North County Report: Encinitas Thumbs Its Nose at State Law - Voice of San Diego

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North County Report: Encinitas Thumbs Its Nose at State Law

Del Mar says no to slow growth, Oceanside says yes to a dead candidate and more in our weekly roundup of news from North County.

Encinitas marked another milestone this week on the path to adopting what’s called a housing element, a plan required by state law that says every local government needs to demonstrate it will allow a certain amount of housing to be built at various income levels. Encinitas voters on Tuesday rejected Measure T, which would have approved a housing element, by a wide margin.

Roughly 18,200 ballots were cast, and the opposition received 56 percent of the vote. Rejection of the housing element means the city must now draft a new one – which again would have to go before voters – even though it will miss a deadline next year.

Ashly McGlone spoke to voters in Encinitas, and one said her vote came down to preserving the city’s small-town feel. Coast News’ Aaron Burgin spoke to a voter who said housing density at the proposed sites played a big role in their vote against it.

Preserving a small-town feel and the prospect of more density were some of the main arguments of the No on T group. They believed the city could negotiate a better deal with the state, including lower density requirements and fewer units the city needed to allow in its zoning.

That could be difficult now that the city’s interim planning director, Manjeet Ranu, resigned. Residents often held him personally responsible for producing Measure T, including some of the unpopular items that needed to be included, according to the state.

And though voters rejected the latest housing element, it’s not clear what the next steps are for the city.

Before the election, two lawyers threatened to sue on behalf of affordable housing advocates, if voters didn’t approve Measure T.

Not So Slow in Del Mar

The whole reason voters in Encinitas were weighing in on the housing element was thanks to Proposition A, which was adopted in 2013, which gave voters a direct say over any zoning changes that result in more density or higher buildings.

Del Mar voters were asked to decide on a similar measure this year, and it appears voters are on track to reject that slow-growth proposal.

With some mail-in ballots still to counted, No on R has 53 percent of the vote, an 81-vote lead.

Measure R was crafted in response to the development of a 48-unit condominium project, and advocates said it was a tool to help maintain the city’s small-town vibe, just like in Encinitas.

Opponents, however, have called it “NIMBYism on steroids.”

Measure B Defeat Is a Strong ‘No’ to Developers

In another development-related ballot measure, voters across the county made it clear they are not in favor of fast-tracking Lilac Hills, a proposed 1,700-home development in Valley Center.

Lilac Hills’ developer sought to have voters approve the project outright after facing a couple of setbacks in the planning process. It is the second major project this year to try that tactic in North County, and while the Carlsbad mall measure failed by a narrow margin, Measure B only mustered 35 percent of the vote.

Maya Srikrishnan writes that because the voters said “no,” it could be difficult to get the same project approved by county supervisors.

“If voters vote it down, it will be really hard for the County Board of Supervisors to come back and say, ‘We’re going to approve it anyway,’” said Brian Adams, a political science professor at San Diego State University. “Politically I think it will be really, really tough to do that. I think the developers knew that this was their Hail Mary path.”

Meanwhile, Measure B opponents cast the victory as a win for planning and existing policy.

“This victory is a reflection of a phenomenal countywide effort to protect our General Plan and set a new course for thoughtful growth in San Diego County,” James Gordon, co-chair of the No on B campaign, said in a press release.

Union Wins on Encinitas School Board

The local teachers union picked up a seat on the Encinitas Union School Board, where voters elected Rimga Viskanta. Union-backed trustee Patricia Sinay was also chosen for another term.

They beat out candidates Anne-Katherine Pingree and Leslie Schneider, who each received $10,000 contributions from a member of the Encinitas Educational Foundation board, raising concerns in a race that normally doesn’t see big spending.

Though the contributions weren’t related to charter schools, Pingree and Schneider were the only local candidates endorsed by the California Charter Schools Association.

Also in the News

 Oceanside voters re-elected a dead man to serve as city treasurer. They also re-elected a councilman who is under investigation by the FPPC for payments to himself from his campaign fund. (Union-Tribune)

 Rep. Darrell Issa held off a Democratic challenger, due to overwhelming support in Orange County. (KPBS, Secretary of State)

 Supervisor Dave Roberts has a narrow lead over Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar to retain his seat. (KPBS)

 Incumbents in Escondido’s City Council race are headed for re-election. (Union-Tribune)

 Opponents to Lilac Hills didn’t have to reveal their sources of funding. (inewsource)

(Disclosure: Escondido City Councilwoman Olga Diaz is a member of Voice of San Diego’s board of directors.)

Correction: An earlier summary for this post said Encinitas voters elected a dead candidate. Oceanside voters elected a dead candidate.

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