Saturday, August 29, 2015

What's this "mansionization" about?

In the U-T, Kranz, Shaffer, and Blakespear want to reduce allowable building size for single-family homes, including remodels.

It's kinda ironic because Kranz and Shaffer opposed Prop A's right to vote on upzoning for big commercial and multi-family developments, but they want to restrict what individual homeowners can do even more tightly than Prop A's height limits and existing setback rules already do.

Are McMansion remodels really a problem? Can somebody send in examples of single-family remodels that destroyed the neighborhood?

On the other hand, if this is about stopping developments like the 10 McMansions on one acre behind La Especial Norte, that's a worthy goal.  A couple of the public speakers focused on multi-lot developer projects that were incompatible with the existing neighborhood.

Here's what one Encinitas resident had to say in the U-T comments:
I thought we already had floor area ratio and setback restrictions, which are the best way to handle the situation.

For resident homeowners concerned witn quality of life, the state's misguided high density mandate is a much greater concern than the size of a resident neighbor's remodel.
When asked whether single-family McMansion remodels were a problem in Encinitas, local realtor Jim Klinge responded, "I've never seen one, and never heard a complaint. My blog photo is from LA!"


  1. Just floating the idea hurries more developers to build now. Thanks for more ideas that backfire. Or was that the intent?

  2. This ought not to be about enlarging or replacing houses within the existing zoning, setback, and lot coverage. The remodeling will of course provide now-required features such as smoke detectors, fire sprinklers, and current code electrical, not to mention the foo-foo provision for solar and gray water collection.

    The older smaller houses are our stock of "affordable" places. Every time one of these is removed there needs to be a provision for an auxiliary unit to continue having some affordability hereabouts, or some other way to provide housing for the people who work in our shops and fast food outlets.

  3. This is Tony, who still doesn't have the first idea about local economics, having received a LINK to an LA Times story about L.A. County hurriedly asking his two conjoined councilwomen to help him screw anyone more successful than them.

    Rather than confront real problems like quieting downtown, Tony and the Gang are outlawing puppy mills that don't exist at all in Encinitas and now Tony is trying to stop anyone from having a house bigger than the one he just inherited thru marriage.

    He is so confused and befuddled. First he holds the first Prop A meeting at his home, then he and Lisa ride it into office and then they change their position, bankrupt the City into tens of millions of dollars in debt over Pacific View and now this.

    Did anyone hear how Lisa's One-Woman-Show went on Thursday night. Surely it was Standing-Room-Only? Or, was everyone at the Citizen Academy?

    The great news for the developers is Lisa finally found a way to get in bed with the BIA Wed. night. Honeymoon rumors to be revealed on 9-9.

    1. Why does everything has to be personal on this blog? I would accept any points about Tony's action on Council. What I don't accept are comments about where anyone lives, why they live there etc. Or about their job or kids. You will have your chance to vote Tony and Lisa out next year if you want, although supposedly Lisa isn't running.

    2. 9:06 When you go into politics, your whole life, including your family, are subject to public discussion.

      Suggestion: Stay out of politics. It's a dirty little game.

    3. Blogs, particularly those accepting annonymous comments, tend to get personal, down and dirty. This involves relatively new media trends, where unsubstantiated rumors are too often circulated as "fact" including on programs broadcast by Fox.

      Fox, when sued in court for broadcasting false information was able to get away with it because the court considers their news broadcasts to be "entertainment."

      But it is true that the First Amendment protects free speech, when that speech causes no harm. The standard for what can cause harm is set much higher for public figures, including local politicos.

      This blog has had excellent discussions and exposes, but there has been a lot of personal bashing against both public and non-public figures.

      This can be an excellent forum, and WC generally does a good job moderating and an excellent job posting new topics of interest.

      You know the old saying: Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

  4. So first you question the idea of McMansions, "Are McMansion remodels really a problem?" then you use that characterization to describe a density bonus project, " On the other hand, if this is about stopping developments like the 10 McMansions on one acre behind La Especial Norte,".

    It's clear you aren't interested in discussing the merits but rather keeping the troops upset with this council. Community character issues are merely a foil.

