GENERAL COMMENTS ON ZONING IN ENCINITAS HOUSING ELEMENT

This is a package of suggestions. The Housing Element includes hundreds of little decisions. There are too many items to cover in 3 minutes so we hope you will study the suggestions and incorporate those considered most desirable so as to improve the Proposed Housing Element for the benefit of its residents and the surrounding community.

The Planning Commission does have the responsibility and power to shape this into something that the citizens will want rather than something they feel compelled to accept. I have seen you devote hours of deliberation to details of a single project, I hope you will give the housing element the attention it deserves.

I want you to think in terms of what is right for the Encinitas of 10 or 20 years in the future. The plan we have tries to constrain the future into a repeat of the past. Please don’t try to quantify everything. Leave room for tomorrow. Allow for internet delivery of goods and new delivery methods such as drones or self-driving delivery vehicles. Allow for new ways for people to get around such as self-driving cars. Allow for work from home — knowledge work and very small businesses. Also realize that we are a destination, and allow some housing units for seasonal residences.

QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS

These comments are general in nature and should serve to suggest improvements in the Proposed Housing Element. Some of the comments apply to the Floating Zones document and others may better be handled as suggestions in the Design Guidelines.

PROPOPSED HOUSING PROTOTYPE: STUDIO APARTMENTS AND MICRO UNITS

A studio apartment, also known as a studio flat or efficiency apartment is a small apartment suitable for 1 or 2 persons.

This type of apartment typically consists of one large room which serves as the living, dining, and bedroom. Kitchen facilities may either be located in the central room, or in a small separate room, and the bathroom is usually in its own smaller room. A variation is the “L-shaped” or “alcove” studio, in which the central room branches off into a small alcove that can be used for sleeping or dining.

Studio, efficiency, and bachelor style apartments all tend to be the smallest apartments with the lowest rents in a given area, usually ranging around 300 to 600 square feet in the United States, but considerably smaller in countries such as Japan, South Korea, and several European capitals.

An average size might be 450 square feet, with the larger units called Studio Apartments and the smaller ones called Micro Units. It is suggested that Studio Apartments and Micro Units be added to the housing prototypes, with up to 10% of these in any development but with more when Density Bonus is invoked.

We wish to encourage modest and ecologically-friendly lifestyle but this is something that cannot be legislated in this country.

In terms of affordability, the Studio Apartments and Micro Units are the only ones that could provide for low income and low-low income residents without any subsidies.

FACILITIES FOR CHILDREN

Families include children and younger children need outdoor play space located close to the residence. Some developments may use nearby parks but for developments not within 1000 feet of a public park a mini park should be provided, with play space and tables. This type of need could be satisfied in a mixed use area by a Day Care, Nursery, Child Care Center, and/or Youth Center use.

BUSINESSES IN MIXED USE LOCATIONS: NOT ALL USES MIX WELL

In residential areas concern must be made for quiet enjoyment by the tenants. Late night businesses such as bars, theaters, restaurants, and dance halls should be prohibited. Hours of delicatessens, fast food establishments, coffee shops, markets, and liquor stores should be limited. Suggested hours are 7 AM – 9 PM. Other storefront retail might be encouraged to operate just between 9 AM and 6 PM.

Vehicle-serving businesses such as rental agencies and car dealers must provide onsite storage for working inventory with off-site facilities for preparation and surplus inventory.

Car and bike rental businesses may serve either residents or visitors. To the extent that they serve residents the parking requirements of residents might be reduced at the discretion of the Planning Commission.

Allow some upstairs spaces to be used as offices for clean and quiet businesses such as lawyers, dentists, chiropractors, artists, architects, and small knowledge businesses – this not to reduce the number of residential units but rather to encourage more Mini Suites and Studio Apartments in the R-30 mixed zones.

TRAFFIC, STORAGE, AND PARKING

Increased traffic on nearby residential streets should be avoided. New vehicle traffic must be routed to arterial streets rather than neighborhood streets, even if this requires closing intersections or imposing one-way streets.

Traffic impact from the Proposed Housing Element was covered in the Environmental Impact Report and necessary changes are to be part of the Circulation Element, which should be on the agenda in the next year or so.

As well as providing secure storage for bicycles the residents also need secure storage for other recreational equipment such as motorcycles, surfboards, kayaks and skis.

PARKING IS A DIFFERENT KIND OF ISSUE

Thinking to the future we can envision options such as self-driving cars, perhaps operating on demand as an extension of today’s Uber. These services could, within the next 10 years, change the amount of required parking. We can also imagine that many of our vehicles will be half-sized, providing local transportation and requiring smaller parking spaces. However it is possible that these changes will not happen this soon.

Respect for existing neighborhoods must be primary. We must consider parking in these areas to be already taken by existing residents, businesses, visitors, and customers. Parking overflow into neighborhoods must be avoided.

In mixed use areas the businesses need enough parking for employees, delivery vehicles, and customers who drive there. In many cases a parking study may be needed and the project should be subject to Planning Commission approval. On-street parking may not be enough. Parking overflow from residences onto streets and into customer parking areas is a concern that cannot be dismissed lightly.

Within mixed use areas, business needs are already covered by the Encinitas Municipal Code, Chapter 30.54 and the Encinitas “Off-Street Parking Design Manual”, Resolution PC2000-10, and the existing Use and Development Regulations such as the Downtown Encinitas Specific Plan and the North 101 Corridor Specific Plan.

With respect to residential uses, Chapter 30.54 has in the past been applied, however the State has imposed reduced requirements in the Density Bonus Laws and in AB 744 (Chau), signed on October 9, 2015.

Encinitas should not give up without a fight. Court decisions related to AB 744 are yet to determine the total impact of this legislation, and there is justification for increased parking.

