General plan draft draws criticism

ENCINITAS — The vision of the city’s five distinct communities was released in draft form and delivered to the City Council Sept. 14, but over a dozen speakers expressed dissatisfaction with the contents of the massive document.
Earlier in the week, Mike Andreen, executive director of the New Encinitas Network, sent out an e-mail blast to approximately 1,800 recipients, railing against the draft plan, calling it “flawed.”
Specifically, Andreen criticized the possible changes in land use along Encinitas Boulevard and the El Camino Real corridor. In a November 2010 public workshop, the planning department, along with consultants from MIG, Inc. explored the idea of increasing residential and mixed-use into those and other areas around the city.
Andreen asserted that changes in the commercial zoning had not been “professionally vetted by actual business people, as to its potentially significant financial and cultural impacts on New Encinitas and the annual income stream for the city of Encinitas annually.
“As we all know, traffic in the New Encinitas areas is already a challenge and further degradation of services as the potential and additional 2,200 homes will only make it more difficult for customers to reach/visit the shopping centers, businesses or services that currently generate an enormous amount of sales tax revenue that literally underwrites our local government,” he stated in his e-mail.
Beginning in January 2010, a general plan advisory committee, along with city staff and a consulting firm began the first phase of updating the general plan. Over the next six months, the group facilitated five community specific workshops and a citywide workshop on May 1. Additional public workshops have been heavily advertised and well attended. It’s unclear how many of the 16 speakers at the council meeting were in attendance at any of the general plan workshops.
The general plan should be updated within a two-year period, according to Planning Director Patrick Murphy. The city’s blueprint will be updated to address new policy issues such as sustainable and healthy communities, green building codes and storm water cleansing.
Deputy Mayor Jerome Stocks expressed concern over the way city staff introduced the draft document, saying that employees should issue a “fairly large disclaimer” every time they talk about the document at public events. “It is simply a draft at this point and will likely see significant revisions in the months to come,” he added.
While the City Council and the Planning Commission have not reviewed it yet, both will host public hearings.
Patrick Murphy, the city’s planning and building director, said staff members have scheduled four months of public comment before the official hearings begin, to allow people significant time to read and comment on the document.
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