The Coast News Group
Community Commentary

General Plan Update review committee off to rocky start

By Olivier Canler

What’s the best way to make sure your controversial plan gets approved?  Have a committee of handpicked people review it.

That’s what appears to be happening in Encinitas.

The General Plan Update, the roadmap for land-use zoning that will change the character of our city, has met with public outcry. This flawed document allows for the construction of 1,255 new apartments on El Camino Real, another 1,100 throughout the city, an increase in building heights, and much more.

Questions have been swirling around the plan’s creation and intent, so the Encinitas City Council created the Element Review Advisory Committee (ERAC)—a committee charged with reviewing the General Plan Update.

The Encinitas City Council picked the committee members, and the results are now public.   Twelve (12) out of the 21 appointees are either developers or are some way involved in real estate.  Seven don’t even live in Encinitas.

Some have direct ties to the majority council members. Only one individual will represent New Encinitas (where most of the proposed development will happen).  The original candidate for New Encinitas actually lived in Old Encinitas and was the president of the Encinitas Rotary Club where Mayor Stocks, Deputy Mayor Gaspar, and Councilman Bond are members. Not surprisingly, they voted for him.  This individual will be removed after a protest was lodged, but it makes one suspicious about the entire selection process. There is even one candidate picked for a position for which he appears to have no qualification or interest. His background in real estate finance must have made the difference.

It is very revealing that the majority council will allow out-of town developers and real estate professional to have a say on what our General plan Update should look like. These people are not concerned about preserving community character. It does not impact them since they don’t live here. The only impact they will care about is what the General Plan Update will do to their pocketbook.

Cutting to the chase, the General Plan Update is really about the size, type, and extent  of new construction that can happen in Encinitas.  Considering that 12 of the newly appointed ERAC members make their living in real estate, it would be surprising if they don’t come out in favor of an aggressive development plan.

The Encinitas City Council can start to clear up this seeming conflict of interest by clearly explaining their relationships with all ERAC members, and requiring all ERAC appointees to disclose the specifics of  any real estate interests they have in Encinitas and any contributions made to Encinitas political campaigns in the past ten years.

Otherwise, we can assume that the ERAC is a group already predisposed to the General Plan Update and is simply giving its seal of approval to a plan no one wants—other than the Encinitas City Council majority and developers.

It’s not too late to put an end to these shenanigans.  Visit the website at SaveNewEncinitas to find out how the General Plan Update will affect you, and to sign our online petition.

Olivier Canler is a member of Citizens to save new Encinitas. He resides in new Encinitas.


LookingForChange February 3, 2012 at 8:00 am

I am grateful that so many people want to volunteer for a thankless task like reviewing a draft General Plan update. It’s a shame that the process lacked integrity, and as a result, everyone involved suffers. Realtors aren’t all bad; people with business interests in Encinitas may have the community’s best interests at heart. But without any public discussion, and without the Council members being required to explain why they chose one candidate over another, and with the history of broken trust, it’s hard to feel good about this new (and expensive and time-consuming) process. Ultimately we need to change the Council majority and replace them with people who are more open-minded, trustworthy, and committed to transparency.

embarassed February 3, 2012 at 7:43 am

“What’s the best way to make sure your controversial plan gets approved? Have a committee of handpicked people review it. That’s what appears to be happening in Encinitas.”
We have seen this type of action for many years in regard to city commissions also. The council majority will pick and choose in order to control. In the past it has not mattered who has the best qualifications, just who will back the majority council. We have seen this on the Arts Commission, Enviornmental Commission, Planning Commission and had the only applicant with clear violations of city political employee policies installed to replace council member Houlihan.
The city asks for community involvement, often ignores citizen’s input and does whatever they want because they have that power.
It would be best for the future of our city if this stranglehold that the majority council has had on our city for too many years to stop.

Real Encinitas February 3, 2012 at 4:03 am

This General Plan is NOT what Encinitas residents want. I would like for the Planning staff to show a single example of how the fake survey information that some citizens shared because they thought it was important, has been used to influence policy.

It is not, was not and never will be “OUR plan.”

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