Parking is a true cost. Whether funded by a developer or new residents or out of the City budget. It is unlikely that citizens will allow the burden of overflow parking from new developments to be borne by established neighborhoods.

Large cities such as downtown San Diego and San Francisco have a chronic shortage of parking and as a result use private paid parking lots and parking meters to provide and fund parking. Huge cities such as New York provide extensive public transportation systems and many residents choose to not own automobiles or even get driver’s licenses.

Encinitas has historically been a “free parking” area and a visitor serving city. Neighboring cities such as Solana Beach and Carlsbad are also “free parking” areas and have free on-street parking and free parking lots. Shopping malls and markets also do not charge for parking, this helps them attract and retain customers.

Paid parking in downtown Encinitas would be an experiment in social engineering, an effort to discourage car ownership and encourage the use of public transit. We don’t think this city is ready yet for that and there is no public transit to many popular destinations.

A suggested parking guideline would be to provide at least one dedicated space per residential unit, with provisions for EV charging. Additional parking should have a minimum of one space per adult resident, perhaps allowing tandem parking for the same unit. There must also be nearby parking for occupational vehicles, such as pickup trucks and identified storage places within the City for trailers and motorhomes. There is need for additional parking for visitors and guests, either on-street or in spaces marked for guest parking. Residential parking must not overflow into business spaces and surrounding neighborhoods. Parking must of course satisfy ADA requirements and there must be areas for loading and delivery to residents and businesses.

Project applications that request reduced parking below existing requirements of Chapter 30.54 should be required to disclose parking reduction deficit requested by the developer. In many cases the City will be asked to impose parking districts for prior residents, provide municipal parking lots or structures, or allow private paid parking lots. The size of the parking deficit should be indicated in the application so that the City can plan for municipal parking lots and structures. These might be funded by assessing a parking deficit fee.

BENEFIT THE COMMUNITY

A number of changes in the plan are suggested for the benefit of the surrounding community and to support Community Character.

Story poles or Virtual Story Poles at both site activation and building application, coupled with the Community Participation Program will allow for increased community involvement in the process and will give the citizens a chance to offer improvements and buy into each plan.

All multifamily proposals in a Floating Zone should go through the Planning Commission whether or not they are in a Coastal Development Plan area. Any increases in Pad Height should be passed upon by the Planning Commission to avoid creation of artificial hills.

In as much as not all uses mix well the hours of businesses in Mixed Use Zones should be limited at the Planning Commission level, and alcohol-serving establishments in Mixed Use Zones should be either forbidden or strictly regulated for noise and disorder.

DETAILED COMMENTS ON FLOATING ZONES DOCUMENT

These comments are separable; some may be accepted and others may be rejected. We urge that they all be accepted and incorporated into the final Floating Zones documents.

[30.36.010 A 2 page 1] Introductory Provisions

The term “attainable housing” is neither defined nor quantified. Does this mean “very low income”, “low income”, or something else?

[30.36.020 pages 3-6] Housing Prototypes

Add a prototype for “Studio and Micro Units”

Size: 300-600 SF, with 450 SF max avg.

To be allowed in any prototype that allows Mixed Use, Apartments, or Flats

Add a description of “Studio and Micro Units”. Indicate that it is desired that such units be mixed with larger units in the same building. Indicate that access nay be from a common entrance and corridor or by a common stairway or elevator. The purpose of this prototype is to provide units that are small and hence lower in cost, to create “affordable housing”.

[30.36.030 page 7] Neighborhood Center

Update prototypes to allow “Studio and Micro Units”

[30.36.040 page 15] Village Center

Update prototypes to allow “Studio and Micro Units”

[30.36.050 page 23] Main Street Corridor

Update prototypes to allow “Studio and Micro Units”

[30.36.060 A page 30] Neighborhood Transitions – Applicability

We would like to see a landscaped buffer separating any single home zone from a multi-family zone across a street, not just “immediately abuts”.

[30.36.060 D 2 b page 30] Neighborhood Transitions – Massing

Update to allow “Studio and Micro Units” as a permitted activity within Transition Area 3

[30.36.070 D 1 c pages 33-34] Building Height – Average Grade

We question whether this allows the use of fill to raise the building pad higher than the pre-development grade and higher than neighboring sites. The issue of site grading is a strong community concern and the discretion of the Planning Commission Hearing should be required on a case-by-case basis.

[30.36.070 I 1 page 36] Site – Defined

The word “site” is used with two meanings in the draft proposed HEU. The first is one of the 33 “sites” proposed for a floating zone. The second is that the Draft HEU document [30.36.070 I 1] formally defines a “site” as any lot or a group of contiguous lots all owned or controlled by an applicant. The Draft HEU [30.36.100 A] also describes activation of a “site” at the discretion of the property owner. The Draft requires a minimum site area of 25,000 square feet for all “sites” in floating zones.

The number 25,000 is interesting because a typical city block is about 200,000 square feet, and such a block might contain 20 lots.

This seems to indicate that a builder could gain control of 3 or 4 contiguous lots in a commercial or residential block (within a potential floating zone) and activate and build just that part of the zone to a higher density. Other properties on the block would remain at their old zoning, call these holdouts.

This can create a situation in which part of a block is redeveloped while the remainder is not. The mixed rezoning that could result from this is an important impact. Issues such as transition are not covered. This loophole should be discussed and resolved in the document.

[30.36.080 page 42] Use Provisions – Vehicle Sales and Rental

Rental of Automobiles, Bicycles, and Surfboards and other recreational equipment should be permitted in Shopfront and Mixed Use zones with no more than a Minor Use Permit. Storage, servicing and turnaround of rental automobiles should be off-site unless a Major Use Permit is obtained. One or two instances of this use should be encouraged within 1000 feet of a transit station.

