Housing, Streetscape to dominate Encinitas headlines in 2019

Housing, Streetscape to dominate Encinitas headlines in 2019
Courtesy photo

ENCINITAS — Encinitas residents will be having a feeling of deja vu in 2019, as many of the same issues that dominated headlines in 2018 will once again be front and center.

That’s because many of the top headlines — the Leucadia Streetscape, the housing element update and the proposed staircase at Beacon’s Beach — were unresolved by year’s end. 

Here are some of the top story lines that readers should expect to see unfold in 2019

1. Who will replace Tasha Boerner Horvath?

This one is low-hanging fruit, but a critical decision that faces the council in January. The four members of the City Council have agreed to appoint the fifth member, keeping with the tradition of recent council vacancies.

Encinitas City Council will seek to appoint a replacement for outgoing state assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath. Photo by James Wang

But with four moderate-to-liberal leaning officials comprising a super-majority, Mayor Catherine Blakespear and the council are faced with a decision — select someone in line with super majority’s views or someone who represents an alternative viewpoint.

Several names have emerged for the fifth seat, including mayoral candidate John Paul Elliott, planning commissioner Kevin Doyle and longtime Leucadia 101 board member William Morrison.

2. The Housing Element Cycle

A judge has given Encinitas 120 days to certify an update to a state-mandated affordable housing plan, and has nullified Proposition A — the citizens’ right to vote initiative — for the current housing cycle.

This means the council will ultimately cast the deciding vote on the housing element, in which the city must plan for about 1,600 units of affordable housing. 

Opponents of the city’s failed housing element attempt, Measure U, are hopeful the council will adopt a plan that reflects some of their objections to the failed 2018 ballot measure and suggestions to improve it, but the council isn’t required to implement those suggestions. 

3. The 2021 Housing Element Cycle

Weren’t we just talking about deja vu? Well, city officials must quickly turn around following their adoption of the current cycle’s plan and craft a new plan for the next housing cycle, which begins in April 2021.

If city officials were hard-pressed to find locations suitable for the 1,600 units required under the current housing cycle, meeting its next regional housing needs assessment will be yet another challenge. 

In this case, however, the City Council will have to go before voters once more, as the nullification of Proposition A only applies to the current cycle, the judge ruled this month. 

4. Will the city start the Leucadia Streetscape?

The crash that critically injured Cardiff 101 Executive Director Roberta Walker has galvanized supporters of the North Coast Highway 101 Streetscape into action. Walker was one of the project’s biggest supporters. 

San Diego resident Bob Hood rides for Roberta Walker at the Ride for Roberta event Saturday, Dec. 15th in Leucadia. “It’s always a tragedy when someone gets injured on the road,” said Hood. Photo by Gina Onori

But will that action result in an accelerated timeline to start the project?

Questions still remain on how the project — with its $30 million price tag — will be funded, and whether North County Transit District will give the necessary clearance for the project to move forward. 

Mayor Catherine Blakespear has been adamant that she wants interim measures in place to make the road safer for cyclists and pedestrians, but her plan received push back from allies who believe stop gap measures would take pressure off of NCTD and give project opponents ammunition against the project. 

If all breaks in the city’s favor, could this be the year the long-discussed project begins?

5. The Rail Corridor

2019 will be a big year along Encinitas’ rail corridor, as construction is expected to be completed on the once-controversial Cardiff section of the Coastal Rail Trail, as well as the city’s first quiet zone at the Chesterfield Drive crossing. 

The Cardiff rail trail is expected to open in the summer. If you recall, there was a well-coordinated campaign against the current placement on the San Elijo Avenue side of the tracks, but the California Coastal Commission rejected an alternative plan on the west side of Coast Highway 101.

The city is also expected to begin work on a very highly anticipated pedestrian under-crossing at El Portal in Leucadia, which has been in the works for years. With no legal pedestrian crossings in the area, El Portal is expected to be a game changer for Leucadia and residents looking to safely access Coast Highway 101 and the beaches.  

6. Cannabis and the 2020 elections

With the possibility of the state’s primary election moving from June to March, Encinitas residents could be in campaign mode by the second half of the year. And the biggest topic on the election docket? Cannabis. 

A cannabis advocacy group successfully filed enough signatures in its referendum effort to require the city to allow various cannabis activities, including storefronts, deliveries, manufacturing and cultivation. The City Council, rather than adopting the ordinance outright, has put it in the hands of voters. 

