ENCINITAS — In a unanimous vote on Oct. 21, the Encinitas City Council awarded a Phase 1 construction bid for the Leucadia Streetscape Project. The plan includes a progression of infrastructure improvements along Coast Highway 101 and is scheduled to begin preliminary construction later this year.
Granite Construction Company, the same organization awarded the construction bid for the El Portal railroad underpass crossing, will serve as the general construction contractor. The company estimated between 14 to 16 months to complete Phase 1.
Construction, costing the city a total of $8.99 million, will extend from Marcheta Street south to Basil Street, including an El Portal roundabout connecting to the previously approved railroad underpass crossing.
Jill Bankston, Principal Engineer for the City of Encinitas, shared the city staff’s enthusiasm, describing the bid as the “culmination of decades of collective effort to preserve, improve, and revitalize the North Coast Highway 101 corridor between Eighth Street and La Costa.”
According to Bankston, Phase 1 includes revitalizing a tree canopy, new drainage infrastructure, parking pods and pavement rehabilitation. These measures aim to calm traffic congestion and encourage walking and cycling, improving pedestrian access to Leucadia’s business district.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled and can’t wait for it to be finished,” said Mayor Catherine Blakespear. “It’s going to be amazing.”
Additionally, the council voted unanimously to accept changes in State Law in regards to Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (JADU), as well as providing recommendations to staff on the City’s ADU program initiatives.
Currently, the city offers incentives to homeowners interested in constructing either an ADU, an attached or detached residential dwelling unit on the same lot as an existing primary residence or JADU, an additional residential dwelling unit no larger than 500 square feet in area.
The council discussed methods of increasing ADU production as a method of meeting low to moderate-income housing requirements, obtaining additional input from residents on the city’s ADU policies and streamlining the permitting process.
Supporting additional financial incentives for ADU’s, Councilmembers Tony Kranz and Joe Mosca insisted on any programs that contribute to the city’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA).
“I want to make sure any projects the city participates in financially are indeed counting towards our RHNA obligation for low and very low-income housing so we are not in the position of having to up-zone additional parcels,” Kranz said.
Blakespear agreed, suggesting the city staff return with a recommendation on how to properly incentivize low-income housing while also still encouraging the construction of moderate-income ADU’s.
“(ADU’s) fundamentally give additional value to the landowner, not to a developer, and they are more easily absorbed into neighborhoods than any (other) type of the additional density (construction) we struggle with in our city,” Blakespear said. “These units are important and they become housing that is affordable.”
Councilmember Hinze recommended the city seek general residential input saying, “the missing piece is input from our community,” further suggesting the city ask residents, “what would incentivize you to build an ADU and why haven’t you done it yet?”
Mosca agreed, suggesting the city both incentivize ADU construction as a means of increasing low-income housing as well as conducting further outreach with residents.
Additionally, Kranz presented an update on his participation in the North County Transit District board meeting, as well as addressing residents’ concern over a rumored six-foot chain link fence planned along the rail corridor, which according to Kranz is untrue.
In closing, Hinze and Mosca updated the council on the School District Liason Committee meeting discussing equality in schools, inviting representatives from local organizations including civil rights group Encinitas 4 Equality, MiraCosta College’s Associated Student Body President and local school board members.
Mosca further complimented Hinze’s leadership in the meeting, hosting “tough conversations… and including other folks that truly walk in those shoes in our community,” and the city’s Safe Routes to School program.