‘Right to Vote’ initiative qualifies for ballot

‘Right to Vote’ initiative qualifies for ballot
Volunteers gather signatures for the “Right to Vote” Initiative at the Encinitas Street Fair. The initiative recently qualified for a special election. Courtesy photo

ENCINITAS — An initiative that requires a majority vote on increases in housing density or height accrued enough signatures to be placed on a ballot for a potential special election this summer. 

The group behind the “Right to Vote” initiative submitted more than 8,500 signatures to the Registrar of Voters last month. At least 5,700 of the signatures were deemed valid, qualifying it for a spot on the ballot.

But first, the initiative will go before the Encinitas City Council Feb. 13, according to City Clerk Kathy Hollywood.

Council has three options at the meeting, which includes adopting the initiative outright, ordering a special election, which Hollywood said would cost roughly $300,000 to $400,000; or they could order a staff report. The report would take a month to return, and council would then have to act on one of the first two options.

Currently, most of Encinitas isn’t zoned for more than 25 units per acre. But council has the power to raise density and height limits with a four-out-of-five council member vote.

Under the initiative, however, these decisions, along with any other “major amendments” to zoning, would require approval from residents.

Amendments include increases in the number of permitted dwellings on a lot, switching zoning from non-mixed use to mixed use and approving any proposed buildings that are greater than three stories.

Bruce Ehlers, the spokesman for “Right to Vote,” said the initiative is a response to worries that the General Plan Update process is stacked in favor of growth.

The General Plan Update, which will guide land use and housing in Encinitas for several decades, is being overhauled with input from different committees.

Ehlers said a draft from a citizen group that’s been tasked with informing the General Plan Update is particularly troubling. The draft advises the city to “selectively consider 4 to 5 stories in certain locations.”

“We think voters should have the ultimate say,” Ehlers said. “Our volunteers knocked on a lot of doors to get this on the ballot.”

 

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  1. Brian Burke says:

    The right to vote already exist in section 3.7 through 3.11 of the Land Use element of the General Plan. It is 3.12 of the same section that is objectionable, giving the City Council the right to make zoning changes in the “Public Interest” without voter approval. That language was adopted in 1991, just years after City incorporation. A lot has changed since then and section 3.12 should be dropped. The proposed change to the City Charter that would keep the voters in control of the destiny of the City.

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