ENCINITAS —The Encinitas City Council voted on August 19 to deny the appeal of a local developer seeking to construct a timeshare hotel on the corner of La Costa Avenue and Coast Highway 101 in Leucadia.
The council’s 5-0 decision reaffirmed a June 18 decision by the Encinitas Planning Commission, which also voted unanimously to deny approval for the development, citing that developer Dan Reedy’s permits were 15 years old, void and in need of replacement.
However, during Wednesday’s city council meeting, the city’s Planning Division (a separate city-run department), along with Reedy and his attorney John Smaha, of Smaha Law Group, presented a formal appeal, arguing the permits were legally viable.
During the Planning Division’s presentation, which can be viewed in full online, staff argued the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and traffic impact studies conducted in 2005 were still applicable.
“We have noted the 2005 approvals and determined the project to be in compliance with the general municipal code and design recommendations of the North 101 Corridor,” said Anna Colamussi, the city’s principal planner.
However, since a portion of the Reedy’s proposed development resides on North County Transit District (NCTD) land, he was required to split construction into two phases, prompting multiple questions and concerns from councilmembers and Mayor Catherine Blakespear.
“This is a substantially changed project from what was originally proposed in 2005, there are substantially changed circumstances requiring a new Environmental Impact Report and there is strong evidence that these permits have expired,” Blakespear said.
The first phase of construction was scheduled to occur on Reedy’s property, while the second phase would purportedly take place on NCTD land at an unspecified future date.
Further complicating matters, NCTD and Reedy never established an official contract outlining a project start date or construction details.
Blakespear, noting the city’s past experience with NCTD, did not have confidence the regional transit agency would ultimately grant approval to the second phase of construction.
Councilman Tony Kranz questioned the environmental impact of the extended construction timeline.
“We’re going to be bulldozing, doing the initial grading and come back an unknown number of years later and do more?”
Deputy Mayor Kellie Hinze wished to confirm how the proposed public improvements such as sidewalks, trails and street-widening would fit into the two-phased construction timeline. Hinze also expressed grave concerns about current climate conditions, such as sea-level rise due to climate change, which likely won’t be adequately addressed within an outdated environmental impact report.
Smah, Reedy’s attorney, repeatedly argued the permits granted to Reedy in 2005 were legal, claiming the city could not invalidate its own approval without a public hearing.
Reedy also expressed frustration with his perceived lack of communication between the city’s Planning Division and the Planning Commission.
“I was misled for at least 10 or 20 years,” Reedy said. “We’re here to accommodate, but you’ve got to give me some clear directions. The Planning Commission and Planning Staff appear to not be on the same page.”
Challengers in the city’s upcoming local elections participated in Q&A portions of the meeting, submitting public comments in agreement that Reedy’s appeal should be denied.
“We now have a window of opportunity to do the same for Leucadia that Harbaugh Seaside Trails did for Solana Beach, that is conserve open space and care for it as a valuable asset,” said Julie Thunder, an Encinitas mayoral candidate.
Thunder suggested a $100,000 donation from a local Encinitas resident could start a fundraising effort to purchase Reedy’s property.
“If we do not start taking a long view at the cumulative negative impact on the surrounding neighborhoods will experience… even more traffic congestion, lower quality of life and ultimately decrease public safety,” said Alex Riley, District 1 candidate.
Susan Turney, a District 2 candidate, also supported denying Reedy’s appeal.
“This project may have gotten a pass 15 years ago by a different council but that does not change the fact that Surfer’s Point does not meet the design review guidelines.”
On a separate note, during the course of the meeting, Hubbard took a moment to address a personal issue by sharing that earlier this spring, she was diagnosed with “advanced, non-smokers, lung cancer.
“My life changed forever,” Hubbard said. “The past two months have been a whirlwind of testing and infusion treatments but I’ve responded well to treatment. My dedication to serving hasn’t wavered and I’m committed to preserving and improving the lifestyle we all love. I’m currently taking each day as it comes and will continue my duties as you’re elected on the Encinitas city council with the same dedication as when I was elected in 2018.”
Hubbard thanked the council and Encinitas residents for their continued support.