[30.36.090 B through E pages 51-54] Parking (Automobile)

It appears that the “Draft Proposed Floating Zones” document does not meet the requirements of AB 744. It also is a major departure from the previously agreed-upon Specific Plans for Downtown Encinitas and the North 101 Corridor.

Accordingly, we suggest that the entire section be reworked. It is suggested that the rework use the specifications of Chapter 30.54 to provide the basic parking requirement and the reduction from this be termed a “parking reduction deficit” that may then become a starting point in establishing municipal parking areas. If time and resources do not permit, then replace the section with a reference to Chapter 30.54 of the municipal code and revisit this issue when the Circulation Element is revised.

[30.36.090 F pages 54-55] Parking (Bicycle)

Long-term Secure Bicycle Parking space must also be supplied for other recreational uses such as Motorcycles, Surfboards, Kayaks, and skis.

COMMENTS ON DESIGN GUIDELINES DOCUMENT

[Chapter 2 page 13] Housing Plan Common Themes

Safe playspace facilities for children should be encouraged.

[Chapter 4 SD.5 1 g page 43] Site Design Guidelines – Parking Design

Long-term bike parking must be secure to protect from theft. There must also be secure storage for other recreational equipment such as surfboards and kayaks.

[Chapter 4 SD.10 2 b page 47] Site Design Guidelines – Open Space

Outdoor spaces must be designed to consider the safety of children and pets. Landscapes must not contain toxic material.

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION

Attachment 1: Who Knows What the Future Holds

http://quailrunsoftware.com/who-knows-what-the-future-holds/

Attachment 2: Small Living Units

Small Living Units

Attachment 3: Studio Units

Studio Units

Attachment 4: Children Need Outdoor Playspace

Children Need Outdoor Playspace

Attachment 5: Where Is The Vision?

Where Is The Vision?

Attachment 6: What Will Cars Be Like In 2026?

What Will Cars Be Like In 2026?

Attachment 7: Where To Park?

Where To Park?

Attachment 8: How Many Parking Spaces?

How Many Parking Spaces?

Reference 1: Text of Assembly Bill No. 744

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB744

Reference 2: Book – The High Cost of Free Parking

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/193236496X/ref=nav_timeline_asin?ie=UTF8&psc=1

February 29, 2016

Qualitative Analysis of DRAFT PEIR

The EIR gives very detailed information on the environmental consequences of the HEU. As such it is almost completely a self-contained document. It summarizes the HEU and the nature of CEQA and all the laws that govern the project.

Though most of the relevant laws are explained, the EIR ignores the California Density Bonus laws and the potential effect on the environment. This is a serious oversight because application of these provisions can increase density by almost 50%, which will have a significant extra impact on traffic and other environmental conclusions.

Encinitas Proposition A is mentioned but its effect as a safeguard against developer excesses is not explained.

The school districts serving Encinitas are not aligned with the city limits. Traffic on Rancho Santa Fe Road just northeast of the city limits is significant, especially on days and hours when Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School and La Costa Canyon High School are in session. These traffic conditions are due to drop-off and pick-up of students, as there is no school bus service. Traffic back-up from these two schools often extends into Encinitas. It does not appear that the traffic data gathered these numbers.

The traffic study appears to have been conducted at a time of year when schools were not in session and families were on vacation. Additionally, as Encinitas is a beachside community, traffic should be reported during busy weekends as well as during morning and evening rush hours. Traffic is bursty in nature and ADT is not the appropriate way to characterize a distribution that is decidedly not Gaussian.

Mention should be made of the fact that CALTRANS and SANDAG are working to improve transportation corridors both I5 and RR. It would be appropriate to have some discussion of the effect of their plans on future traffic flow.

Site analysis appears to be superficial. Some old data was used and the recent conditions were not reported.

The PEIR is a draft and some typographical errors are expected. It is hoped that better proofreading will prevail in the final document.

 

Detailed Comments on Draft PEIR

These comments are separable; some may be accepted and others may be rejected. We urge that they all be accepted and incorporated into the final EIR.

 

[S.1.2.1 paragraph 1 page S-1]

The term “attainably priced housing” is neither defined nor quantified. Does this mean “very low income”, “low income”, or something else? We would note that there is already existing an excess supply of expensive housing.

 

[2.2 page 2-1]

La Costa Avenue is also a significant east-west connector and the City of Encinitas is also accessed from the North via El Camino Real, from the Northeast via Rancho Santa Fe Road, and from the East via El Camino Del Norte and S Rancho Santa Fe Rd. These minor roads carry a significant amount of traffic in and out and through Encinitas.

 

[2.3.3 page 2-4]

The coastal areas of the City are also subject to sea level rise and erosion, sand loss, bluff failure, and the risk of tsunami.

 

[2.4.1 page 2-6]

It has been suggested that the portion of the City between the I5 freeway and El Camino Real is a sixth community: Mid Encinitas. The character of Mid Encinitas is markedly different from the character of Coastal Leucadia, Old Encinitas, and Cardiff. The areas of Mid Encinitas are similar to each other and in their development history and are separated from the three coastal regions by the barrier that is the I5 freeway. Although this is not a recognized political division Mid Encinitas has its own distinct Community Character.

 

[2.4.2 pages 2-7 through 2-13]

Please add a sixth unique description of Mid Encinitas and refactor the descriptions of the three communities to its west.

 

[2.4.3.1 page 2-13]

This section should include the fact that the City now has a source of desalinated water from the recently completed facility in Carlsbad. It has been reported that this water is “softer” than water from the other sources.

 

[2.4.3.7 page 2-17]

Significant circulation streets also include La Costa Avenue, El Camino Real, Rancho Santa Fe Road, El Camino Del Norte and S Rancho Santa Fe Rd. These streets connect Encinitas to other cities.

 

[2.4.3.7 page 2-17]

We know of no local street named “Gardens Drive”. Is this a misprint or are you using some other map? Also, my map shows Forrest Bluff as a dead-end street, not a major local route.

