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Encinitas City Council codified Senate Bill 9 into the city's municipal code. Stock photo
Encinitas City Council codified Senate Bill 9 into the city's municipal code. Stock photo
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Encinitas codifies state housing bill to set development standards

ENCINITAS — The Encinitas City Council unanimously adopted an ordinance on Wednesday, Oct. 26, integrating a controversial state housing law into the city’s municipal code to establish objective development standards and create parameters for eligible developers and property owners. 

Senate Bill 9 allows homeowners to build a second primary dwelling unit or split their property and develop up to four primary units and four accessory dwelling units (ADUs) on a single-family lot.

The new city ordinance includes restrictions on eligible lots regarding setback landscape and various regulations on building height, fire safety, stormwater drainage and parking. 

For instance, the ordinance specifies lot splits must be approximately equal in size (60-40 maximum differential), and the minimum size of any newly-created parcel must be at least 1,200 square feet. The height limit for new dwelling units is 16 feet. The ordinance states developers must create at least one additional parking space (off-street) for each unit in any two-unit residential development that falls under these provisions. 

When proposing four total dwelling units on a single lot, the ordinance also requires at least one of the accessory dwelling units “shall be affordable to a lower income household in perpetuity,” and “payment of an in-lieu fee is not permitted.” No units created under SB 9 may be used for short-term rentals.

SB 9 and Senate Bill 10, a housing law allowing cities to adopt ordinances permitting developers to build up to 10 livable units on virtually any residential lot, are controversial both in Encinitas and statewide.

Critics argue the laws will not only exacerbate the cost of housing in California but will also lead to increased gentrification in suburban communities and weaken the ability of middle-class families to build wealth through homeownership.

Many also argue that such legislation robs local municipalities of their autonomy by imposing sweeping state standards on every city and county, regardless of individual communities’ unique needs and characteristics.

Councilman Tony Kranz maintained that while he opposes SB 9, the council had to take action to ensure that developers taking advantage of the new law do not build in ways that could negatively impact residents’ quality of life and community character. 

“SB 9 is coming whether we do anything or not,” Kranz said. “If the city did nothing, then anybody who owned property qualified for SB 9 development could propose a project that we would have to approve. This resolution creates parameters that are better for the community.

“Now with (this ordinance), we have greater controls over things like stormwater, the pathways, the parking — there’s more say-so from the city in what these projects look like. We’re trying to frame SB 9 favorably for Encinitas and do what we can within the law to make it more beneficial to the community. There are plenty who argue that nothing does that, but I think we have established some clear benefits with this ordinance. And while nobody likes the idea that the state has such a significant influence over how we develop, it’s coming whether we like it or not.”

Kranz reiterated that he believes these types of statewide housing laws go too far and hamstring local governments. 

“I sent in a letter of opposition to SB 9 because they’re doing too much too fast. We need to take a breath to see what the Housing Element will do to the community before opening everything up to SB 9 development. The state is operating as if their hair is on fire, and they’re doing everything they can to break through the logjam that is neighborhood opposition.” 

Councilwoman Joy Lyndes, who also opposes Senate bills 9 and 10, expressed similar sentiments to those of Kranz, saying that city leadership was integrating existing state law into the municipal code in a way that would best fit the housing and development needs of the community. 

“We have to accept it (SB 9) whether we vote or not,” Lyndes said. “The reality is that people are already submitting projects under SB 9. Now that we have objective standards in place, we have more power over what people do with SB 9. By saying no to this (ordinance), we would be saying that the developer can do anything. We want to be able to tell them what we expect to do — to use SB 9 to the benefit of the community. 

“I’m still opposed to SB 9… and there’s certainly the other issue of trying to reform state housing mandates, and that’s still valid, but in the place we’re at right now where we have this mandate imposed on us, the best course of action is to manage the work that the developer is doing.” 

Some residents expressed their opposition to the council’s decision, which they said appeared to be an endorsement of SB 9 against the wishes of Encinitas residents.

