files lawsuit against residents, says Proposition A preventing
them from complying with state law
Tawny McCray, October 17, 2019
The city of Encinitas has filed a lawsuit against the
residents behind Preserve Proposition A, saying the vote requirements
are stalling the citys efforts to produce a timely revised
housing element, as required by state law.
the lawsuit, filed on Sept. 6, the city claims it is unable
to meet its obligations under state law to adopt revised housing
elements, and pass related implementing legislation, due to
the local measure, which gives Encinitas residents the right
to vote on housing projects with substantial density increases
and building heights greater than two stories.
relief sought in the case is a judicial decision about the
applicability of the vote requirements to future housing element
updates, the citys attorney Dolores Dalton said
in an email last week. This is to resolve potential
conflicts between state law and Encinitass Proposition
A, with respect to housing elements and related implementing
said the city is not seeking monetary relief.
Housing Element law requires cities to provide enough housing
to meet the needs of all its residents, from very-low income
earners to above-moderate ones.
city has been subject to multiple lawsuits, by both the building
industry and affordable housing advocates, because of its
lack of a housing element. Voters rejected the citys
most recent attempts at passing a housing plan in 2016 and
December, Superior Court Judge Ronald Frazier overturned Proposition
A for the current housing cycle only and ordered the city
of Encinitas to adopt a legally compliant housing plan within
120 days. The City Council adopted its latest affordable housing
plan in March.
state approved that plan just last week, which currently puts
the city in compliance with state law and avoids a loss of
deadline for the city to adopt its next housing element is
in April 2021. The citys lawsuit seeks a ruling that
for that cycle, and all future housing element cycles, housing
element updates and related implementing legislation are not
subject to the vote requirements.
DeLano, who represents Preserve Prop A, says the lawsuit against
his clients is a classic SLAPP suit, a lawsuit that is intended
to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them
with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their
criticism or opposition.
really a classic example of people expressing their concerns
and then the city turning around and suing them because they
expressed those concerns, DeLano said. We could
probably file an (anti-SLAPP) motion that would basically
get it dismissed if we wanted. On the other hand, I think
the residents also want to have their day in court.
added, There is a false dichotomy being placed here,
where its Prop. A versus compliance with state law,
and that is not what should be happening, thats a false
narrative thats being pushed by the state, HCD and by
said Proposition A is in place to add an additional layer
of protection in the event that a developer or a project comes
along and substantially deviates from what the citys
zoning laws allow. He said similar propositions are in place
in Solana Beach, Escondido and Loma Linda in San Bernardino
County, which is the one that Proposition A is modeled after.
no other city that has required a court order to get out of
these requirements in order to have an adequate housing element,
DeLano said before posing the hypothetical question. So,
what is it that is so special about the city of Encinitas
that they think they need to get out of requirements that
other cities can meet?
said there needs to be a way to find a balance between the
requirements of Proposition A and the requirements of the
citys housing element.
a normal world what would normally happen is the city would
be defending Prop. A, DeLano said. Prop. A is
the law of Encinitas, whether they like it or not, and they
should be defending it just like any other statute in Encinitas.