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Encinitas Falls Short of Housing Goals, Seeks Solution

Real estate signs advertise the sale of three houses in a row in Encinitas in...

Photo by Associated Press

Above: Real estate signs advertise the sale of three houses in a row in Encinitas in San Diego County, July 13, 2006.

Encinitas Struggles With Housing Goals


Catherine Blakespear, Encinitas Mayor


Encinitas is the only city in San Diego County that has not yet approved a “Housing Element”: a plan where enough new housing can be built. The coastal community is struggling to meet state-mandated goals for adding new housing, in the face of resistance from its residents. With a shortage of affordable housing getting more serious every year, each city is required to provide space for a certain number of new homes to help meet the growing need.

Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear went to Sacramento to lobby for a new law, SB 1226, that could potentially help cities all over California. The bill would add to the housing cities could report to the state by relaxing laws on older, existing granny flats that currently do not meet code.

Blakespear said there are up to 1,000 such "accessory dwelling units" in Encinitas that residents have not declared, because it would be too expensive to bring them up to code. She said this “citizen-driven” housing is more acceptable to her residents than “developer-driven” housing.

However, she said, under current law, the extra granny flats would not help the city meet its state mandates goals, which only apply to new housing. Like many cities, Encinitas recently lifted restrictive fees on new granny flats.

Blakespear said the city is about 1,600 units short of meeting the state goals of producing new housing. With just two years left in this eight-year housing cycle, the deadline is short. Encinitas residents have already rejected two initiatives that would have allowed more dense development, and the city is about to put another initiative on the ballot this November.

Even if it passes, Mayor Blakespear does not know if it will meet state requirements. The requirements recently increased and residents successfully lobbied to have several potential sites for development removed.

The city has already spent more than a million dollars defending itself against lawsuits over development, and several suits remain unresolved.

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