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General plan open house part of education outreach

ENCINITAS — As part of an expanded effort to engage and inform the public regarding the issues surrounding the general plan, the city hosted an open house at the Encinitas Library Oct. 17.
While attendance was sporadic, Senior planner Diane Langager said that for many of the attendees this was their first experience with the general plan. “Many people expressed that they’ve never been to a meeting before,” she said. “It’s never too late to get involved, by any means.”
In January 2010, a general plan advisory committee, along with city staff and a consulting firm began the first phase of updating the general plan. Over the next six months, the group facilitated five community specific workshops and multiple citywide workshops throughout the spring and summer.
After two years of planning and gathering public input, the city released its first draft of the general plan update on Sept. 1 to a less than enthusiastic crowd at a regular City Council meeting.
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.
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.
As a result of the concerns expressed by residents and council members, a subcommittee was formed to address ways to receive more input from the public. “We are planning more open houses like this one and an additional stakeholder group will be created,” Langager said. The council subcommittee is comprised of Councilwomen Teresa Barth and Kristin Gaspar. “They will decide the composition of the new group and what direction the outreach should take,” Langager said.
At least one attendee reading the thick binders on the various tables in the library and looking at the oversized maps detailing the proposed changes in the general plan had concerns.
Jane Hendricks, a Leucadia resident, said her highest priority was what she considered the overdevelopment of the city. “I don’t want this community to be that dense,” she said, referring to the increase in single and multi-family construction. “The traffic will increase so much and it’s already bad enough.”
“I grew up on the East Coast and they do such a better job maintaining open space,” she said.
“I don’t see visionaries here,” she said. “They just want to build, build, build.” She referenced the Pacific View Elementary School as an example. “It should be a park,” she said. “How dare the school district sue us instead of making it into something for the children like it was intended to be.”
Hendricks also said effective public transportation was lacking in the draft general plan. Nearing retirement age, Hendricks said she plans to take public transportation when she doesn’t have a work schedule to keep. “It’s impossible now to get around on a bus or a train if you have to work,” she said. “If we’re really planning for the future we have to think about increasing public transportation.”
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