Encinitas launches Mediation Pilot Program

Encinitas residents and developers can now access professional mediation services through a one-year Mediation Pilot Program. The services can help resolve general disputes between neighbors, and disagreements over proposed land use or development projects.

Mediation services for general disputes between neighbors are voluntary, entirely confidential and free. The services are intended for disagreements regarding issues such as blocked views, property line location, overhanging trees and/or root damage, fencing or other structures typically not regulated by the City. Up to six general dispute cases can be mediated during the 2016 pilot program.

For land use and development cases between project applicants and residents, the program fees are $275 per hour plus a $100 administrative fee per case. That fee is paid for by the project applicant and there is no limit set on the number of cases that can be mediated. The service may be used to mediate any remaining issues with residents following the approval/denial of a private development project, which is subsequently appealed since the appeal process does not have the flexibility and dialogue that a mediation process provides. The mediation process in land use and development cases is also voluntary and remains confidential; however, if mediation leads to project changes, the outcome will be shared with the City’s Planning and Building Department to assess any changes to the project and/or application process as well as next steps.

The mediation services are provided through the National Conflict Resolution Center (NCRC). NCRC provides a case coordinator, who matches applicants with professional mediators and reports back to the City on whether mediation was undertaken and if it concluded successfully or led to no resolution.

“Through our contract with NCRC, participants are paired with a trained, neutral mediator who guides a discussion of the issues between them toward a mutually acceptable agreement,” explained Diane Langager, principal planner with the City of Encinitas. “It will be exciting to see how our citizens use the program and what benefits it brings our community.”

Funding of $7,750 was approved by council for the pilot program to cover the costs of up to six general dispute resolutions as well as program development, evaluation and reporting.

Since Feb. 2, when the contract began with NCRC, several residents and a developer have approached the City to request more information on the program and evaluate mediation. Interested parties are encouraged to contact Diane Langager, Principal Planner, at 760 633-2714 or dlangag@encinitasca.gov. More information is available on the program webpage at: www.encinitasca.gov/mediation.

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