Thursday, May 24, 2007

Encinitas council OKs downtown restrictions

Encinitas council OKs downtown restrictions

By: ADAM KAYE - Staff Writer

ENCINITAS -- The Encinitas City Council voted 4-0 Wednesday to approve three related items in its downtown business districts.

The council agreed to create restrictions that would limit ground floors of buildings on South Coast Highway 101 to retail businesses only.

It authorized its Planning Department to process the Encinitas Union School District's request to rezone the old Pacific View School campus to allow for housing and offices.

It also accepted a Cardiff Town Council roster of people to scrutinize the controversial Cardiff Specific Plan.

Councilman Dan Dalager, a business owner in downtown Encinitas, did not participate in the retail-only or school campus vote. Councilwoman Teresa Barth, who lives in downtown Cardiff, excused herself from the Cardiff Specific Plan vote.

Reserving ground floor spaces for retail businesses in downtown Encinitas will keep the bustling business district "vibrant," council members said.

"What we need to do is protect and enhance, if possible, the vibrancy (of downtown)," said Councilman Jerome Stocks, "so 30 years out, we have a resident-serving, visitor-serving downtown. That's what this ordinance protects. I don't want a bunch of lawyers moving in and buying up retail stores and bank locations and setting up their offices on the ground floor of Highway 101."

7 comments:

  1. Do the new restrictions apply to the business area of the N. Coast HW101 specific plan as well?

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  2. Did the council discuss the number of offices that can go in above the retail, and the number of parking spaces that will be needed for those offices? Did they discuss how many retail businesses stay open after 5 or 6 o'clock? Did they discuss how many downtown projects are already in the pipeline and won't be affected by these new restrictions?

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  3. I was sad about the Pacific View decision. I hope to go to the Planning Commission hearing on this, as I think most members of the public would like overflow parking and a field or two at Pacific View. The school district acquired this property at little or no cost by a member of the public that wanted to donate it for public use. A park would qualify. I don't want to change the zoning.

    I thought Teresa Barth had advocated no zoning changes without a public vote? This is a case where she and Maggie could have made a difference as Dad Dalager recused himself.

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  4. I like the restrictions and hope they apply to our N. Coast HW101 specific plan as well. More retail and less office space on the ground floor is a good thing. The objective is also good for the life of down town leucadia.

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  5. no zoning changes with out a vote has one exception.

    That is if the zoning change results in a lower density that the original zone.

    that is the case here so it does not need to go to a vote.

    It still needs a 4/5th majority vote from council

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  6. City backs plan to limit downtown to retail space

    By Angela Lau
    STAFF WRITER

    May 24, 2007

    ENCINITAS – A proposal to preserve Encinitas' downtown by restricting its ground-floor space to retail businesses received unanimous support from the City Council last night.

    Councilman Dan Dalager, who owns a business downtown, recused himself. The vote was 4-0.

    The council instructed city staffers to draft changes to existing laws so ground-floor spaces on South Coast Highway 101 between K Street and Encinitas Boulevard would be restricted to retail shops only. The new regulations would ban offices and residential use on ground floors because they are believed to drive away shoppers and create parking problems.

    “We need to be ahead of the curve, before it is too late,” Councilwoman Maggie Houlihan said. “Some cities haven't paid attention. Before they know it, sales tax revenue drops off.”

    Councilwoman Teresa Barth requested that travel agencies and banks be allowed on ground floors.

    The council also unanimously supported drafting laws to give incentives to owners of historical properties downtown to preserve their structures. That would apply to an area roughly bounded by Encinitas Boulevard on the north, K Street to the south, the ocean and just east of Vulcan Avenue.

    Dalager again recused himself from the vote, which was 4-0.

    Those incentives could include allowing property owners who obtain historical designations a wider variety of uses for their structures.

    The suggestion to keep downtown as a retail district came from the Downtown Encinitas MainStreet Association.

    Peder Norby, the association's executive director, said downtown's proximity to the ocean and its collection of boutique shops have attracted business owners who want to open offices there.

    That could change downtown's complexion and its ability to generate sales tax revenue, Norby said. Downtown is now 90 to 95 percent retail, with the rest office space.

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  7. Cardiff State Beach gets a 'D'

    By: BARBARA HENRY - Staff Writer

    LA JOLLA -- All but one of North County's beaches got "A" grades for overall water quality in the latest annual statewide Beach Report Card released Wednesday by the environmental organization Heal the Bay.

    The exception was Cardiff State Beach at the mouth of San Elijo Lagoon -- it received a "D" and was recognized as one of six "bummer" beaches in San Diego County in the Santa Monica-based group's 17th annual report on beach conditions.

    Kathy Weldon, the city of Encinitas stormwater program manager, said in a telephone interview Wednesday that she's not surprised to hear that Cardiff State Beach ranked poorly. There were multiple times last year that the area near the lagoon mouth was posted with warning signs because tests found high bacteria counts, she said.

    The city isn't certain what caused those problems, but it should have a better handle on the issue this fall when Encinitas and other North County committees launch a new, more intensive lagoon contamination testing system that's being required by the state, Weldon said.

    Heal the Bay reports that it has 10,000 members and doesn't conduct its own water-quality tests. It takes daily and weekly fecal bacteria contamination data collected in the surf zone by county health departments and cities. Then it runs the information through a computer program to generate the easy-to-understand grades, group scientist Mitzy Taggart said during a news conference at La Jolla Shores beach.

    "Basically, the grade indicates the risk of getting sick if you swim in the water," she said.

    Mark McPherson, who manages water-quality issues for San Diego County's environmental health division, said the county has helped the group with its annual report card in the past and its grades are "consistent with what we see" during testing sessions.

    "We would say exactly the same thing," he said as he discussed the test results.

    Two spots south of the North County region fared even worse than Cardiff this year -- overall "F" ratings went to Mission Bay at the Visitors Center and Bayside Park on the San Diego Bay. The mouth of the Tijuana River received an "F" during the peak beachgoing period from April to October, and an "D" for the whole year.

    Taggart, who has a doctorate in public health from UCLA, said that two areas have traditionally had poor rankings in the group's annual reports. They are:

    Spots next to the mouth of lagoons or creeks, like Cardiff State Beach, which suffer when urban runoff flows into the lagoons or the creeks.

    Mostly enclosed beach areas like La Jolla Cove or Mission Bay. Water doesn't circulate as much through these protected areas, so pollutants tend to build up.

    The city of Encinitas suspects that stormwater runoff played a part in causing its high bacterial contamination levels, Weldon said. There are multiple city storm drains dumping water into the lagoon, including one that serves the Cardiff area and dumps into the lagoon at the railroad tracks, she said.

    Education campaigns -- including painting "I live downstream" messages with colorful fish near storm drains -- aim to prevent people from pouring things into the storm drains, but some bad stuff still ends up in the system, she said. For example, someone hosing off a patio and illegally letting the excess water run into the nearest storm drain can cause problems, she added.

    "The water could have been clean coming out of the tap, but by the time it's gone across the patio, you're going to have bacteria (in it) and that's what they're going to be testing for," she said.

    Heal the Bay's new report card covers the period from April 2006 through March. The 7.3 million gallon sewage spill that poured into Buena Vista Lagoon occurred just after this year's reporting period closed. It will be mentioned in next year's report card, Taggart said.

    There was lots of good news Wednesday statewide -- about 82 percent of the beach test locations across California received good to excellent ratings, the group reported.

    But don't break out the champagne and start celebrating. Water contamination levels are heavily influenced by how much rain falls in a given year. Last year, little rain fell, so the ratings mostly look good, Taggart said.

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