Back in 2017, when a local flower grower proposed using a section of his farm to grow cannabis, the debate was fierce. As the city moves closer to the 2020 race, expect that debate to rev up once more. 

Also of interest will be who will challenge Blakespear for mayor,  Councilman Tony Kranz in the newly formed District 1 and the currently vacant District 2 seat. If 2018 was a preview of district elections, expect partisan lines to be drawn.

Other storylines to follow:

Beacon’s Beach — Will the city move forward with a staircase at Beacon’s or will resident opposition be insurmountable?

Some residents have balked at the notion of revamping Beacon’s Beach staircase with steel and concrete, a position the Planning Commission would later support, deeming the proposal as “out of scale and character” with the beach. File photo

Pacific View — Will this be the year that the long discussed plan to transform the former elementary school into a cultural arts and ecology center materialize?

Community Choice Energy — The city is set to release the results of its feasibility study into community choice energy in January, which could set the stage for the city and other North Coastal cities to join forces with San Diego to form a regional energy conglomerate. 

Granny flat policy — Encinitas’ long-awaited accessory dwelling unit policy is expected to be released and voted on by the council in early 2019. The policy would give residents eight pre-approved ‘granny flat’ designs that would streamline the development process. 

3 Comments
  1. taxpayerconcerns 3 months ago

    According to the state agency HCD, they have been given police powers to declare a housing element out of compliance at any time. That could mean all of the city and county housing elements are on a precipitous cliff with HCD demanding upzoning and not requiring low income housing units to be built on the properties HCD is approving. The Encinitas City Council is using this new law for the benefit of the BIA developers to build more market rate housing units on the upzoned properties.
    As an example of how HCD is using the new law for the benefit of the developers – HCD sent a letter to the city of Poway on June 27, 2018 — Here is part of that letter —
    “In 2017, the Governor signed the 2017 Legislative Housing Package. Chapter 370 Statutes of
    2017, Assembly Bill (AB) 72, became law as part of the package. AB 72 expands and clarifies
    the Department of Housing and Community Development’s (HCD) enforcement authority by
    authorizing HCD to find a jurisdiction out of compliance with state housing law at any time.
    HCD may review local government’s actions and inactions, including program actions
    committed within an adopted housing element, to determine consistency or inconsistency with
    state housing law. If HCD makes findings of inconsistency, housing element compliance may
    be revoked and additional actions may be taken, including referral to the Attorney General’s
    Office.
    HCD found the city’s housing element in compliance based on, among other things, Program
    16 – Zoning Amendments for Special Needs Housing which committed to zone and permit
    emergency shelters without discretionary action within one year of housing element adoption
    pursuant to Government Code (GC) Section 65583(a)(4)(A).
    On May 7, 2018, HCD issued correspondence requesting current status on the implementation
    of program actions. HCD has not received a response. As a result, HCD hereby notifies Poway
    if a response is not forwarded to HCD within 30 days of the date of this letter, HCD will revoke
    the city’s housing element compliance.”
    The city residents aren’t considered.

  2. Nici Asten 3 months ago

    The city is not planning “for about 1,600 units of affordable housing.” A maximum of 15% of however many are built would be in the affordable range as defined by HUD and HCD.

    Most Encinitas voters object to the plan because it doesn’t provide enough affordable units. The great majority would be market rate.

  3. taxpayerconcerns 3 months ago

    According to the state agency HCD, they have been given police powers to declare a housing element out of compliance at any time even if the document was deemed compliance years ago. That could mean all of the city and county housing elements are on a precipitous cliff with HCD demanding immediate upzoning and not requiring low income housing units to be built on the properties HCD is approving. The Encinitas City Council is using this new law for the benefit of the BIA developers to build more market rate housing units on the upzoned properties. The housing element approved by the City Council was written by staff for the advantage of the developers.
    A part of state housing law is dedicated to involving the residents that will be affected by the increase in zoning density with crowded schools and gridlocked traffic. In Encinitas the City Council knew they were selling out the city to BIA developers who will mainly build market rate housing on the HCD approved upzoned properties. The City Council, HCD, and the Court didn’t listen to the voters and the facts.
    Several of Mayor Blakespear’s political money contributors will benefit from the programs/projects she is pushing.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

a
or

Log in with your credentials

or    

Forgot your details?