    The sad thing is you rarely offer anything positive. 2016 is shaping up to be a good time to run for council as the mayor and three council seats are open with Shaffer not running for reelection. Why not step out from behind the curtain and run for council. Show us how it's done the right way. Put your butt on the line for your decisions and actions. It's easy. All you have to do is get elected. The hours required to be a council person can't be much more than operating this website.

    Then again you'd have to be able to handle the criticism.

    1. Sorry you took It that way. It was a serious question. I'd like to see examples.

    2. Just walk down Neptune.

    3. WC,

      See my reply further down the page. Neptune is rife with examples...

  5. This proposal is only 20 years too late - that horse left the barn decades ago.

  6. This is more about tear downs than remodels. but it includes both. It's about increasing the footprint to the maximum and going to two stories. It's easy to see the transformation in the neighborhoods just to the north and south of Moonlight Beach. The older, smaller houses are our "affordable" housing, but even these are not in the affordable range as defined because of the high cost of land.

    Now the Planning Department is ready to approve a project on a 30-foot wide lot in Olivenhain on Eight Street that has "pop outs" or architectural "projections" that would set a precedent to do this all over the city. These encroachments into setbacks would all be approved with an administrative decision without going to the Planning Commission with a request for a variance. This is what the council should be paying attention to.

    The affordable housing problem in Encinitas is not going to be solved by the proxy R-30 zoning in the Housing Element Update which only guarantees more market rate housing. It will only be local, regional, state, or federal subsidies that will actually result in affordable housing projects. Our city cannot afford to fix the roads. How will the council find money to fund affordable housing? Builders already have found money to build the biggest mansions possible and will fight hard to keep doing it. They know there is a market for big houses in a desirable city like Encinitas.

    1. "Our city cannot afford to fix the roads. How will the council find money to fund affordable housing?"

      The city doesn't have to build the affordable housing. As flawed as the state law is, the city only has to provide the opportunity (i.e R-30) for private developers to build it.

      Builders appear to have no problem selling houses in the 4-5,000 sq ft range so I imagine they'll keep wanting to build them.

    2. "The city doesn't have to build the affordable housing."

      Neither do the builders, except in very small numbers under Density Bonus and Inclusionary housing as required. Affordable housing will only be built in significant numbers if it is subsidized. That's the reality of a free market. As 10:41 AM said, local (CITY), regional, state, or federal subsidies are needed

    3. It seems disingenuous for developers to come forward pretending provide social good with high density rental apartments. They are fighting for rentals so that they can have long-term income that is subsidized by the city. Whatever they suggest is so that it
      "pencils out" for them, not so THAT our citizens actually get what they want and need.

    4. Realistically, projects have to pencil out, or the developer will eventually go bankrupt, as Barratt America did. Developers have a history, nationally, of going bankrupt, as their monies roll with boom and bust cycles. Investors in development companies can make big profits, or can lose their investment, completely, through frequent bankruptcies.

      I remember, years ago, complaints about a "Monster House" in Olivenhain. The City changed some of its zoning codes after the house was already being developed, had already pulled permits. That owner ended up losing her property, and her investment. The neighbors disapproved of such a large home being built. They also disapproved of a neighborhood rehab center, which the home was to be utilized as, through Deepok Chopra's organization.

      Our City needs to balance the property rights of individual land owners with neighbors' concerns over community character. Everywhere you look in this country, I'd wager, community character is going through a transition, as the population, and housing expectations have increased, as more people move into existing neighborhoods and do remodels, in-fill development, and tear downs. This is especially true in California, from what I've seen.

      Someone with money to take the City to court could do so if any new law or policy is created further restricting private property rights. A law against larger homes could well be considered a taking of a private property's value, without compensation, also known as inverse condemnation, covered by the Fifth Amendment. Floor area ratios and setback requirements already do regulate the size of a home that can be built.

      I don't think that a small lot allowing pop outs in this case should be an issue that people get so up in arms about. If the setbacks required are 10 ft, and the lot is only 30 ft wide, then the house can only be 10 ft. wide. Being so restrictive against pop outs is another way of discouraging more affordable housing, something our City has been doing in its new policies.

