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Encinitas is open to high-density housing built around farmland, Rep. Darrell Issa could be eyeing the district next-door, and more in this week’s roundup of North County news.
A new report released by the national apartment listing website RentCafe puts up-to-date figures behind the housing crunch.
Not only is San Diego among the most expensive large cities in the country, it had some of the highest rental hikes, with a 5.5 percent increase over the previous year. And as goes San Diego, so too does North County: Every city in the study saw their rents go up.
At $2,185 — marking a 4.7 percent increase — Carlsbad edged out San Diego’s own $2,069 rent. Escondido was one of the cheapest markets with an average rent around $1,500, but that figure grew 5 percent from the previous year, placing it among the county’s highest rent increases.
Oceanside and Vista had similar rental markets with rent around $1,690, an increase of 4.6 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively.
RentCafe based their data on actual rents charged in cities with more than 100,000 people and at apartment buildings with 50 or more units, according to their website.
While Encinitas didn’t make the study on rental prices, it is a notorious hold-out when it comes to building new rental housing. The city has for years flouted a state-law requiring cities adopt a plan that outlines where new housing will go for different income levels.
Mayor Catherine Blakespear captured the prevailing feeling in her recent newsletter. “Like many of you, there’s a strong part of me that wishes we could stop development completely,” she wrote. But, she added, that was an impossible and impractical wish.
The city’s last attempt to adopt a housing element, Measure T, failed in part because residents didn’t have any one project to be excited about. She thinks rallying behind an agri-hood could solve that, and there’s growing momentum to rezone one agricultural property to include 250 homes on 21 acres during the city’s next vote.
“There was unanimity among all the incumbents and the candidates [in the 2016 election] that we needed to pass Measure T,” Blakespear wrote. “But the plan itself did not have any particularly appealing project (like an agri-hood), and the elected officials didn’t have to get their hands dirty choosing the sites for inclusion on the ultimate map.”
The farm’s owner, Bob Echter, initially sought permission to grow marijuana on his property, but when the City Council decided to put the matter to voters in 2018, Echter balked. His second proposal was to develop part of his land as an agri-hood, which is a high-density neighborhood built around farmland.
Blakespear highlighted the agri-hood as something that residents could be excited about, rather than just “holding their noses” and voting for the Housing Element.
“When it comes to choosing the sites, I think we need projects that we’ll be proud of and that will accomplish our goals. At least one should be innovative and exciting, and an agri-hood that likely includes a “tiny home” component, is tremendously appealing.”
When Rep. Darrell Issa announced he was not going to run for re-election last week, many took that to mean he was retiring altogether from Congress. If that wasn’t intriguing enough, the story then took another turn.
The Hill reported that rather than retire, Issa, who currently represents the 49th District, is considering a run in California’s 50th District, currently held by Rep. Duncan Hunter, if Hunter doesn’t — or can’t — run.
Hunter has been under criminal investigation for nearly a year over his personal use of campaign funds, which the Union-Tribune has chronicled, extensively. Hunter said he has no plans to resign and will still run for re-election. But if something changes, Hunter said he expects Issa would then be interested in his seat.
Issa, a Republican, narrowly won re-election in 2016 against Democrat Doug Applegate, in a district that is trending left, despite a slight advantage for Republicans among registered voters.
In deep-red 50th District, Hunter still enjoys wide support, but much of the district was represented by Issa until redistricting changed the boundaries after the 2010 Census. And there is no rule requiring members of Congress to live in the district they represent.
Issa’s announcement opened a void on the right, with Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, from Oceanside, announcing that he would seek the 49th District seat. He’ll be vying against four Democrats and at least two other Republicans, state Board of Equalization chair Diane Harkey and attorney Joshua Schoonover.
• Camp Pendleton officials knew of the base’s water quality issues years before a 2017 inspection that found animal carcasses rotting in reservoirs. (Union-Tribune)
• The Oceanside City Council is putting the question of how to handle the mayor’s vacancy back to the public. The city can either appoint someone or move ahead with an election in June or November, although given the Council’s history, an agreement on an appointment is unlikely. (KPBS)
• The Union-Tribune talked to Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood about his decision to retire, after his latest stroke. (Union-Tribune)
• As the Escondido Public Library enters private hands, opponents of the decision to run the system with a private vendor vow to keep on fighting. This week, Santa Clarita decided to terminate its contract with the same vendor, after declining public attendance and so many positions going unfilled due to low pay and benefits. (Union-Tribune)
• Escondido has filed criminal charges against the owner of the Country Club for failing to maintain his property, which the city claims caused the recent clubhouse fire. (Union-Tribune)