ENCINITAS — In an effort to reach more citizens and gain valuable input, the city held another workshop on the General Plan on March 28.
The vision of the city’s five distinct communities was discussed at length during the citywide meeting where residents were able to break into smaller groups to discuss issues.
With more than 200 people in attendance, residents lined the walls to get a glimpse of the presentation that has been in the works for almost a year to update the General Plan.
Beginning in January 2010, a general plan advisory committee, along with city staff and a consulting firm, began the first phase of updating the general plan. Over the next six months, the group facilitated five community specific workshops and a citywide workshop May 1.
The General Plan should be updated within a two-year period according to Planning Director Patrick Murphy. The city’s blueprint will be updated to address new policy issues such as sustainable and healthy communities, green building codes and storm water cleansing, according to a staff report.
The plan will also speak to traffic circulation, walkable communities, economic and environmental sustainability and recycling. The existing general plan was adopted in 1989.
The advisory committee is one of the crucial elements to a successful process. In October 2009, City Council approved the creation of the planning body. There are a total of 24 members representing various organizations within the city. Nineteen members must be residents. In addition to committee meetings, nine public workshops are scheduled along with other public hearings throughout the two-year period. All of the committee meetings are open to the public.
Various groups are represented within the committee including social services, the real estate industry, town councils, mainstreet associations, affordable housing advocates, commercial interests and New Encinitas resident and Planning Commissioner Virginia Felker.
In its latest effort to include more public input, the city has instituted an online comment process. Users will be allowed to submit comments on a special website — encinitas2035.info — that is part of the multi-year planning effort.
“I think it’s fantastic that we can be involved even if we can’t go to the meetings,” said Jan Beauman, an Encinitas resident. “I do everything online from banking to communicating with my child’s teacher, so I don’t think it’s a stretch to have a way to communicate what I want the city to look like in the next 20 years over the Internet,” she said.
So-called “policy stations” were set up throughout the meeting room with various staff to facilitate the discussion and answer questions.
“This feedback is very important to us and the General Plan advisory committee,” said Daniel Iacofano, a consultant with MIG, Inc., which is facilitating the update process.
According to Iacofano, the timeline for completing the document is on schedule. Online comments will begin at the end of April and another communitywide workshop will be held July 19. “By the end of the summer, beginning of fall we should have a draft EIR (environmental impact review) and a City Council discussion at end of the year,” Iacofano told the audience.
Peder Norby, the city’s Highway 101 coordinator, said the document sets out a “footprint” for the direction of the city. “Where we are in the General Plan process is spot on,” he said.