      The previous comment is correct. The State Law doesn't require more affordable housing, only higher density which theoretically (by proxy) would lead to more affordable units. But greater density doesn't equal more affordability along the coast.

      Thank goodness for Prop A.

  7. Encinitas has been pretty white and elite. If you want to live simply you can have ten roommates like many homes in leucadia occupied by some honest hard working folks. The beach has always cost more. much of this dialog of affordable housing is just a smokescreen by council, they have not shown one concrete step in promoting this and there is plenty of evidence of roadblocks by them, the amnesty program that three people have applied for being one of them.

  8. 11:49- Very true. I am still at a loss as to why we have to do any of this. The State of California is in one of the most severe droughts in our history, and I was born here. Most of us are doing our very best to conserve. Gov. Brown has declared a State of Emergency regarding water. So, why can developers keep getting water meters for new homes. Makes absolutely no sense to me. And, before someone says, it won't always be this way, I say fine. Let's wait until our watersheds are back to normal or above, and then build.

    1. At one time, there was a policy through SDWD, that no new water meters could be issued if there was a Stage 2 drought. Why did that policy change? It happened after we got our new majority on Council, with Barth, Shaffer and Kranz.

    2. Council passed the amnesty, but Planning and Building, which is Esgil, have done everything in their power, which is substantial, to block it.

      For instance, in years past, under Community Development Director Patrick Murphy, there was a smaller affordable housing permit fee in lieu of all the other permitting fee requirements required for new build.

      Now, under Planning Director Jeff Murphy, the affordable housing permit fee is being charged IN ADDITION to numerous other permitting fee requirements. These additional fees are really just taxes on "doing business" at City Hall, designed to increase Planning, Building and Engineering's revenues.

      According to statutory law, permitting fees are tied to the actual cost of processing the permits and doing necessary inspections. Because our city has not done a true cost benefit analysis, we don't have an understanding of what it should cost to efficiently process permits and conduct inspections. Fees are based on what staff tells non-objective consultants, hired to raise fees, how much time they spend.

      Jeff Murphy stated no efficiencies can be realized through computer technology. Talk about a red flag! Rather than an acutal cost/benefit analysis, the consultant is paid, dearly, to do an analysis of what some other jurisdictions in terms of their cost recovery ratio.

      But the recovery ratio is meaningless, when we don't know the parameters that are being factored in. Operating expenses are to come out of the General Fund, NOT permitting fees.

      Council did say at a recent council meeting, through a consensus, including Lisa Shaffer, that additional permitting fees shouldn't be charged for those accessory units counting toward affordable housing numbers, for the State.

      Right now, the amnesty process was all smoke and mirrors, because it is being implemented in such a way as to discourage anyone who doesn't have to from coming forward. When asked a year ago, when the amnesty was set up, with Barth on board, the consultants at the Council Meeting clearly stated that what had made affordable housing/amnesty work in other jurisdictions, was government subsidies.

      The way it works in Encinitas is that individual homeowners are supposed to subsidize the city by paying property taxes, and then permitting fees, as though a pre-existing structure is new-build, in addition to a $900 affordable unit permitting fee for additional "processing."

    3. 3:08 PM

      Unfortunately, this is uninformed hogwash. On the August 19 council meeting agenda item 10B was a report on development fees by a consultant. Ya I know, "... based on what staff tells non-objective consultants, hired to raise fees ..." so it's automatically dismissed. Nice to have your cake and eat it too but that's only in your mind not in the real world.

      To take your example of the new permit tracking system the city is installing, Murphy's point was that staff would still have to analyze the projects which is where the bulk of staff time is spent. I disagree with with Murphy that a computer system will not save some time for staff. It just won't be to the level that would allow the reduction of fees.

      The sad truth is your fellow Encinitas citizens aren't coming forward to legalize their unpermitted accessory units. That isn't because of the fees but the requirements to bring it up to code and agree to keep it affordable in perpetuity. Not many people want to spend the money or become constrained on how to rent it. I've talked to people who said they would never legalize their unit unless they had to. So start ratting out your neighbors and get that accessory unit count up.