 

[2.4.3.7 a, page 2-18]

We disagree with the LOS values summarized in this paragraph. See comments below on section 4.1.13.2 for details on this.

 

[2.6 table 2.2 pages 2-18 through 2-25]

This table summarizes the details given in Section 3.2.2.3. Comments made there also apply to this summary table which should be updated to agree with the details.

 

[3.2.2 page 3-8]

The Inland Old Encinitas Activity Center extends west to Saxony and Calle Magdalina and may also include sites west of I5. Its cultural attractions also include the Encinitas YMCA and the nearby Ecke Sports Park.

 

[3.2.2.3 page 3-17]

The “public input” and “input from the community” were both collected through an internet service. These should be referred to as “anonymous public input” and “anonymous input from the community”. The “Peak Democracy” data was by no means a scientific or statistical study and the Encinitas City Council almost immediately voted to discontinue this service contract.

 

[3.2.2.3 page 3-25]

The description of site L-7 is incorrect in the following respects:

(1) The nearest public school is much more than 2 blocks away as the school district site at 441 Quail Gardens Drive is not a school, it is the EUSD Farm Lab. It raises organic produce for use in the school district and hosts a community garden. Students may be bussed in from their school but this site is not by any stretch a school and this location is not listed as a school in section 4.12.1.3 of the Draft EIR.

(2) The San Diego Botanic Garden is not a park, it has no playground, picnic areas, or athletic fields. The nearest park is Las Verdes Park at 1390 Paseo De Las Verdes, about 1/2 mile distant.

 

[3.2.2.3 page 3-26]

The description of site ALT-5 is incorrect in the following respects:

(1) The site contains no homes. Where they had been is only rubble.

(2) The nearest public school is much more than 1/2 mile away as the school district site at 441 Quail Gardens Drive is not a school, it is the EUSD Farm Lab. It raises organic produce for use in the school district and hosts a community garden. Students may be bussed in from their school but this site is not by any stretch operating as a grade school and this location is not listed as a school in section 4.12.1.3 of the Draft EIR.

(3) The San Diego Botanic Garden is not a park, it has no playground, picnic areas, or athletic fields. The nearest park is Las Verdes Park at 1390 Paseo De Las Verdes, about 1/2 mile distant. Additionally, the travel distance to the YMCA is about 1 mile except for birds.

(4) The site is not adjacent to transit, it is more than 1/4 mile to the nearest bus route, which is on Encinitas Blvd.

 

[3.4.2.2 page 3-44]

The word “site” is used with two meanings in the draft proposed HEU. The first is one of the 33 “sites” proposed for a floating zone. The second is that the Draft HEU document [30.36.070 I 1] formally defines a “site” as any lot or a group of contiguous lots all owned or controlled by an applicant. The Draft HEU [30.36.100 A] also describes activation of a “site” at the discretion of the property owner. The Draft requires a minimum site area of 25,000 square feet for all “sites” in floating zones.

The number 25,000 is interesting because a typical city block is about 200,000 square feet, and such a block might contain 20 lots.

This seems to indicate that a builder could gain control of 3 or 4 contiguous lots in a commercial or residential block (within a potential floating zone) and activate and build just that part of the zone to a higher density. Other properties on the block would remain at their old zoning, call these holdouts.

This can create a situation in which part of a block is redeveloped while the remainder is not. The mixed rezoning that could result from this is an important impact. Issues such as transition are not covered. This loophole should be discussed and resolved in the PEIR document.

 

[3.4.3.2 page 3-53]

It is disingenuous to refer to Proposition A as “Ancillary”. It was passed by a majority citizen vote in an effort to curb abuses by the building industry.

 

[3.5.2 Table 3-4c page 3-58]

Regarding Site ALT-5 the existing approved tract map for this site shows a yield of 33 single-family homes. This is because of slopes, easements, drainage, and other site difficulties. This map also called for preserving the two mature Torrey Pine trees on the site and the owls therein. The “Adopted Zoning Yield” of 54 exceeds this by 63%. It would be correct to adjust the “Proposed Residential Yield” for this site down from 338 to 212 to recognize the actual potential residential yield if this site were developed under the floating zone scheme. This change should be reflected in the totals and in other conclusions derived from that number.

 

[3.5.3 page 3-58]

Non-residential build out assumptions project past experience into the future. However, the majority of commercial uses are retail which is being seriously impacted by the recent trend of internet sales and same-day delivery. This is to say that future commercial density requirements could actually be less than the existing density. A conclusion that could be drawn from this is that the non-utilized commercial density might be used as an increased residential density, a scenario that could play out within the next 10 years.

 

[3.6.2 page 3-63]

The “Ancillary Action” to “delete policies as specified by Proposition A” should be worded better. Saying “except in areas of conflict with the HEU” should say “only in areas of conflict with the HEU”.

 

[4.1.1.1 b page 4.1-1]

There is a sixth community, Mid-Encinitas, between the I5 freeway and El Camino Real from the north city limit to ths south. Mid-Encinitas includes the large development of the Encinitas Ranch. This large community is not part of the historic communities of Leucadia, Olivenhain, and Cardiff. The tracts have more in common with each other than the older areas to the west.

 

[4.1.1.1 b page 4.1-2]

There are also magnificent scenic vista points within the San Diego Botanic Garden. This site lies on a ridge and has views to all points of the compass, especially from its watchtower. The Encinitas Ranch and its golf course and trail system also provide stunning vistas in all directions.

 

[4.1.6.1 page 4.1-25]

Housing Site CBHMG-1 is “just east of the I-5 exit” not “just east of the I-5 exist”. Please correct this typographical error.

