In the county’s District 3, Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar clinched the election against incumbent Supervisor Dave Roberts.

Democrats had hopes that a majority on the board was in the party’s near-term future, thanks to term limits, but Gaspar’s election means the board will return to being composed entirely of Republicans.

Gaspar was likely aided by damaging allegations from members of Roberts’ staff during his time on the board.

Her election is certain have policy implications for one hot-button issue: land use.

Roberts was the lone Democrat on the board, and he also put a lot of stock in the county’s General Plan, which determines where new development will occur in unincorporated parts of the county.

As an Encinitas councilwoman and mayor, Gaspar sometimes stymied developers (specifically with regard to a state law that allows developers to exceed local zoning regulations), but her campaign heavily benefited from developer money.

During the campaign, Gaspar said the county’s planning process needs streamlining, and framed issues like the Lilac Hills development as a matter of the countywide housing affordability, though tempered with a nod toward preserving open space. In an interview with the Union-Tribune, she said the county needs to build more housing, while protecting community character.

With coastal areas – where “protecting community character” is code for “not building around here” – largely built out, it’s likely building more will mean developing remote parts of the county.

Backcountry Development in Sight

Already, plans for rural development are on tap.

The Union-Tribune reports that while 2,000 homes are set to be built where Interstate 15 meets SR-76, thousands more are planned near the site of the failed Gregory Canyon landfill, with another 780-home project expected to go before the Board of Supervisors next year.

The county’s General Plan clusters future development near existing development, and in areas that already have services, like water and roads. The project near Gregory Canyon would require amending the General Plan, and the developer said they are already seeking a ballot initiative to approve the project in 2018.

That’s an interesting choice, considering the recent defeat of Measure B, which asked voters to approve the Lilac Hills Ranch development, with 64 percent of voters saying no.

Todd Mikles, a principal with GCL LLC, told the Union-Tribune that comparing the project near Gregory Canyon to Lilac Hills is “apples and oranges.”

Mikles says with the upgrades planned for the 76, and that fact that other development is already coming to that part of the county, their project is not like Lilac Hills.

Oceanside Brings Policies in Line With Vision

Oceanside, meanwhile, is taking steps to ensure that its downtown becomes more of an urban core. For years, the city has had a plan to modify zoning along Coast Highway, to make the auto-oriented route into a pedestrian-friendly commercial and residential area.

As the project’s leaders finish up the studies and environmental documents, the city has begun to develop a plan to incentivize developers to make the kind of buildings it wants to see along the road – oriented toward the street, with shared parking rather than set behind a mostly unused parking lot. In exchange, the developers could exceed residential density limits and have their projects streamlined through the planning process.

The incentive comes with some pushback by South O residents, who want to put the brakes on Coast Highway changes in their neighborhood, and amid the development of an Energy-Climate Action element of the General Plan, which could result in broader zoning changes that guide the city toward less car dependence.

Also in the News

• Construction kicked off on the first phase of a 40-year transportation project in coastal North County, and is expected to cost $700 million. (Union-Tribune)

• AP called the election in CA-49 for Rep. Darrell Issa, but his opponent, Democrat Doug Applegate, promises to be back in 2018. (New York Times, Los Angeles Times)

• In his latest newsletter, Escondido Mayor Sam Abed is asking people to help pay off a $12,000 debt his campaign owes from his failed bid for District 3 county supervisor.

• The San Marcos City Council approved the controversial Highlands Ranch housing development this week. The developer had been trying to build that project for 30 years. (The Coast News)

• Oceanside is moving forward with the construction of 38 affordable apartments, as part of a 328-home development near the Mission San Luis Rey. (The Coast News)

• Veterans in Poway urged the city to reconsider a vote denying an affordable housing project targeted at veterans. (Union-Tribune)

• North County cities are adjusting their policies to deal with Prop. 64, which legalized recreational marijuana. (Union-Tribune)

Ruarri Serpa

Ruarri Serpa is a freelance writer in Oceanside. Email him at ruarris@gmail.com and find him on Twitter at @RuarriS.

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