Friday, March 11, 2016

Voice of San Diego slams Encinitas' housing intransigence

City leaders haven’t been bashful about their attempts to circumvent the law. They’ve routinely said one of their top priorities is finding ways to disobey it.

Encinitas is unique in its defiance, according to people throughout the state. While other cities may have issues with the state density bonus law, no other city has tried so hard to evade it.

For instance, in both 2014 and 2015, city staffers listed this among their top legislative priorities at the state level for the year: “Seek opportunities to regain local control over state-imposed density bonus law.”

HT: Anonymous


  1. Because residents have demanded that the city ignore the law.

  2. Because enough units already exist and just need to be counted. Council won't do this, go figure the reason. We have enough existing low income housing to meet this requirement!

    1. If these units have gone uncounted it's because the owners don't want them counted. By being counted they become visible and visibility brings scrutiny. There is a good chance that many units aren't legal. Illegal units aren't going to be accepted as affordable units until they are brought up to code which means the owners will have to spend money. Therefore the units are going to go uncounted. Blame the owners not the council.

    2. The city makes unreasonable demands if a homeowner applies for a permit to improve or repair some aspect of their home. In one case, the city wanted the homeowner to relinquish some of her property as part of the "deal". No wonder the citizens cringe when they have to deal with the robber-barrons of City Hall.

    3. 9:12 AM

      "The city makes unreasonable demands if a homeowner applies for a permit to improve or repair some aspect of their home"

      Of course when you put it like this and leave out the details it sounds ominous. Is this a ocean bluff property where the city requires a public access easement on the beach when the property/bluff is substantially upgraded? Is this a right-of-way dedication or utility access easement?

      If you don't specify what it is the the city "demands" we aren't able to judge its reasonableness. If it's unreasonable then it's a taking.

  3. 6:11pm spoken like a troll from our sold out planning staff or from a meyer like type. It is no wonder homeowners have not signed on with the demands put in place that only serves to discourage participating in the program. You lie. It is not the owners who have failed. It is the Planning dept, once again, that has created unreasonable demands that no owner would find attractive. I believe five have signed on and I can't imagine why this handful did, considering the limitations that are imposed upon them.

    We have more than enough accessory units that could supply everything we need to meet the false numbers, if, yea right, it was attractive to do so. There has been zero motivation by Planning since they are in the pockets of developers and real estate interests who only want to build, build, build. Damn the existing community character that has made Encinitas the community we all love and are trying to preserve. The Planning staff are traitors to every citizen in this town who cares about preserving what we have left to preserve.

    A 750 page HEU report that cost a million dollars to produce and look at what we have gotten for OUR money. Bird cage lining is the only value for all of this attempt to urbanize our suburban town. Planning will continue spending huge sums hiring outside consultants that don't a sheet about our community before the year is out.

    Just imagine the real needs that are not being met while council allows this scam to run on and on while thanking staff for their fine work. Not even close.

    1. 11:06 well said and spot on! This is the truth of the matter.

    2. 11:06 knows a lot about illegal units.

    3. I don't know about 11:06 and illegal units, but he certainly has the story right.

      Permitting units, especially under a friendly amnesty plan, does not bring in a fraction of the developer fees new construction does. There's your beginning and end of the story.

      There are obvious benefits from being legal, the first of which is no one can turn you in to the City. Piss someone off, they turn you in. What a way to live.

      Lisa says we have $10M in surplus. I can't think of a better way to spend it than to permit illegal units by helping the owners afford to bring them up to code and to create affordable housing. At the same time, we satisfy HCD. Win-win-win!

    4. 11:06 PM

      "6:11pm spoken like a troll from our sold out planning staff or from a meyer like type."

      There you go again with insults instead of logic. What a weak mind. It's all a conspiracy.

      Why aren't your fellow citizens stepping up to the plate? What would you put in place of the current program? Simply have owners acknowledge that the have an illegal unit with no additional requirements? Pat them on the back and thank them for admitting they've been scofflaws all these years and who cares if their unit doesn't meet building standards?

      And if the unit was built and occupied before 2010 there is a good chance it's already been counted in the 2010 Census. The Census enumerates all units whether the city counts (or even knows about) the illegal unit and which doesn't meet the future need identified in the RHNA numbers anyway.

      But you go on railing about conspiracies. Yes, meeting State requirements is going to impact Encinitas at some level but not nearly as much as you fear.

    5. Residents have been "stepping up to the plate" for quite some time now, but the City doesn't like the proposals for reasons outlined by 9:55 above (that you conveniently skipped over).