 

[4.1.7 a page 4.1-39]

We disagree with the judgment that adverse impacts to community character from development of Housing Site ALT-5 would be less than significant. Issues such as parking overflow and traffic are significant, and this is a quiet area surrounded on 3 sides by lower density residences on a street containing several important cultural attractions.

 

[4.1.7.2 page 4.1-50]

Add the following sentence: Housing site ALT-5 is surrounded an 3 sides by lower density housing zones and development at higher intensity is contrary to existing community character.

 

[4.1.7.4 page 4.1-50]

Please add site ALT-5 to the list of impacted sites.

 

[4.1.8.1 b page 4.1-51]

Please correct the misprint on the discussion of Housing Strategy 3. “housing strategy 3 (mmup)” appears to be the intended.

 

[4.3.1.1 d page 4.3-6]

Some undisturbed areas of site ALT-5 are riparian in nature as it is traversed north-south by the Cottonwood Creek watershed.

 

[4.3.1.2 Table 4.3.1 page 4.3-8]

Site ALT-5 should be indicated as riparian.

 

[4.3.1.5 page 4.3-17]

We disagree with the finding of this chapter. These sites do constitute a wildlife movement corridor for birds. Coyotes, raccoons, skunks, and opossums may also freely enter them using roads, walks, and trails to get around. Though uncommon, occasional sightings of deer have been reported.

 

[4.3.5.1 b page 4.3-31]

Housing Strategy 3 also has impacts BIO-1 BIO-3 from site ALT-5.

 

[4.3.10.2 page 4.3-40]

Do you mean “true” instead of “tree”?

 

[4.6.4 page 4.6-14]

Which two appendices are being referenced?

 

[4.1.9.3 a page 4.9-8]

This paragraph omits describing the more than 500 homes that were built before the year 2000 in the Encinitas Ranch development. This oversight should be corrected.

 

[4.9.2.1 pages 4.9-12 through 4.9-16]

This section explains most of the state regulations but it fails to describe the California Housing Bonus requirement and its actual or potential impact on housing density. We suggest that this be corrected.

 

[4.9.2.3 b page 4.9-21]

Please add the following important fact: Proposition A also requires that building height be measured from the natural grade whenever fill would raise the level of the building pad.

 

[4.9.1.1 Table 4,9-16 pages 4.9-48 through 4.9-55]

The Speed given in this table is apparently the posted speed limit as measured speed would be a range, not a round number. Some of these values are incorrect, a few that we noticed are:

* Saxony Rd between Saxony Pl. and Encinitas Blvd is posted at 25 MPH and is enforced accordingly, not at the 40 MPH stated in the table.

* Quail Gardens Drive between Swallowtail Rd. and Leucadia Blvd. is posted at 35, not at 40 MPH.

* Westlake Street between Encinitas Blvd. and Requeza is posted at 25, not at 30.

We suggest that you verify all the speed limits with the City rather than publishing incorrect information.

 

[4,9.9.1 a page 4.9-56]

It should be emphasized in this paragraph that existing housing and other sites not within the housing strategies are also impacted by increased traffic noise levels.

 

[4.11.5.1 c Table 4.11-15 page 4.11-10]

The proposed residential yield for Site ALT-5 should be changed from 338 to 212. The number of existing residential units is 0 and the existing plan yield is 33. The totals should be adjusted accordingly. Reasons for this are stated above in the response to Table 3.4c.

 

[4.12.7 a Table 4.12-8 page 4.12-20]

For site ALT-5 the Proposed Residential Yield should be set to 212 and the proposed student generation and totals adjusted accordingly.

 

[4.12.9 pages 4.12-22 through 4.12-23]

Encinitas has sufficient large parks to satisfy the minimum requirement, however healthy development of children needs safe open air play spaces and recreation areas near to housing. The back and front yards of detached houses satisfy this, but the blocks of apartments provided for by the HEU do not. This has a direct impact on community character and the lack of small parks and play spaces is a defect in the proposed HEU.

 

[4.13.1.1 page 4.13.4]

Quail Gardens Drive has missing sidewalk lengths on the West Side along the San Diego Botanic Garden frontage. Sidewalks on the East side from the Botanic Garden north are part of the Encinitas Ranch trail system and pedestrians share this trail with horses. The median south of the entrance to the Botanic garden is painted on asphalt and is neither raised nor landscaped.

 

[4.13.1.1 page 4.13.4]

It is sufficient to state just once that Nardo Road has bike route signs.

 

[4.13.1.2 page 4.13-8]

Study traffic counts were taken in June 2015, perhaps at a time when schools were not in session and some families were on vacation. We have observations made in February 2016 that correct these numbers. See the comments below.

 

[4.13.1.2 a page 4.13.10]

Proposed corrections to Roadway Segment Conditions (summary, see comments on Table 4-13-1 for particulars) in the City of Encinitas are as follows:

North Coast Highway 101 southbound between La Costa Ave and Leucadia Blvd – LOS E

Quail Gardens Drive southbound between Paseo De Las Verdes and Encinitas Bl. – LOS E

Encinitas Blvd eastbound from Vulcan to I5 – LOS E

 

[4.13.1.2 Table 4.13-1 page 4.13-11]

The actual southbound LOS on North Coast Highway 101 between La Costa Ave and Leucadia Blvd is not “C or better”, it is E or F because of two factors, first traffic turning east onto Leucadia Blvd at the railroad tracks backs up often far beyond the turn pocket, and second delivery trucks often double-park in the sharrow lane, turning the street into effectively a single-lane road shared by bicycles, trucks, and cars causing a backup often as high as half a mile. The situation is worsened to gridlock whenever a train goes through. South of there to Encinitas Blvd the traffic usually loosens up.

South of there the city traffic on southbound 101 from Encinitas Blvd to Swami’s Parking lot is often “C or better” but due to diagonal parking and trains to the east, the entire section often slows to stop-and-go. The LOS of this section might best be called D.