    4. 3:08 is correct.

    5. The amnesty is relative to units that have a covenant for 20 years, not in perpetuity.

      That in perpetuity BS is actually contrary to Government Code (statutory law), because it acts to discourage affordable housing, by discouraging people from agreeing to covenants.

    6. 1:46 AM

      You are correct. That was a November 19, 2014 change by the council to try to encourage residents to legalize their unpermitted accessory units. It wasn't BS as the prior policy was in perpetuity. They made the change for any new units not for those already approved. Still a 20 year covenant may feel like a long time to a property owner and the council also voted that at the end of 20 years it would have to go through the AUP process again. Either way the revised program is set to expire at the end of the year and the results don't appear to be encouraging. I don't know if the 20 year covenant option also ends at the end of the year and reverts to perpetuity.

    7. The prior policy, in perpetuity, violates statutory law, that is Government Code which specifically prohibits policy and regulations which act to discourage affordable housing. It is unjust that developers building density bonus units are not required to have in perpetuity covenants. The State doesn't require them, as Diane Langanger stated at the November 2014 meeting.

      You cannot take away private property rights, in perpetuity, legally. That is inverse condemnation, which violates the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

      No one ever said anything about affordable dwelling unit covenants being for "in perpetuity" until Jeff Murphy came up with that. However, as usual with shadow policies, this ADU policy was inconsistent and was not codified. What was made into an Encinitas ordinance, in 1993, was that one accessory unit is allowed by right in single family residential zones. Also, if the previous zoning under the County allowed for more than one unit, and the homeowner could provide evidence the unit pre-existed the City's incorporation, then no covenant was required according to Encinitas' policy.

    8. Since the Affordable Unit Policy (AUP) was first adopted in 1996 which included the in perpetuity requirement, I'd say that was well before Jeff Murphy became planning director. Encinitas isn't the only California city to require affordable units in perpetuity in certain circumstances. While the state doesn't require in perpetuity it doesn't prevent it either although the ruling in the Palmer case has an impact. As far as being built prior to incorporation, you may be confusing the Housing Certification Program (HCP) with the AUP. The HCP had no income restrictions.

      Show us where "... in perpetuity, violates statutory law".

  9. Ask WHY most homes in Central and Northern California don't even have water meters. That's a bigger problem, Teresa.

  10. Yes, I can. Go up to Neptune on the ocean side and check out the abortions passing for architecture just south of Beacon's. Two more examples just north of there on the non-ocean side. And for further evidence,check out the huge bunker in the block south of Athena. It may look great inside and towards the ocean, but ask the neighbors about the 4-5 years it took to build that concrete monstrosity....

  11. Water district employees make even more than city employees in San Diego County. Water districts also support high density since they get paid a huge fee whenever a water meter is put in, and they have fees every month that they can charge each new house.

    1. Not that this will change your mind but installation fees must reflect the only actual cost of installation which would include staff time.

      I don't know where you got the idea that water district employees make more than city employees. In Encinitas, while some employee classifications may be unique between the city and water district, there is no discrepancy. There may be instances of a larger water district overlapping a smaller city where given the relative size differences, wages may be higher at the water district. Also, depending on when the employee contracts are negotiated, there may be some lag between the two. But as a general statement there isn't a difference in wages.

    2. 11:14 Have any backup data for this?

    3. Installation fees are one thing. Monthly water meter fees are another. 9:48 is correct, when a new water meter is installed, not counting any permitting fees for installation, there is a monthly water meter charge in addition to a charge for actual water usage. This actually ends up being a property tax, and the City, through SDWD keeps raising it, every chance it gets. It is a regressive tax, hitting those on fixed incomes, including pensioners, the hardest. Other utilities offer "lifeline" discounts. Not the City, through SDWD.

    4. 11:24 PM

      "Other utilities offer "lifeline" discounts. Not the City, through SDWD."

      Sounds like an excellent issue to bring up at the next SDWD meeting which is usually at 5 PM before council meetings.

  12. In Encinitas, the mean and median city worker make a lot more than San Dieguito Water District.

    See here for city and here (huge file) for all cities raw data including SDWD.