Hippie Hill Sold

Paying $6.3 million is the biggest boondoggle since the city paid $10 million for the closed Pacific View school.

ENCINITAS, Calif. – City leaders in Encinitas are moving forward in their purchase of about 1.5 acres of land at La Costa Avenue and Highway 101, known to many as “Hippie Hill.”

“We wanted to see this land preserved and protected,” said Encinitas resident Elena Thompson. The purchase of the land is nearly official, with escrow expected to close by the end of September.

“Having the opportunity to acquire this land and keep it from being developed into timeshares, I think the community has very much appreciated the work that we’re doing here,” Mayor Tony Kranz said.

The northern end of Leucadia has seen the construction of a hotel and more development on the way including a nearby apartment complex, so the preservation of this land was paramount for long-time locals.

“Now it’s not going to be developed. That’s great for the city. It’s a small parcel, but every open space is great,” Scott Campbell said.

At Wednesday’s city council meeting, council talked about how they plan to finance the land, purchased for $6 million.

The city plans to use cash reserves for the initial purchase and then use lease revenue bonds to build the reserves back up.

“Some are a little concerned about what effect the roughly $400,000 a year that servicing this debt is going to have on our budget. I think that it’s important enough that we will make it work,” Kranz said.

The public will be asked to weigh in on what they want to see done with the open space at a future city council meeting.


More Apartments in Carlsbad

The Carlsbad city council approved more apartments to be built at the entry to the downtown village area. Between the three projects mentioned here, there will be a total of 480 apartments….and none for sale! Excerpts:

A four-story building with 156 apartments has been approved for construction on a site occupied by a hotel and three single-family homes on the eastern side of Carlsbad’s downtown Village neighborhood.

The developer, Wermers Companies, built the adjacent Lofts apartments, a four-story, mixed-use building with 106 apartments and ground-floor retail that opened about a year ago at the northwest corner of Carlsbad Village Drive and Interstate 5. The two buildings will share a driveway with access to both Grand Avenue and Carlsbad Village Drive.

The Carlsbad City Council unanimously approved a site map and development plan for the project Tuesday, and council members praised the company for working with the community. No one at the meeting opposed the project, and the city received a number of letters in support of it.

“It looks good,” said Mayor Keith Blackburn, adding that he likes the way the building is set back from Carlsbad Village Drive so that it doesn’t make “a continuous wall” with The Lofts building.

“It doesn’t surprise me that we don’t have anybody here to speak out against the project,” Blackburn said.

The 2.95-acre site consolidates five lots between Carlsbad Village Drive and Grand Avenue, just east of the Hope Avenue alley. The 109-room hotel called the Carlsbad Village Inn and single-family homes on the property will be demolished, but a Carl’s Jr. restaurant there will remain.

The location is directly across Carlsbad Village Drive from the Carlsbad Village Plaza anchored by a Smart & Final grocery, where another San Diego developer has proposed a mixed-use project with 218 apartments and 13,800 square feet of shops and restaurants.

That project will include retail businesses in two single-story buildings facing Carlsbad Village Drive. The apartments, including 22 reserved for very low-income tenants, will be in two five-story buildings behind the shops. The proposal is expected to go to the Carlsbad City Council for approval as soon as July 2024.


Carlsbad Objective Design Standards

Hat tip to ‘just some guy’ for sending this in!

To transition away from subjective housing regulations in compliance with state law, the City Council introduced new objective development design standards during its Aug. 29 meeting.

In 2021, the city of Carlsbad used $185,000 in state grant funding to pay RRM Design Group to create the Objective Design Standards Manual for multifamily and mixed-use developments citywide, replacing the city’s existing subjective design guidelines. Also, city also received $160,000 in state grant funding to pay AVRP Studios to develop the Village and Barrio objective design standards.

The manual establishes objective standards citywide and an appendix addressing the Village and Barrio standards. These standards include site design, such as pedestrian and vehicle access, open space and landscaping; building design, including window treatment, roof structures, and exterior materials; mixed-use design, including window and door locations, awnings, and services areas, and utilitarian design, such as trash enclosures, outdoor light fixtures and bicycle parking.

“The (manual) will help strengthen local design regulations since the city currently cannot enforce subjective design guidelines with projects,” said Shelley Glennon, the city’s associate planner. “It will ensure project compatibility with existing community character. It will encourage residential construction for both affordable and market-rate units by creating standards that are appropriate in meeting the city’s affordable housing needs.”