      What inside information do you have, 10:11, to comment on how much/little impact the upzoning is going to have. What dog do you have in the fight with your parroting of "State requirements?" that, according to HCD,are flexible?

    6. 11:06 PM - The US Census doesn't count units, it counts persons in households. Usually it's a form that comes in the mail. Any illegal unit isn't going to be counted in the census, even if the persons in the illegal unit are reported and counted.

      The problem is that the city has never done a housing inventory. The reason was given above - there's more revenue for the city in the building of new units. And no one wants to rat on their neighbor.

    7. 1:06 PM

      "11:06 PM - The US Census doesn't count units, it counts persons in households."

      You are dead wrong. The Census spent a lot of money for the 2010 Census to have enumerators physically capture all units whether they were legal, illegal, or makeshift (like migrants camped under a bridge) and record them with GPS coordinates. However, Federal law prohibits the Census Bureau from revealing these units or any units actually. They can publish the counts as long as it's at a level that an individual property can't be identified.

      12:25 PM

      What proposals? Provide some detail please. What requirements would you include in a program for owners to be able to make their illegal units legal. What about the building code?

      Being a citizen of Encinitas for many, many years is my dog in this fight. What's yours?

      1:06 PM (again)

      "The problem is that the city has never done a housing inventory." That's correct. If the city did an inventory which requires ferreting out all the illegal units, they would have to cite those owners for having an illegal unit and require them to bring them up to code. In other words, spend money. Is that what you want? I don't know what liability the city would incur if they simply waived any requirement to bring those units up to code. I know they'd piss-off those who did play by the rules. And as you say, "... no one wants to rat on their neighbor"

    8. 12:25 you may be a resident here, but you certainly don't pay attention.

      Many public comments and several presentations have been made before the Council. Make a public records request if you're too lazy to inform yourself real time.

    9. The city could do an amnesty. The federal government did it in 1986 for 2-3 million illegal aliens. They received all the rights and benefits of a legal resident. It was for general public benefit. Do you think the legal immigrants who waited years and paid thousands of dollars weren't pissed off?

      You really think illegal units need fire sprinklers? Most of the homes in Encinitas don't have them. Waive the code in most cases and get those RHNA numbers down!

    10. 4:16 PM

      "You really think illegal units need fire sprinklers?"

      Sprinklers is a red herring. Try electrical wiring, plumbing and structural support. Just waive the code. I know of someone who rewired (illegally) their house. Yes, it was to add an illegal unit. It was a fire trap as a new owner found out and had to pay to rewire it the correct way. But the city should just give anyone turning in their illegal unit a pass on all building codes.

      By the way, that rewiring wasn't cheap.

      Your example is illegal aliens amnesty?

    11. 4:16 PM

      "12:25 you may be a resident here, but you certainly don't pay attention."

      I pay great attention. Too much actually. I haven't seen anyone proposing a detailed solution. By detailed I mean a proposal that reflects reality and has some meat on it. Not wishful thinking. It doesn't have to cover every aspect of the program just the primary components and have answers for basic concerns. It has to be fully thought through.

    12. Brilliant! Total amnesty!

      Lead paint chips at child level? Amnesty.

      Asbestos? Amnesty.

      Mold, lead pipes? Amnesty, amnesty.

      Faulty wiring? Amnesty.

      Substandard stud spacing? Amnesty.

      Also, if the FOIA paperwork on your formerly illegal unit causes the IRS to come knocking about undeclared income? Amnesty! The city will pay your tax bill.

      And if the paperwork suggests to the county Assessor that your square footage is larger and hands you a bigger tax bill? YUP! Amnesty! The city will indemnify you and pay the increase in perpetuity!

      Great plan. Bravo.

    13. 6:29 contributes nothing. Actually less than nothing.

    14. 6:47 PM

      "6:29 contributes nothing. Actually less than nothing."

      I'm not 6:29 PM but that's because you have a closed mind. You won't listen to any reason. They are valid points.

    15. 6:29 PM attempts to ridicule and exaggerate. The original poster never said TOTAL amnesty. Go back and read it. Alcohol causes more problems and harm than all the examples put together that 6:29 PM lists. Electrical fire? Most likely a Christmas tree or a smoker who fell asleep. Mold? It can occur in any living unit, legal or illegal.

      Any young adult looking for cheaper housing for the first will gladly accept illegal housing. Any blatant health and safety problems will be corrected by the free market. No one wants to live in a place where the roof will fall on their head, the place will burn down, or mold will give them severe allergies.

