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City staff recommend housing item removed from agenda

ENCINITAS — A recent inclusionary housing item discussed last month in the Encinitas Planning Commission is now being recommended to be removed from the agenda by city staff.

The item included amendments to the city municipal code to increase the inclusionary housing percentage requirements from 15% to 50%, which would result in an estimated reduction of about 4,000 high-density market-rate units.

The commission had previously voted in favor of the increase and members were planning to wrap up the process with a discussion on establishing in-lieu fees (alternative fees paid by developers to avoid building affordable housing units) before sending it to the council for final approval.

However, the item was instead moved to the consent calendar, a category typically reserved for items deemed routine in nature and are approved en masse with no public discussion or debate.

The change created confusion and consternation amongst residents, including Planning Commission Chair Bruce Ehlers.

“I was a bit perplexed as far as what happened,” Ehlers told The Coast News. “I’m concerned and I’m perplexed and I plan to get to the bottom of it.”

City staff also included a request for continuance “to allow additional time for staff to review and work with the consultant to prepare responses to Planning Commission comments.

Staff further recommended the item be discussed “off calendar,” a legal term suggesting the item would be removed from the calendar with no guaranteed date of return.

Any individual member of the commission or general public can request for the item to be removed from the consent calendar for discussion, which Ehlers said he plans on doing at the meeting.

Ehlers said he has not yet reached out to members of the city staff but expects to speak with them before the meeting as he usually does.

“I will question the what and why here,” Ehlers said. “I am a firm believer in doing the public business in the public forum so I will want a public explanation why.”

Representatives from the city did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The next planning commission meeting will be held virtually this Thursday at 6 p.m.

Jordan Ingram contributed reporting for this story. 

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