Home>Articles>Encinitas’ Rejection of High Density Apartments Next Target for AG Bonta’s Housing Strike Force

Attorney General Rob Bonta. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Encinitas’ Rejection of High Density Apartments Next Target for AG Bonta’s Housing Strike Force

‘Bonta and the Housing Strike Force aren’t trying to solve housing problems; they are the problem’

By Evan Symon, March 25, 2022 12:16 pm

The California Attorney General and state Department of Justice continue to challenge cities not complying with state laws aimed at increasing housing and creating affordable housing. They called out the San Diego County city of Encinitas Thursday for not approving a permit to build a large apartment complex last year and threatened to hold them legally accountable if they don’t pass a modified version of the apartments soon.

In November of 2021, the Encinitas City Council unanimously voted to reject approval for the 277-unit Encinitas Boulevard Apartments, an Olivenhain neighborhood project that would have had 41 units set aside for low-income families. The City Council said that poor wildfire evacuation capacity and poor road capacity left many safety issues open. Developers vowed to legally challenge the decision.

That same November, Attorney General Rob Bonta created the Housing Strike Force, a group that looks into and reports on cities complying with the state’s housing law SB 9,  as well as other laws designed to increase housing and housing units in California. Last month, the Strike Force went after the San Mateo town of Woodside for attempting to stop new housing projects by declaring themselves a mountain lion sanctuary. AG Bonta and the California DOJ are also currently trying to pressure Pasadena into dropping their Landmark District exemption, stopping the city from preserving any more historic areas, to increase housing. In addition, they have also gone after developers and landlords, such as taking multi-million dollar actions against unlawfully evicting people after foreclosure sales.

On Thursday, they announced targeting Encinitas for not following state law and denying the construction of high-density housing projects. While there was no legal action taken, Bonta threatened it in a letter on Thursday to the city by “holding them accountable” if the Encinitas Boulevard Apartments project decision isn’t reversed soon. Specifically, Bonta said Encinitas was violating multiple housing laws aimed at more units and greater density, including the Density Bonus Law and the Housing Accountability Act.

“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,” said Attorney General Bonta on Thursday. “As we work to tackle California’s housing crisis, we need 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.”

Encinitas latest city to be challenged over high density housing laws

While city officials have not commented on Bonta’s letter as of Friday, officials from the city noted Thursday that the city is still awaiting new plans to turn 20% of the project into affordable housing units, or 5% more than planned. Encinitas residents and housing experts have also said that the response to the project in the city has been largely mixed, similar to the feelings of Pasadena residents over their DOJ housing problems that still have not been resolved this week.

“Cities don’t want more luxury apartments or luxury units, and many especially want to keep single family residences intact,” developer Martin Schules, who stopped building new housing in California two years ago in favor of other Western states, said in a Globe interview Friday. “But therein lies the problem.  California and local cities have so many laws, including some that demand green space and parking spots for each resident, that the only ones we can build where we get our investment back are luxury units. Even though 41 of the 277 units were set aside for lower-income people, it’s still outwardly luxury, and to many residents, gaudy or not fitting in with the architecture of the city. Not to mention that that still means hundreds of very expensive rental units being added.”

“When we talk about being squeezed out of California and people wondering why no new housing units are being built, this is why. Developers can’t afford to build anything besides units geared toward higher paying people because of all these state laws, residents in the city want to keep their aesthetic and don’t want these huge buildings coming in and stressing city resources and roads, and the city doesn’t want to face issues stemming from both. It’s no wonder why Encinitas and Pasadena and other places are doing everything they can to stop it and try to find better solutions.”

“But the California government and thugs like Bonta keep trying to rope the law into all these cities that are trying to find their own path. It’s not about ‘every city doing their part’ to them. It’s city leaders and residents knowing what their limits are and developers doing what they can to get a return on their investment. Encinitas exemplifies this. Bonta and the Housing Strike Force aren’t trying to solve housing problems. They are the problem. Or at least a very big part of it.”

As of Friday, the city of Encinitas has yet to respond to Bonta’s letter.

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18 thoughts on “Encinitas’ Rejection of High Density Apartments Next Target for AG Bonta’s Housing Strike Force

  1. Developer Martin Schules (who no longer builds in California, having been forced out by the costs and regulations and insanity of the state’s building rules) is absolutely correct in what he says at the end of this article. He is especially correct that A.G. Bonta is a “thug” and that he and his “Housing Strike Force aren’t trying to solve housing problems. They are the problem.” I would add that Bonta and the Gov and legislators aren’t INTERESTED in solving these problems. It appears they are only interested in seeing infusions of developer and others dollars into their campaign bank accounts. Or maybe they are simply only interested in being straight-out bribed.

    1. Exactly!
      The city I live in did build those absolutely ugly cell block high rise apartments in a once open area of our city, with flower fields. It is now unrecognizable and really not affordable for whom they say they want to house.

