ENCINITAS — City officials have added several new sites to its affordable housing plan, several weeks after removing a site in Leucadia that residents opposed.
Community leaders have grappled over a number of issues with the latest attempt at drafting a housing element that would pass muster with voters in November. Housing elements are plans that outline how and where the city would zone for its regional share affordable housing as mandated by the state.
The city’s plan, which was submitted in April to the state Department of Housing and Community Development for review, includes the designation of properties around the city that would be zoned for denser residential development, between 25 to 30 units per acre. The properties need to yield at least 1,600 higher density units — the 1,086 units the state has required Encinitas to plan for, as well as a buffer if property owners opt to not build affordable units on the sites.
Following the removal of the Leucadia site known as L-7 and another site along Manchester Avenue known as the “strawberry fields,” the yield fell to 1,100 units, which required the city to revisit sites previously rejected or other sites where property owners had recently expressed interest in being included in the plans.
The sites include:
- Armstrong Garden Centers property on El Camino Real
- A property along South El Camino Real near Tennis Club Drive known as “El Camino Real South” parcel
- A property in Leucadia where Roberto’s is located know as the “DeWitt Property”
- A vacant lot owned by Seacoast Church
- Three parcels near the Manchester on-ramp to Interstate 5 called the Manchester Avenue West sites
- A property on the northwest corner of Rancho Santa Fe Road and Encinitas Blvd
- A site in Old Encinitas on 2nd Avenue called the “Harrison Sites”
- Several properties along Clark Avenue and Union Street just east of Interstate 5 called the “Meyer Sites”;
- A site on Garden View Court that currently houses an Eos Fitness center called the “Frog’s Gym Site” after the popular gym that previously occupied the space.
“I see it as a messy compromise,” Mayor Catherine Blakespear said. “But a necessary one so that we can move forward.”
The City after nearly an hour of public testimony rejected a tenth site near the intersection of Leucadia Boulevard and Orpheus Avenue, which residents said would exacerbate traffic issues caused by a nearby Starbucks Coffee.
Council members took votes on removing or keeping each of the sites and several advanced with divided approval.
Councilwoman Tasha Boerner Horvath objected to the Manchester West and Meyer sites because of their proximity to the freeway, but was overruled by her colleagues.
Mayor Catherine Blakespear briefly attempted to bring back L-7 with a smaller number of houses 60 units compared to the 190 units previously discussed – but the trio who voted against L-7’s inclusion voted against the plan.
The council also voted against considering a property owned by the Mavis family at the corner of Manchester Avenue and El Camino Real, which the family has offered several times, because of its proximity to the San Elijo Lagoon.
Damien Mavis said he could offer 50 percent affordable units through a partnership with Community Housing Works, but the council declined to include the property.
City staff will now submit a revised plan to the state, and on May 17 the council will meet to discuss the development standards for the housing element. Previously, these standards were not going to be submitted to the state, but state officials are now requiring the city to include them in the plans to ensure the standards don’t create obstacles to development.
Encinitas is one of a handful of cities in California without a certified housing element update. Its most recent attempt in 2016, Measure T, failed at the ballot, and several entities have sued the city over its lack of a housing plan and a city law that requires the public to vote on such plans.
A Superior Court Judge recently stayed the lawsuits until a week after the November 6 election, giving the city one more chance to adopt a plan that the public would support.