Environmental groups challenge Encinitas townhome project in Superior Court



Environmental groups filed a petition in San Diego County Superior Court last September challenging a 149-townhome project in Encinitas.

The townhomes, known as the Piraeus Point Project, are planned for approximately six acres at the corner of Plato Place and Piraeus Street in Leucadia.project It survived an appeal to the Encinitas City Council last August.. Grassroots groups opposed the move and asked city council members to invalidate the permit approved by the Planning Commission. However, the council rejected the appeal by a vote of 3-1, with one member absent.

The following month, the nonprofit Endangered Habitat Alliance filed a petition alleging that “the city violated numerous state and local laws, including the California Environmental Quality Act.” The group claims the project threatens environmentally sensitive habitat areas, a type of area protected by the Coastal Act.

“Despite intense opposition from the community and strong concerns from state and federal agencies, the city approved the project,” the petition states, “and also includes an environmentally sustainable construction site on the site.” “There was also comment from the California Coastal Commission regarding the existence of this habitat area.”

The petition also adds that the project encroaches on the habitat of the California coastal blackfly, which is listed as a federally endangered species and a “bird of special concern” by the state.

Dan Silver, executive director of the Endangered Species Habitat Federation, said: “We would like to work with the city and the applicant on a solution that allows us to move forward with housing construction while properly conserving resources; I don’t know yet.”

A memo from a city consultant posted with the Aug. 16 meeting agenda said, “This project is designed to improve the integrity, functionality, and productivity of environmentally sensitive habitats on the project site and in adjacent conservation areas. , and are designed to maintain long-term viability.”

Developer Lennar Homes said the 149-unit plan is only about half the number of units that could be built on the site under the state’s density bonus law. “We believe 149 homes strikes the right balance for this property,” the developer’s website states.

City officials also pointed to state-mandated housing goals. Starting in 2021, Encinitas will be required to provide zoning for its more than 1,500 housing units across all income levels as part of the sixth cycle of regional housing needs allocation, which runs through 2029. The site of the Piraeus Point project, also known as Cannon Properties, is listed in the city’s housing element as one of the sites where parts of it will be located.

At the August meeting where the City Council endorsed the plan, Encinitas Mayor Tony Krantz said the concerns raised by opponents were real, saying, “But at the end of the day, we are against state housing law.” ” he said.

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