First things first – Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms, and to everyone who has a mom!
Now to the city’s business… housing issues continue to dominate much of our time, both at our Encinitas City Council meetings and at SANDAG, the regional transportation agency.
At SANDAG, we had to decide whether to try to reduce the total number of housing units that the state will be requiring our region to build, starting in 2021. The state gave the county an allotment of 171,000 units, which eventually will be distributed among the cities and the county. As a board, we discussed whether to accept that number or push back, something SANDAG has historically done.
SANDAG’s technical advisory group presented reasons for asking the state to reduce that 171,000 to around 116,000 housing units using an analytic process – requesting that the state use our county’s accurate “housing demolition statistic” of .3, instead of their recommended .5, among other tools.
Many mayors and other elected officials spoke eloquently both for and against this. The argument in favor of the higher number essentially boils down to recognizing that California is in a housing crisis, and we should aim to build more housing. Supervisor Ron Roberts was particularly pointed:
“Government officials, with the help of their community, have failed. That’s why the number is so big. It doesn’t matter how big the number is, because we aren’t going to make it… We can’t build in the rural area, because it isn’t the urban area. We can’t build in the urban area, because the urban area doesn’t want it… Everyone has some excuse about why you can’t do it in our area; until that changes, it won’t matter what number you pick. It’s a total failure to respond in this community. It’s a failure at every level… Sites in some of these cases are right across from a trolley station. You try to do something, label it affordable and it’s like you’re building a nuclear reactor.” (Thank you to the Voice of San Diego for excerpting this quote.)
Given that every single city in the county except Lemon Grove is failing to meet the current housing goal, tripling the number of units in the goal strikes me as problematic. These state-imposed housing numbers are the minimum requirement – there’s no law prohibiting a city from building more housing than the state mandates.
State housing laws are becoming not just more onerous but more punitive. Lawmakers’ recent housing bills reflect their belief that local governments are to blame for the market’s failure to produce housing in California.
I argued that we should employ the SANDAG technical advisory group’s sound logic to try to get the required housing number reduced through a negotiation with the state. Ultimately, this was the majority position. You can see the split vote results in the photo above. The “yes” vote is to negotiate, the “no” vote is to accept the higher housing number without negotiation.
It’s interesting to note that the votes didn’t break along any commonly understood factors and philosophies, such as transit vs. roads, Democrat vs. Republican, big city vs. small city, coastal vs. inland, or north county vs. south county. The vote and the comments beforehand demonstrate the full array of opinions from the county’s 18 mayors and the supervisors. The situation is, to put it mildly, messy.
Back in Encinitas, as you know, we’re in the throes of our own housing dramas, as we attempt to find sites for 1600 units, which is an increase of about 6.4% to our existing housing inventory of 25,000 units. At our last meeting, we ultimately got there after a series of 3-2 votes on all sorts of different combinations.
Having been through this mapping process before the 2016 election, I have noticed recent changes in our engaged community. This week we heard from 12 speakers in favor of more affordable housing in Encinitas. There’s an organized local advocacy group called Keys4Homes, which is following the Encinitas city government’s actions and encouragng us to do more (contact Bob Kent at [email protected] for more information). In the past, we’ve had organized, vocal and engaged anti-housing voices, but since I’ve been involved in local government, this is the first time I’ve seen an organized pro-housing group in Encinitas.
So, we sent the next iteration of our housing plan forward to the state, and it should be ready for you to vote on this November. After the April 18th meeting’s about-face reversal on the only city-owned site (the deletion of which created the need for additional sites to be added), we are now finished with site selection.
The San Diego Union-Tribune story captures the feeling of the meeting. And here’s the Coast News article, which includes the sites selected.
In other news…
• Encinitas won the American Public Works Association’s Public Works Project of the Year Award for our brand new Marine Safety Center at Moonlight Beach (see photo at right). The award is to honor excellence in public works projects. The grand opening is May 30th at 6 p.m. at Moonlight State Beach. Everyone is welcome to celebrate and explore our impressive new facility!
• As of July 1, the County of San Diego will stop providing animal control services to the county. With Council approval, we’ll be contracting with the San Diego Humane Society, the only organization to respond to our bid process. The transition should be seamless, and Encinitas will see enhanced services. For instance, the Humane Society is open seven days a week and conducts beach patrols.
• Here’s an impressive 11-second time-lapse video of SANDAG’s reconstruction of the Chesterfield Drive intersection to accommodate two railroad tracks. The work took place over three days last March while the intersection was closed to car traffic.
• The Coast News reports on local firefighters getting ready for fire season.
• Here’s the latest on the Cardiff School rebuild from the Coast News. The project will move grades 2 and 3 to Ada Harris school for the 2019/20 school year.
• Defining our goals in Encinitas is crucial, and helps keep us on course. Here’s a link to the city’s four strategic priority focus areas and the projects associated with them. At next Wednesday’s City Council meeting, we’ll revisit the overall capital budget and projections for all the projects we want to accomplish
• An afternoon reception supporting Tasha Boerner Horvath’s bid for our 76th Assembly District will be held on Saturday, May 19th from 3-5 p.m.. She’s an impassioned and effective community advocate. This is a great opportunity to meet and talk with Tasha!
• It’s primary prime time! The primary election is Tuesday, June 5, but most mail ballots have already arrived. As you’re probably aware, your votes will decide some crucial issues and which representives we’ll choose this November. The deadline to register for the primary is Monday, May 21. If you have moved recently or changed your name, please make sure to re-register. Learn more from the San Diego Registrar of Voters.
Future leaders visit City Hall
These eighth graders from Soul Charter School of Universal Learning visited with me about the responsibilities and tasks associated with being the mayor. If you have a school class that would like to visit City Hall, let me know. We love sharing our local government with the next generation!
A triplet of music scholarships!
I presented three scholarship awards from the Coastal Communities Concert Band Foundation to accomplished musicians during the Salute to Young Musicians concert at San Dieguito Academy. Bravo to these virtuosos! Above, from left to right, are Louis Milne of San Dieguito Academy, and Michelle Zhang and Kayla Lewis of Canyon Crest Academy.
With a raised glass of orange juice for the moms,
“As mothers and daughters, we are connected with one another. My mother is the bones of my spine, keeping me straight and true. She is my blood, making sure it runs rich and strong. She is the beating of my heart. I cannot now imagine a life without her.”
―Kristin Hannah, Summer Island