ENCINITAS — Councilmembers voted unanimously Wednesday night not to act on any information related to the General Plan Update until after they’ve had a chance to revisit their objectives for the process.
The General Plan Update will guide development and land use in Encinitas over the next several decades. But due to the process “limping along,” during a budget planning session, City Manager Gus Vina urged Council to take stock and hone in on what their goals are for the General Plan Update — what Vina called “strategic planning and visioning.”
“When you think about the General Plan, it is your most important document, and it should reflect quality-of-life goals,” Vina said.
“Whether it’s a private or public organization, without the roadmap it’s really difficult to make sure that you’re assigning resources, time and effort to something that’s meaningful,” Vina later added.
Plagued by delays, many have been critical of the General Plan Update. Most notably, residents a year and a half ago rejected a draft of the housing element that would have concentrated development on El Camino Real.
Vina recommended that Council suspend all General Plan Update activity, including February reports from three groups that have been reviewing the General Plan, until the fall, when councilmembers might have more perspective on what’s important to them and how they’d like to proceed.
“I don’t mean in any way to discard or disrespect all of the hard work that has been done by your various groups…none of that information disappears,” Vina said.
Councilwoman Kristin Gaspar agreed that the vision for the General Plan Update needs to be reevaluated and action postponed until the fall. However, she said it was unrealistic to ask groups looking at the General Plan Update to keep waiting around.
“We can’t just tell volunteer groups they have to hangout forever,” Gaspar said.
“I would at least allow them the opportunity to present,” Gaspar added. “If the Council decides we want to reengage these groups later on based on a change in vision or our discussions, that’s fine.”
Other councilmembers agreed that hearing the reports and refraining from acting on the General Plan Update is the best course of action.
“I concur that I would rather see the presentations sooner than later,” Councilman Tony Kranz said.
The Planning Commission is slated to present its finding on the General Plan Update Feb. 13, then the General Plan Advisory Committee (GPAC) Feb. 20, followed by the Elemental Review Advisory (ERAC) Committee Feb. 27.
With representatives from across the city, GPAC has been meeting for more than two years. The group provides input and assistance to city staff on the General Plan Update. Another citizen group, ERAC has been tasked with analyzing the housing and land use portions of the General Plan Update. The planning commission is a five-member board that makes recommendations to Council on a variety of issues.
To reexamine its goals for the General Plan Update, Council will hold a series of public retreats, but didn’t specify where, when or the exact format.
“I just want to clarify on the visioning and the retreat,” Mayor Teresa Barth said. “We’re not going to Palm Springs…we’re going to do it all in the public.”