3/4/18: Housing Plan Inches Forward, Student Activists, and More Encinitas News

Encinitas continues to push forward on a housing plan with a packed house of about 50 people joining the ad hoc Housing Element Task Force meeting (our 14th) as we reviewed our progress last week. The plan must be completely finalized by June so Encinitas residents can vote on it in November.

There are lots of opinions on the best way to achieve our goals. We need to upzone enough sites to accommodate 1,600 units of new housing throughout the city. We’re sending sites that accommodate about 2,000 units forward for review to the state. Ideally, the City Council will be able to remove some sites before creating our final map. The state is keen on seeing more housing, particularly affordable housing, and the submitted sites will be evaluated with this in mind.

We’re waiting for the first pass of a preliminary analysis from state housing regulators before the City Council decides the final site selection. Here’s a link to the housing sites under consideration, including pictures.

At the meeting, the city’s consultant and housing attorney went over various programs and design guidelines with the committee. We are aiming to take a plan to the voters that is much simpler and more streamlined than the previous plan, Measure T, which failed at the ballot box. Only the upzoning, not guidelines, programs and other complexities, will likely be included.

At this coming Wednesday’s joint meeting with the Planning Commission, we’re having a workshop on our “inclusionary housing ordinance,” which is the amount of affordable housing that developers are either required to build, or pay a fee to a housing fund. We haven’t updated this ordinance for years.

Here’s my Coast News column on our new accessory dwelling unit policy, which is also a key element in the city reaching housing goals and providing a range of housing in the city.

A San Diego Union-Tribune article on our last meeting is here.

These fifth grade students and their motivated teachers from La Costa Heights Elementary School stopped in to see the mayor before heading to Sacramento to advocate for a housing bill to help homeless youth, SB 918. I always try to make time for student groups and interviews, and these students were particularly impressive because they knew a lot about youth homelessness and had spent considerable energy figuring out how to influence this societal problem. This type of deep engagement by our future leaders and involved citizens on crucial issues is so important. I’m heartened by the passion I see around me. Here’s a TV news story about the students.

What Encinitas voting district are you in?

We’re within 100 days of the June primary and engagement is increasing for the November election. We don’t have a local primary in Encinitas, so we won’t vote for a city councilmember or mayor until November.

We’ve recently switched to district elections, and you may not know what district you live in. The city put together this interactive map, allowing you to type in your address and learn your district number. The site doesn’t (yet) tell you who your district’s City Council representative is. Tony Kranz represents District One; Tasha Boerner Horvath represents District Two; Mark Muir represents District Three and Joe Mosca represents District Four. This year, only Districts Three and Four are up for election, along with the citywide vote for mayor.

Despite its small size at about 13,000 people, our neighboring city of Solana Beach has also received the lawyer letter demanding that the city switch to district-based elections. Here’s the Coast News story.

And the lawsuit filed by a former Poway mayor challenging the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act, which these demands are based upon, was thrown out by a court last week, as reported in the San Diego Union-Tribune. Those behind the suit say they plan to appeal.

The bottom line is that district-based elections look like they’re here to stay in California. I’m grateful that we minimized costs and switched to districts, avoiding immersing ourselves in a costly, challenging lawsuit over this issue.

The Encinitas Elks lodge is one of our oldest institutions, having established themselves at their Cardiff location in the 1950s. My grandfather, Milton Smith, was a devoted member. Our family lore places him solidly in the center of the Thursday “gambling” (otherwise known as poker!). The Elks recently celebrated 150 years of service helping communities, veterans and youth, and I was honored to join them as a guest at their dinner and present a certificate of recognition for their impressive contributions over many decades.

More Encinitas news

  • We’ve entered six weeks of San Elijo Lagoon dredging, which will remove sand from the lagoon and pump the sand onto Cardiff beaches to improve tidal flow, the lagoon ecosystem and provide beach nourishment. The dredging takes place 24 hours a day, six days a week (excluding Sundays) and residents may hear noise. Here’s a link to information about the project.
  • The Encinitas Spring Egg Hunt happens Saturday, March 31 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. at the Encinitas Community Park. The city will provide 20,000 fully recyclable eco-eggs! Bring a picnic and make it a fun spring day. This event is a complete blast! Don’t forget your own basket or bag for gathering eggs.
  • Construction of the Coastal Rail Trail through Cardiff is scheduled to start this month, with construction beginning on the north end near the Santa Fe Drive pedestrian underpass.

Have a great week and don’t forget that Daylight Savings Time returns next Sunday, March 11 – I’m looking forward to that extra evening luster!

In ongoing service,


February 24th was the tenth birthday of our Encinitas Library. It’s the most popular in the entire county library system, with 35,000 visitors every month. The killer views, graciously designed spaces and outstanding local programming make the library a non-stop draw. It cost $20 million to build a decade ago. Speaking of outstanding programming, I was tickled pink to see the library hosting a “Hamilton Throwdown” with teams competing for prizes based on the Hamilton musical. My family and I will be fierce competitors in the trivia quiz on March 9th at 6 p.m. If you care to throw down, by all means join us! (Photos by Rob McKenzie)