The Coast News Group
Community Commentary

How about sticking to facts, Mr. Audet

It’s hard to say how long I have been reading The Coast News, but it has been a few years. 

The paper offers news that is not always included in the daily papers and I enjoy reading the letters to the editor.

One person that has an article in The Coast News almost on a weekly basis is Andrew Audet and some of them are rather “cutting.” (It seems like he has appointed himself as judge and jury at times).

I called the CN to find out if he works for the paper, but was told he is a freelance writer. His article in the May 18 edition, headlined “Credibility counts, even for cities” caught my eye since the topic is the Encinitas General Plan Update. I have been a member of the GPAC committee, since it was first formed in January 2010 and I represent the Traffic Commission.

The two (2) opening paragraphs state that the GPU (General Plan Update) needs to be stopped since residents don’t trust the process or don’t like the proposed changes and that the City is rewriting zoning laws that promote high-density development.

The facts are that the City is required by law to update its General Plan on a periodic basis and that it has to provide affordable housing. We have not done enough to meet that mandate and so we are in arrears. We not only have to catch up, but also need to meet the new, additional requirements. If we don’t, there could be rather severe consequences.

One way to accommodate the latter is to identify areas where high density is feasible, including “up-zoning.” This process will be done by the City, and not developers.

He writes about “high density transit corridors.” The fact is discussions did take place regarding where to place high-density development and recommendations such as placement in areas where public transit is readily available, but also access to schools and shopping areas, etc., were made. We also talked about looking at mixed commercial residential/development as a tool.

Mr. Audet states that a handful of out-of-town developers could make millions and boat loads of profits. Let’s get real folks — if a housing/business development does not pan out economically, a builder/developer will not touch it and the City is certainly not in that business. The housing element portion (1 of 7 items) is required to be a part of any General Plan Update for all 480 cities and 58 counties in the Sate of California.

A comment regarding the consultant: The City put out a bid for a consulting contract and the consulting firm MIG was chosen by Council. Payments are made against predetermined progress milestones that are part of any contract and all parties adhere to them. The claim that the money could have been spent on other pressing city needs instead, does not really “fly.”

I have attended meetings of ERAC (Element Review Advisory Committee) and that group is working hard to meet the goals set forth by Council and so is GPAC.

Let’s be realistic. Encinitas is made up of five rather diverse communities and none of them want affordable (low cost) housing located in their backyard. However, we all have to share in that requirement and need to find a way to do it. In my opinion, to stop the GPU process altogether at this stage is really not an option.

The ERAC and GPAC meetings are open to the public. Dates and times are published on the City’s web site. Mr. Audet is certainly welcome to attend these meetings and then he can get his information first hand.

I also want to state that the above comments are my own.

Peter Kohl is an Encinitas resident