ENCINITAS — The city of Encinitas recently received a prestigious award for an innovative housing program that’s allowed for granny flats to be built in the city.
Mayor Catherine Blakespear was on hand to accept the Helen Putnam award at the League of California Cities’ Annual Conference in Long Beach last month. The city won for its Housing for Generations program, a multi-pronged effort to address housing challenges through the development of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs,) which are also known as granny flats.
This program includes the adoption of two new ordinances for ADU and Junior ADU regulations, the sponsoring of state legislation SB 1226, and the creation of the Permit-Ready Accessory Dwelling Units, or PRADU, program, which offers property owners a selection of pre-approved ADU building plans, free of charge.
“The City is showing true leadership by embracing ADUs as a way to meaningfully move the needle on housing,” Mayor Blakespear said in a news release. “Every city needs to do its part to address the housing affordability crisis that is leading to more families facing housing insecurity and homelessness, and more residents working farther from their jobs. ADUs are a key part of our solution. Our three-part effort — waive fees, loosen permitting restrictions and provide pre-approved plans –— has already shown measurable success. I could not be more proud of our dedicated team — effort and the results we are achieving.”
Very little undeveloped land remains in Encinitas, so it is difficult for new construction to keep pace with increasing housing needs. Accessory units allow families to have more flexibility in their living arrangements, providing the opportunity for rental income and for young adult family members or older caregivers to live on-site.
The program manager reports that the city is already seeing an increase in ADU permits — more than double — and more than a dozen PRADUs are in review with several already under construction.
The city won in the “Housing Programs and Innovations” category, which honors innovative housing designs that are conducive to good land use planning and jobs balance, while preserving natural resources, and promoting safe, community-oriented neighborhoods. The number of award categories is 12.
Deputy Mayor Jody Hubbard and council members Kellie Shay Hinze and Joe Mosca were also in attendance at the conference, along with the city manager and a lot of city staff.
“I was full of pride, I had tears in my eyes seeing the Mayor receive that award,” Hinze said at the Oct. 23 council meeting, a week after the conference.
Hinze added that the city hosted a booth at the conference and it got a lot of foot traffic.
“So many people came over and were like ‘Tell us about this project’, ‘How have you done this project?’ So, there was a lot of interest from other cities in California,” she said.
Hinze said the conference also included presentations on housing and homelessness. She said she also served as the city’s voting delegate at the conference, voting in support of a resolution for tackling cross-border sewage issues. The resolution was voted on by many cities throughout San Diego county and was unanimous.
“There are impacts for this crisis to all coastal cities,” Hinze said. “I think Imperial Beach had 100 days last year that they had to close their beach and nobody could be there … It was a good chance to throw some of our weight behind a really worthy cause.”
Tawny McCray is a native San Diegan and graduate of San Diego State University. She has known she wanted to be a journalist since writing for her Jr. High School newspaper in 1991. She has worked at The Star News in Chula Vista, The San Diego Union Tribune and ABC 10News San Diego. She has recently freelanced for Scripps Ranch News and The Poway Eagle and is a longtime freelancer with creators.com. She is working on authoring books with her twin sister, Nyla. She and her husband have two kids and live in South Park.