This week, the Superior Court gave Encinitas a bit more breathing room to adopt a plan to allow more housing, but said the city is running out of second chances to put something on the books.
In 2016, after voters rejected a housing plan the city had spent years drafting, developer David Meyer, the Building Industry Association, and housing advocates San Diego Tenants United each filed suit.
This week’s decision by Superior Court Judge Ronald Frazier in Vista allows Encinitas to complete the process of putting another housing plan on the 2018 general ballot. Frazier warned that if voters don’t approve something in November, he expected everyone back in court. He noted that Encinitas has had a long time to adopt what’s officially known as a housing element, identifying construction needs and establishing policies to manage growth.
In their respective lawsuits, the plaintiffs sought to compel the city to adopt the 2016 plan, known as At Home Encinitas, but Frazier rejected Meyer’s lawsuit and delayed the others until voters have another say.
Encinitas is the only city in the county, and one of only a few statewide, that lacks a state-mandated plan to allow for more housing.
Meyer argued in his case that the city was violating the terms of a previous settlement agreement reached in June 2016. He said Proposition A, the city’s slow-growth initiative that gives voters final approval over zoning changes, was pre-empted by state law, which says cities must adopt a housing element.
The judge sided with the city, saying it had fulfilled the terms of the settlement, and that the proper way to determine whether state law overrides a local initiative would be borne by further enforcement.
But until that issue is resolved, Meyer said, Encinitas will struggle to adopt a housing elements on time.
“Given what we have already seen, can you imagine the city having to fight their way through a citizens’ vote every four years to update their housing element?” Meyer said by email. “What a mess this will create. Clearly in the judge’s mind, he believes if the citizens approve a [Housing Element] in November, this matter is resolved.”
In the other two lawsuits, brought by the Building Industry Association and San Diego Tenants United, the judge delayed the cases until after the election.
Frazier said that if voters reject the housing element update, the court will hold a hearing on Nov. 13 and issue a final ruling within 30 days.
Frazier assumed that voters would have something in front of them this year. The City Council had trouble agreeing on a final inventory of sites as recently as last week — and over one year into the most recent round of planning.
Frazier also said that if the city can’t meet the August deadline to get the measure on the ballot, then he would push up the Nov. 13 hearing to before the election, according to the Union-Tribune.
Mayor Catherine Blakespear said Frazier’s ruling indicated the courts are beginning to see that the city is running out of opportunities to adopt a housing element on its own.
“This ruling increases the pressure on voters to pass this housing plan because the judge made it clear that he was not likely to give the city an indefinite number of chances to comply with state housing laws,” Blakespear said. “My goal is for us to get out of the penalty box. We need a plan that the state accepts and that the court accepts.”
La Costa Canyon Teacher Had Sex With a Student, Kept His Job for Years
This week, VOSD’s Ashly McGlone writes about how a former teacher in Carlsbad began an abusive relationship with a student, as she entered her senior year at La Costa Canyon High School.
The former student said she had a months-long relationship with a teacher, after she began confiding in him about her depression. The relationship turned sexual, and eventually the student wanted to end it. Using public records from the district and legal documents, McGlone identified the teacher as Marc Sandknop, who resigned his position in 2016 — years after the relationship with the student ended. The school investigated Sandknop after a fellow teacher saw him and the student at a park together, but Sandknop and the student denied any wrongdoing, and the investigation went nowhere.
The story sheds light on how abusive relationships can happen at schools, how the district responded and what happens when a victim comes forward years later.
Palomar Health Comes Under Scrutiny
Palomar Medical Center came under scrutiny by the California Department of Public Health after a botched surgery revealed a series of problems at the public hospital system, the Union-Tribune reported.
According to the U-T, the events surrounding the initial surgery remain unclear, but it brought investigators to the hospital, where they uncovered problems “ranging from drug theft to lax incident reporting.”
The investigation eventually led to firings and layoffs of top executives, and a struggle to prove that the hospital still meets requirements for participating in Medicare.
Also in the News
• Oceanside is considering doing away with City Council member aides and retaining one to assist the whole City Council. (San Diego Reader)
• The Coast News looked at how Carlsbad’s homeless outreach team operates.
• Amid more commercial interest on Coast Highway in Oceanside, an iconic beauty college is forced out of its long-time home. (Union-Tribune)
• Housing and the environment are the top voter concerns in the District 5 county supervisor race. (KPBS)
• Escondido is replacing all the eucalyptus trees on Grand Avenue with drought-tolerant plants. (Union-Tribune)
• A petition to prevent the construction of 220 homes on Twin Oaks Valley Road failed to gather enough signatures to appear on the June ballot. (Union-Tribune)