By Julie Thunder
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Up until 1986, the five communities of Encinitas were governed by the County of San Diego, a large bureaucracy that seemed to care little about our small town needs. Developers were building homes and housing tracts throughout the region without much regard for height limits, property setbacks, and community character.
With the explicit goal of controlling growth, residents from Old Encinitas, New Encinitas, Olivenhain, Leucadia, and Cardiff voted 69% in favor to become the City of Encinitas in 1986.
Then, in 2013, residents again voted to control growth by voting “yes” on Proposition “A”, the “Encinitas Right to Vote Initiative”. Prop. “A” required voter approval for zoning changes and imposed a citywide height limit of 30 feet.
Today, the State of California requires that cities plan for more housing to accommodate future growth. Encinitas has few parcels zoned for high-density (apartments/condos) so they have selected 15 properties to be up-zoned from residential and rural to high-density. Because of Prop “A”, the City must put their Housing Plan on the ballot for residents to vote on.
Two measures were crafted by the City and presented to voters, Measures “T” and “U”. Both measures called out specific sites around the City to be upzoned for 3-story high-density developments. Both measures were both voted down by residents.
Instead of creating a third plan to present to voters, Mayor Blakespear and City Councilmembers chose to allow the courts to decide what Encinitas should do about their housing plan/Prop “A” quagmire. So they presented the voter-rejected Measure “U” to a judge who then temporarily invalidated Prop. “A” to allow Measure “U” to move forward. With Prop. “A” put on hold, the City submitted Measure “U” to the State as their housing plan, which was recently approved.
Going forward, there will be more housing cycles and more upzoning, so the City wants to invalidate Prop. “A” for all future housing plans and is now suing the supporters of Prop. “A” in an attempt to have the entire law suspended during housing cycles.