LETTER: Encinitas has no room for unending growth

Re: Mr. Koenig’s piece on the state housing density mandate.

As a 34-year Encinitas resident who helped write the current general plan in the late 1980s, I have been following the housing density mandate with a strong sense of deja vu. The primary reason Encinitas incorporated as a city in 1986 was frustration over the county’s steady series of density boosting general plan amendments. We adopted a general plan whose specific goal was the preservation of a cluster of five communities we all loved and recognized as unique. Fundamental to our general plan is the concept of buildout, the point at which we no longer have room to accommodate additional residents without harming those who are already here.

My position is simply that since the very survival of the planet depends on zero population growth and since the entire First World has already achieved negative population growth, we should view local population growth as neither desirable nor inevitable. At some point, it is perfectly permissible for a community to decide that its frontiers are closed and it no longer has sufficient carrying capacity — including water, roads and open space — to accommodate ever-increasing numbers of people.

In his letter (read comment), Glen Johnson has outlined a very reasonable compromise position which allows some growth without destroying our established residential neighborhoods. However, we also need some mechanism to ensure that new 30 du/ac projects genuinely serve lower-income residents. A good start would be to constrain floor area ratio as tightly as possible, thereby limiting the size of the units. Another is to zone some parcels for high density housing for seniors. Seniors generally make good neighbors, and there is broad support for the concept of being able to age in one’s own community.

What Encinitas residents strongly object to is the very real probability that appeasing the state’s deceptive and misguided mandate will simply result in a bunch of high-density luxury condos, which will do nothing to help lower-income people and everything to degrade the very neighborhood character that attracted us here. Then, at our next general plan update, we shall be told we have to upzone additional parcels, because the previous cycle of upzoning produced little or no lower-income housing.

John Eldon
Feb. 22, 2o15

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