City faced with ‘sobering’ reality about housing

City faced with ‘sobering’ reality about housing
A housing development in Encinitas, as seen from a balloon. The city's well-known struggles to develop a state-mandated affordable housing plan have spilled into the courts. Photo by Ian Gratton

ENCINITAS — Encinitas’ four-member housing element task force traveled to Sacramento last week to get clarity on questions they had from their latest attempt to create an affordable housing plan that will pass muster with voters.

They returned to Encinitas with an outlook that they described as “sobering.”

City officials said that officials with the state’s Housing and Community Development Department emphasized that not only will the city be required to adopt a housing plan, new rules are emphasizing that the affordable housing actually be built.

“It drove home the difficulty of the work we have in front of us,” Deputy Mayor Tony Kranz said Dec. 16 at the beginning of the city’s four-hour joint council/housing element subcommittee workshop. “Not only the fact that we are way behind, but now there is a greater emphasis on actual construction of these homes.”

Barbara Kautz, an attorney with Goldfarb and Lipman who is advising the city on the housing element, said the new state laws require the city must pick sites that have “realistic and demonstrated potential” for development.

In other words, the city can’t rezone commercial centers for mixed-use development, which was the crux of its last housing element attempt, Measure T.

“It’s not just about zoning anymore,” Mayor Catherine Blakespear said. “It’s about the production of affordable housing.”

The council and the rest of the housing element task force on Dec. 16 narrowed down the list of potential sites for the housing plan, eliminating a pair of sites that some members of the public had endorsed for affordable housing.

The city removed Bob Echter’s Dramm and Echter property as well as a county property adjacent to the Sheriff’s station on Via Moleno that previously served as a burn site.

The group decided that it was impractical to include the burn site because it isn’t clear if the county would sell the property and it isn’t clear how much it would cost to clean up the site. City officials said they will likely revisit the site during the next housing cycle, which begins in 2021.

Some residents were disappointed in the decision to remove Echter’s property, which the flower grower has proposed to use to create an “agrihood,” a community that blends housing and agriculture.

Echter’s development team had met with the community several times in recent weeks to discuss the project, and residents appeared to show guarded support at the meeting.
The city also removed a site in Leucadia known as “L-7,” after a number of residents spoke during the public comment urging the city to remove it from consideration.

3 Comments
  1. Elana 4 weeks ago

    We could have much more affordable housing if The City were to restrict/limit the amount the mobile home parks can charge for space rent. These homes provide housing not only for fixed income people who have paid for there home/structures but for renters, as well. With parks doing “one-ups-men-ship” with land rents, the smallest of spaces pay upward of $1500/mo just for the land — plus what they are paying or paid for their home! I used to be a landlord renting out these “affordable” homes but I was forced to sell them because the land rents were more than what was reasonable to charge for rent. I know other cities do rent control for mobile home parks, why can’t we? And why can’t they be used for rentals? Most around here won’t allow — i.e., you have to be the homeowner. I know people who have lived in their mobile home for decades that are having to sell and move because the land rent is too expensive!

    • John Eldon 3 weeks ago

      You raise a valid point regarding mobile home parks, which can provide affordable housing. Although I see your point regarding price-gouging by park landlords, I also fear that space rent controls will simply drive redevelopment and loss of mobile home spaces, just as apartment rent controls lead to redevelopment, condo conversions, and short term rental conversions, thereby exacerbating the shortage of affordable housing.

      When the city is looking at building affordable housing, it needs to consider small manufactured units. Oh, wait — that’s what mobile home parks already contain. 🙂

  2. Carol Law 3 weeks ago

    Not enough being said about the incredible greed of developers, property owners and landlords. How much profit do they intend to make before the spiral of piggishness ends? When I came here, housing was affordable to most of us. But our children and grandchildren are denied the pleasure of living as adults in their hometown.

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