This week, Encinitas city council members voted unanimously to have a professional study done on the Right to Vote initiative which is aimed at controlling growth in the city. Rather than hastily approve the proposition which received over 8,500 signatures from the area's residents, the council members are requesting that an independent analysis be made of the costs and effects of the growth-control measure. This new plan has the potential to have significant impact on the Encinitas real estate market, so it is important that residents understand both the advantages and disadvantages of the proposal.
What are the Details of the Right to Vote Initiative?
The Right to Vote initiative is billed as an amendment to Encinitas General Plan and Zoning Code and would require resident approval on a variety of different changes to zoning and growth plans. A few of the situations which would require a public vote include:
- Changes to residential density zoning on a parcel, including both the development of a higher-density project such as an apartment building or multi-family dwelling, or the subdivision of a residential parcel into smaller properties.
- Changing any property from a residential use to a non-residential use.
- Modifications to any “open space” zoned property.
- Increased density to any retail or commercial parcel.
Under the proposed Right to Vote plan, the city will be required to send out notices of public hearings to residents within 500 feet of properties with proposed zoning changes at least 20 days prior to the hearing. Currently, state law requires the city to provide notice 10 days in advance to all residents within 300 feet.
In addition to requiring public approval on zoning changes, the new bill also require that most new structures be capped in height. With a very few exceptions (such as ones for major education and medical facilities), new buildings will be limited to a height of 30 feet, or two stories. Any proposals to allow exceptions to this rule will also require majority approval from the city's residents.
What are some of the Advantages of Encinitas' Right to Vote Initiative?
The Right to Vote amendment to the city's general plan has the potential to have a number of benefits to the city and to the residents who reside there. A few of the advantages could be:
- Encinitas residential real estate prices may show steady and potentially increased growth due to a growing population of people wanting to live in the city, but not an increased number of properties being developed.
- Another way Encinitas homes for sale would benefit with increased prices is the security provided through the initiative that it is unlikely low-income developments or other projects undesirable to home values would be built near existing residences.
- Public open-space such as parks will be secured as such, unless residents vote to modify their usages.
- Height restrictions on Encinitas real estate developments will prevent new buildings from blocking the views of existing homes.
What Negative Implications Could the Right to Vote Initiative Bring?
While there are a number of benefits the new initiative could mean to residents, an informed voter will always look at both sides of the argument before making a decision. If passed, Right to Vote could have many implications which some residents would view as negative including:
- Slowed Progress for the City – Opponents feel that Right to Vote could leave Encinitas at a disadvantage in incorporating future progress among neighboring cities due to measures prohibiting development of commercial and retail businesses because of density restrictions. This slowed growth may also affect future job numbers.
- Growing Costs – The special vote just to enact Right to Vote is estimated to cost $350,000-$400,000. Many tax payers are worried about the money that will be spend on an election each time a zoning change is made, and how much those elections will be costing each of them.
- Claims of Discrimination – Some opponents argue that the amendment will unfairly discriminate against lower-income residents because as property and rental prices increase over time, there will be fewer or no new lower-cost housing solutions, forcing many residents to eventually move from the area.
Within the next month, city council will have their report on the effects and costs of the Right to Vote initiative and then will either choose to either adopt the plan (saving the $350,000-$400,000 election expense) or put it to a public vote. No matter what is done, it is important for you as an Encinitas resident and voter to fully understand the bill and how it will affect you, your property, and the Encinitas real estate market as a whole.