    16. Posts 5:28 6:29 come up with a list of dangers that are not on anyone's wish list for an attractive amnesty program and at the same time make the point that those are existing conditions in many illegal units today.

      Guess they're good with those living conditions...for other people. Let me take a mental leap and assume theses posters would recoil in horror at the units' owners having to spend a single dime making them safe.

    17. "Any blatant health and safety problems will be corrected by the free market."

      is an argument for elimination of all building codes.

      Favela, anyone?

      This is exactly why a previous poster asked for specifics. Define amnesty. What would and would not have to be fixed? Who would pay for it? What would happen if an owner had an illegal unit inspected, and it was found to be a fire trap, and they decide it's too expensive to fix, and don't want to proceed? Should the city pretend not to know about the fire trap, or force the owner to spend the money?

      If public paperwork exposes income properties to the IRS, who is accountable for past and future taxes on the income produced? What about the assessed value of the property being changed? Who pays for that?

      Someone be specific and propose an "attractive" amnesty program that answers these questions, because they are the real-world questions that owners of illegal units will ask before signing up for the program.

      And the answer better be better than a Trumpesque: "It's going to be great; we're going to make a great program; don't worry about it; the details don't matter."

    18. Stop calling all accessory units without a separate building permit "illegal," for starters. Just labeling something or someone "illegal" or a scofflaw (sounds like city attorney or his partner's influence, there) does not make him a criminal.

      Any illegality can only be determined after a fair hearing, and review of all the facts, not just become a foregone conclusion arrived at through some anonymous, self-interested complaint made to Code Enforcement officers, operating under the direction of corrupt Directors of Planning, or formerly the head of the no longer existing Community Development Dept.

      Since 1993, according to Encinitas Municipal Code, and according to California Government Code, accessory units have been allowed by right in all residential zones, including single family residential zones. By right would normally mean that the right of maintaining one accessory unit goes with the land, and is part of the original certificate of occupancy, if that was initially required, or tracked by the County and/or City.

      There is no specific code that disallows anyone from using part of their garage for habitable space in our city. After 2003 there was a local law enacted that new development would require a certain amount of enclosed and off-street parking, per bedroom. Existing structures were exempt from this newer residential code.

      Many, many older homes are not built under the same construction codes as new-build. They are not "illegal," but rather they are grandfathered in as legal, nonconforming. According to the 2003 EMC, existing structures, including homes, are NOT non conforming due to lack of parking stipulated in our newer 2003 off-street parking requirements' law.

      There have been test cases about govt. entities who attempt to prohibit garage habitation. Washington State found that municipalities could not ban"shed boys," nor prohibit accessory buildings, including garages, from being used as habitable space.

      The reality is that accessory dwellings provide housing for many in a kind of "underground" market, in every city. Some people would not be reporting rent, in any case, but many more could, if there were real incentives to do so.

      Right now, only wealthy developers are subsidized by tax incentives and density bonus allowances. Individual homeowners, as well as lower income tenants, are discouraged at nearly every turn.

    19. 4:04 AM

      While you bring up some interesting points there are a few things to consider. An accessory unit is illegal if it was built without a permit. The permit is to insure the unit meets building codes. It's not a conditional use permit as accessory units are allowed by right.

      What may have started as a bedroom carved out of the garage for one of the children now becomes a rental after they leave home. The owner now becomes a landlord and certain State standards kick in.

    20. Actual permits were not maintained by the County; accessory structures under 500 sq. ft., including small garages, did not require separate building permits, initially, under the County. Therefore, these structures should be grandfathered in, because they were legal, when constructed.

      The original amnesty carved out by Encinitas Council in 1993, required only a health and safety inspection. A health and safety inspection should be adequate for counting accessory units, already permitted by right, if the units preceded the City's incorporation, because there is no way to prove they are illegal.

      Because some attorney labels certain homeowners as "scofflaws" or labels part of their real property as being illegal, when property taxes have been paid based on the purchase price, does not prove anything except that power corrupts, and the easiest target is the individual homeowner.

      In this city, these individual homeowners, who purchased homes with existing accessory dwelling units, have often provided, or wish to provide, actual affordable housing.

