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Council strikes down four-fifths exception

ENCINITAS — Prop A is headed for a special election June 18. Yet councilmembers passed what they believe is the heart of the initiative at Wednesday night’s City Council meeting.Proponents of the land-use initiative say council’s action is only symbolic at this point, and maintain that it’s still critical to vote “yes.”

Prop A was created to remove the council’s ability to “up-zone” beyond height or density limits with a four-out-of-five councilmember vote.

Backers say that power was ripe for abuse and could have led to development that didn’t sit well with the community.

Council unanimously agreed to strike the four-fifths exception by passing a resolution at the meeting.

While in support of the resolution, councilmembers have come out against Prop A.

“Although I have expressed opposition to Prop A for other reasons, I have not wavered in my support for eliminating this provision,” said Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer, referring to the four-fifths power.

Councilman Tony Kranz said the resolution approved by council fulfills “the spirit of Prop A.”

But as the resolution currently stands, a future council could theoretically overturn the action. That’s why council plans to put the resolution, as part of an update to the city’s General Plan, to a public vote in 2014, Kranz said. If passed, council wouldn’t be able to undo the elimination of the four-fifths power.

After council’s vote, Bruce Ehlers, a spokesman for the initiative, said there’s no guarantee the resolution will go on the 2014 ballot.

“A lot can happen between now and then,” Ehlers said.

Besides, Prop A would immediately take the four-fifths exception out of council’s hands, he said.

“Let’s reduce the amount of work that has to be done and just pass Prop A,” Ehlers said.

While in favor of striking the four-fifths exception, councilmembers have stated Prop A could negate “specific plans” on the Coast Highway 101 corridor — one of their reasons for opposing the initiative. Some of the buildings in the specific plans, approved after years of community input, are taller than normally allowed under the city’s 30-foot height limit. Should Prop A pass, proposed buildings greater than 30 feet within the specific plans would trigger a public vote.

As for putting the General Plan to a public vote in 2014, Mayor Teresa Barth acknowledged that it would be difficult to keep residents engaged with the complex land-use document.

“Our challenge as we work through the General Plan Update is that we communicate with the community,” Barth said.

At least 5,700 residents signed Prop A last year, qualifying the initiative for a special election.



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I love Encinitas May 23, 2013 at 7:53 pm

The forces of No on Prop A are in full force with their slick biased and reprehensible mailers. It is unfortunate that this council does not realize that these forces will be back in the Fall of 2014, should Prop A were to be defeated. Developers, realtors, and planning agencies want to make sure that we, the residents of Encinitas, are kept as far away from these land-use decisions. Treat us like mushrooms, feeds us manure, and the buildings will grow. Don’t mess with their profits! They have too much to lose not to use the slimiest techniques to get our voices silenced.
I happened to spend the day in Newport Beach. If you have never been I would recommend you do the same before you cast your ballot. This could give you a glimpse of what could happen to Encinitas in the next couple decades if we don’t raise our voices now.
VOTE YES ON PROP A. Don’t let Encinitas turn into the next Newport Beach!

SusanT May 23, 2013 at 12:06 pm

City records show that the “years of public input” resulted in the recommendation to keep specific plan areas to the 30′, 2-story General Plan height limit. That was ignored by the then-Council supermajority vote and they voted to create areas higher than what was allowed in the General Plan.

The 4/5 vote also neatly cut city residents out of what should have been a city-wide vote on whether we wanted these taller buildings.

It’s Prop A that honors those years of community input that opposed the taller height limits. The city then disregarded public input; what makes us think they’ll suddenly take us seriously now?

John E May 23, 2013 at 10:47 am

I signed the petition, but I have not yet marked my absentee ballot, because of concerns over unintended consequences of Prop. A.

I love Encinitas May 23, 2013 at 9:49 pm


The unintended consequences you are referring to will still be around if council does decide to put their version of the right-to-vote on the November 2014 ballot. Life is full on unintended consequences. I will take these potential unintended consequences any day over the real consequences of letting the city and developers beat us into submission that we need to live in an urban jungle under the fallacy that so-called “smart-growth”. When it comes to designing a livable community we can all like, I will take the opinion of the community anytime.

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