Del Mar and Encinitas officials are rewriting city zoning to promote high-density mixed-use development. If approved the changes could cede local control of zoning to state bureaucrats, increase traffic, destroy community character and reduce quality of life. Del Mar officials call it “revitalization.”
Encinitas officials call it the “General Plan Update.”
Residents call it scary.
Each year visitors come to Del Mar because of what it is, not what a city planner thinks it might be. There is only one Del Mar. People moved to Encinitas because of what it is, a small 2-story town, not what it isn’t, a high-density mixed-use corridor.
Residents might drive up the PCH to downtown Encinitas to see the effects of high-density mixed-use development on community character. As visitors enter the town, passing the lumberyard, they will see old, “small town zoning” that promotes commercial development with small buildings and 30-40 percent lot coverage.
Further up the road is the Pacific Station building, which is the result of high-density, mixed-use zoning. Developers promote this as “Urban Beach Living.” Under the small town zoning, the 1.4-acre site allowed about 20,000-square-feet of commercial development. Today, 40,000-square-feet of commercial, 9,000-square-feet of office and 47 residential units have been packed on the same small lot. The building has tripled in density. The small town of Encinitas along the PCH will be replaced with high-density urban development found in Long Beach. Is Del Mar ready for “Urban Beach?”
The argument officials make, that building owners need mixed-use zoning to invest in their properties, isn’t true. In Encinitas new businesses on the PCH are doing well because entrepreneurs are delivering quality services at competitive prices, not because of zoning. This is the result of free market forces, not government intervention from SANDAG.
In Cardiff, businesses like Rimmel’s, Zenbu, Azarria boutique and the chic 20 Lounge have made Seaside Market Plaza the place to be because of what they have to offer, not how they are zoned.
If owners wanted to own mixed-use buildings they should have bought mixed-use buildings, not commercial property. When property owners rely on city councils to “up-zone” against residents’ wishes, it looks like bailouts and crony capitalism.
For instance the Encinitas Taxpayers Association reports that Encinitas Mayor Jerome Stocks received some 70 percent of his election campaign contributions from the real estate industry. Of that, 60 percent of Stocks’ donors were from outside Encinitas.
In re-zoning the El Camino Real Corridor for high-density mixed-use, millions of dollars are at stake for the campaign contributors that backed Stocks, and thousands of residents’ quality of lives is at risk. Encinitas residents have demanded a “red line copy” that clearly shows the proposed changes, but Mayor Stocks and the council have refused. Rather than make it easier for residents to participate, Stocks and the council have made it harder.
In Del Mar each resident will get the chance to vote on the proposed changes that will impact their lives. In Encinitas 60,000 people won’t have a vote.
Only five people have a vote. Who will Mayor Stocks and the council super-majority represent — residents or campaign contributors? The vile weed of cronyism must be avoided.
In order to protect quality of life and preserve community character Encinitas residents need to follow their Del Mar neighbors. Each resident should have a vote on the proposed changes to the Encinitas General Plan. It’s the only true way to ensure all stakeholders are heard.