For example, in the Village and Barrio, an appointed review committee approved seven architectural styles: Spanish revival, craftsman, American mercantile, Victorian, Colonial revival/Cape Cod, traditional modern and California contemporary (However, not all seven styles are allowed in each of the subdistricts regulated by the Village and Barrio Master Plan).

SB 330 limits municipal agencies’ ability to impose regulations that delay or impede eligible housing projects. While these projects don’t receive ministerial approval under this law, the city’s Planning Commission and City Council could not deny projects that adhere to objective design standards unless they pose a clear threat to health and safety.

According to City Planner Eric Lardy, the city currently has four projects under SB 330, including the 4K Apartments project, Hope Apartments (Carl’s Jr. in the Village), Carlsbad Village Drive Mixed Use (Smart and Final) and the FPC Residential project (Ponto).

Councilwoman Teresa Acosta asked how the city would enforce projects that alter their designs after approval, citing concerns from residents who told her projects don’t always align with pre-construction renderings.

“If it’s not consistent, we ask them to change it,” Lardy said. “One process has 10 findings that need to be made and compared to what has been applied. We think these objective design standards will help … so it will be clear.”

If the city does not make these certain changes, the California Department of Housing and Community Development could decertify the city’s housing element and limit the city’s ability to regulate new housing built in Carlsbad.


Piraeus Point

Expect to see every city council throw their hands up and approve projects that have low-income housing included. How they sell the “very low” income units, and to whom, will be very interesting in Encinitas, due to them selling the last two units to the same guy who promised to rent them to the appropriate lower-income tenants.

Piraeus Point, a project consisting of nearly 150 townhomes at Piraeus Street and Plato Place in Leucadia, received 3-1 approval from the Encinitas City Council despite resounding opposition from the community.

At a City Council meeting Wednesday, public comments took over an hour. More than 15 people spoke, nine donated their speaking time to others and 10 registered opposition. Over 30 people gave input in one way or another, and none supported Lennar Homes’ plans for development. But the council said its hands were tied, ultimately denying an appeal of the project and allowing it to move forward.

Due to the housing shortage, the state legislature has passed laws making it easier to develop new housing. Piraeus Point fits the guidelines in the Housing Accountability Act, which requires developments to align with zoning laws, not adversely affect the water supply or public health and meet the standards of the California Environmental Quality Act and the California Coastal Act.

The Piraeus Point neighborhood would consist of 52 one-bedroom homes, 37 two-bedroom homes and 60 three-bedroom homes, with 15 of the homes reserved for “very low” income households. All units will be for sale, not for rent.

The Planning Commission approved the project, but the Encinitas Community Collective filed an appeal at the end of May arguing the development would, in fact, negatively impact the environment and public health.

Read the full article here:


San Diego Mansion Tax?

From the La Jolla Light:

If the San Diego Housing Federation is able to place a progressive real estate transfer tax on the November 2024 ballot, La Jolla homeowners will be unfairly impacted.

The proposed tax would require property owners in San Diego to pay an additional 1.75 percent to 2.25 percent on all residential and commercial property sales above $2.5 million. A certain percentage of the funds generated from the tax would go to homelessness prevention assistance, eviction support programs and tenants’ rights education.

Roughly 90 percent of the available single-family detached homes on the market in La Jolla would meet the criteria for the proposed “mansion tax.” This potential tax imposition would weigh down property owners in La Jolla, leading to an imbalanced burden. While acknowledging the homeless and housing crisis in San Diego, it is important to recognize that excessively taxing specific groups of property owners or communities is not a viable solution.

San Diego homeless-service providers have already received $2.37 billion from local governments, and even with all that money, San Diego’s homelessness crisis is growing faster than it can be contained.

Levying additional taxes on property owners and throwing more money at the problem has proved not to work. The city of Los Angeles recently implemented a real estate transfer tax on luxury home sales to try to help the city tackle its homelessness crisis. Measure ULA, the “Homelessness and Housing Solutions Tax,” was approved by Los Angeles voters, and while this new tax is commonly referred to as the “mansion tax,” it applies to all real estate sales, not just residential properties. This also would be the case with San Diego’s transfer tax.

The Los Angeles tax became effective April 1 and increased the real property transfer tax on certain transactions by more than 1,000 percent. Moreover, Measure ULA was in addition to, not in lieu of, the existing base real property transfer tax, so property owners were hit twice as hard.

Before the implementation of Los Angeles’ “mansion tax,” home sellers were hustling to unload their homes quickly. Home prices were slashed and million-dollar transactions were hastened through escrow. A few sellers were even giving away cars and lavish incentives to entice potential buyers to close deals on their properties before the end of March. This flurry of activity was driven by the desire to evade Measure ULA before it went into effect.