Northbound traffic on South Coast Highway 101 from Swami’s Parking to Encinitas Blvd is often stop-and-go due to diagonal parking, traffic backup due to trains to the east and the backup turning east onto Encinitas Blvd as cars wait the Signals at Vulcan to I5.

South Coast Highway 101 between Swami’s Parking and San Elijo State Beach is usually not LOS F. Traffic generally moves smoothly in both directions and might be better called LOS C or D. However, traffic turning east onto Chesterfield Drive is often backed up due to both train traffic and the nearby signal at San Elijo Ave and Chesterfield. This is LOS E or F.

 

[4.1.13.2 Table 4.13-1 page 4.13-13]

The Southbound traffic on Quail Gardens Drive between Paseo De Las Verdes and Encinitas Bl. is typically stop-and-go due to morning commuters. The stop-and-go traffic often extends from north of Kristen Court down to Encinitas Blvd. I would call this segment LOS E or F.

 

[4.1.13.2 Table 4.13-1 page 4.13-18]

The actual eastbound LOS on Encinitas Blvd Eastbound from Vulcan to I5 is not C, it is E or F because left-turning traffic onto I5 North often backs up both lanes as far west as Vulcan.

 

[4.1.13.2 b page 4.13-21]

Proposed additions to Intersection Conditions(summary, see comments on Table 4-13-2 for particulars) in the City of Encinitas are as follows:

* North Coast Highway 101 & Leucadia Boulevard – LOS E

* South Coast Highway 101 & Chesterfield – LOS E

 

[4.1.13.2 b Table 4.13-2 page 4.13-22 through 4.13-24]

The peculiar intersection between the South Coast Highway 101, Chesterfield, San Elijo Ave., and the railroad tracks is a major bottleneck, especially with weekend beach traffic. The LOS of this intersection should be listed as E or F for cars turning east from either direction of 101. Further study of this particular bottleneck is suggested.

The table as a whole should include a column for weekend traffic. Downtown Encinitas has many attractions for visitors, including Moonlight and other beaches.

ID 5 – Downgrade the LOS from B to C. Southbound traffic on 101 backs up for 2 or 3 signal cycles, especially on weekends.

ID 12 – Downgrade the LOS from to C to E. Southbound traffic often backs up for several cycles due to turning East across the railroad tracks. This is especially common on weekends but can happen at any time due to double parked trucks unloading from the sharrow lane of 101. It gets especially bad when trains come through.

ID 18 – Dowgrade the LOS from C to D. Turning traffic from westbound Leucadia Blvd to southbound Quail Gardens Drive is often backed up for additional signal cycles during morning commute and sometimes on weekends.

ID 28 – Weekend impacts at the Intersection of 101 and Encinitas Blvd. are worse than AM or PM weekday. Call the LOS of this intersection D or worse.

 

[4.1.13.2 c page 4.13-25]

Freeway segment traffic has increased since the traffic study due to housing completions in inland Carlsbas and the San Elijo Hills development in San Marcos, and due to economic recovery.

 

No Comments on Chapter 5

No Comments on Chapter 6

 

[7.0 page 7-2]

The first paragraph should also mention growth in the San Elijo Hills section of San Marcos. This development has contributed to traffic increase entering Encinitas from the northeast on Rancho Santa Fe Road and shows no signs of abating.

 

[7.1.1 page 7-3]

Mention should be made of SANDAG and CALTRANS plans for expanding the coastal railway and the I5 freeway. Double-tracking of the railroad will allow increased passenger and freight train traffic and more frequent traffic delays at railroad crossings. The increase in passengers will have a ripple effect on bus and road traffic in downtown Encinitas. The increase in freeway traffic will increase the number of stops for fuel, food, and lodging which will also affect projected traffic counts.

 

[8.1 page 8-1]

The reference to poinsettia gardens is out-of-date. This operation has been discontinued as the bulk to the Ecke company has moved the operation out of the country. Encinitas is no longer the poinsettia capital.

 

[9.0 page 9-2]

Housing Mapping Strategies. We object to the attempt to define Community Character solely on the basis of the buildings. A community does not exist without its people and Community Character refers to the way that the people interact with their surroundings, not to the style of the buildings.

 

[9.1 Table 9-1 page 9-4]

The numbers don’t add up right. We find it hard to believe that the SMUP strategy could produce 1,503,670 M.R.(du) while the MMUP produced only 3,261.

 

[9.1 Table 9-2 pages 9-5, 9-6, and 9-7]

We do not understand the terms SAME, LESS, and GREATER. What is being compared here? Please clarify.

 

[9.2]

no comment

 

[9.3.1.1 Table 9-3 page 9-16]

Site ALT-3 had an approved tract map in 2008 for 33 DU, this plan acknowledged features of the site such as easements, drainage, and heritage Torrey Pine trees. The yield of 54 DU for this site is unrealistic for several reasons including the fact that it is not reasonable to build homes underneath high tension wires.

 

[9.3.1.2 k page 9-26]

We don’t see that population growth from the HEU would have no impact different than the No Project Alternative. Nothing in the HEU will provide more beaches with more surfable waves. Since no more land is available for parks and recreational resources the current facilities would bear a greater load. Shops and markets might have more customers but additional crowding will ensue.

 

[9.3.1.2 l 5 page 9-28]

We disagree with the judgment that the city has adequate recreational facilities to serve increased needs. For instance the number of playing fields for soccer and other activities is limited and increased use degrades the grass playing surfaces.

 

[9.3.1.2 m page 9-28]

The fact that the proposed HEU will impact traffic could be stated more clearly. 18 lines of text is excessive verbiage.

 

[9.3.1.2 n 1a page 9-29]

This discussion ignores the fact that there now are big problems in Leucadia whenever it rains. A functioning Storm Drain System along the Coast Highway in Leucadia should be installed before development proceeds on any of those sites.

