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Encinitas seeks fix for ‘mini-dorms’

ENCINITAS — City Council heard citizens’ concerns June 16 about multi-residence, single-family homes or “mini-dorms” that allow rooms of a house to be rented out to multiple individuals with separate leases. Concerns ranged from limited neighborhood parking to excess noise and health concerns.
In some neighborhoods the problem has gone on for years. “There were 11 cars for that one house on average,” a resident of Encinitas Estates, who requested his name be withheld, said. “There’s trash, drinking, old cars that don’t run.”
Mayor Maggie Houlihan cited a mini-dorm in her neighborhood that houses too many renters and causes excess trash and safety concerns. “One house like this is a cancer,” Houlihan said. “We’re dealing with greedy people (homeowners). It’s difficult for the city to enforce it, but we do need to somehow.”
Council voted unanimously to form a subcommittee to look into specific neighborhood concerns with mini dorms and make recommendations to council.
Subcommittees have proven successful in finding solutions, but Councilman Jerome Stocks requested the city take more immediate and aggressive action. “Forming a committee is nice, but we’re pushing the ball down the field,” Stocks said. “I prefer affirmative action. It’s a significant issue of property value and community value.”
The subcommittee will consist of three residents who neighbor mini dorms, a nonprofit community resource center, a property management company, and a housing authority tenant. Subcommittee meetings will be open to the public and recommendations will be brought back to council within 60 to 90 days.
City staff was directed to look into neighborhood parking concerns immediately.
A city bylaw to define mini dorms was suggested and may be considered after subcommittee recommendations are heard. The strength of a bylaw is that it gives the city more arm to enforce that homeowners run mini dorms according to the adopted city definition.