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Community Commentary Opinion

Commentary: Blakespear’s choice — 15% or 50%

By Cindy Cremona

Affordable housing is an ongoing issue in Encinitas. Required affordable housing percentages have recently been the focus of the Planning Commission, who voted to increase the percentage. If the percentage of affordable units per development increases, we reduce the total number of units needed for the 2021 housing cycle (see chart).

Currently, developers sprinkle a measly 15% affordable units into each density project. For every 100 housing units built, only 15 are affordable. At 15% we will need an additional 4,000 units to be built to achieve the state’s goal.

How is building 85% luxury homes and condos compassionate to our teachers, firefighters, and service workers who need housing now?

Mayor Blakespear claims 15% is the absolute max despite the fact that her own commissioned study concluded 20% was reasonable, when in fact the Goodson project (near Encinitas Boulevard and Rancho Santa Fe Road) is 20%. Developers do not pay for the increase in land value when sites are rezoned to R30 (30 units per acre), often from R1 or R3. This is a land value windfall, and in exchange they should be required to pay for more lower income housing. Other cities requiring increased affordability include Corte Madera, Los Gatos and Capitola. In Encinitas, for all the housing plan upzoning, we realize very few affordable units.

None of these numbers take density bonus into account. Most projects will be density bonus, which adds another 35% (see chart).   

Last month, the Planning Commission voted that the required affordable housing percentage be increased to 50%. It was to come before the mayor and council for their vote this month, but a funny thing happened on its way to the council meeting. The agenda item was arbitrarily removed from the agenda by a staff member with the recommendation that it be left off the calendar indefinitely.

But for the sharp eyes of a citizen advocate, a discussion on 50% affordable housing would be hidden, with you and me none the wiser.

Clearly, someone at City Hall directed this action aimed at stopping the discussion of 50% affordability. The mayor, whose contentious 2020 campaign was heavily supported by contributions from the Building Industry Association (BIA) and developers, recently announced her bid for a state Senate seat in 2022.   She’s back on the campaign trail raising money and soliciting support.

The question remains, will Mayor Blakespear and her City Council vote for 15% or 50%? Will this   decision be based on compassion for their residents or favors due to their developer donors? This is a tough choice for a mayor who preaches equity. She can’t have it both ways: either satisfy her donors or show compassion for those in need.

All our citizens are vested in the long-term outcome in our quality of life. This important decision must be made in the light of day and quickly. Our firefighters, teachers, service workers and their families require our city’s compassion and a vote that demonstrates housing equity.

Cindy Cremona is an Encinitas resident

7 comments

Harmony Harris May 4, 2021 at 3:14 pm

More nonsense and conspiracy theories from the “Encinitas Viewpoint” crowd, a sad little group that can’t draw more than a few measly views, yet all feed off of each other’s negativity in their prime echo chamber Encinitas Votes. I’ll save you some time, folks, Cindy Cremona is the Julie Thunder/Susan Turney sycophant who funded and distributed the misleading “My Mayor Sued Me” signs that were seen all over town along with Julie Thunder’s campaign signs. Except Cremona did this anonymously, without properly putting “paid for by…” attribution on the signs, a clear FPPC violation. Encinitas Watchdogs coordinated lots of sign/sticker delivery. You see lots of this tripe on Encinitas Votes where the guy the Surfing Madonna creep harasses anyone and everyone, Pam Slater Price struggles to maintain relevance, Lorri Greene constantly misreads and misunderstands the simplest of sentences and almost everyone else posts their assumptions as if they are proven facts. Here’s a hint guys: your grievance based politics don’t help. Your sky is falling mentality is sad. They even blame Blakespear for homeless in hotels, which is laughable because that was done by the COUNTY, supported by their darling Kristin Gaspar, who watched them moan about this endlessly on Watchdog, yet remained silent as not to rile the village idiots.

Susan Turney May 4, 2021 at 1:19 pm

Mayor Blakespear stated she believed 15% was the max. She did so publicly at more than one council meeting, no hyperbole. “Encinitas Facts” has the facts twisted. 50% is supportable per the Planning Commission with HCD’s agreement. They did not send a letter “telling them this would not work,” they warned that Encinitas would have to provide enough incentives to make it work. No one has mentioned any taking of land other than developers and their attorneys fearmongering. So much for getting the facts from “Encinitas Facts.”

Encinitas Facts May 3, 2021 at 6:47 pm

Who is going to pay for the lawsuits that will come when the city is sued for taking private land? Mandating 20% affordable units is supportable, as the city’s study showed but 50% is without a doubt a taking of private property. Not going to happen in this or any city. Didn’t HCD send a letter to the city telling them this wouldn’t work? And what’s with nonfactual statement about the BIA when we all saw that Julie Thunder was the BIA’s preferred candidate in the last election (especially given her family’s membership). Sounds like Cindy’s gearing up for her own mayoral run with a big bag full of lies.

Denise May 2, 2021 at 8:10 am

Yes, 50%. And if some builders pass on this level of profit, find other builders. And why the rush to keep developing raw land (a.k.a., natural habitats, natural landscapes, etc.) when developed land sits empty and could be repurposed? FIRST we should take a serious look at repurposing empty retail and hotel space. Less $ to build out which is critical given soaring materials costs and we don’t have to develop additional raw land. At the very least, let’s build these new proposed structures on developed land where buildings not in use can be torn down. Until we’ve made the most of developed land, there’s no need to destroy what little wilderness remains in our city.

James Clare May 1, 2021 at 10:40 pm

When you say “ Mayor Blakespear claims 15% is the absolute max”, can you provide a source to show that is exactly what she said? Is this a verbatim quote? Or hyperbole? Or perhaps she said something different and you are projecting your biased perspective to her words?

Jason Michelski May 1, 2021 at 9:10 am

Great article by Cindy Cremona….“Mayor Blakespear claims 15% is the absolute max despite the fact that her own commissioned study concluded 20% was reasonable, when in fact the Goodson project (near Encinitas Boulevard and Rancho Santa Fe Road) is 20%.” – Cindy Cremona

Actions speak louder than words…..Don’t vote for Catherine Blakespear for Senate!

Tree Hugger April 30, 2021 at 2:11 pm

We already know the answer to Cindy’s question! Blakespear will continue to sell out to her developer donors and her BFF Marco Gonzelez at the expense of people already living here and those who will be driven out. So much for equity.

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