It was projected the tax would generate about $56 million a month for the city of Los Angeles. However, in its inaugural month, it managed to generate only a modest $3.6 million because property owners simply pulled their homes off the market and the money that could have been generated through reassessment was not realized. Since March, sales of luxury homes in Los Angeles have almost stopped.

Homelessness involves addressing a variety of issues, including mental health, housing, employment, drug addiction and alcoholism. Changes in the law are needed to get people off the streets and into the help they need to function in society, not excessive tax increases on property owners.

While it might be tempting to believe that affluent property owners can effortlessly absorb an additional tax, it’s important to recognize that many of them may choose not to sell, as was evident in Los Angeles when the city implemented its “mansion tax.”

The unintended consequences of such a tax in trying to solve San Diego’s homelessness crisis greatly outweigh the benefits. The practice of raising property taxes on a small number of property owners is simply wrong.

Mark Powell is a licensed California real estate broker and a board member of the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors. He also served as president of the La Jolla Sunrise Rotary Club.

Link to Article

140,000 More People Expected

They expect another 200,000 homes to be built in SD County? Where? MCAS Miramar?

San Diego officials are expecting an end to the region’s perpetual growth.

Driving the news: San Diego’s population is expected to peak in 2042, and then decline by about 100,000 people by 2060, according to the latest regional forecast by the San Diego Association of Governments.

  • Ray Major, SANDAG’s chief economist, told the agency’s board last month this is the first regional forecast expecting a population decline.
  • “Every other forecast has had huge increases, with the San Diego region growing to 4 million people by 2050 … Now we’re looking at 3.4 million.”

Why it matters: The forecast carries planning implications for major, taxpayer-funded resources like housing, transportation infrastructure, water and energy.

By the numbers: San Diego’s growth machine has been slowing for decades.

  • The region grew by 1 million people from 1980 to 2000. But in the last 20 years, San Diego added half that.
  • Planners now forecast just 140,000 new San Diegans over the next two decades.
  • That’s when the region’s population is expected to peak. By 2060 the region is expected to have just 40,000 more people than it has today.

Between the lines: The region’s death rate is increasing, its birth rate is decreasing, and migration is flat.

  • One in 10 San Diego residents were over 65 in 2000. By 2060, that’ll be one in four residents.
  • That aging population will demand different government services and have different transportation and housing needs, said Cynthia Burke, SANDAG’s senior director of data science.
  • “Our parks are going to need more pickleball courts and fewer play structures,” she said during the July board meeting.

Read full article here:


Homeowner’s Insurance in 2023

The Big Three have all left. Hat tip to Richard for sending this in:

Farmers Insurance has limited new homeowners insurance policies in California, joining other major national insurance providers.

Farmers, the second-largest provider of homeowners insurance in the state, said it placed the cap on the number of policies in California effective July 3. The company cited high costs and wildfire risks.

“With record-breaking inflation, severe weather events, and reconstruction costs continuing to climb, we are focused on serving our customers while effectively managing our business,” Farmers Insurance said in a statement, adding it will limit the new policies “to a level consistent with the volume we projected to write each month before recent market changes.”

It’s getting harder and harder to find homeowners insurance in the states that are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Farmers’ shift follows decisions by State Farm and Allstate, two of America’s largest insurers. The companies said they will no longer write new homeowners policies in the state. Both cited wildfire risk as a reason for the move and blamed limits placed on insurance premiums in states like California. Insurance companies also say rising costs for labor and building costs make replacing homes costly.

“The cost to insure new home customers in California is far higher than the price they would pay for policies due to wildfires, higher costs for repairing homes, and higher reinsurance premiums,” said a statement from Allstate explaining its decision to stop writing new policies last fall.

Like with the 3% mortgages, those who are already in the club are the fortunate ones. Hopefully they can count on the Big Three insurers continuing to cover them at a reasonable cost. There will always be insurance available, thanks to the California Fair Plan, which was established in 1968. If/when it becomes insolvent, the taxpayers will probably provide support.

From now on, home buyers will be paying double or triple what previous buyers paid for insurance, but they are paying double or triple for the homes too, so it shouldn’t be a big deal. Living here is worth it!

Plus, the 40% of buyers who pay cash for their new home can always self-insure.

Is Housing A Constitutional Right?

If you are contemplating a move out-of-state due to politics….you’re going to love this:

Despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s historic commitment to ending California’s housing crisis — and the administration’s arm-twisting to try to make local jurisdictions do the right thing — we have not made the progress that Californians need.

