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Aerial view of a residential area in Encinitas. The city's new goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 44% by 2030. File photo
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Encinitas City Council amends Climate Action Plan

ENCINITAS — In response to evolving state environmental legislation and positive new data, the Encinitas City Council unanimously voted to revise its Climate Action Plan (CAP) three years earlier than scheduled during a Nov. 18 meeting.

The decision further helped solidify the city’s regional leadership role in taking actionable steps to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

The council also passed a draft ordinance regulating sober living homes, as well as accepted $300,000 in grant funding to begin drafting a plan to improve the El Camino Real corridor.

In presenting to the council, city staff detailed amendments to the 2018 CAP, including measures supporting state decarbonization legislation, biking and pedestrian infrastructure, and paperless online permitting as well as the completion of the Active Transportation Plan Measure.

According to the city, the purpose of the CAP is to “provide a comprehensive roadmap to address the challenges of climate change… by reduc[ing] greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from activities within the city while supporting the community in adapting to and improving its resilience to a changing climate.”

Enacted in early 2018, the previous CAP was established with the expectation of an interim update reflecting the impact of changing housing numbers on GHG emissions within the city.

Based on recent SANDAG data on housing, employment and vehicle miles traveled (VMT), the city and the Energy Policy Initiatives Center learned the city’s expected 2030 GHG emissions have decreased with support from state, federal and city actions. Encinitas’ new goal is to reduce GHG emissions 44% by 2030, a 5% increase from the 2018 CAP projection.

In addition, the revised CAP included limited new measures supporting the city’s positive environmental impact, including supporting decarbonization legislation; increased education on electric-based energy sources; the installation of pedestrian and biking infrastructure; a survey of pedestrian, cyclist and transit ridership; and paperless online permitting.

During the meeting, Commissioner Jim Wang noted the gravity of the current climate situation, describing the amended CAP as “the kind of progress that we need to avoid a serious crisis.”

“Let’s show other cities what [Encinitas] can and should do,” said Wang.

Mayor Catherine Blakespear supported the city’s increased efforts on tracking pedestrian and cyclist data, citing the need to quantify the results of recent infrastructure improvements including the reconstructed bike lane on Coast Highway 101 and future projects improving infrastructure surrounding schools.

During the course of the meeting, the council also unanimously introduced a draft ordinance regulating group home and sober living operations, citing an increase in noise and traffic complaints from residential neighborhoods.

The City of Encinitas does not currently have regulations for group homes, including sober living homes, however, the proposed ordinance would require establishments to apply for a permit, instituting a series of regulations.

Among other requirements, the ordinance necessitates “residential care facilities” to admit six or fewer persons in addition to one house manager, who must be present at the home on a 24-hour basis and is responsible for day-to-day operations.

Each tenant is limited to one vehicle with permitted garage and street parking within 500 feet of the dwelling unit, must be actively participating in “legitimate recovery programs,” and commit to a written policy regarding the possession, use, and storage of alcohol, marijuana, or any non-prescription drugs.

The draft ordinance drew sharp criticism during public comment.

Sherry Daley, governmental affairs director of the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals, suggested the ordinance violated the rights of a person in recovery.

“Could you do this to another group? Would you be allowed to say that LGBTQ people could only live in groups of six? Would you be able to do this to a group of blind people or veterans? There’s no difference, this is a group of protected people,” Daley said.

Councilman Tony Kranz commented, “I have no interest in shutting these people down but I do think it’s important to provide the residents to this city with some ways they can maintain their communities. It will require they spend some effort in getting [permits] but I think it’s the very minimum we need to ask to protect the folks living in the neighborhoods these sober living facilities inhabit.”

Blakespear also expressed compassion for those battling addiction, however, ultimately agreed that the city needed to exact a measure to regulate such homes in residential neighborhoods stating “[the city’s] had complaints and have been unable to manage those with the tools we’ve had.”

The meeting and agenda items can be viewed in full at the City’s Agendas and Webcasts page.