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Committee appointed to revise city’s general plan

ENCINITAS — City Council formally established a general plan advisory committee during its Oct. 28 meeting. As part of the public outreach process, city staff recommended the composition and bylaws of the group that will head up the effort to update the city’s blueprint.
There will be a total of 24 members representing various organizations within the city. Nineteen members must be residents.
In addition to committee meetings, nine public workshops are scheduled along with other public hearings. All of the committee meetings are open to the public.
Various groups are represented within the committee including social services, the real estate industry, town councils, mainstreet associations, affordable housing advocates, commercial interests and New Encinitas resident and Planning Commissioner Virginia Felker.
The committee’s primary function is to build community support for the plan, work with constituents to inform them of progress and relay residents’ opinions to the committee.
Members are also able to hold their own forums independent of the scheduled public workshops.
The committee structure has the potential to reach hundreds of stakeholders.
“As a city we’re always looking for additional opportunities to get additional involvement,” Planning Director Patrick Murphy told the council.
The general plan should be updated within a two-year period Murphy said.
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 according to a staff report. The plan will also speak to traffic circulation, walkable communities, economic and environmental sustainability and recycling. The existing general plan was adopted in 1989.
The city’s consultant, MIG, Inc., will facilitate the committee meetings with only a consensus taken from the members rather than a vote on any issues. Murphy said the structure was designed to avoid divisiveness.
Councilman Dan Dalager expressed concern about conflicts of interest in appointing a planning commissioner to the committee. City Attorney Glen Sabine assured the council that because the general plan is a legislative function it does not require the same disclosures or conflict rules.
The committee is merely advisory in nature. “The public workshop process will steer the public policy,” Murphy said.
Councilman Jerome Stocks said he did not want council represented on the committee to avoid influencing conversation. “People listen to us more carefully than they would someone else,” Councilman Jim Bond agreed. Stocks questioned the appointment of Dee Snow, the realtor’s appointee, because she had a contract at one point with the school district to rezone the Pacific View school site. Dalager said he thought her development experience as a consultant was a “good perspective to be represented.”
“I feel very fortunate that we have folks who want to participate,” Mayor Maggie Houlihan said.