      1. Yes, Cali Girl, I’ll bet you everyone in every CA city noticed the high-rise cell blocks going up in certain parts of town. But that time of the irritating eyesores we once cursed will look like blissful halcyon days compared to the opening of the flood gates we will be seeing from here on out. Developers have been blocked for so long from building single-family housing, or even decently-built housing of any kind, that now the worst of them —- the ones who haven’t left the state already — will go NUTS slapping those things up in record time. And I strongly suspect the way they will make it profitable to build is by not building the stuff in such a quality way or with such quality materials. I can’t remember if now they are allowed to subvert CEQA and other regs; another subject for another time perhaps. SB 9 and 10, sneaked in on Christmas Eve or whenever it was that people weren’t watching them like a hawk, were like hitting the dang lottery for politicians and developers and, by the way, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out there is a China connection to what we are seeing now.
        Bottom line is that this crappy but nevertheless expensive-to-let housing is like the COVID jab —– everyone will have to get one, no matter how damaging it is, if our overlords have anything to say about it. Why? Because there is MONEY in it. And bonus points for being able to scratch that totalitarianism itch the elites can’t seem to scratch enough to satisfy.
        Hope you have a lovely weekend anyway, Cali Girl. 🙂

        1. Yes, the timing seems to be very well orchestrated, ShowandTell.
          It more than likely is connected to China, especially here in the SF Bay Area. Couple this with high gas prices, scarcity of building materials,the narrowing of our streets and you have a recipe for forced urban living with more rentals than home ownership. The very dream of the worlds oligarchs such as Klaus Schwab.
          “You will own nothing and like it”
          ShowandTell may you have a wonderful weekend as well. Spring is calling🌼

    2. Stay Strong Encinitas! Here’s a real head scratcher: It underscores the legislature’s utter failure to adequately define the housing problem at the get-go. Instead, HCD over-inflated RHNA numbers and…. Now the DEIR written to assess the impacts from the new Housing Element (large parts literally dictated by the State and YUMBY Law) for my city, found that the impacts on sewer would be significant and unavoidable.

  2. To correct your article, Encinitas resident’s response to the project is not mixed. NO ONE wants this monstrosity. The City council would fight Bonta if they were smart, as they will all be voted out if they don’t.

  3. All cities need to fight this ministerial B.S.. And if city councils go along with SB9 & 10 (or have their own housing elements which support this type of building), neighborhood associations need to FIGHT by RECALLING their councilmembers.
    Local governments and the California Legislature have been riding roughshod over its citizens for too long. Time for some big changes.

    1. Open borders and sanctuary cities are cash cows for the state teachers unions. Free K-12 for all illegals for 13 years each. No open border and sanctuary cities and you have to fire at least half of the state teachers because student enrollments would suddenly drop and there would be no one to fill the pipeline.

      Teacher unions dues would also drop. This cozy open border cash cow is what made the state teacher unions the most powerful political force in the state.

      Upside due to Prop 98 guarantee that 50% of all state general funds automatically go to education, is lower student enrollments means smaller classrooms and much higher per pupil spending which means attracting and keeping the very best teachers. Only the teachers unions are stopping this because they want to hold on to that other 50% of their teacher union dues members and could care less about the totally deplorable state Calif public education has become.

      Close the border immediately, eliminate sanctuary cities and half the major state problems would be solved overnight: housing, water, traffic, public schools, vagrancy. Most are on the public dole, so there would be no labor shortages because they are not working.

      Vastly more money could finally be spent on legal residents. Or taxes could be dramatically reduced. There is no upside to open borders and sanctuary cities – but a huge downside to the teachers unions. Which is a great trade off.

      1. This is veering from the article’s topic somewhat, but with regards to fiscal responsibility: Our CA legislature should become part-time and take a pay cut accordingly. The majority of bills CA legislators come up with are frivolous. Much of the time, they don’t even know what they’re voting for.
        We could save millions this way.

  4. Get out of the housing business, government. You don’t know what you are doing. And you are wasting taxpayer money. If people can’t afford housing in one place, they need to go where they can afford housing.

    Plenty of low cost housing and even abandoned housing all over this country. Just scram if you can’t afford to live in Coastal California. Few can. Go where you can; not where you want. Not our duty to subsidize you.

  5. Hope y’all like the Bauhaus architecture of early 20th century Germany, ’cause that’s where this is headed. All we’re missing now is a fuhrer. Oh, wait, no, we have that covered, too! BACK TO THE FUTURE!!!

  6. Mr. Bonta should read some history. https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/pruitt-igoe
    Pruitt-Igoe was arguably the most infamous public housing project every built in the United States.
    Another project: https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/cabrini-green-housing-project-chicago-1942-2009/
    Government just doesn’t do well with housing projects. Both of these very expensive projects failed and were demolished.
    SB 8, SB 9, SB 10 and AB 1174 set the stage for ruinous housing projects that virtually no one desires.

  7. Comrades
    Spread em around starting with the planning fanatics’ neighborhoods, especially with generous so vital and needed really cheap affordable housing…..I feel better now….

  8. Bunch of NIMBYs. It’s ironic that conservatives are siding with the city government that rejected the development, and Democrats are supporting deregulating zoning and making housing development easier to increase the housing supply and solve the housing crisis. I won’t be surprised if everyone else commenting in this article is a rich homeowner who owns a seven-figure property and doesn’t have to worry about rent or mortgage. Working Californians are being priced out of the state due to insane housing costs, and many are going to Texas and Florida. While Miami and Houston are building tons of new apartments, all Californian local governments can think about is rejecting new housing development and making it harder to build housing. High time we stop bowing down to NIMBY homeowners who don’t have to worry about paying rent and start caring about working Californians who are being hammered by high housing costs.

  9. I support allowing second units on all parcels not physically constrained. by space. On a parcel that is close to 100 acres but can only have a second unit as an ag employee unit due to agricultural zoning, although the county has removed the second unit prohibition on some agricultural parcels. This creates all kinds of financing problems as conventional lenders do not finance land with more than minor incudental ag. Yet smaller parcels on 3 sides can have second units. The house could be put on another parcel that already has a rocked road going to another house but the new driveway paving requirement would cost more than this small house.

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