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9-Home Project Meets Opposition in Encinitas

A proposal to build nine new homes on Birmingham Drive was met Wednesday with a mix of opposition and support in Encinitas.

The developer, Buffalo of Birmingham Investors, hosted the second of two community outreach meetings to give the public a chance to voice their opinion before the nine-lot project goes to the city’s Planning Commission.

“I would like your support,” said Jim McMemamin, the company’s representative, speaking before a group of about 30-40 neighbors at the Encinitas Community Center.

The southern portion of the proposed development is currently occupied by a single-family residence, which the developer plans to remove, and the remainder of the 5.5-acres is a vacant lot. If approved, the project would be built on Birmingham Drive near Lake Drive on the east side of I-5 in Encinitas.

One of the nine homes in the “Lakes Subdivision” would be an affordable housing unit, McMemamin told the group. And each of the other houses would also have a “casita” or small attached guest house. The affordable housing unit would not have a “casita,” a spokesman told NBC7.  

“I, personally, really like this plan, and you have my support,” Carole Serling said.

Other community members did not offer up their approval so quickly.

Objecting to the density, one man spoke above other neighbor’s grumbles.

“You don’t even live in this community!” he told the developer.

The man declined to give his name.

McMemamin disagreed saying his office is in Encinitas and he lives in Del Mar.

Encinitas is the only city in San Diego County, and one of very few in California, without a plan for where people are going to live in the future, especially low-income residents.

In the beachside city, the median household income is $92,564 — 69 percent higher than the median household income for the nation. The city has already spent about $900,000 fighting lawsuits because they do not have an affordable housing plan.

Statewide, there is not enough housing even for the current population.

For future, growing populations, cities are mandated by the state to come up with more affordable housing development solutions.

Consequences could be coming down the pipeline for Encinitas,  such as court-imposed fines, a moratorium on any development, and the state forcing their affordable housing plan on the city if it refuses to adopt a housing plan that includes low-income housing.

Residents at Tuesday’s meeting expressed concerns over increased morning traffic on Birmingham Drive from the nine additional houses proposed in the “Lakes Subdivision.” They were also concerned the developer will modify his plans once he gets the community’s support.

Buffalo of Birmingham Investors originally proposed a four-house project.

“The next day you turn around and the whole story changes,” one resident.  

The developer also submitted plans, after a May community outreach meeting, for a 131-unit apartment building. He told the group he did that at the request of the Encinitas Planning Commission.

“It’s just been a moving target,” said Bob Cunningham, an Encinitas resident. “From four to nine to 130. I’m still concerned about you changing your mind again.”

McMemamin told the group the nine-unit plan is the one the developers are committed to if they can gain the support of their neighbors.

“I would suggest to you that we’re following the rules that the city of Encinitas prescribes,” he said. “We’re here having this meeting, which is a requirement of the city to talk to our neighbors. We’re presenting a quality project here.”  

Source: NBC San Diego

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