ENCINITAS — The Encinitas City Council voted unanimously last week to provide additional funding for a project proposal to improve the El Camino Real corridor, the city’s busiest commercial area.
After receiving a $300,000 grant from the California Department of Housing and Community Development last November, city staff requested an additional $315,000 from the city’s general fund to begin plans, including hiring a contractor to begin work with staff and the community.
The council’s vote last week approved the staff’s funding request.
“We are showing a commitment to this important corridor,” Councilmember Joe Mosca said. “Deputy Mayor Kranz and myself have been advocating for this for some time and to invest in this corridor. Tonight we have another opportunity to show that commitment.”
While the plans are still in the early development process, the city has laid out some goals such as making the existing corridor more walkable for both people working and shopping as well as the construction of new housing.
The city will seek input from those in the community to discover locals’ priorities for the area through surveys and virtual presentations. Final plans for the project are not expected to be presented until the winter of 2023.
“We can’t do it alone. We need input from the community to create the specific plan for the El Camino Real corridor in a meaningful way,” Mosca said. “This is the first step of many in the planning process. We encourage the community to get involved.”
The grant awarded to the city in November by the state housing agency is given to city governments for two reasons — to accelerate housing production and to facilitate compliance with the 6th Cycle housing element.
This might mean the project will include some amount of housing development, including the possibility of lower-income housing.
“I’m excited about how we’re going to make this whole corridor safer, more walkable, and find opportunities even for perhaps some affordable housing,” Mosca said.
Councilmember Kellie Hinze expressed her excitement for the potential with this plan and urged local business and property owners to both remain excited as well as keep this plan in mind through what will be a long process.
“I think it’s also really important that there is a big emphasis put on really engaging these property owners,” Hinze said. “To let them know that though this process might be slow and there are all these steps in the roadmap that we’re going through, that they just keep this effort in the back of their mind when considering leases to sign and re-sign.”
The council voted unanimously to move forward with the allocation of funds as the first major step in the planning process. Mayor Catherine Blakespear was as excited as any other member with the possibilities of the project.
“It’s important for the city to invest in the specific plan at a time when our community needs it the most,” Blakespear said. “Projects like this not only will improve mobility, neighborhood connectivity and the quality of life for our community members but will contribute to our long-term economic vitality as well.”