ESCONDIDO – The City of Escondido held its first public participation workshop last Thursday to gather input for its Housing and Community Investment Study, a work program that aims to identify and address the city’s housing needs.
The Housing and Community Investment Study is made up of three housing studies and plans that work hand-in-hand: A Housing Element Update, a Sector Feasibility Study, and an East Valley Specific Plan.
The city was awarded $310,000 through the Senate Bill 2 Planning Grant back in March to address a growing need new safe, decent and attainable housing in California, according to the staff report.
The Housing Element portion of the General Plan aims to create policies for new housing construction, rehabilitation and conservation of the existing affordable housing stock.
According to the report, this will “advance a progressive set of programs and initiatives to develop, conserve, and maintain housing opportunities, health in housing and fair housing choices for current and future residents.”
The Sector Feasibility Study explores costs associated with new construction to better understand market conditions while taking into account construction, land and regulatory costs.
The East Valley Specific Plan (EVSP) addresses a defined geographic area of the city located just east of the former, downtown hospital campus. This is a comprehensive planning and zoning plan for sites in the area that are ready for development.
Mike Strong, the director of community development for the City of Escondido, told The Coast News that, though the three studies are moving simultaneously, the EVSP will be more precise than the others.
“The EVSP is really looking at how that area of the city can transform itself between now and the next 20 years, and are we developing a package of rules that is understandable, but also, when implemented, helps achieve the vision that the community wants to see in that area,” Strong said.
Once all three studies are completed, the City Council will need to review them and implement policies based on findings from the Housing Element and from the EVSP.
Until then, the city says it is committed to working with development experts, community-based interest groups, stakeholders and the community at large through workshops, meetings and online engagement with the public.
The first virtual workshop was held on July 23 to discuss the EVSP and gather public input.
“We are trying to have one coordinated and cohesive outreach program that handles all engagement needs to determine what the goals and policies are, and how it will be systematically implemented in this specific area of the city,” Strong said. “That’s why we’ve created these opportunities for feedback.”
The Housing and Community Investment Study is expected to be completed by April 2021.