ENCINITAS — The Encinitas City Council is set to consider adopting a housing plan that it hopes would end its well-documented status as an affordable housing scofflaw just weeks before a judge’s deadline to enact said plan.
State Housing Element law requires cities to provide enough housing to meet the needs of all its residents, from very-low income earners to above-moderate ones.
Encinitas is the only city in San Diego County that lacks a state-certified plan, known as a housing element, and is under a court order to enact one by April 11.
On the agenda before the council March 13 is a resolution to introduce the proposed housing element update.
The current plan includes several recommendations from state housing department officials that are likely to be the topic of discussion Wednesday night, including the following:
- Raising the maximum building heights from 33 feet for a flat roof and 37 feet for a pitched roof to 35 feet and 39 feet, respectively.
- Changing where building heights are measured from.
- The inclusion of parking lots, driveways and drive aisles in calculating the project’s density — which could result in additional “bonus” housing.
- Eliminating sections from the city code aimed at requiring developers who propose super-dense projects to conform to the surrounding neighborhood and provide public benefits beyond the statutory requirements.
- The elimination of any subjective language from the update. “HCD directed that all standards must be objective in nature, containing no subjectivity,” according to the staff report.
A divided Planning Commission voted to recommend approval of the plan on Feb. 21, the penultimate step in a yearslong process during which time voters have rejected two attempts at adopting an update, and several entities sued the city for its lack of one and to overturn a 2013 law that they say has empowered voters to block those attempts.
That law, Proposition A, requires a public vote on major zoning and land-use changes, such as the housing element update.
Voters in 2016 and again in 2018 rejected the city’s attempts, Measure T and Measure U.
Superior Court Judge Ronald Frazier in December 2018 gave the city 120 days to adopt a housing element and overturned Proposition A for the current eight-year housing element cycle, which ends in 2021.
But the City Council, as part of the proposed housing plan, will go back to the courts to seek declaratory relief to allow it to pursue future housing element updates without a vote of the people.
The City Council meets at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 505 S. Vulcan Avenue.