City Council agrees to lease Leucadia land to Habitat for Humanity

ENCINITAS — Habitat for Humanity will build two homes with potentially two “granny flats” on a piece of city-owned property in Leucadia as part of a ground lease the City Council approved Wednesday night.

The City Council voted 4-1 to approve the lease between the city and Habitat for Humanity for the property on the northeast corner of Urania Avenue and Leucadia Boulevard. Mark Muir voted no.

Much of Wednesday’s discussion revolved around whether the city should sell the land to Habitat for Humanity or lease it to the organization.

Mayor Catherine Blakespear argued that leasing the land both preserves the city’s ownership of the property and allows it to keep the property for affordable housing use at the end of the lease.

By selling it to Habitat for Humanity, she said, the homes would become market rate units at the end of the deal with the organization and the city would lose the affordable housing.

“I think we are better served as a city if we keep our property…and keep it affordable,” Blakespear said.

Tony Kranz, who eventually voted in favor of the lease arrangement, said that a 55-year lease would complicate things for both entities and put the future of the property in the hands of another city council five decades down the road.

“I am more interested in making this simple,” Kranz said. 

The council voted against Kranz’s secondary motion to eliminate the two accessory dwelling units from the proposal. Kranz argued that having four units on the property would be burdensome on neighboring property and homeowners. He also expressed concern that the driveway, which leads onto Leucadia Boulevard, wasn’t conducive to double the cars leaving the property.

Under the arrangement, the city would lease the property for Habitat for Humanity for a 55-year term. Habitat would build two homes and sell the homes to current Encinitas residents who earn between 50-80 percent of the median income, or about $70,000 for a family of four.

Habitat would provide the families with a zero-percent interest, $250,000 mortgage, and the family would make a down payment in the form of 500 hours of sweat equity on their home or another Habitat project.

The city previously leased the half-acre property to Specimen House, which operated a greenhouse on the corner. But the company sold its greenhouse property to Shea Homes, which is proposing a 13-home subdivision on it.

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