I’m writing this as a former mayor, city councilwoman, planning commissioner and Cardiff CAB member. I’m appalled at what’s become of my beautiful city, the one I and many others worked so hard to incorporate in 1986. We shared a vision of local control, slow thoughtful growth and environmental stewardship. We wanted to escape the terrible development plans the county had for us. And now, I believe, the city leaders are far worse. If Measure T passes, I hereby publicly state that I am sorry I ever worked to escape the clutches of the county. Here’s why.
The excessive upzoning of Measure T goes well beyond State requirements, and equally disturbing are the lengths to which city staff and council are willing to go to convince residents they must vote “yes.”
The numbers presented to residents are full of tricks. City Hall claims “less than 1 percent of Encinitas’ land area will be upzoned,” which sounds reassuring until you realize the real impact will be to upzone 102 acres up to 41 units per acre.
Another smoke and mirrors game is played with the State-required “Regional Housing Needs” (RHNA) number of 1,093 units. The city tells residents we must instead upzone to 1,987 units so that we have a “buffer.” Comb through city documents and you’ll discover that the actual number of high-density units residents may unwittingly approve is 2,979. That’s 173 percent higher than State requirements — and one heck of a buffer.
From the beginning, staff and council have told residents they must upzone to produce affordable housing. Only in recent weeks has the city finally admitted what the state confirmed last year: in high land-cost areas such as Encinitas, affordable housing is impossible to achieve. In this case, voters must ask themselves: “Then why are we doing this?”
Adding density bonus of 35 percent, the 2,979 number becomes 4,000 high-density units. According to city standards, these units will add over 20,000 more cars daily to Encinitas streets. City Hall ignores the terrible traffic impacts, lack of funds for road repair, and inadequate parking requirements that will flood our streets with overflow parking. None of this is addressed in Measure T. Withholding that vital information from the public should raise huge red flags for voters.
If the drastic change to community character and gridlock were not enough, Measure T slips through more than 230 pages of so-called policy changes, although the State does not require the developer-friendly handouts in the plan. Designed to reduce developer costs and “building constraints,” design standards are loosened and the permitting process “streamlined.”
Perhaps worst of all is the language embedded throughout Measure T that transfers to the unelected Planning & Building Director powers to approve projects never before given to this position.
Currently, projects go through design and review processes that include the public, the Planning Commission, and the council. If Measure T passes, nearly all of the 2,979-plus units will be reviewed and approved by the Planning Director alone, out of view of the Planning Commission, council, and — most importantly — the public eye. Voters should search Measure T documents online for the words “Planning & Building Director,” to find multiple references to newly-conferred powers on the Planning Director alone.
VOTE NO ON MEASURE T.
Pam Slater-Price was a San Diego County Supervisor from 1992-2013.