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The city's Citizen Participation Program allows residents a chance to voice concerns with development proposals. Courtesy photo
The city's Citizen Participation Program allows residents a chance to voice concerns with development proposals in their neighborhood. Courtesy photo
Cities Community Encinitas News Politics & Government

Planning Commission to reexamine citizen review process for developments

ENCINITAS — The process by which Encinitas residents are given an opportunity to raise issues and concerns with potential development projects will be reexamined by the city’s Planning Commission.

The Citizen Participation Program, or CPP, consists of public meetings held by development applicants for local residents to discuss the impacts said projects might have on their neighborhood.

According to the city, the purpose of the program is “to be a preliminary tool for opening a dialogue and to ensure that project applicants and citizens have an opportunity in the planning process to discuss, understand, and try to resolve issues related to potential neighborhood impacts of a proposed project. It is not meant to necessarily change or prevent a project as proposed.”

During a recent city Planning Commission meeting, Keith Harrison, a local resident and owner of Harrison Properties, suggested the process could use new amendments.

“The fact that we don’t require applicants to have the CPP meeting early in their review process with the city leads to issues,” Harrison said.

Harrison suggested a CPP meeting be required following an applicant’s first submittal for a development project.

“The common complaint to this will be, ‘Well what if things change materially because we haven’t got all of the staff’s feedback?’ Well, there’s no reason that you can’t have another CPP meeting if that happens,” Harrison said.

Planning Commissioner Chair Bruce Ehlers said he agreed the CPP process is not currently working as it was originally intended

Ehlers said the CPP process has been crucial for him as a member of the commission to get a better understanding of residents’ planning concerns, especially from those most impacted by proposed development projects.

“I read every CPP very carefully because the people that live there are the ones that know the planning issues whether it’s traffic, drainage, views or whatever it is, it will come up in there,” Ehlers told The Coast News. “That becomes a basis for my laundry list of questions when I’m up there.”

At the close of this week’s Planning Commission meeting, a discussion on the CPP process was placed on the agenda for a future commission meeting with no specific date.

At that time, the commission will discuss any changes to the process and direct staff to return with those changes before potentially making a recommendation to the Encinitas City Council.

“It was actually first conceived that it would be before the first application was accepted,” Ehlers said. “It sounds like in practice it has gotten later and later which is always the temptation. But the advantage of it is always to have it earlier.”

Ehlers said he doesn’t expect there to be proposals for major changes to the process but rather part of the commission’s regular “cleaning” of city codes.

“We have to come up with the right terminology and maybe we have to modernize that terminology to fit in the current application process,” Ehlers said.

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