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State Takes Aim at Encinitas, Will ‘Hold City Accountable’ If Housing Proposal Not Approved

PoliticsState Takes Aim at Encinitas, Will ‘Hold City Accountable’ If Housing Proposal Not Approved

Encinitas signA sign in downtown Encinitas. File photo

State Attorney General Rob Bonta said Thursday that he will “promptly act to hold (Encinitas) accountable” if it does not approve a modified version of a rejected housing proposal.

The city of Encinitas should have approved a permit for the the Encinitas Boulevard Apartments, a 277-unit development, Bonta’s office said in a statement.

Instead, the city’s denial last fall blocked the state’s efforts “to increase housing affordability and accessibility.”

Bonta’s statement noted that the city’s median home price is more than double the median price statewide.

The project, proposed for the Olivenhain neighborhood, would have included 41 units set aside for lower-income families.

Bonta’s office said the project should have been approved because state housing laws restrict local governments from denying permits for such projects.

In a letter dated Thursday to Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear, Deputy Attorney General Matthew T. Struhar wrote that the project’s developer is expected to submit a revised proposal that will set aside 20% of its units for affordable housing.

That’s about 5% more than originally planned.

City officials did not immediately respond regarding the state Department of Justice’s letter.

“While we’re pleased the city may have the opportunity to take corrective action by approving a modified version of the Encinitas Boulevard Apartments project, it shouldn’t take the threat of legal action to induce compliance with the law,” Bonta said.

Bonta called on local governments “to act as partners to increase the housing supply, not throw up roadblocks.”

“Our Housing Strike Force is working to hold those who break our housing laws accountable in order to help California families wrestling with the high cost of housing, and we’re in this fight for the long haul,” he said.

The state has weighed in on the project before. In an October 2021 letter, the Department of Housing and Urban Development urged Blakespear and her four council colleagues to review a city planning commission decision against the project.

The department “encourages the City Council to approve the Project by reversing the Planning Commission’s improper denial,” wrote Shannan Harris, a land use and planning unit chief.

– City News Service and staff reports

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