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The newly approved percentages represent a 5% increase citywide. File photo
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Encinitas City Council approves 5-percentage-point increase of inclusionary housing requirements

ENCINITAS — After weeks of discussion amongst members of the city’s Planning Commission, the Encinitas City Council approved a staff recommendation this week regarding changes to the city’s inclusionary housing ordinance.

The approval changes the city’s municipal code to require inclusionary housing at a rate of 15% for very low-income units or 20% for low-income units citywide.

The council approved in a unanimous vote the resolution as recommended by city staff, which was identical to the Planning Commission’s proposal except for the addition of a 50% inclusionary requirement for sites in the R-30 overlay zone.

The Planning Commission had approved the recommendation in a 4-1 vote to require inclusionary housing at 25% for both very low-income and low-income units within the R-30 zone.

The newly approved percentages represent an increase of 5 percentage points citywide.

The council also approved as part of the motion an in-lieu fee of $20 per square foot as another method of compliance for developers. The Planning Commission had previously recommended an in-lieu fee of $25 per square foot in a 3-2 vote.

Bob Kent, a founding member of Keys4Homes, a local housing advocacy group, used the public comment portion of the City Council meeting to express his support for the staff recommendation.

Kent pointed to cities mentioned in the staff report, Corte Madera, Capitola and San Clemente, which have higher inclusionary rates but have struggled to build low-income units.

“Even though we’d like to see affordable housing built at a higher inclusionary percentage, unfortunately, these cases provide some real-life context that adopting a higher inclusionary percentage does not necessarily in itself result in the desired policy objective of more affordable housing for lower-income households,” Kent said.

Councilmember Joe Mosca communicated his support for the measure with the hope it can push the city to its ultimate housing goals.

“The 5% citywide increase I think is reasonable,” Mosca said. “And it pushes us in the right direction. We’re making small changes although if you look over the longer period of time, we’ve gone up considerably from several years ago.”

Mosca echoed some of the sentiments of public speakers on the topic as well as showing a desire for a 100% housing project.

“I think what we need to do is pivot as quickly as possible from this to talk about a 100% affordable housing project that we put together,” Mosca said. “We need to talk about all the different elements of that because it doesn’t happen overnight. I am absolutely committed to seeing that we build something in the neighborhood of 100% affordable housing in our city.”

Another Planning Commission recommendation was to perform another economic analysis of inclusionary housing. The commission was not satisfied with Keyser Marston Associates’ analysis done and requested the city find another third-party firm to redo the analysis. The council did not include that request in its approval.

Paul Marra, a representative of Keyser Marston Associates, defended his firm’s analysis during the meeting this week.

“The cap rates are consistent with what we’ve seen most recently in the San Diego region and looking back at a five-year survey of cap rates for apartment properties throughout the county,” Marra said. “We feel confident that our conclusions are still valid today and are appropriate for your decision-making tonight.”

CORRECTION: The original version of this article incorrectly stated the municipal code was updated to require “inclusionary housing at a rate of 15% for very low-income units AND 20% for low-income units citywide.” However, the correct language is “inclusionary housing at a rate of 15% for very low-income units OR 20% for low-income units citywide.” Also, the increase is 5 percentage points, not 5%.