Encinitas anti-growth housing law receives opposition

ENCINITAS (KUSI)-  At a time when there’s a severe housing shortage all over San Diego County, the City of Encinitas is drawing fire from state housing regulators.

Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear is feeling the pressure, after receiving a letter this week from state housing regulators saying her city must change or invalidate an anti-growth housing law.

Prop A, approved by voters in 2013 requires a public vote before any project can be built that increases density or height.

The law has effectively prevented developers from building apartments or other kinds of multi-family unit housing in the coastal city.

Now, the city where homes have a median resale value of $1.4 million is being told it must follow California law to build housing for all income levels and create what’s called a “housing element’ or a master plan for future housing growth. Encinitas is the only city in San Diego County that does not have such a housing plan, in violation of state law.

“We’re trying to comply with the state housing laws which say you have to have more housing that’s at higher density and the people have not been willing to support that,” Blakespear said.

Although Encinitas has never drawn up a housing plan, state regulators did not take notice until 2017, when a tenant rights group and the Building Industry Association of San Diego decided to take Encinitas to court.

As part of the lawsuit, Encinitas must submit a draft housing element to the state.

However, state regulators with the Department of Housing and Community Development said they would not certify it, until the City of Encinitas either revised or invalidated its restrictive housing rules.

The judge in the lawsuit has issued an April deadline for Encinitas to decide how it can submit a housing plan that complies with state law.

Borre Winckel, the President and CEO of the Building Industry Association said local governments cannot decide they are above state law.

“Citizens cannot vote their obligations away, the obligations that exist under state law.” Winckel estimated that the county is at least 92,000 units short of the housing that the region needs by 2020.

Categories: Local San Diego News