Encinitas council adds nine more properties to high-density housing list (2024)

The Encinitas City Council on Wednesday unanimously agreed to add nine more, “highly viable sites” to a list of places where high-density housing may be allowed.

The city’s attorney for the project, Barbara Kautz, told council members immediately after their vote that she would “absolutely” recommend no more changes. In order to meet the deadlines to get the list on the November ballot and try to bring the city into compliance with state housing law, this needs to be it, she said.

But some council members were already having second thoughts about the list they’d just approved.

“I could revote on that one,” Councilman Mark Muir said, indicating a nearly 5-acre area near the intersection of Rancho Santa Fe Road and Encinitas Boulevard.

Bruce Ehlers, one of the leaders of a group that opposed the city’s last housing ballot measure in 2016, strongly supported Muir’s move to pull that site off the list. He said its inclusion will likely doom the November ballot measure because Olivenhain area residents will fiercely oppose having that property on the city’s high-density housing list, given that there’s already a property across the street that’s on the list.

While Ehlers backed Muir’s proposal, Councilwoman Tasha Boerner Horvath did not, saying it was “inappropriate” to revisit the issue and that Muir was calling the entire compromise they’d just worked out into question. If he decides to revisit that site, then other council members will ask for reconsideration of other places on the list, she said.

Mayor Catherine Blakespear agreed, saying she had one herself that she’d like to reconsider. When asked if they were going to take a vote on Muir’s proposal, Blakespear declared that as mayor, “I run these meetings,” and said she was moving directly onto the next item on the council’s agenda and not revisiting the housing list issue.

The list is part of Encinitas’ latest attempt to comply with state law. It’s the only city in San Diego County and one of just a few in the state that doesn’t have a current Housing Element — a state-required document that spells out how a city proposes to accommodate its future housing needs, particularly those of low-income residents.

Encinitas has been sued multiple times over this situation and was back in court earlier this month. The judge issued a stay in two cases — one filed by the Building Industry Association of San Diego County and one by San Diego Tenants United — pending the outcome of the November election.

The proposed housing list already has been tweaked once by the council. A few days after it was sent to state housing officials for their review last month, the council voted 3-2, with Mayor Catherine Blakespear and Councilwoman Tasha Boerner Horvath opposed, to pull a city-owned parcel on Quail Gardens Drive off the list after hundreds of nearby residents opposed its inclusion.

The removal of that site, plus a request by the owners of the strawberry fields parcel on Manchester Avenue to get off the list, caused the council to revisit the issue Wednesday night and add new sites to the list. City officials are seeking to end up with a list that can accommodate a total of 1,600 new housing units.

With the two earlier site removals and the nine new additions, the city ends up with the ability to accommodate 1685 housing units.

In addition to the Rancho Santa Fe site, which could accommodate 90 dwelling units, the new additions are:

  • The Armstrong Gardens parcels on El Camino Real, a nearly 3-acre area that could yield 72 dwelling units
  • A nearly 2-acre site along El Camino Real next to Lux Art Institute. Home to a flower sales stand, it’s expected to yield 48 units;
  • The Dewitt property, a .8-acre site at 1900 N. Coast Highway 101. Now home to a Mexican restaurant, it’s expected to yield 20 dwelling units;
  • The Seacoast Church property at 1050 Regal Road. The church is proposing to add housing to its site, and the city forecasts the site could accommodate 35 units;
  • The Manchester Avenue West site. A 1.67-site west of Interstate 5, it’s zoned residential and could accommodate 31 units;
  • The Harrison site in the 300 block of downtown’s Second Street. A nearly 2-acre area, it could yield 21 units;
  • The Meyer site, a collection of parcels on Clark Avenue and Union Street, just east of Interstate 5. It’s 6.62 acres and is expected to yield 127 units;
  • And the Garden View Court site. Formerly home to a Frog’s Gym, it is 2.25 acres and is expected to yield 56 dwellings.

A 10th option on Orpheus Avenue just west of Interstate 5 was recommended by city staff, but was removed by the council Wednesday night after neighbors spoke against its inclusion.

Encinitas council adds nine more properties to high-density housing list (2024)
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