At the last Encinitas City Council subcommittee meeting to develop a new affordable housing plan, the city’s consultant warned that a group of state bills on Gov Jerry Brown’s desk would introduce new challenges.

Barbara Kautz, with the law firm of Goldfarb and Lipman, said that under the new laws, the city would have to upzone enough vacant land to comprise 51 percent of the number of housing units the city needs to build. A previously stated goal, to meet density requirements of 30 units per acre in two-story buildings, would have to be justified to the state that it would be economically feasible within the city.

Brown has since signed the bills into law, and Kautz was blunt in her summary of what they mean for cities: “The whole goal of this is to make cities upzone more sites,” she told the subcommittee.

Kautz said that under Measure A, the city’s last attempt at a housing element, more than half the sites selected were already developed. Under the state’s new rules, Encinitas would have to prove those sites are likely to be redeveloped with low-income housing, likely with written promises from landowners that they intend to tear down their buildings.

Instead, Kautz said, the city should look at identifying more sites for affordable housing.

Another sticking point under Measure A was the number of units the city planned, about 2,000, beyond the minimum 1,093 units required by the state.

Now, the subcommittee is looking to add enough sites to build only 1,400 units, but if planning too small of a buffer results in a shortcoming, one new law, SB 166, could result in some unpleasant surprises for Encinitas residents.

As the sites are built out, if there’s not enough land is left to accommodate the housing need, the city will be forced to upzone additional land within 180 days – local ordinances, like the city’s slow-growth measure, be damned. And cities can’t deny market-rate projects just because they will result in upzoning additional land, said Kautz.

And because the city is first in line to develop a new plan – every other city in the county has a housing element in place, and doesn’t have to develop a new one for several years – Kautz said Encinitas is in an even tougher spot.

Between finding enough vacant sites – or proving developed sites will be redeveloped – proving that their housing goals can be accomplished without raising building heights, and coming up with enough sites to avoid zoning changes that make an end-run around voters, Encinitas will have to test out the limits of what the Department of Housing and Community Development, which ultimately certifies local housing elements, will allow.

“You’re going to be the beta,” Kautz said.

Oceanside Gives Mayor Another Leave

After Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood called an eleventh-hour meeting to tell the City Council to grant him an extension or prepare to make a sick man run a public meeting, Council members unanimously granted him another 30-day leave of absence last week.

The latest extension, the end of which will trigger another 60-day period for him to return to office, effectively gives Wood another 90 days to recuperate from the stroke he suffered in May.

Amazingly, throughout his absence, the conversation rarely strayed from what Wood “deserved” as a public servant for over 40 years, and hardly touched on whether he was capable of performing his duties.

Wood was ushered in and out of the room in a wheelchair, and hardly spoke during the meeting. After the final vote, Wood thanked people for their support, in a voice that was difficult to understand.

The dozens of residents, including one challenger to his seat in the 2016 election, urged the Council to grant Wood another leave of absence to recover, due to his length of time as a police officer and elected official. Only one resident told Wood he should leave the dais – and that was for political differences he had with Wood.

Also in the News

• Solana Beach is set to vote on whether to move forward with community choice aggregation. (KPBS)

• Oceanside is looking to pass a slow-growth plan. A group has formed to pass an initiative that would require voter approval before any agricultural or open space can be re-zoned. (Union-Tribune)

• Vice President Mike Pence was in Orange County to fundraise for Rep. Darrell Issa and other Republicans. (Times of San Diego)

• Homeowners in an old Carlsbad neighborhood are fighting new homes planned nearby. (Union-Tribune)

• Oceanside is still looking for a new harbor manager, after the former manager retired three years into the job. (The Log)

• A proposed redesign of Cardiff Elementary has residents upset. (The Coast News)

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

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