Decision: Prop A demands coastal commission approval

Decision: Prop A demands coastal commission approval
Proposition A won’t become law in the coastal zone of Encinitas (pictured) until it’s certified by the California Coastal Commission, according to a ruling Monday. The city will have to file an amendment to its local coastal program for Prop A to take effect in most of the city — a process that can take up to a year. Image courtesy of the city of Encinitas

ENCINITAS — The California Coastal Commission must approve Proposition A for it to take effect in most of the city. That’s according to staff members from the coastal commission who issued the ruling on Monday. 

Prop A will become law for a slice of the eastern part of the city July 21, states an Encinitas City Council agenda released on Wednesday.

But in the roughly 80 percent of the city that’s in the coastal zone, Prop A still requires the green light from the coastal commission.

For Prop A to go onto the books in the coastal zone, the city will have to submit an amendment to its local coastal program.

Eventually, that amendment will need majority approval from the 12-member coastal commission board during a public hearing. The date of the hearing hasn’t been set.

It can take more than a year to process an amendment, according to Eric Stevens, an analyst with the coastal commission.

But he said the commission would try and “expedite” the amendment considering Prop A has significant implications for land use.

The coastal commission ruled that it has legal jurisdiction over Prop A because it establishes a 30-foot height limit in the coastal zone.

Also, the initiative changes how building heights are measured when it comes to pad heights.

Stevens said the coastal commission’s legal department, as well as three coastal commission staff members, analyzed Prop A. He noted the ruling is subject to a legal challenge.

The city sent the coastal commission a letter in May asking if Prop A requires any coastal commission action. Previously, the coastal commission said it would weigh in on Prop A by June 11, prior to the June 18 election. Stevens said the delay could be attributed to coastal commission staff dealing with a heavy workload.

Before Monday’s decision, there was uncertainty over whether Prop A demanded coastal commission ratification.

A city-ordered report from the law firm Rutan and Tucker at the beginning of the year stated Prop A would result in different zoning rules for Encinitas. The City Council cited the reasoning in its argument against Prop A that appeared with the ballot.

However, Sara Wan, former chair of the coastal commission, previously said the coastal commission has never certified an initiative, and doesn’t have the authority to do so. She declined to comment for the article.

City Planning Director Jeff Murphy said he’s still grappling with how exactly the recent decision will affect zoning in the coastal zone.

“I’ll likely know more by the next council meeting,” Murphy said, referring to a July 10 meeting when city officials will certify the Prop A election results.

Prop A was drafted to eliminate the City Council’s ability to “up-zone” beyond height and density limits with a four-out-five councilmember vote.

Prop A won victory two weeks ago with 51.85 percent of ballots cast, roughly 6,700 votes, in favor.

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  1. W.C. Varones says:

    I hope the City Council will honor the will of the people and not grant any variances for high-density development before Prop A is finally approved.

  2. Jim Jupiter says:

    Hah! So much for the voice of the people. PB here we come!

  3. Bill West says:

    An attempt to deny the people their right to control what’s built in Encinitas.

    Has the city council obtained Coastal Commission approval for all the buildings built in Encinitas above 30 feet ?

    Doesn’t Encinitas already have a 30 foot height limit ? Prop A just insure it can’t be bypassed without voter approval ?

    Encinitas City Council put a moratorium on new permits greater than 30 feet until this is resolved.

  4. Easing on the wording says:

    Not really a ruling, more like an opinion from an analyst at the Coastal Commission. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves! This apparently has no be vetted by the Coastal Commission.

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