ENCINITAS — The developer of a proposed electrical vehicle charging station that would be the largest of its kind said he would move the project to Carlsbad if it falls through in Encinitas.
Encinitas-based Corridor Power Inc. first proposed the so-called “gas station” for electric vehicles three years ago, but the project has languished in the planning department, which is recommending the city deny the project when it comes up for approval later this year.
Corridor’s CEO, Angus Clark, said he is hopeful the city will reverse its stance and they can work toward a positive resolution for the project, which is being proposed on City Hall’s proposed overflow parking lot.
But if the project fails in Encinitas, Clark said the company has targeted Carlsbad as its fallback location.
We want it to work here, we think it’s a great location and we are excited about the possibilities,” Clark said. “But we do have a contingency in place.”
Clark said they haven’t honed in on a specific location in Carlsbad, but have had discussions with city officials about the project.
The Encinitas Planning Commission is tentatively scheduled to weigh in on the project Sept. 1.
The City Council last heard an update on the project in January and directed staff to continue working with the developer to address the project’s concerns. Several of the members were supportive of the concept, but said they needed clarity on some of the issues that staff had brought up before they could proceed.
Shortly after the meeting however, city staff informed Corridor in a letter dated Feb. 22 that it would be recommending that the city deny the project, based on the following concerns:
• The project would eliminate a location being considered for potential housing as part of the housing element
• The project might not fit the land-use designation of the property.
• Losing seven parking spaces from the overflow lot to accommodate the convenience lounge could be illegal under city code, as City Hall currently does not have enough parking spaces as provided under city code
“Based on these issues, right now we are recommending denial,” Interim planning director Manjeet Ranu said.
Clark said he’s continued to work with the city on some of the key issues, and that the city has agreed to set aside the parking issue and focus on the zone and land-use issues.
The proposed electric vehicle charging station and companion “convenience lounge,” would be the largest of its kind in the country.
Clark says he sees the project as a unique opportunity to build electric vehicle infrastructure along the coast, which could foster other types of businesses, including electric car sharing services.
Currently, Encinitas does not have any quick-charging stations. Clark said that as ownership of those vehicles begins to proliferate along the coast, a station like the one proposed could be an asset to the community, as well as assist the city in meeting its climate action plan goals.
“Electric vehicle ownership might be only one-tenth of a percent of vehicles owned, but in five years, its going to be 2 percent, an in another five years, it could be as high as 15 percent,” he said. “Having an EV station is huge in meeting those climate goals.”
Clark said that he feels some of the issues involving the zoning are something that a number of communities face when dealing with the relatively new land use.
“A lot of cities don’t have it spelled out in their codes, but in this case, the parcel was previously a service station, so we think that it fits the historical use,” Clark said.
He has also enlisted the assistance of Gov. Jerry Brown’s Office of Business an Economic Development, known as the GO-Biz team, which he said is sending a team to the city in the next few weeks to work through some of the road blocks.
Ranu said he was unaware of the GO-Biz team’s impending visit.
The charging station was first proposed in 2013, and in 2014 the Department of Energy awarded Corridor Power a $500,000 grant for the project. It recently received a time extension, as the winter 2016 deadline to complete the project was rapidly approaching.
“We had expected to have the project done around this time, so it’s been delayed,” Clark said. “I wouldn’t say that I am frustrated by it, I realize that there are some questions that need to be answered.”