In last week’s community commentary “How about sticking to the facts, Mr. Audet” I could find no examples of where the claims I made in my column “Credibility Counts, even for cities” were wrong.
The editorial questioned my opinion that residents don’t like the proposed GPU changes or the high-density zoning. To support my position, I offer the facts that a group of residents have discussed an initiative to place the question of up-zoning on the ballot for a public vote, residents have posted footage of ERAC meetings online to warn the public and citizens have spoken out against the GPU at council meetings. They hardly sound like happy residents to me.
The author took issue with my claim that, “if approved out of town developers could make millions,” writing that developers need to make money to build projects. Should the GPU be about protecting developer profits or resident quality of life?
The author did not address my claim that while developers will profit, residents will get more traffic, pollution and destruction of community character. I think justifying developer profits does not justify the unwanted burden to citizens.
The commentary objected to my claim that the $1 million paid to the GPU consultant could have been spent to benefit residents. Encinitas has a planning staff of 12 people, many earning more than $100,000 annually. The city could have relied on the planners we currently pay, saving $1 million. I think saving money is a good thing. We have a park to build and little money to build it.
The claim that the city will write the GPU is surrounded by question marks for many. I think if the city wanted to write a true update they would provide a redlined copy of the existing General Plan for public review.
Instead they are relying on the recommendations of the un-vetted ERAC Committee dominated by building representatives. At a recent ERAC meeting the facilitator empowered a non-resident high-density proponent to lead the meetings. Does this sound like local control? I say let the people vote.
Are state mandates behind the up zoning as suggested? In a special meeting the city held with commercial owners on June 23, 2011, city staff wrote that the State does not mandate affordable housing be built. City staff said the opportunity to build affordable housing must be available and that cities not in compliance run the risk of legal action. This does not say the city will be sued. Residents might like to know that citizens of other cities have filed suits for increasing the density. The threats of lawsuits cut both ways.
The commentary discussed affordable housing. I did not mention affordable housing but shall do so here.
During the June 23, 2011 meeting with commercial property owners, city staff stated that in the GPU Update the “Residential units of future mixed use projects would be market rate.” I think the city needs to stop telling the public the GPU is about affordable housing when it’s really about increasing “market rate” density for profits by possibly increasing city height limits to five stories and density to 45 units an acre.
I thank the author for contributing his commentary. Public discourse and the sharing of diverse opinions are essential to liberty. I thank The Coast News for being a trusted venue that is open to the opinions of all.