From the Coast News:
Encinitas has until Aug. 30 to show where 1,300 state-mandated housing units could be built as part of its housing element. If the city wants to meet the housing element deadline, Encinitas will have to make significant progress.
Cities could potentially face lawsuits for not adopting a housing element by the end of August. However, Encinitas hasn’t certified a housing element since incorporation in 1986, and yet the city hasn’t been significantly penalized. Still, representatives from the city said it’s important to have a housing element in place to take the threat of lawsuits off the table, make Encinitas eligible for more grants and finish a long-contentious process.
“I’m not sure what will happen, but if we were going to get it done by August, there’s still much work to be done,” Mayor Teresa Barth said.
She added that the city wants to at least demonstrate “forward motion” by August, and that councilmembers and residents have been notably frustrated by the housing element over the years.
The department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) requires that cities turn in a housing element every eight years. For the housing element, cities have to pencil out the potential locations of state-imposed housing. The number of housing units, 1,300 in the case of Encinitas, is derived from population and economic trends.
As for the 1,300 units that have already been allocated to Encinitas, Michael Strong, associate planner with the city, said that Encinitas and other California cities have “no vested right” to change or overturn the housing that’s been assigned to them.
He pointed to a legal case as precedent: About five years ago, the city of Irvine tried to fight the number of state-mandated housing units demanded of the city with a lawsuit. Ultimately, Irvine lost the two-year legal battle.
Conceivably, developers and affordable housing advocates could sue Encinitas for not having a certified housing element. Strong noted that other cities in California have lost court cases for not having one.
Yet another factor could affect the city’s housing element. On June 18, residents will decide whether to approve the “right-to-vote” initiative. If it passes, increasing density or building heights beyond 30 feet would require a majority vote of the public.
Presentations from groups looking at the housing element recommended selectively putting four or five story buildings in certain locations to accommodate some of the 1,300 units. This would trigger a vote if the initiative becomes law.
For more on the outrageous Encinitas City Council: