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There are over 20 California cities and counties working with the California Community Housing Agency. Photo by Dan Brendel
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Encinitas joins state housing agency to help middle-income residents

ENCINITAS — The Encinitas City Council unanimously voted to join the California Community Housing Agency at last week’s council meeting. The agency will help the city secure and fund affordable housing for middle-income residents.

CalCHA is a political subdivision of the state that works with municipalities to provide, preserve and support affordable housing for low-to-middle income residents. There are over 20 California cities and counties working with CalCHA, including Berkeley, Escondido, Chula Vista, La Mesa, Santa Rosa, Napa and more.

Jordan Moss, founder of Catalyst Housing Group, works as an asset manager for CalCHA and gave a presentation to council members last Wednesday.

Many coastal cities, including Encinitas, struggle to retain essential workers such as teachers, nurses and first responders because of the cost of living. These individuals are often forced to live elsewhere, contributing to traffic congestion and pollution in their everyday commute.

CalCHA will present real estate opportunities to the city, which will approve or deny each potential project. CalCHA provides the deposits on the existing properties or potential projects to provide an immediate benefit for the community.

After 15 years, the city is given the option to purchase the property from CalCHA. If the city decides to pass on the purchase, it would still receive the proceeds from the property sale.

“One of the key factors of this comes back to leveraging public financing to create a public benefit,” Moss told the council.

Councilmember Kellie Hinze said this opportunity was exactly what the city needed. Oftentimes, Hinze said, essential workers and middle-income professionals are forced to leave town because they can no longer afford to live in Encinitas.

“It’s so remarkable it’s almost too good to be true,” Hinze said. “It kind of hurts my brain to think about how amazing it is.”

The council discussed the opportunity for approximately two hours, a back and forth of questions and answers, before ultimately deciding to move forward with CalCHA.

Councilmember Joe Mosca also expressed his support for joining the housing agency but requested the council table the vote for one month so more questions could be answered.

Mayor Catherine Blakespear countered and insisted the council move quickly.

The motion to join CalCHA originally passed with four council members voting in favor, with Mosca abstaining. The city attorney explained members had to vote in favor or against unless there was some sort of conflict. Mosca cast his vote in favor, passing the motion unanimously.

Earlier in the meeting, the council discussed raising the speed limit on Via Cantebria between Garden View Road and Town Center Drive from 25 mph to 30 mph. The current speed limit has been unenforceable by the Sheriff’s department because a traffic study hadn’t been conducted in the area, preventing them from issuing speeding tickets.

Councilmembers agreed that slower speeds were ideal because of Leo Mullen Sports Park. Mosca encouraged other council members to deny the motion and engineer the road to keep the speed limit at 25 mph.

“When we are pushing up these speed limits in some of these streets it’s having ripple effects,” he said. “I think we should give some time to see how some of these calming measures work on that road, and if that doesn’t work out, well I think we should be engineering that road even more so to bring the road down.”

The other four council members voted in favor of increasing the speed limit so law enforcement could issue citations along Via Cantebria for the time being.

The council also held a ceremonial swearing-in of its newest member, Joy Lyndes. She was officially sworn in on Feb. 25.