Housing plans for cities are problematic

Last Saturday I walked my dogs along the bluff in Del Mar at Seagrove Park. 

For me the park is a symbol of the community character of Del Mar.

And while I’m pretty sure the park is safe I’m not sure the community character of Del Mar is.

At the park’s entrance is a plaque dedicated to the residents, who, in 1974, wrote the zoning document that established today’s village.

The plaque honors the creation of a village lifestyle serving a community of single-family residences.

How things have changed.

Today it seems it’s not residents who are deciding the future of Del Mar but unelected bureaucrats.

A big issue facing Del Mar and Encinitas in 2013 is whether the councils will allow the rezoning of land use to allow high-density housing.

Years ago Del Mar passed Measure B giving residents the right to vote on land use changes. And this past election, residents voted down Prop J and proposed density increases. Over in Encinitas, residents have been singing the “right to vote initiative,” which would give residents the right to vote on land use changes. Both cities are currently discussing housing plans that are problematic.

For example, the compromise Del Mar staff claims to have reached with residents on the housing issue looks to me like a bait and switch.

Voters rejected Prop J, yet planners are back with high-density, allowing residential units in the commercial zone provided affordable units are part of the package. The move requires a change in land use the very thing voters rejected in Prop J.

Another problem is that changing land use from Commercial to Mixed Use Residential opens the door to State Density Bonus laws controlled at the state level. These laws give developers rights to increase density that supersede local laws. By voting down Prop J commercial zones are protected from these state density laws so why give up local control?

Encinitas staff is arguing their city must change the land use to Mixed Use residential to increase affordable housing yet in a special meeting with commercial property owners staff referred to the increased housing as market rate housing not affordable housing. Which is it?

Then there is the mandated housing SANDAG is attempting to force on each city and their statistics are dubious.

Encinitas residents have demonstrated the SANDAG projections are flawed calling into question the entire plan. I think the lawyers and staff of both cities need to spend more time arguing that residents not the state should control local land use.

In Del Mar the city council is scheduled to discuss the issue Jan. 15.

In Encinitas residents have been gathering signatures to place the right to vote initiative before the city council. This issue is one to watch as the community character of North County and careers of elected officials will be affected by the choices made.



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