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Housing Element approval ‘no later than June,’ officials say

ENCINITAS — Encinitas is hoping that its affordable housing plan will be fully certified by June, officials said last week. 

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 and was under a court order to enact one by April 11.

The city has been subject to multiple lawsuits, by both the building industry and affordable housing advocates, because of its lack of a housing element. Voters rejected the city’s most recent attempts at passing a housing plan in 2016 and 2018, which prompted a judge to give the city 120 days to adopt a plan.

The city, which adopted a long-awaited housing element in March, still has several steps before the document — which the state requires — can be certified. 

First, it must receive approval from the state Department of Housing and Community Development. Second, the California Coastal Commission must sign off on it.

The city is due back in Superior Court May 1 to deliver a report on the city’s progress toward certifying the housing plan.

State housing officials confirmed they had received the plan and were reviewing it. 

“The statutory due date for HCD’s response is June 13, 2019,” HCD spokeswoman Alicia Murillo said in an email responding to questions from The Coast News. “The city has requested an expedited review as they must provide a report of their progress to the court on May 1, 2019.”

The city anticipates completing these steps no later than June 2019, Encinitas Development Services Director Brenda Wisneski said. 

The council unanimously adopted the second reading of its plan at its March 27 meeting.

It includes several controversial recommendations from state housing department officials, including:

  • 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.

Several community stalwarts oppose the plan, which they said is a giveaway to developers and select landowners and also that the plan invalidates a city law that gives the public the right to vote on it and future housing elements. 

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1 comment

taxpayerconcerns April 18, 2019 at 12:06 pm

The Mayor and Council gave in to HCD’s Feb. 4, 2019 demands for drastic changes to the city’s General Plan, housing element, and municipal code. Among the changes – current building height is 26 feet. The housing element increases that to 39 feet plus another 5 feet for roof projections on the chosen properties. Also, the developer can add more height to the housing pad (3 – 8 feet) that will add onto the 44 feet which could result in 50 feet tall buildings. This would allow apartment/condo buildings to tower over adjacent buildings.
Presently, developers can’t include unbuildable portions of property such as driveways to increase housing density. The Mayor and Council voted to allow it which will benefit developers.
Sections of the municipal code requiring developers to conform to the surrounding neighborhood and provide public benefits beyond the statutory requirements are eliminated.
No more subjective language in the housing element update. Which is very strange because HCD uses subjective language in their decisions on what constitutes compliance with state housing law.
This is the state law quoted by HCD for their demands:
Address and, where appropriate and legally possible, remove governmental and nongovernmental constraints to the maintenance, improvement, and development of housing, including housing for all income levels and housing for persons with disabilities. (Gov. Code section 65583, subd. (c)(3).)
Cities such as Malibu, Newport Beach, Beverly Hills, Laguna Beach, Costa Mesa, Hermosa Beach, and Compton are only required to build 2 low income restricted houses/units. Huntington Beach was told they had to up-zone for 533 low income houses. Encinitas must up-zone property to 30 housing units per acre for 1,033 low income houses/units. The theory is that the increased density would mean apartments buildings and a few apartments in the building could be low income while the rest would be market rate. There’s no discussion of gridlock, overcrowding of schools, etc. in the state and local government thinking of increasing density. The state housing law is unjust, unequal, and unfair.
Mayor Blakespear and the rest of the Council are stack and pack politicians. Email the HCD and ask them to deny this latest version of Housing Element Update 2019.

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