  4. Not 11:06 here

    10:11. you really do sound like a city troll trying to defend a corrupt plan. "It won't be as bad as you think" heard that one before and my experiences are that when someone says that, it will be even worse. The planning staff is paid very well, with our tax money, to produce a plan. Plenty of others cities have, without shoving 30 plus/acre units into single family areas. Three stories at that. Our paid public servants are clearly working for special interest, not a conspiracy, a pattern of lies and half truths meant to hide the truth. All of which have been well documented, we even got prop.A becuase it got so bad. If you work on planning staff I suggest looking for another job or become a whistle blower because when the hammer drops the BIA lawsuits will look like childs play.

    1. 11:44 AM

      "10:11. you really do sound like a city troll trying to defend a corrupt plan."

      How lame. Is that the best you can come up with? No. I don't work on the planning staff.

    2. Really? A coastal city that has a certified housing element without 30-unit/acre density?

      Please, tell us the names 11:44.

    3. Cat got your tongue 1:44?

  5. Prediction: Housing element is DOA as already the "buzz" in Encinitas is for a resounding NO of this rehashed plan. Also the rail trail is swiftly dying, it will never happen.

  6. One doesn't have to look any further than the end of their nose to see that the proposed HEU is not good for Encinitas. Why do our elected officials want to hire an expensive election consultant to get the wording exactly correct on the ballot?

    Anser: To dupe the citizens into thinking the HEU is a good thing. They believe we are too stupid too notice their conniving tactics and twisted words.

    Solution: Vote NO on the HEU.

  7. Here's an article on Huntington Beach's latest defiance.

  8. Encinitas should form a coalition with other coastal city's tired of this crap and get the state law eliminated. Push for local control of land rights. No to increased density on our Coast. its already too crowed.

    No to the Housing Element Update!

  9. Of course they did, Voice of San Diego is run by Libertarians, they're never going to be on the side of that kind of mandate. Not that I am either, but you have to know the political slant of the publication.

    See the HB link above for the latest on giving the finger to the State Housing mandate.


    1. We will see who has the last laugh. HB has appealed the ruling.

    2. Awwww so sad. 3:00 hopes the poor, embattled, misunderstood developers prevail.

    3. 6:16 PM

      I actually wish the legislature realizes these laws are counterproductive. While its a boon for developers, very little affordable housing gets built in the process. HB residents are up in arms about all the new development in the BECSP corridors but very little of it is affordable. I hope the legislature and affordable housing advocates wake up and realize they've been played with the developers laughing all the way to the bank.

      This is the end of the adult interlude. You may now resume your childish behavior.

    4. 10:26 - please stop wishing hoping and start doing. Cities victimized by "affordable housing" laws are spread throughout the state. Get on your stick horse and start making phone calls and new friends. Make something happen.

    5. 3:52 PM

      "...please stop wishing hoping and start doing"

      Why do you automatically assume I'm not doing something about. What are you doing besides complaining.

    6. I'm doing plenty. If you are, too, then don't use words like "wish" and "hope." They send the wrong message.

    7. 4:33 PM

      Glad you're doing plenty. I guess the only way for you to believe others are as well is if we write with strident words, the equivalence of shouting in print. Sorry, not my style. Besides, the legislature is genuinely concerned about housing opportunities throughout California and for us to tell them, in effect, it's not our problem just go away and leave us alone, isn't going to make them listen with a sympathetic ear.

      As I said above, the current solutions are counterproductive (except for developers). We need to develop better solutions. That's what I wish and hope for.

    8. Ahhh, working with the legislature and hoping they listen to your wishes. Good luck with that and check back with us in 20 years.

    9. 3:22 PM

      It's presenting the legislature with alternatives not yelling at them. Do you think I would approach them with wishes? There have been plenty of people screaming at them and gotten nowhere. Take for example Huntington Beach in the link above. The legislative approach certainly has encouraged a lot of new, dense development but little of it is affordable. Time to rethink this.

    10. Perhaps plenty of people, just none from Encinitas. Watch the five council member faces freeze when you suggest they contact Sacramento.

    11. 7:41 AM

      I guess you didn't watch the council meeting a few weeks ago when they specifically told their lobbyist that they want to go to Sacramento to personally be at hearings and speak with legislators. But that doesn't fit with your preconceived notions.

    12. I guess you didn't know the lobbyist was there as the result of extreme public pressure to take action and make sure the dude earns his $100K part-time salary. But that doesn't fit with your insider spin.

    13. Council members, in an election year, stepped up in a me-too decision. Anyone notice how the other four, including Shaffer, did not support Blakespear's request to personally go to Sac? The others will be at home, sitting on their duffs, content in the knowledge that they have checked another box. And as for actual action? Paint dries faster.

  10. Steve Mizel has contributed to this article: