Community Encinitas Featured

Encinitas’ housing consultant needs more money, report says

ENCINITAS — A consultant hired by Encinitas to help develop its housing element plans said between $200,000 and $300,000 more is needed to complete the work.

Encinitas is the lone city in the county without an updated Housing Element, a state-mandated plan that maps out where cities intend to zone for denser, more affordable housing units.

Voters rejected the city’s most recent attempt, Measure T, in 2016, and a four-member housing element task force has worked since early this year to create a plan that would pass muster with Measure T opponents and the community at large.

Dave Barquist, a consultant with Kimley-Horn and Associates, was tapped in May to help the task force craft a new housing plan that would pass muster with voters. The City Council approved a contract for $84,000 to complete the process.

But recent changes to state law have drastically changed the city’s approach to crafting the plan and require additional work from Barquist, according to a city staff report.

“A new score and contract will need to be developed to allow for the complete update of the Housing Element consistent with substantial revisions to state law,” the staff report for the Nov. 8 council meeting states. “Given the project complexity, need for expediting, new state laws, and highly engaged public process, the consultant has noted that a cost range of $200,000 – $300,000 is anticipated.”

“Therefore, the staff is recommending that Kimley-Horn be requested to prepare a revised scope of work and budget to complete a draft Housing Element, for review by the HETF, with staff returning to the City Council for approval of a contract for completion of the draft Element,” the report states.
The council is also expected on Nov. 8 to review the new sites chosen for the revised housing element plan.

One of the new laws makes it tougher for cities to use already developed sites in future housing element plans, the state making the case that cities have included such sites without a reasonable expectation that housing will ever be developed on them.

Another requires cities trying to satisfy more than half of their housing element needs on nonvacant sites to provide evidence that the current use on the site would be discontinued.

At the most recent meeting of the city’s housing element task force, the group selected new proposed sites to meet these requirements. Of the 26 acres of property that would be earmarked for the housing element, 13 are either are vacant or underutilized, which would meet the new state threshold.
The task force members agreed that the full council would have to approve the proposed sites and any increases to Barquist’s contract before proceeding with the work.

The City Council meeting is at 6 p.m. Nov. 8.

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