ENCINITAS — City Council moved a step closer to approving an ordinance to limit the number of people who can live in a single-family residence on Oct. 20. The unanimous vote was part of the consent calendar and was adopted without discussion.
The proposed amendment to the city’s zoning code is a response to complaints of neighborhood overcrowding and so-called “rooming houses.” A single complaint in December 2009 to the council about an over occupancy of single-family homes served as the impetus for the creation of a group to study the problem. Excessive trash, noise, parking and animals coming from the overcrowded homes were cited as interfering with the serenity of neighborhoods throughout the city.
The six-member panel included three residents impacted by the problems, a social service representative, a city Housing Authority member and a property management professional. After three meetings, the group presented its findings and recommendations to the council Sept. 22.
According to staff, the city municipal code could be amended to define a “rooming house” as a residence occupied by five or more unrelated adults. These arrangements would now be illegal. Complaints to code enforcement about a rooming house from neighbors would require an adjoining complaint such as excess trash and parking.
The group reviewed similar ordinances from San Diego, Oceanside and San Marcos. While it aligned the ordinance most closely with the city of San Marcos, it said it was too restrictive and wanted to leave room for “community character” in Encinitas.
While the council directed staff to include multi-family housing in the discussion, it was not addressed in the resolution. Kelly Morgan, associate planner with the city, said restricting multi-use dwelling zoning is more complex and might require a major use permit.
“We’ve got a start, but it will be brought back and we will address multi-family dwellings,” Deputy Mayor Maggie Houlihan said.
“I can understand that neighbors don’t want loud noise and a lot of trash,” said Janice Marley, “but just because a group of unrelated people live together doesn’t mean that is what’s going to happen.” The Leucadia resident has one roommate and said that several families living in her neighborhood are disruptive. “This isn’t a college town,” she said. “The problems we have are the loud families on the street and this isn’t going to do anything about them and all of their cars because they are related.”
The Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance will now go to the Planning Commission for a recommendation to the council. The final version will go to the Coastal Commission for approval if the council gives it the green light.