning Commission to host Housing Element hearings next week

ENCINITAS — The proposed Housing Element Update in Encinitas will be the focus of a pair of Planning Commission hearings next week.

At the end of the hearings, the Planning Commission will vote on whether to recommend the update to the council for approval, the penultimate step towards getting the update on the ballot for the November election.

The meetings are scheduled for 6 p.m. May 24 and May 26 at the City Council chambers.

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 affordable housing will be placed within the city.

Encinitas is the only community in San Diego without an updated housing element, a dubious distinction that city officials say hurts them when competing for certain regional grants.

The city’s proposed update would create a new land-use designation dubbed “At Home in Encinitas,” which would encompass the 33 sites the city has identified as potential housing sites.  The designation would allow property owners in the site areas to develop between 20 and 30 units per acre and build up to three stories of housing, the density that the state uses as a proxy for affordability.

Under the “At Home” designation, the city’s housing element update proposal would accommodate nearly 2,000 units of this type of residential development, more than the 1,300 that the state is mandating. City officials said the buffer is necessary to ensure if people opt not to use the new land-use designation there would still be enough designated properties to satisfy the state mandate.

A poll conducted under the city’s auspices showed mixed results, but indicated that 57 percent of residents would support the ballot measure when development is put in the context of housing that is “within reach of most working families, young professionals and new home buyers.”

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