FAQ on Encinitas’ Measure U

FAQ on Encinitas’ Measure U
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REGION — Whether you’ve been closely following Encinitas’ housing debate or have no clue what the issue is all about, this FAQ is intended to help you understand the basics behind Measure U.

Why does Encinitas need a housing plan?

State law requires that all cities adopt a Housing Element, a plan that must “accommodate the housing needs of Californians of all economic levels” (Gov’t Code 65580). The requirements are seen as a collective effort to ease what’s perceived as a housing crisis in California. Encinitas is the only city in San Diego County without a certified plan.

What incomes qualify for affordable housing?

The income level considered “very low” is 50 percent of the Area Median Income for San Diego County, while “low” is 80 percent of that median. By that definition, a family of four making $48,650 would be considered very low income, while a four-person household making $77,850 is low income.

What changes would Measure U make to city zoning?

Measure U would allow increased housing density up to three stories high at 15 potential sites in Encinitas. At those sites, 25 to 30 units per net acre could be built. To allow for architectural variety, the plan has different height limits, such as 37 feet for a pitched roof. Formally, Measure U is considered an adoption of a revised 2013-2021 Housing Element and a repeal of the existing 1992 Housing Element.

How much housing are we talking about? How much has already been built?

Encinitas, by order of its Regional Housing Needs Allocation for the 2013-2021 Housing Element plus carryover from the prior period, has been assigned a total of 2,606 housing units to produce — with 1,286 of them reserved for lower incomes.

In the past six years, 66 affordable units have been built. The city estimates that an additional 79 accessory dwelling units (aka granny flats) will count toward the lower-income target, leaving 1,141 units remaining in that category. Encinitas has met only four of the required 413 units of moderate-income housing. It has almost completely reached its above moderate target, with only 15 units remaining there.

What percentage of new housing projects will be guaranteed affordable?

The inclusionary ordinance is the rate of affordable housing that Encinitas can require of developers. The city is reviewing early results of a study that supports the feasibility of mandating that 25 percent of units at upzoned sites be set aside for low-income households. The current rate is 15 percent, the state maximum pending burden of proof.

This rate is important because a bone of contention with the measure is the amount of upscale housing that might get built in the process of providing affordable units.

Why are residents being asked to vote on Measure U?

Proposition A, a law passed in 2013, gives Encinitas residents the right to vote on substantial zoning increases and on projects with building heights greater than two stories.

Where does City Council stand on Measure U?

City Council voted 4-1 on Aug. 8 to approve its long-debated and frequently modified Housing Element and put it before voters.

During deliberations, Deputy Mayor Joe Mosca explained that while the plan was not perfect, it offered the city a solution moving forward. The majority of Mosca’s fellow council members expressed similar sentiments, but Tasha Boerner Horvath could not endorse it. She said the planning process had been “hijacked in April” with the removal of the city-owned site, L-7, and the addition of properties like the controversial Clark one.

What happens if Measure U does not pass?

Encinitas not only faces two pending court cases related to its lack of a Housing Element, but it’s also at risk of coming head to head with increasingly more punitive state laws. Advocates have argued that passing Measure U would allow Encinitas to maintain local control of housing and zoning, while a “no” vote could mean losing rights via court or state decisions.


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