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Encinitas City Council will weigh in on ERAC vacancies at later date

ENCINITAS — The Council voted 4-0 to table discussion until Jan. 9 on ERAC’s (Element Review Advisory Committee) vacancy and the minimum number of people necessary to conduct meetings. 

ERAC has been tasked with reviewing the housing and land use portions of the General Plan Update, a blueprint that will guide development in Encinitas over the next several decades.

Planned as a 23-member board, ERAC is currently operating with 21 members. One position has not been filled and one member recently resigned. Peder Norby, the facilitator of ERAC, said Council should consider filling the spots. Also, he said Council might want to establish different standards for what constitutes a quorum for ERAC due to sporadic attendance. Twelve members are required to be present to hold a meeting, but two meetings have been canceled because not enough members showed up.

City Manager Gus Vina recommended Council table discussion until Jan. 9, when he’ll present a decision-making model that could make it easier for Council to move forward on the General Plan Update.

“I’m not suggesting we throw out any of the work that’s been accomplished by the (General Plan Update) groups,” Vina said. “I’m just suggesting we put those on hold.”

Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer concurred with Vina’s recommendation.

“We’re not in any position to give specific direction to ERAC right now,” Shaffer said. “We need to re-look at the whole process that we’re going through for the General Plan.”

However, resident and past mayor Sheila Cameron advised Council to do away with ERAC all together, as she believes “out-of-town developers” have too much of an influence on the group. In its place, she said Council should form an ad-hoc committee made up of only Encinitas residents.

“This process has been weighted in favor of developers,” Cameron said. “There’s a lack of trust in the citizenry with this group.”

Councilman Tony Kranz said he “doesn’t support dissolving anything at this time.”

“I’ve attended several (ERAC) meetings and heard a lot of conversation,” Kranz said. “I didn’t agree with several of the opinions, but nonetheless I think it’s important to hear from everybody.”

With Councilman Mark Muir absent, Council also voted 4-0 to confirm appointments to regional boards.

Arguably the position with the most influence, Shaffer was voted in as a representative of the San Diego Association of Governments board, and Mayor Teresa Barth will serve as the alternate. In the past, the city’s serving mayor had held the SANDAG representative position.

But after the meeting, Barth said she recommended Shaffer because she was confident in her abilities.

Barth also said she’ll be freed up to focus on her role as a representative to the League of California cities, where she hopes to influence policy on state-mandated housing requirements for Encinitas.