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Encinitas’ Right To Vote Initiative May Set Precedent

The success of Encinitas' Proposition A, also known as the Right to Vote initiative, means Encinitas residents will be able to vote on future development projects that are more dense or higher than the city’s current general plan allows.

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Cars cruise beneath the Encinitas sign on South Coast Highway, 2013

Encinitas' Proposition A, which passed this week, could set a precedent for other communities looking for more local control over future growth. Some, however, worry about the effects of ballot box planning.

Proponent Bruce Ehler said the vote proves residents want more local control.

“I think it’s going to save the small beach town community character of Encinitas for many years to come and hopefully in perpetuity,” he said.

But Susan Tinsky of the San Diego Housing Federation said the result will make it very hard for Encinitas to meet its state-mandated goals to build affordable housing

“The ability for folks to come in and develop affordable housing in an economical way is going to be very, very difficult,” Tinsky said. “It’s going to be subject to voter whimsy. So, I think there’s a real threat of litigation at this point.”

Tinsky said she believes ballot box planning is a bad idea.

But Ehlers said he believes the initiative sends a signal to elected officials that it’s time for the city to start pushing back against regional goals for growth and California state mandated goals for affordable housing.

He said a couple of other coastal cities have already approached him to ask about putting a similar measure on the ballot in their communities.

The Urban Land Institute will hold a debate on ballot box planning July 9th, using Proposition A as a case study.

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