 

[9.3.1.2 n 2 pages 9-29 and 9-30]

As we are on restricted water use any development at all will increase usage. There is not enough fresh water. Any development is likely to force rationing or extreme conservation. The proposed HEU increases demand but water supplies remain limited.

 

[9.3.1.3 page 9-30]

Speaking for a more efficient land use pattern totally ignores the ecological consequences of over crowding and the removal of open space.

 

[9.3.2 Table 9.4 page 9-32]

This chart does not include drawbacks of some sites not selected for the SMUP. For instance dense development of site ALT-5 is not in character with the residential neighborhoods to the West, North, and East.

 

[9.3.2.1 page 9-34]

Site ALT-5 has additional drawbacks that also make it unsuitable. These should be restated here.

 

No Comments on chapters 10, 11, and 12

No comments on the appendices as these were not examined in great detail.

The Coast News reported on a study by Christopher Kulick on the vehicle speed feedback signs installed in his neighborhood to slow down traffic on Quail Gardens Drive:

http://www.thecoastnews.com/2016/02/14/seventh-graders-project-weighs-in-on-vehicle-speed-signs/

A summary of the article is that the signs aren’t working very well to slow traffic. Christopher did suggest other measures that would do better.

Christopher is a resident of Quail Run.

A Studio is a small housing unit in the size range 400 – 600 Square Feet. These are sometimes called efficiency units. A Studio is larger than a Micro Unit but depending on the size and level of decoration can still be considered in the Low-Low or Low income range. For example:

Studio

or:

            Alcove Studio

A slightly larger variant on this would be the small one bedroom unit:

      Small Pad

A 400 SF – 600 SF unit at $3 – $4 per SF could profitably rent in the range $1200 – $2400. These modest units fit within the market-rate definition of affordable housing.

Does the Draft Proposed Encinitas Housing Element provide for small units?

For healthy development children need outdoor play, recreation, and interaction. In single-family neighborhoods this is often in the back and front yards of the houses, and schools also provide organized physical education and some unstructured playtime.

Encinitas has sufficient large parks and beaches and school grounds to satisfy  the minimum legal requirements for parkland. Large-scale organized activities such as soccer and baseball and surfing competitionsare popular at these sites.

The blocks of apartments provided for by the HEU do not provide spaces for unstructured play activities, and there are no provisions for small group activities such as croquet, badminton, and kickball that were common when we were of that age. Neighborhood play helps foster the development of community. The lack of small parks and play spaces is a defect in the proposed HEU that alters our Community Character and may reduce socialization of our young.

Can the Draft Proposed Encinitas Housing Element support families?

Last night’s Planning Commission meeting featured the unveiling of the Environmental Impact Report on the Housing Elephant. The meeting started at 5PM with a poster presentation on the EIR. About 25 citizens were present, maybe a few more came and left. This is a summary of the information that I got from the the meeting, not a transcript, and items from both the poster session and the formal session are mixed in. The video of the formal meeting is posted on the city’s web site.
The consultants from RECON were there to explain and answer, also City staff. During the informal poster period the 5 members of the Planning Commission were also circulating and conversing. There was a printed copy of the 753 page EIR, in glorious color and with foldouts. It’s a weighty document. It is required that, in order to be responded to, comments on the EIR be written and delivered within the 45-day comment period which ends March 14.
There was a presentation of the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) which created the requirement for the Environmental Impact Report and also the livelihoods of companies like RECON.
At this time there are  actually six alternatives under discussion:
1. Ready Made (RM)
2. Build Your Own (BYO)
3. Modified Mixed Use Places (MMUP)
4. No Project (Continue With Old General Plan)
5. Sustainable Mixed Use Places/Environmentally Friendly (SMUP)
6. Whatever plan the City Council approves which may include parts of the others.
Alternative 4 is alive because the voters could decide against the plan. Alternative 6 is alive because the EIR, though required, can be taken as advisory rather than mandatory. Quite many of those in attendance seemed to prefer alternative 5, the SMUP scheme.
It was emphasized that this is a Program EIR (PEIR) which is different from the EIR needed for a particular project. When I asked about Density Bonus Mike Strong reported that the PEIR used just the R-30 numbers. Any project that uses Density Bonus may be required to supplement the EIR and traffic study at the expense of the applicant.
The traffic study was done in June 2015, the posters showed projected traffic levels in 2035  for alternatives 1, 2, 3, and 4. It was stated that since Plan 5 is a proper subset of Plan 3 there was no funded traffic study for it. The commission discussed and then accepted this story. I observe that in January 2016 some of our streets seem quite more congested than the numbers reported in the PEIR; the details of this are worthy of a written response.
There were about 12 posters. Half of them were brand new, showing CEQA requirements, the SMUP option, and the projected 2035 traffic levels of alternatives 1, 2, and 3. The traffic levels were grim, I gather that improving this is not part of the Housing Element but could be covered when the Circulation Element of the General Plan is updated in a year or so.
I had thought this meeting was about the form of the EIR rather than its content, which is scheduled to be taken up at a later meeting, so I did not comment on any particular site, but used my 3 minutes to raise the issues of Density Bonus and I did question the traffic numbers.
In oral communications, one speaker from our Greek Orthodox Church spoke in favor of site C-6, owned by that group, because they want to develop actual affordable housing on it. A group of about 6 citizens spoke against site L-7, the city-owned property on QGD to the north of the botanic garden. Nobody spoke about site ALT-5, probably this will happen at the big meeting. Sites L-7 and ALT-5 were not in the SMUP map but Council could anyway include one or both in the final.
Other oral communications were from about 6 citizens who were quite fluent in questioning various aspects of the housing scheme such as the fact that the HE as written will produce mostly “market rate” housing and little “affordable” housing.  Also raised was the fact that the HE guts the provisions of Proposition A and shifts power from the voting citizens to the city staff.
One Commissioner asked whether population increase due to the HE would increase the number of students, especially in K-6 in Cardiff and Leucadia. I think the response was that this is not part of the study requirement of either CEQA or their contract with the city. In any event the school district will benefit from increased tax revenue and should make their own projections of demand.
In other business the  Planning Commission discussed item 10A, specific suggestions for additional public outreach. I spoke against this “scathingly brilliant” idea because I think the Planning Commission should stick to deliberation rather than action, because this is distracting them from their already overflowing agenda, and because we have reached the point of diminishing returns and most of our citizens have chosen not to pay attention. The Commission was unanimous in disagreeing with me and they directed that their bright ideas be sent to the City Council.

