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Encinitas Faces Court Order, Assuming Measure U Failed

This undated photo shows vehicles in Encinitas.

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Above: This undated photo shows vehicles in Encinitas.

A Superior Court judge will decide whether the City of Encinitas is in violation of state housing law, now that voters appear to have failed to pass Measure U in last week’s election. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, the measure had over 1,000 more No votes than Yes votes.

Both the Building Industry Association and a group called Tenants United are suing the city for failing to agree on a plan of where to build more housing.

It’s not the first time Encinitas residents have voted to reject a plan that would allow higher density housing in some parts of the city. In 2016 they rejected another housing plan after a year of work: Measure T.

In the summer, Judge Ronald Frazier said he would give voters one last chance to pass a housing plan, before deciding if the city is violating state law.

BIA attorney Tim Hutter said the judge said in Tuesday’s briefing that he assumes Measure U has failed.

“Because I think we all in this room know that the chances of it passing are slim to none, and slim has left town,” Hutter said, quoting the judge.

Hutter said Encinitas is the only city in San Diego County that has not agreed on a valid plan for where more homes could be built.

RELATED: Ballot Measure T Forces Encinitas To Confront Growth Plans

“The city of Encinitas has been deficient in its contribution to the supply of housing in the region for a long time,” Hutter said, “and the BIA has filed this lawsuit to attempt to achieve a remedy that compels them to follow state law.”

California state law requires each city to have an approved “housing element,” which is a zoning plan that identifies areas where developers could build denser housing to meet the growing need for more homes.

Encinitas is at least 1,000 homes short of its regional housing needs assessment, and that number will grow as the next housing cycle begins in 2021.

Frazier said the city appears to have reached an impasse on housing.

In 2013 the city’s residents passed Proposition A. It required any changes to the General Plan that increase density or height limits to go to a vote of the people.

Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear had urged voters to pass Measure U. Following Tuesday morning’s court hearing, she said the future is unclear.

The city had asked for the hearing to be delayed until Dec. 12, after the city has certified the vote, but the judge said he will rule on Nov. 28.

Legal penalties for Encinitas could include being forced to adopt one of the plans that voters have rejected.

A Superior Court judge will decide whether the city of Encinitas is in violation of state housing law, now that voters appear to have failed to pass Measure U in last week’s election.

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