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A rendering of Piraeus Point, a 150-unit townhome development in Leucadia. Photo courtesy of Lennar Homes
A rendering of Piraeus Point, a 150-unit townhome development in Leucadia. Photo courtesy of Lennar Homes
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Encinitas reluctantly OKs Piraeus Point over community opposition

ENCINITAS — Piraeus Point, a project consisting of nearly 150 townhomes at Piraeus Street and Plato Place in Leucadia, received 3-1 approval from the Encinitas City Council despite resounding opposition from the community.

At a City Council meeting Wednesday, public comments took over an hour. More than 15 people spoke, nine donated their speaking time to others and 10 registered opposition. Over 30 people gave input in one way or another, and none supported Lennar Homes’ plans for development.

But the council said its hands were tied, ultimately denying an appeal of the project and allowing it to move forward. 

Due to the housing shortage, the state legislature has passed laws making it easier to develop new housing. Piraeus Point fits the guidelines in the Housing Accountability Act, which requires developments to align with zoning laws, not adversely affect the water supply or public health and meet the standards of the California Environmental Quality Act and the California Coastal Act. 

The Piraeus Point neighborhood would consist of 52 one-bedroom homes, 37 two-bedroom homes and 60 three-bedroom homes, with 15 of the homes reserved for “very low” income households. All units will be for sale, not for rent.

The Planning Commission approved the project, but the Encinitas Community Collective filed an appeal at the end of May arguing the development would, in fact, negatively impact the environment and public health. 

The appeal prompted city staff to investigate seven areas that could potentially give the council reason to override the Planning Commission’s decision or add contingencies to it: an easement, whether the staircase to the roof is considered a floor, the date of the application versus the date the latest city design standards were approved, several environmental concerns and conditions of public approval.

A notice of permit application sign for the Piraeus Point townhouse development. Photo by Stephen Wyer
A notice of permit application sign for the Piraeus Point townhouse development in Leucadia. File photo

Staff found no reason for the council to override the decision.

“The project is consistent with the goals and policies identified in the [Local Coastal Program] and staff continues to support the recommendation of approval of the project,” said Anna Colamussi, the city’s assistant development services director.

Community members disagreed.

“There is, of course, a long list of adverse effects these new developments will have on the community so I’ll keep it to the bulletin: erosion of wildlife habitat — as a Native American, that really strikes a chord with me — increased pollution, community safety issues and education overcrowding,” said Erin Nicole Stephenson, who has lived in Encinitas for 38 years.

Scott Campbell, a software engineer who said he’d be able to see the new development from his backyard, raised grievances with the architecture of the development, the potential vehicle congestion on Piraeus Street and Leucadia Boulevard and the visual impact on the I-5 corridor.

Campbell said the buildings don’t match the architectural character of the neighborhood. The structure is not near public transit, and the travel time analysis was based on a 55-mile-per-hour speed limit where the speed limit on Leucadia Boulevard is 40 mph and Piraeus Street is 45 mph. 

The state’s Coastal Act lists one of its goals as the ability to “enhance and restore the overall quality of the coastal zone environment,” and Campbell said the construction would contradict that goal.

“I just do not understand how buildings can enhance any scenic beauty at all in any way,” he said.

Many speakers echoed concerns about the scenic beauty of the area.

“The new development of this condominium will be abhorrently devastating to this community,” Stephenson said. “It will completely change the skyline, the beautiful sunsets and the overall small town ambiance and glow of this rare gem.”

Luke Shaffer pointed out city policies that could necessitate an override.

City land use policy says, “The construction of very large buildings shall be discouraged where such structures are incompatible with surrounding development,” and Piraeus Point is a large building.

“I do not hold Lennar in any harm or bad feelings,” Shaffer said. “This is their job. They’re a very public company and they’re loud about the fact that they make a lot of money … Our job as the residents is to come to you guys who we voted here to protect us.”

Council members shared worries about the success of the project.

“This project is bound on one side by an urban river called a freeway, on the north side by a lagoon with one neighborhood there; there are no businesses anywhere around and probably the biggest omission in my mind is that there’s no walkable path to school,” Councilmember Bruce Ehlers said.

Ultimately, Ehlers was the only “no” vote, with Councilmember Kellie Hinze absent.

“I’m sitting here with very mixed feelings,” Councilmember Allison Blackwell said. “I do support development that adds more affordable housing to our city, but I’ve listened to all these neighbors and this project is not a great project from their perspective. It’s clear.”

Despite these mixed feelings, Blackwell, Mayor Tony Kranz and Deputy Mayor Joy Lyndes felt obligated to approve the project.

“I acknowledge your reasons for being here to oppose this project are real,” Kranz said. “I feel it, I understand it, but in the end, we’re up against state housing law — Housing Accountability Act — and so, as I look at this project within the four corners of the law, I don’t know how we can deny it.”

5 comments

JohnEldon August 29, 2023 at 11:37 am

Are you at all familiar with the access roads to this development? They are narrow and extremely limited in carrying capacity.

JohnEldon August 29, 2023 at 11:35 am

Have some consideration for the neighbors. Eliminate the obnoxious roof decks!

Tappleg8 August 29, 2023 at 8:50 am

New housing is always controversial, seems once someone buys their own home they do everything they can to keep out additional housing. My ‘bone of contention’ with this particular project is that it is not dense enough. We have a severe housing problem, not enough and too expensive, we must build up and dense. Don’t need no more single-family California sprawling homes; need multiple units to house our children, workers, seniors, and others.

JohnEldon August 29, 2023 at 11:36 am

Consider how people want to live. There is an acute shortage of detached housing that enables people to have true ownership.

steve333 August 28, 2023 at 1:03 pm

Once again Kranz proves to be a Blakespear clone and the appointed puppet goes along just like Joy Lyndes has done ever since she was appointed by Blakespear.
Over and over again the poor choices by voters all lead to one thing-the destruction of Encinitas and the enrichment of developers. Pathetic

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