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New shelter policy delayed in Encinitas

Above: State law changed in 2008 requiring cities to ensure emergency shelters were granted by right in the zone of the city’s choice. Courtesy photo

ENCINITAS — A change in Encinitas policy that would allow emergency homeless shelters by right in the city’s business parks won’t take effect any time soon.

That’s because the California Coastal Commission — which has to certify the policy change — is asking for more time to review it, which could delay it until at least October.

The California Coastal Commission has an item on its June 13 agenda requesting a time extension of up to one year to review the city’s ordinance, which it adopted in January.

Commission staff said the reason for the time extension was because the city asked the state body to prioritize review of its housing element, of which it is under court order to adopt.

“Commission staff is requesting the time extension due to insufficient staff time to
adequately review the amendment and prepare a recommendation,” the staff report states. “In addition, at the June 2019 hearing, the Commission will be considering a separate LCP amendment for the City of Encinitas’ Housing Element Update which the City asked to be prioritized.”

The staff report indicates that the commission could hear the item at its next Southern California meeting date, which would either be Sept. 11 to Sept. 13 in Newport Beach or Oct. 16 to Oct. 18 in San Diego.

Currently, the city code doesn’t allow emergency shelters by right. A shelter could be opened in a commercially zoned property, but the applicant would have to apply for a major use permit, which is costly and an exhaustive process.

State law changed in 2008 requiring cities to ensure emergency shelters were granted by right in the zone of the city’s choice.

The city chose its light industrial and business park zone, which includes several properties, 28 acres, near the intersection of Encinitas Boulevard and Quail Gardens Drive.

The new ordinance also changes the city’s definition of emergency shelter to change the maximum length of stay from 30 days to six months, also in line with state law, and caps the maximum bed count at 45 per facility, requires at least 300 feet between shelters, an operational plan and full-time staffing at all hours.

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