North County Report: Unemployment's Low But Rent's Still High - Voice of San Diego

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North County Report: Unemployment's Low But Rent's Still High

Council races in Oceanside and Carlsbad heat up, the fight against density in Encinitas and more in our weekly roundup of North County news.

North County is doing all right, but its labor market could be looking better, according to findings from the San Diego North Economic Development Council.

A report presented March 2 at the Economic Development Council’s annual summit showed that the region’s unemployment rate fell below its 4.4 percent pre-recession level ‒ mostly skewed toward the coast ‒ while North County continues to add higher-paying jobs at a faster rate than the rest of San Diego.

On the other hand ‒ and economists always have an “other hand” ‒ there’s the cost of living: Nearly half of renters put a third of their income toward housing.

“The North County continues to experience some of the highest housing costs to average wage ratios in the country,” the head of a research firm concluded in his presentation.

Combined with another glaring fact ‒ that about one-third of people in transit-deficient North County commute at least 30 minutes to work ‒ economists are worried about a shrinking labor pool, and attracting young, educated people to the area.

Oceanside Councilman Jerry Kern told me the report overall offered good news, but he’s still looking for a one-handed economist.

Encinitas Sued, Again

Maya Srikrishnan investigates the series of lawsuits that Encinitas has faced over its opposition to the state’s density-bonus law, which allows developers to build more housing units, if some of them are set aside for low-income residents.

The rule is intended to allow developers to deviate from city restrictions, in order to provide more housing to poor people, Srikrishnan writes, but Encinitas’ Council and residents are determined to prevent high-density development.

The city is known across the state for trying to flout the law, according to the president of one development firm, and a recent lawsuit against the city is the third one it has faced over its actions.

City Council Races Heating Up

Six people have entered the City Council race in Oceanside, Ed Sifuentes writes in the Union-Tribune, which could further the liberal rift developing among the majority on the dais.

Council members serve at large, and the Council is currently dominated by Mayor Jim Wood, Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez. The three agree on many issues, but splintered this past fall in the wake of the approval of Villa Storia, a large suburban housing project near the Mission San Luis Rey.

Sanchez’s seat is up for grabs, along with that of Councilman Jack Feller, who is part of the conservative opposition.

Now it appears the liberal majority is backing different horses in the race: Sanchez is running with a representative of the politically tight mobile-home owners, who typically go for Wood. Wood and Lowery supported Villa Storia, however, upsetting the mobile-home owners, and are leaning toward a newcomer.

The candidates have said little more than the political mantra for this neck of the woods: Represent the neighborhoods; make Oceanside safer.

While those statements are positions on something, they aren’t particularly visionary answers to the challenges the city faces, like getting more affordable housing and transportation options.

Meanwhile, in Carlsbad, one vocal opponent of Measure A is stepping up to run for City Council. Cori Schumacher announced she’s challenging two incumbents who supported the failed plan to fast-track a luxury mall, Councilman Keith Blackburn and Councilwoman Lorraine Wood.

Schumacher appears to have the support of former County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, according to Schumacher’s Facebook page.

Also in the News

The county is building a new $24 million mental health facility in Oceanside, replacing the existing facility that was built in the 1950s. (Union-Tribune)

A film-minded Catholic university is bringing up part of downtown Escondido. (Union-Tribune)

San Marcos began eminent domain proceedings to help stitch its planned downtown district together. (Union-Tribune)

The Sheriff’s Department is considering drones for surveillance in all its service areas, which includes Vista, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Rancho Santa Fe, Encinitas and the unincorporated areas. (Encinitas Advocate)

The video of a popular Vista teacher telling his students that he was placed on administrative leave is going viral. (Facebook, Union-Tribune)

Oceanside will get a railroad quiet zone along the coast. (Coast News)

 Oceanside is also going to allow medical marijuana deliveries within the city from licensed dispensaries, even though the nearest ones are in San Diego. (Coast News)

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