Council to try and take the wind out of Prop A’s sails

ENCINITAS — To sway voters against the right-to-vote initiative, the City Council intends to pass an amendment before the June 18 special election. 

Council will also send out mailers regarding the right-to-vote-initiative, also known as Proposition A, prior to voters lining up at the ballot box. Councilmembers maintain these mailers will be informational, and not political.

Prop A reaffirms the city’s 30-foot height limit and would eliminate council’s power to “up-zone” beyond height and density limits with a fourth-fifths vote. Councilman Tony Kranz said that council unanimously agrees that the fourth-fifths provision should be scrapped — in what he called supporting “the spirit” of Prop A.

“People are leery of council having that four-fifths exception,” Kranz said. “We recognize this.”

But council has misgivings with other parts of the initiative. Consequently, council said it will strike the four-fifths power in late May or early June — before the special election — by amending the city’s general plan with a councilmember vote.

If accomplished, the change would take effect immediately.

Kranz believes this action will make residents less likely to vote for Prop A. Also, backers might withdraw support because the city will have already passed “the heart of it,” Kranz said.

But Bruce Ehlers, spokesman for the initiative, said that it’s still crucial voters show up in favor of Prop A.

He said that council’s intent to eliminate the four-fifths provision via a general plan amendment is admirable, but a future council could theoretically reverse the action.

However, should Prop A pass, it would take another voter initiative to overturn it.

“Even if this council doesn’t want to use the four-fifths (provision), there’s no telling what future councils will do,” Ehlers said.

“We want a greater protection than a simple majority of the council,” Ehlers added.

For Kranz, he’s especially concerned Prop A would hamper “specific plans” like the one in downtown Encinitas, hurting the businesses in them.

Specific plans were developed after years of input from residents and businesses. Within them, some of the buildings are denser than normally allowed under city standards and taller than the 30-foot height limit. Kranz said that Prop A would make modifying or building properties in specific plans needlessly difficult and expensive.

“It’s a meat-cleaver approach,” Kranz said.

“A lot of hard work went into crafting those plans,” he added.

However, Ehlers believes that the specific plans are inherently flawed, because they were passed with a four-fifth council majority, instead of a public vote, and buildings in them exceed height limits laid out in the city’s general plan.

If Prop A passes, constructing buildings greater than 30 feet within the special plans would trigger a public vote.

As well as eliminating the four-fifths provision, council voted to send out informational Prop A mailers leading up to the election.

Kranz dismissed comparisons to mailers Escondido sent out last October. As a result of those mailers, Escondido is being sued for allegedly using taxpayer dollars to advocate for two November ballot measures.

Rather, Kranz said that the mailers will be factual, and that they’re intended to list the impacts of the initiative in neutral fashion for those who are unfamiliar with Prop A.

“We want to take another route to reach these folks,” Kranz said.

In the coming weeks, a council subcommittee made up of Kranz and Councilman Mark Muir will finalize the language of the mailers and bring it before council for approval.

Ehlers said the mailers are “walking right near the edge of the rule” for what’s acceptable under California election law, considering that council has formerly come out against Prop A.

Additionally, council asked the League of Women Voters to host a pros-and-cons debate. The date and location of that event hasn’t been set.

At least 5,700 signatures gathered for Prop A during the summer and fall were deemed valid, qualifying the initiative for a special election this summer.

The cost of the special election is estimated at $350,000 to $400,000.



Filed Under: The Coast News


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  1. Change4encinitas says:

    Simply scandalous that the city council would authorize expenditures for a mailer on this. Council has already made it abundantly clear they are against PropA. Kranz has done a complete 180 on the people that supports the initiative. This is the ultimate backstabbing to use taxpayer money to fight an initiative that has resonated among our communities.
    They have already wasted $55k on a not-so impartial Rutan report.
    Then the city attorney adds his partial analysis to the initiative. Now they want to spend more of our city coffers to educate us?
    Stop the insanity!
    Jared chose a very appropriate title.

  2. sdaly says:

    City council has shown us their cards. They want high density and bigger buildings? What the heck is wrong with them? As change4encinitas says, it is scandalous that they are spending tax payer dollars on trying to stop something that the majority of the citizens want. They need to be ashamed of their actions. I don’t care what rationalizations and explanations they come up with…they are just plain disgusting. There is no hiding that.
    Prop A will keep our city from being destroyed by over development. You must vote for it.

  3. Lisa Shaffer says:

    I can’t speak for the rest of the Council, but I am advocating a change in the General Plan to eliminate the 4/5 Council vote for zoning changes because it needs to be changed, not to “take the wind out of Prop A” or “sway voters.” Whether there was a Prop A or not, I would be working to effect this change. This is an important issue and the Council and the Initiative proponents agree on it.

    As for a mailer, the subcommittee hasn’t even met yet, so we don’t know whether they will propose a mailer and if they do, we don’t know what it will say. How can the mailer be near the edge if it hasn’t been written yet? The Council will decide on it next week. Could you wait until we take action before criticizing it?

  4. Change4encinitas says:

    Removing the general plan loophole by an action of city council is not as strong as removing it through the initiative. A council resolution could easily (majoriy vote) be removed later on. A majority vote to remove the loophole could only be removed by another public vote. Moreover the council proposal would not address building heights . So while it may be true that council meet the spirit of Prop A it falls short in protecting our right to vote in major up-zoning decisions.

  5. sdaly says:

    Stop pushing your removal of the 4/5 thing like it is a good thing. I watched last week’s council meeting. A resident spoke out and exposed the council’s dirty trick of misleading the public.

    The 4/5 you are proposing to eliminate is only for density. NOT HEIGHT. That isn’t going to do us any good. Also, any future council (or even you guys) can undo what you are claiming to try eliminate with just a 3 to 2 vote. You are shameful for trying to make it look like you are doing good. People are way smarter than what you are giving them credit for.

    Prop A will take care of all this stupid positioning and sneaky dealing by putting the power in the hands of the residents. What the heck is wrong with that? NOTHING!

    Don’t be surprised if you are sued over this so called mailer. If it is anything like council’s behavior lately, it will NOT be partial, nor will it clean of any city resources. YOU better not spend any taxpayer monies on pushing your slanted and distorted view. We will find out!

    By the way, from what I hear, Council has drank the developer Kool-aid. Deny it all you want, but there can be no other reason why you have turned. You are believing things about prop A that are being told to you by liars. Get it straight. I bet you haven’t even read it.

  6. Barth will send links and make vague comments in her weekly emails about Prop A, but won’t answer questions from the public.

  7. Rogelio Espinosa says:

    Eliminating the 4/5 super majority only solves half the problem. It will still allow the council to increase building heights at will through an ordinance with 3 votes. Ms. Shaffer needs to recognize this. Of course, the council is proposing to “take the wind out of Prop. A.” Otherwise the council would have remained neutral.

    Mr. Kranz misunderstands how the initiative will affect specific plans. It doesn’t undo many years of hard work. It simply requires a public vote if the council approves any building heights above 30 feet in plan areas. Taller buildings will be grandfathered in. And any lower building heights of 22 or 26 feet in certain areas of the city, 12 feet at the upper end of steep slopes, and 12 feet for accessory units will still remain in the Municipal code.

    Are our council members really this ignorant? Or are they driven by the City Manager who want a free hand in pushing denser and higher development in order to increase city revenues because of his borrow and spend policies?

    Unwittingly Kranz, Shaffer, and Barth have cast their lot with Muir and Gaspar, who both have strong support from developers who care more about making money and less about the things that makes most of us love Encinitas so much.

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