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Draft housing element, lagging behind deadline, unveiled

CARLSBAD —Carlsbad’s housing element, a document that identifies areas in the city that could accommodate its state and regional housing requirements, will not meet its filing deadline and exposes the city to potential litigation. 

Carlsbad city staff presented the initial draft of the housing element for the 2013-21 period to City Council at its July 23 meeting.

The city’s previous housing element expired on April 30, 2013, but the city is granted a 120-day grace period before its filing deadline.

Before taking effect, Carlsbad’s next housing plan must undergo months of review by the public, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), and City Council.

At this rate, Carlsbad will miss its filing deadline of Aug. 1 for its housing element, similar to other nearby cities, including Encinitas, which are also lagging behind the same deadline.

Principal planner David de Cordova explained that the city intends to complete the housing element in conjunction with Carlsbad’s overall general plan update.

In that way, the city can make land use changes as needed in the general plan at the same time to avoid a subsequent land rezoning process.

He stated that while the city could be sued over falling behind the housing element deadline, a lawsuit would simply result in an order for the city to file the housing element, which the city is in the process of doing anyways.

“There is always the potential for litigation, the challenge to the value of the housing element, whether it was submitting on time, whether it was found in compliance by HCD,” he said.

“If a city doesn’t have an adopted housing element, someone could bring an action against the city for that and the remedy is, of course, to adopt a housing element, which is what we’re doing anyways.”

He declined to comment if the city was concerned about lawsuits similar to the one filed by the Friends of Aviara in 2009, which successfully sued the city over its adoption of the previous housing plan.

The late filing was not addressed at City Council when the draft housing element was introduced.

Senior city planner Jennifer Jesser, who brought the element before City Council, said that on the whole the new housing element will pick up where the last one left off and continue to address affordable housing and special needs housing moving forward.

Overall the city must demonstrate that it has adequate available residential sites at appropriate densities to accommodate for an additional 1,436 lower income and 895 moderate income units to meet its current Regional Housing Needs Assessment requirements.

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