“Encinitas should not enact any zoning additions to allow the Home acts: SB 9 and 10 to be enacted,” wrote resident Peter Stern in a statement submitted to the council. “This state legislation completely usurps local zoning and control over land use; ‘one-size-fits-all’ is an insult to small-town coastal California and its arrogant central planning at its worst.”

Encinitas resident Elena Thompson described the council’s move to codify the state law as a hasty decision. 

“There is no need for this mayor and council to rush to the barn here and yet further advance the problematic SB 9 legislation, again, when you have already approved so much new development in the city of Encinitas and have no idea about what the unfunded impacts are that this will cause at build-out,” Thompson said. “This is a dangerous path and puts the public’s safety at risk, imperils current infrastructure, schools, residents and businesses, community character and quality of life. It also increases the liability for the city.” 

Former Encinitas Mayor Jerome Stocks also expressed opposition to the council’s vote, which he said ignored the public’s desire to push back against the state in implementing the new law. 

“Now a single Encinitas home can become four units without a public hearing,” Stocks said. “In keeping with the current culture of our City Council and mayor, Encinitas voted to go along like a good sheep and go along with the state’s destruction of single-family home neighborhoods. I didn’t hear any council or mayoral concern about the lack of parking, lack of water, lack of electricity, lack of parklands, and lack of schools. But they require government price control on the ADU (accessory dwelling units).

“There are possible moves they could’ve explored — but didn’t — if they wanted to attempt to preserve the single-family neighborhood Encinitas we all love instead of rushing to become like El Cajon, filled with rental units. I would’ve tweaked anything the state law was silent on to make automatic approval far less likely. I would’ve reached out to the California League of Cities to find strategies others are implementing to retain local land use authority. They didn’t. They’ve failed at a portion of their primary job — protecting and preserving the quality of life in Encinitas.” 

Lyndes argued that opponents of the ordinance mischaracterized the council’s views on the subject. 

“They’re confusing people by saying that this decision is us accepting SB 9, and it’s not,” Lyndes said. “(The ordinance) is putting objective standards that will protect ourselves from SB 9. SB 9 is already the law that the state is mandating that all the cities comply with, so this (ordinance) is an opportunity to put together objective standards to ensure that developers who go this route respect our city and  our community to the fullest extent possible.” 

Lisa Shaffer, a former deputy mayor of Encinitas, said that the council made the correct move in setting guidelines for developers seeking to take advantage of the new law. 

“(SB 9) is already on the books as a state law,” Shaffer said. “What the city council did was add additional protections for the city to mitigate any possible impacts of the law. The alternative was for the law to be implemented without those protections or to face expensive futile lawsuits for noncompliance.”

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hector lopez November 3, 2022 at 3:50 pm

Yea, not buying the Kranz and Lyndes line that they are against SB9 . We know that Queen Blakespear is in favor of SB9 and both Kranz and Lyndes voted with Blakespear 97-98% of the time. I am surprised that they didn’t not resort to their usual mantra “our hands are tied.” They have zero credibility so I am not buying their line. In fact , I am curious to know what the two had to promise Blakespear in order for Blakespear to grant the two permission to say they were against SB9.
Jerome Stocks has it right about the current mayor and council. This is twice in 30 years that I have agreed with him.
The current 5-0 vote crew need to be replaced.

steve333 October 31, 2022 at 1:36 pm

Kranz and Lyndes have a lot of nerve just before the election saying that they oppose SB9 and 10, while never having stated that before. Only 1 affordable out of 4? Typical.
Notice how Blakespear didn’t say anything? That’s because she supports State control over local housing, SB9 and 10 because that’s what her mentor Toni Atkins tells her to support.
How would a home owner feel to have a 4 plex going up next to what was their American Dream?
This is all coming from The Developer Party yet people keep voting for these corrupted politicians.
Vote out all incumbents, get rid of them.
Matt Gunderson for State Senate
Cindy Cremona for Mayor
Julie Thunder for D3
Bruce Ehlers for D4
Nathan Hochman for AG

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