Forty percent of the state’s households now spend more on housing than they can afford, and California is home to more than half of the nation’s unsheltered people.

A new proposal in the Legislature, Assembly Constitutional Amendment 10, puts us on the precipice of significant change. If passed, Assemblymember Matt Haney’s bill would give voters the opportunity to enshrine housing as a fundamental right in our state constitution. The constitutional amendment would provide the state with a game-changing legal tool — and an ongoing obligation no matter who is in office — to ensure that every person has access to a permanent, stable home.

Creating a fundamental right to housing is consistent with public will. Indeed, a survey found that 55% of Californians view affordable housing as a community responsibility, and 58% believe affordable housing should be guaranteed. That’s not a surprise — people realize that a safe, secure and productive life is only possible with a home.

A recent report by the American Civil Liberties Union and others shows why a constitutional amendment would have real teeth and is a long-overdue step towards ending the housing crisis. In 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called for every American to have a “decent home” regardless of “station, race or creed.” The U.S. then led the effort for the United Nations to draft and adopt the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, including a right to housing. Unfortunately, that right never took root back home.

Read full article here:


Judge Stops Junipers

Golf-course redevelopment is a terrific solution to providing new housing in the middle of town. They will work out the kinks like building enough roads.

A judge’s ruling halted construction this week of the 536-unit Junipers development in Rancho Peñasquitos — and could complicate and delay approvals of other dense housing projects across San Diego.

Superior Court Judge Ronald Frazier nullified an analysis of how the Junipers would affect nearby traffic, noise and wildfire threats, saying it had failed to account for two large nearby housing projects. In a ruling that made final a tentative ruling he issued last week, Frazier halted construction of the Junipers, where 36 units are complete, and said it can’t resume until the analysis is redone to account for the long-term presence of the 331-unit Millennium PQ and 826-unit Trails at Carmel Mountain Ranch.

The resident group that had sued to stop the Junipers called the ruling a victory for San Diego’s neighborhoods because it will require developers to provide more robust mitigation when they build impactful, dense projects.

In particular, the residents want Junipers developer Lennar Homes to pay for building more evacuation routes for their wildfire-prone area.

“Our goal in bringing this lawsuit forward is to require the city of San Diego to perform environmental review to address wildfire impacts on redevelopment in our area,” the PQ-NE Action Group said in a statement. “We are very pleased with the final ruling.”

The city and Lennar, which declined to comment Tuesday, could appeal to a higher court.

Or Lennar could settle with the residents, for instance by agreeing to construct additional evacuation routes.

If the ruling isn’t overturned on appeal, attorneys for Lennar and the city say it could have far-reaching impacts on how government agencies must analyze the effects dense housing projects might have on traffic, noise and wildfire threats.

“It would potentially grind development to a halt,” Deputy City Attorney Ben Syz told Judge Frazier in court last Thursday. “The city needs certainty as to what it’s looking at and what it’s analyzing.”


Carlsbad Train Redevelopment

As a way to “raise additional revenue and to increase ridership on trains and buses”, the train people started looking for developers last April – their solutions:

Under agreements the board approved Thursday, West Village Partners will build 184 market-rate apartments or townhouses and 50 affordable units on 14.37 acres the transit district owns at the downtown Carlsbad Village Station on State Street.

Affordable housing will make up 27 percent of the Village residential units, well above the city’s minimum requirement of 15 percent. The Village project also will include 17,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, 435 parking spaces, a 110-room boutique hotel, a senior living facility, and 80,000 square feet of office space, according to preliminary plans.

“This location is primed for redevelopment with only a short walk to restaurants, retail and local beaches,” a district staffer said.

The Village station sees an average of 800 patrons daily, with about 600 of those riding the Coaster and 200 using Breeze buses. The Poinsettia station, on Avenida Encinas near Poinsettia Lane in southwest Carlsbad, averages 400 Coaster riders and about 40 bus riders daily.

Raintree Partners was selected for the 11.47-acre Poinsettia Station, which will have 146 market-rate dwellings and 31 affordable units, or 17 percent of the residences. Almost 5 acres of the site will remain undeveloped under a permanent conservation easement.

Both exclusive negotiating agreements are valid for 2.5 years. During that time, the developers will work with district, city and regional officials on final designs, permits, and other issues. Construction is expected to start in 2025 at the Village station and in 2027 at the Poinsettia station.

Just another 234 apartments, a 110-room hotel, senior facility, and ~100 offices in downtown Carlsbad.  You think it’s crowded now? There won’t be any room left for the tourists!

Link to UT Article

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