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At their meeting on March 24, the Encinitas City Council voted 5-0 to approve $315,000 in additional funding for the development of the El Camino Real Specific Plan. The City received $300,000 in Local Early Action Plan (LEAP) funding from California Housing and Community Development Department for this project in November 2020.  The El Camino Real Specific Plan will reimagine possible future development within the El Camino Real corridor in Encinitas.The project team prepared a short video about the El Camino Real Specific Plan process.

The unanimous vote allows the City to move forward with requesting cost proposals for a contractor who would work with City staff and the community to develop the specific plan through a comprehensive outreach and planning process. It also will allow the City to proceed with early outreach for the planning process, including launch of a survey in late Spring 2021 to understand community needs and values for the El Camino Real Specific Plan. 

"I am thrilled the City is moving forward with the development of the El Camino Real Specific Plan,” said Councilmember Joe Mosca.  “This is an exciting step toward revitalizing and preserving the long-term health of this important corridor in the community.  We can’t do it alone. We need input from the community to create the specific plan for the El Camino Real corridor in a meaningful way. This is the first step of many in the planning process. We encourage the community to get involved.”

What’s a specific plan?

Cities throughout California have what is called a general plan. The general plan acts as a blueprint or vision for development in a city. A specific plan implements the goals and policies of the general plan for a specific area or neighborhood within the community.

Today, the El Camino Real corridor is the City’s busiest and most vibrant commercial corridor and serves as a major throughfare within the community. In the future, the City’s General Plan envisions more connection, and walkable areas throughout the City that support a mixture of land uses, including retail, office and neighborhood-friendly housing in the right locations. The development of a specific plan for the El Camino Real Corridor would help to provide the necessary development standards in order to further implement a blueprint for the community.

Why is the specific plan needed?

Development has occurred in the El Camino Real corridor steadily over time. Many buildings and existing land uses were developed before the City was incorporated in 1986 when there was no comprehensive plan to guide development. Real estate market conditions and the needs in the community have also changed. A specific plan is needed to help revitalize and preserve the long-term health of this important corridor in the Encinitas community. If the corridor does not adapt or evolve to meet these needs, the area is at risk for underutilization. This would result in a financial impact to the City, as the El Camino Real corridor provides important tax revenue for the City’s general fund, which is used to fund public safety and other critical programs and services to the community.

“Through the specific plan development process, the City will work with the community to create a holistic plan that will allow the El Camino Real corridor to evolve in ways that meet Encinitas’ needs, now and in the future, said Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear. “It’s important for the City to invest in the specific plan at a time when our community needs it the most. Projects like this not only will improve mobility, neighborhood connectivity and the quality of life for our community members, but will contribute to our long-term economic vitality as well.”

What’s the timeline?

The City is at the very early stages of the specific plan development process. There will be multiple opportunities for the community to get involved and provide input to the City throughout this process. Here’s a look at a sample timeline for the process.

  • Spring and Summer 2021:  Seek input from the community on values, priorities and concerns related to the El Camino Real Specific Plan through community survey, virtual presentations and meetings with stakeholders.
  • Summer 2021: Select consultant to help prepare specific plan
  • Fall 2021/Winter 2021:  Develop framework of specific plan for community review and input.
  • Winter 2021/Spring 2022: Joint City Council and Planning Commission Workshop
  • Spring 2022:  Present revised specific plan for community review and input.
  • Spring/Summer 2022: Circulate Environmental Impact Report for specific plan.
  • Fall 2022/Winter 2023:  Present final plan to City of Encinitas Planning Commission.
  • Winter 2023:  Present final plan to City of Encinitas Council for approval.

How to get involved

The City will schedule virtual meetings and presentations to community stakeholders and launch an online survey to seek input on the specific plan. Please contact the City by phone or email with any questions or comments about the process.

Questions?

Nick Zornes, Planner IV, 760-633-2711 or [email protected]