Voters in the North San Diego County city of Encinitas have narrowly approved a ballot initiative limiting building heights to two stories in most parts of the city and requiring future changes in height and density to a vote.
Proposition A emerged in part from the city's raucus debate over a General Plan Update, which highlighted the question of whether taller buildings and greater density. The measure passed with 51% of the vote Tuesday
The City of Encinitas is a collection of older communities near Carlsbad that were combined when the city was incorporated in the 1980s. These communities include downtown Encinitas and the beach town of Leucadia. Downtown Encinitas has seen several three-story buildings constructed in recent years, including one designed around a Whole Foods supermarket.
North County has always been a hotbed of ballot-box zoning, though the pattern has slowed down considerable in recent years
Much of the debate over Proposition A revolved around the state's density bonus law, which permits developers to increase density in exchange for providing affordable housing. Several councilmembers who were originally in favor of Proposition A later changed their position, arguing that the density bonus law would permit developers to end-run the two-story height limit but do so with less city control.
In an effort to blunt support for Proposition A, the City Council voted to eliminate an existing exemption to local voter-approval provisions. Previously existing Encinitas ordinances already required voter approval for large projects, but permitted the council to waive that requirement with a four-fifths vote. The council eliminated that exemption in May as the election heated up.