finally gains state certification for contentious housing plan
Barbara Henry, October 16, 2019
A group says city is now ‘suing its residents’ over public
vote compliance issue.
multiple years and many false starts, Encinitas has finally
won the necessary state certification for its citywide housing
a major milestone, Mayor Catherine Blakespear said Tuesday.
This was hard-fought and tremendously difficult.
said now that the city is finally compliant with state law,
it is eligible for more grant funding opportunities.
city received a letter last week from the state Housing and
Community Development department, declaring that Encinitas
had taken all the necessary final steps to achieve state compliance
for its plan, which is formally known as a Housing Element.
One of those steps was gaining state Coastal Commission approval.
also has taken another necessary step. Its attempting
to resolve an ongoing legal conflict associated with its housing
planning situation, state officials noted in a press release.
If a recent court filing is successful, the city will be able
to implement strategies that accomplish the citys
goal of providing more housing, the press release states.
upbeat assessment of the current situation isnt shared
by the lawyer who represents the Encinitas citizens
growth-control group Preserve Proposition A.
citys new court filing -- a complaint for declaratory
relief filed against the Preserve Proposition A group
in early September -- essentially can be described as a city
effort to restrict residents free speech rights and
exempt the city forever from the public vote requirement contained
in Proposition A, lawyer Everett DeLano said Tuesday.
challenge the city to say otherwise. It is the city suing
the residents, DeLano said. There is an Alice
and Wonderland quality to that.
by voters in 2013, Proposition A requires the city to win
voter approval for any changes to city zoning that accommodate
higher-density housing. Its been cited by city officials
as one key reason why Encinitas has been unable to comply
with state housing planning laws in recent years.
until last weeks certification, Encinitas was the only
city in San Diego County without a valid Housing Element,
a state-mandated document that details how a city proposes
to handle its future growth, particularly the housing needs
of low-income people. In these plans, cities identify sites
that will be rezoned to accommodate higher-density housing
has put two different Housing Element plan proposals before
voters -- the Measure T plan in 2016 and the Measure U plan
in November. Each listed various sites where higher density
housing would be permitted. Both failed to win approval.
the second plan failed, the courts stepped in and ordered
the city to get the job done within 120 days. The judge allowed
Encinitas to temporarily exempt itself from the requirements
of Proposition A to accomplish this task. The latest housing
plan, a revised version of the Measure U plan, is the result
of that court order.
new complaint for declaratory relief asks the courts to permanently
exempt the city from the public vote requirement when it comes
to housing elements and state law. It also seeks reimbursement
for the citys legal expenses and any other relief the
court deems just and proper.
said Preserve Proposition A hasnt officially been served
with the court paperwork and group members havent yet
decided how they will respond to the court filing, but they
dont believe the city should have taken this step.
are other avenues other than suing the residents, he
said, comparing the citys complaint to a boy saying
the dog ate my homework and arguing that he should
never ever have to do homework again because of the dog.
her part, the citys mayor said she believes the city
had no choice but to file the complaint.
state is requiring us to go into court, she said, adding
that Encinitas officials tried to go with a temporary exemption
and failed to win state support for that idea. Its
obviously not our preference on a way to proceed, but we dont
have any other options.