Credibility counts, even for cities

I believe the city of Encinitas has lost credibility on the issue called GPU (General Plan Update.) Residents don’t trust the process or like the proposed changes. 

The GPU needs to be stopped.

For those unaware Encinitas is rewriting citywide zoning that promotes high-density development on residents and that could destroy small-town community character.

In 1986 the city wrote the General Plan, which protects our small town character, and most people like it. Residents tell me they don’t want the proposed changes and it’s my opinion city planning staff is pushing it on the public.

A threat in the proposed “New General Plan” is changing current zoning that limits density by allowing developers to increase size and density through projects called “high density transit corridors.” Planners are pushing 30 units an acre or more.

If approved a handful of out-of-town developers could make millions and residents would get more traffic, more pollution and loss of quality of life. This hardly sounds like a good deal. Developers leave town with boat loads of profits and residents get stuck with the cost of infrastructure.

The city can only blame itself for losing credibility with citizens.

First the city told residents they were going to “update” the General Plan; later residents learned the city’s true intent was to write a new high-density housing element that would change the zoning of commercial buildings to commercial mixed-residential.

With the zoning changes from commercial to residential, developers can pursue State Density Bonus Incentives to build bigger, taller buildings. What the city calls an “update” is actually a new high-density housing plan.

Next, the city paid a consultant over $1 million to produce a document few residents wanted. The consultant held meetings with a resident committee, GPAC (General Plan Advisory Committee.)

Credibility was lost when the consultant produced a zoning document that promoted high-density transit corridors, the very thing many residents oppose.

Money that went to the consultant could have been spent on more pressing city needs. For example the city is behind in road repairs.

Another example is that the $1 million that went to the consultant could have gone to help pay for a baseball diamond, soccer field, tot-lot, skate park or dog-park at the Hall Property. Now that $1 million is gone.

More city credibility was lost when the council appointed ERAC (Element Review Advisory Committee) to review the MIG high-density housing document. ERAC sounds good until you learn that the handpicked ERAC committee includes non-residents and out of town developers who could financially benefit from a New General Plan.

I believe it was wrong to appoint so many non-residents and developers to the ERAC committee giving them a majority. It adds an element of mistrust.

In another blow to the General Plan Update’s credibility, proposed ERAC members were scheduled to be vetted in a public hearing but the council pulled the item from the agenda silencing public discussion of the validity of ERAC and opening the council to criticism that the General Plan Update process was compromised with insiders.

In life and leadership credibility is an essential. Because of bad decisions Encinitas has lost credibility with residents on the General Plan Update process.

The GPU process needs to be stopped; the un-vetted ERAC committee disbanded; and the matter tabled until city credibility is restored. As my dad Hank told us kids, “In life credibility counts,”

The same principle should apply at city hall.



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