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.

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