Residents weigh in on low-income housing units at workshop

Residents weigh in on low-income housing units at workshop
A resident looks at a map of major roadways and environmentally sensitive areas in Encinitas to help determine where controversial low-income housing units should be built. Photo by Jared Whitlock

ENCINITAS — About 100 people took part in a workshop Monday that will guide future housing projects in Encinitas over the next several decades. 

The city has held five open houses and two workshops this year in hopes of resolving a continuous sticking point: where to place state-mandated, low-income housing units.

“There’s the challenge — we know from the onset that we’re not going to make everyone happy,” City Manager Gus Vina said.

Residents were given 10 blue stickers and asked to mark on a map of Leucadia, Old Encinitas, New Encinitas, Cardiff and Olivenhain where 1,300 multifamily, low-income housing units should be built.

Attendees had to take a number of factors into account when placing the blue stickers, including whether the land is vacant, the environmental impacts of construction and if the land is near transit opportunities, commercial services and schools — among other considerations. Further, residents were directed to indicate whether they prefer dispersing the units in a concentrated area or throughout the five communities.

Jordan Vasic, an Encinitas resident, said he contemplated putting most of his stickers in Olivenhain because of the lack of existing multifamily units. But he reconsidered after examining a map showing few major transit routes in the area.

“It’s tough — there are so many things to consider,” he said.

The low-income housing units are the most controversial part of the General Plan Update, which outlines development in Encinitas through 2035. In September, a draft of the General Plan Update was released to the public. It immediately faced backlash from businesses and residents who said the draft disproportionately focused low-income housing units on a small cluster of El Camino Real. In response, the City Council voted three months later to start anew by creating a new advisory committee, along with open houses and workshops.

The state requires most cities to have a set amount of affordable housing based on projected growth and population trends. Should Encinitas fail to comply with low-income housing requirements, it could face lawsuits from developers. Also, if low-income housing units aren’t approved by the state, they would carry over into the next planning cycle.

State law defines the density of low-income housing as at least 30 units per acre. With the exception of the Pacific Station building and a stretch of downtown Encinitas, the city’s zoning currently allows for only 25 acres, according to Patrick Murphy, the city’s planning and building director.

The state mandates Encinitas to have the proper zoning in place for affordable housing. Although areas will likely be rezoned to allow for low-income housing, there’s no guarantee construction will begin soon after. According to a chart at the meeting, which may also be found at, only 13 percent of low-income housing units were built in Encinitas during the last planning period.

A household of four people with an income of less than $64,000 is considered low income.

Murphy said the map survey results will likely be tabulated next month.



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  1. Patrick O'Connor says:

    Affordable Housing is Affirmative action in housing . What’s next we got food stamps. We have discounts for Chevy Volts if you qualify. Social theories untested often result in unintended outcomes. Its local property laws and rights vs state pseudo social engineering. Why not get some top legal advise and act accordingly?

  2. Tony Riggs says:

    This is a no brainer – just get ‘em motor homes and park ‘em in front of the new encinitas walmart – issue resolved.

  3. What a Crock says:

    Encinitas Planning Department employees DO NOT all hold Master’s degrees in City Planning, as was stated at this meeting. Patrick Murphy’s biography, posted on the City Website, states that he has an undergraduate degree in Urban Planning. By the way, DIRECTORS are supposed to have Master’s degrees in their fields–but not Patrick Murphy! Because he is so insecure and so universally disliked, would someone like him hire a person to work for him who actually had ability??

    If the City is going to try to insult citizens by saying that this bull that they are presenting has been vetted by a an Encinitas Planning Department that has advanced degrees–fire them all and hire competent people! They can’t award themselves academic credentials only because people have identified what a failure the General Plan Update process has been.

  4. What a Crock says:

    Encinitas planners have mishandled every step of this process and many projects like the round about issue.

    The survey that the City Manager is conducting needs to focus on the ability of the Planning Department since they are the ones that most often tarnishes the reputation of the other City Departments. Believe it or not, there actually are some very dedicated City employees who work hard and are proud of what they do.

    How many times are we paying for the General Plan Update?

    1. When the original Housning Element was written and was voted down by council several years ago
    2. When our various full-time staff members decided to become project managers and researchers–with no basic skills in those areas–and turned it over to MIG
    3. When the MIG/Planning Department project was rejected.
    4. When Peder Norby was brought in as a ‘facilitator.’

    All the while, there are Planning employees who are making over $100,000 with all of the benefits to go with it, who have been here for years, yet we have no valid conclusions that can be drawn form these project that is well over $1,000,000.

    Why not think of hiring competent people with the basic academic credentials and the ethics to do it correctly the 1st time instead of repeatedly putting unsuccesful people in charge.

  5. Murphy Misquotes says:

    Pat Murphy has shared misinformation over and over again.

    1. In ERAC commission meetings with the developer- dominated members, they are discussing 45 units per acre–not 25 or 30. These are numbers floated to make citizens beleive that they are being listened to.

    2. Murphy stated that $900,000 was paid to MIG. He is aware that this was the FINAL payment that was given to them in August 2011, and that a 10% retainer had been paid on an ongoing basis. This also doesn’t take into account at least 3, dedicated staff members who have been paid continuously during for the past 3 years and many other expenses.

    3. Encinitas planners do not have the academic credentials nor the ability to do this job. Where else could they or their managers who were overseeing them at the time keep their jobs?

  6. Susan Turney says:

    When asked about lack of oversight for potential double-dot voters or non-resident voting, all Murphy could bleat was “we certainly hope no one does that.” There is way too much at stake here for Encinitas to have to stomach this kind of “expertise” at the helm.

  7. Olivier says:

    A couple of corrections from this article:

    1) There were actually 250 people or so attending the second workshop. Participation was impressive.

    2) It is wrong to assume that this exercise was about finding room for low-income housing. Units that will eventually be built will be offered at market rate, which in our town, is never affordable. The exercise was really about where to place high density (30 units per acre and above)apartment units throughout the city.

    Many people attending the workshops were far from thrilled in this mandated process. My informal survey indicates many attending were really in favor of preserving our communities and not allowing up-zoning in any area.

    This all exercise is really an attempt at throwing out our current general plan. It’s not an update. It’s a new plan that will scrap height limits, density limits (currently 25 units per acre for most of the city aside from the downtown specific plan), setbacks, lot coverage.
    The look and feel of our 5 communities is at stake and that’s why so many people attended.

  8. Real Encinitas says:

    The presentation about Peder Norby at last night’s Council meeting only casts greater doubt on the General Plan Update. The more that they try to do to set it right, the worse that it gets. How can our City Council reach important decisions for our city with a lack of credible information?

  9. Isaac says:

    I was at the workshop and it did seem quite helpful for those that were looking for more information on how to obtain low income apartments/housing.

  10. Other Honey Badger says:

    Hey Isaac, there was NOTHING in this workshop about how to get low income housing for citizens. It is obvious that you did not attend!

    If you are interested in Encinitas Low Income Housing Funds, you would have to talk to the Housing Consultant who lives in Arcadia and paid herself from the Encinitas low income fund. There was a meeting in August, 2011 among stakeholders where the Planning Department passed out a memo that said that there would be no low income housing from this activity–only high density at market rate.

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