With Measure T failing by a fairly significant margin (56-44 percent) in the Nov. 8 election, the Encinitas City Council has been discussing the next step as the city works to update its Housing Element to be compliant with state law.
While it looks as though California won’t sue Encinitas for noncompliance at this time, developers have sued (and more could be coming), which has already cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars in settlements. And, according to Mayor Catherine Blakespear’s Dec. 18 newsletter, “one of the two litigants who sued (Encinitas) over our failure to have a state compliant housing plan, sent (the city) a Notice of Breach the day after we certified the election results that made Encinitas voters’ rejection of Measure T official.”
Blakespear went on to write “one of the things that should be imminently clear to anyone following this thorny issue is that the legal bills are mounting every month and time is of the essence in sorting this out. The fact that the state hasn’t (and won’t) sue us is irrelevant — developers suing us for non-compliance are as powerful a legal foe as the state. We need a compliant housing element to stop the bleeding of your tax dollars on lawsuits.”
The Council on Nov. 16 assigned Blakespear and Council member Tony Kranz to a subcommittee that would explore options for re-working the Housing Element Update to receive broader community support.
The two reported back to the Council — now made up of Blakespear as Mayor, Kranz as Deputy Mayor, Mark Muir and newly elected Tasha Boerner Horvath — at its Dec. 14 meeting, suggesting that the next step should be a meeting where the whole Council could hear public input on this issue.
Blakespear told the Encinitas Advocate that the Council was aiming for a mid-January meeting, “ideally on a Saturday to maximize the opportunity for public participation.”
“I think it is important that the Council is moving forward together … and that the Council is working with the public … so that we can march forward together,” the Mayor explained at the Dec. 14 Council meeting.
The Council members, who all supported Measure T, hope to use the January forum as a way to get input from Encinitas residents on ways to rework the housing plan so that it will satisfy state housing requirements and get community support.
“I want to try to create an environment where (fitting public comments into three minutes, which is all that is allowed at regular City Council meetings), isn’t required,” Kranz said on Dec. 14.
Blakespear and Kranz also proposed the city use a “facilitator” at the forum, a plan that public speaker Bruce Ehlers — one of the leaders of the No on T group — took issue with. Ehlers brought up examples of other recent meetings where the city’s use of “facilitators” made for one-sided discussion, and went on to say that he would absolutely not support a “facilitator” if it was an Encinitas city staffer.
After more discussion, the Council decided the forum’s manager would be called a “moderator” as opposed to a “facilitator” and agreed that Ehlers’ group could interview the city’s choice prior to the forum, and possibly have veto power.