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First draft of general plan ready to view

ENCINITAS — After two years of planning and gathering public input, the city released its first draft of the general plan update on Sept. 1. The arts was front and center in the massive document as the city planning department said it intends to highlight various sections in the coming months as a way to easily inform the public about the content of the new draft plan.
The policy document intended to guide the city’s decision-making over the next 25 years is comprised of multiple elements that inform planners, developers, policymakers and the community.
Beginning in January 2010, a general plan advisory committee, along with city staff and a consultant, began the first phase of updating the general plan.
The city’s blueprint has been updated to address new policy issues such as sustainable and healthy communities, green building codes and emissions standards.
The plan also speaks to traffic circulation, walkable communities, economic and environmental sustainability and recycling. The existing general plan was adopted in 1989.
But the document also states that arts and cultural activities “play an important role in community life.” Rather than just a brick and mortar urban planning document, the general plan update incorporates the importance of art within the goals and policies with the intent to “strengthen and enhance the arts in Encinitas and to provide guiding principles and strategies to respond to art issues,” according to the language of the document.
“It’s great to see art and culture, including historic preservation, referred to throughout the draft general plan,” Highway 101 Corridor Coordinator Peder Norby said. “Art and cultural can give a community an identification that is separate and distinct from any other place on earth.   In a sea of generic sameness, a community rich in art and culture expressing their unique creativity and place on earth is an enriched community.”
The city has a wealth of artistic talent. “The Encinitas arts community has been under served in the past,” said Dody Crawford, executive director of the Downtown Encinitas Mainstreet Association. “There is a real need for a Cultural Arts Center with music, theater, dance and film venues.  Artists in Encinitas need outlets for their endeavors and they should be local.” 
Crawford cited recent reports about the region’s arts community as evidence of the city’s potential for growth.
“The San Diego Foundation has just released a study to provide a first-ever portrait of artists living and working in San Diego County and their impact in communities and on the economy,” she said.  “San Diego County ranked 11th in the nation in number of artists in residence.  Out of that, Encinitas ranked second in the number of artists who live and work in our county.  Naturally, the arts element in the General Plan is vital if the city’s plan is to reflect its community.”
Recent events including the installation of the “Surfing Madonna” and the ever-changing “Cardiff Kook” have brought the issue of policies surrounding public art to the forefront.
“Art can cause many problematic issues that can be challenging for a city to navigate,” Norby said. “A wise city makes the decision to have abundant art and the related issues sometimes uncomfortable, rather than having no art, thus no issues and a bland generic existence.”
The city’s volunteer arts commission had input in the development of some of the guiding principles in the draft document. Erica Heisler, chair of the Commission for the Arts, served as the liaison to the general plan advisory committee.
“I believe that the commission’s goals of incorporating the visual, performing, and literary arts in the life of our community and of making opportunities to experience, learn about, and produce art available to all segments of our diverse community are effectively conveyed,” she said.  “The community benefits enormously when they recognize and nurture their own local artists.”
But, the document still has room for improvement. “As we move through the fall and winter, the Commission for the Arts will be discussing the goals and policies set out in this draft of the General Plan update in more detail,” Heisler said.
The public can access the full draft of the General Plan update and leave comments at


Olivier Canler October 25, 2011 at 8:41 pm

If the plan is adopted as is, I propose we rename El Camino Real to HELL Camino Real.
Stop the insanity of a plan that will bring headaches to everybody along El Camino Real.
The City Planners would have been better off buying SimCity for $40 and build up their visionary city in a virtual world instead of spending $1.1M with out-of-town consultants. They would have done a lot less damage.

Invalid Methods September 10, 2011 at 5:34 pm

The idea that there was anything akin to appropriate citizen participation is a joke. In some cases, huge conclusions about residents wishes were reached based upon survey responses of fewer than 1% of Encinitas residents.

For example, the multi-story parking structure in the location of the Henry’s shopping center was proposed to fewer than 30 people. In a city with 60,000 residents, this is completely invalid and needs to be thrown out! I invite anyone reading this to ask Encinitas friends and neighbors if they voted for 4 and 5 story buildings on El Camino Real. Those of us who participated had no idea how such a conclusion was reached, when there were no questions to indicate that this was what was under consideration.

In addition, participants answers were blended to suit the goals and purposes of the Planning Department. Answers of ‘deserves consideration’ were added to ‘yes’ answers. There was also a choice of ‘I don’t know,’ which also may have been blended with other answers to buoy up political agendas.

There was no awareness among participants that answers could be blended with ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to support an unpopular policy for expanded mixed use, which frankly, no resident outside of City employees or people in the building/development industry seem to support.

How could such a disasterous waste of millions of dollars be ‘celebrated’ when the methodology is so completely unacceptable and abusive to the participants who also are paying for it? I am furious that funds that could have been spent to attain valid citizen feedback were wasted this way.

The majority who live in this city want to keep it the way it is. Perhaps the greatest flaw in this process is that City employees and the consulting firm that was paid several million for their involvement, have a conflict of interest, since they believe that their retirements will be funded through new development.

celebratemixeduse September 9, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Along with the completely changed General Plan now in a draft form, City Hall should also change the city name to fit the proposed new plan. Among the suggestions: University Town Center (UTC) north.

Celebrate poor neighborhood planning. Join the Planning Department in their celebration on September 19 from 6-8:30 pm at the Community/Senior Center, 1140 Oakcrest Drive at Encinitas Blvd. and Balour.

concerned2011 September 9, 2011 at 7:52 am

The planning department is celebrating the changes they have made to the General Plan.
The public doesn’t know exactly where all the changes have been made because the Planning Director will not release that information.

A small portion of the changes can be seen reflected in the zoning amendments.

Some of what is known so far:

Residents don’t want mixed use; the Planning Department does and intends to turn major shopping areas in Encinitas into a combination of condos/offices/commercial with parking structures.

The first large area for this change will be El Camino Real.

A minimum of 1000 dwelling units (condos) plus parking structures will be added to the current shopping area. Planning is also increasing the height of buildings in the new mixed use areas.

The current General Plan prohibits buildings over 30 feet or two stories. City Planners want 35-40 feet tall buildings. Incidentally, the City Council can add more condos with a General Plan amendment.
Is this how residents see the City of Encinitas in 2035?

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