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Plans for Encinitas housing project headed back to city council

There’s been a settlement over a controversial proposal for an apartment complex in Encinitas, a city that’s facing trouble from the state over meeting affordable housing goals. KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne tells us where things stand.

A settlement has been reached over a controversial proposal for an apartment complex in Encinitas.

The city has agreed to review revised plans for the Encinitas Boulevard Apartment project on June 8th's city council meeting.

The Encinitas Boulevard Apartment project is sited near the busy intersection of Encinitas Blvd and Rancho Santa Fe Road.

Dan Vaughn is with Encinitas Residents for Responsible Development, which opposes the plan.

“What he's proposed is what they call a wrap design, so this is apartment building is wrapped around a six story parking garage. So the project is literally a car centric project,” Vaughn said.

The multi-story complex is proposed to reach 69 feet, much higher than the city’s standard height limit of 39 feet.
Vaughn says residents living in the rural community of Olivenhain are concerned over traffic jams in case of fire.

“There's this sort of spider web of small rural roads that all kind of filter out on Rancho Santa Fe Road, which is a two-lane highway that goes through the middle of our village." he said. "In an evacuation, we've got to put 6,000 Olivenhanians through that.”

The city denied the permit in November and residents thought the project was blocked, but the developer sued.

Additional pressure arrived in the form of a letter from State Attorney General Rob Bonta saying the City of Encinitas violated state-housing laws when denying the permit for the development of lower-income housing.

Bonta threatened legal action if revised plans were turned down again.

Last week, the city and developers reached an agreement reducing the overall number of units, but increasing the number of affordable units.
Vaughn says he commends the increase in affordable units, but he thinks more studies are needed before anything is approved.

"I think at a minimum the city needs to first and foremost, protect public safety. Doing that requires a legitimate multiparty study of the adverse impacts that includes all the key stakeholders there," he said.

The group also has several lawsuits related to the project that are still pending.