In Southern California getting a driver’s license is a rite of passage. Owning a car usually happens before the time to leave the nest. Everyone has a car, some people have more vehicles. Compare this with New York City where many don’t even bother to get a driver’s license.

Existing neighborhoods in Encinitas frequently have most of the parking spots occupied. Businesses need parking for employees and customers. Our commercial areas are surrounded by nearby residential, so high density with less than an adequate car to onsite parking ratio will create trouble in the commercial districts. If a resident doesn’t have “his” parking spot he will take one in front of some downstairs store. If the customer can’t park he won’t shop or dine there. Visitors and customers and tourists don’t come if they can’t park. An excess of parking is vital.

Not enough residential parking spaces are being required by the Draft Proposed Housing Element. Here are some examples.

  1. A tradesman will often have a car and a truck, and his wife may have another car,  yet they reside in a 1 bedroom unit. The proposed standard calls for 1.25 parking spaces, it should accommodate all 3 vehicles on-site.
  2. A sportsman may have a boat on a trailer, a truck to pull it, and yet another vehicle to get around, and yet reside in a Studio unit. The proposed standard calls for only 1 parking place, it should provide 3.
  3. A recreation enthusiast may need safe parking for his bicycle, but he may also want to store his kayak or surfboard.
  4. In California, without basements or attics, many enclosed garages are used as storage areas for tools or household goods. This usage is counted as a parking space but does not provide car parking.
  5. And our city needs to identify parking places within the city for Motorhomes, Dune Buggies, Boat Trailers, Sail Planes (Yes I have a friend in Mid-Cardiff with one), and other Recreational Vehicles.

Providing just one parking space per adult resident may not even be enough. It is ideal that there should be at least one assigned space per unit, with nearby shared space available for other vehicles. Onsite EV charging must be possible as well.

Charging for parking  separate from the housing units will allow tenants to choose to opt-out of paying for a parking space and rely on street parking. This will create a burden on nearby neighborhoods. We must demand “free parking”.

Asphalt is cheap. You can valet park about 180 cars on an acre of flat land, maybe only 100 if you have nice wide aisles. At the highest density you may have to go to subterranean parking, parking tucked under the units, or a parking structure.

 Parking spots are a true cost of a development but not having enough parking is a bigger cost. Encinitas does not need the parking nightmares.
Does the Draft Proposed Encinitas Housing Element provide for enough parking?

This is a slippery discussion.

The maps in the Draft identify locations where a floating zone may applied. The maps call these large locations “sites”.

The Draft [30.36.070 I 1] formally defines a site as any lot or a group of contiguous lots all owned or controlled by an applicant. The Draft [30.36.100 A] also describes activation of a site at the discretion of the property owner. The Draft requires a minimum site area of 25,000 square feet for all sites in floating zones.

The number 25,000 is interesting because a typical city block is about 200,000 square feet, and such a block might contain 20 lots.

This seems to indicate that a builder could gain control of 3 or 4 contiguous lots in a commercial or residential block (within a floating zone) and activate and build just that part of the zone to a higher density. Other properties on the block would remain at their old zoning, call these holdouts.

Is this the intent the Draft Proposed Encinitas Housing Element? Is this what our citizens want??

From the Proposed Draft Floating Zones of the Proposed Draft Encinitas Housing Element:

[30.36.010 B]

Wherever a conflict exists between this Chapter 30.36 and the Encinitas Municipal Code or any Specific Plan, the intent, provisions and requirements of this Chapter controls.

[30.36.100 A]

3. Upon approval of the discretionary permit, the
Floating Zone is activated for the site and the
prior zoning is permanently extinguished.
4. This process is considered a ministerial text
amendment to the Zoning Map of the City.

[30.36.100 K]

2. If amendments to any part of its planning
policy documents, including but not limited to
the General Plan, specific plans, Encinitas Municipal
Code or its Local Coastal Program, are
required to secure or maintain certification
that may otherwise invoke the requirements
of Chapter 30.00, the City Council is authorized
to make any and all necessary amendments
with a four-fifths super majority vote or any
other lesser super majority vote should less
than five Council Members be eligible to vote
while maintaining a quorum.

 

The California Environmental Quality Act requires an Environmental Impact Report (EIR). There is a short description and a long description. The requirements for the EIR for the Draft Proposed Encinitas Housing Element can be found here.

An EIR covers 18 factors:

Aesthetics
Agricultural resources
Air quality
Biological resources
Cultural Resources
Geology and Soils
Greenhouse gases
Hazards and Hazardous Materials
Hydrology and Water Quality
Land Use and Planning
Mineral Resources
Noise
Population and Housing
Public services
Recreation
Transportation and traffic
Utilities and Service Systems
Mandatory Findings of Significance

An EIR of necessity will be a product of human judgment, and the lack of clear thresholds can lead to litigation. Problems can also occur on the grounds that EIRs are too brief or overlooked possible impacts, as there are no explicit guidelines.

Regardless of the problems, an EIR is required for civic projects such as the Encinitas Housing Element.