ENCINITAS — The Encinitas working group charged with developing a consensus affordable housing plan has settled on a consultant to assist with the city’s ongoing efforts.
Dave Barquist, a consultant with the firm Kimley-Horn and Associates, is expected to receive the approval of the full council this month after the Housing Element Working Group interviews him at a May 4 meeting.
Barquist’s proposal is for $54,000, a little more than half of the $100,000 the city allocated for the consultant position. It will also pay for Barquist’s hire of a subcontractor, Kosmont Companies, to assist with the analysis.
Encinitas, for two decades, has struggled to adopt a housing element, the document that maps out where affordable housing will be located in the city. Affordable housing advocates and developers are currently suing the city for its lack of an updated housing element.
Encinitas voters rejected the most recent housing element proposal, Measure T, in November, which critics said would pave the way for super-dense developments that would snarl traffic and lead to buildings much higher than the city’s current 30-foot building cap with no guarantee of affordable housing.
Barquist will be charged with analyzing whether the city can feasibly develop a housing element proposal that caps buildings at two stories, which opponents of the previous housing element attempt, believe is possible. He was the only consultant to submit a proposal to the working group, which had issued a request for proposals to four pre-selected firms as well as other firms in the industry.
“I think it’s always better to have more than one option, but given the complex nature of what we’re asking for with this housing element, it’s not surprising that we only had one response,” said Councilman Tony Kranz, who sits on the four-person working group with Mayor Catherine Blakespear, Planning Commissioner Bruce Ehlers and former Planning Commissioner Kurt Groseclose.
The working group has met several times since February to attempt to develop a plan that critics of Measure T will support. The hiring of a consultant is a critical step in the process, Kranz said.
“I don’t think anyone is happy with the pace of government, but we tried to be deliberate so we can get questions answered that haven’t always been easy,” Kranz said. “We can only go as fast as we can go.”
Kranz said that having an outside consultant that wasn’t involved with the previous housing element attempt was critical to placate Measure T opponents’ distrust of the previous conclusions drawn by city staff.
“Every step of the way we have done our best to make sure we have concurrence, and I think so far we have,” Kranz said.
The Coast News left messages for Barquist at his Orange County office and will update the story with his comments.