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Calif AG claims that Encinitas circumvented housing laws by suspending 277 units

California Attorney General Rob Bonta said Thursday that the city of Encinitas should approve a permit for the development of 277 housing units and that he will “act promptly to hold the city accountable” if it does not approve a modified version of Encinitas. the project proposal.

In a statement, Bonta’s office said the city’s denial last year of the Encinitas Boulevard Apartments blocked the state’s efforts “to increase the accessibility and affordability of housing” in the city. The statement noted that the average home price in the city is more than double the average price across the state.

“No one needs to do everything to solve the problem, but everyone needs to do something,” Bonta told NBC 7’s Mark Mullen in an interview Thursday. “And what’s that problem? We’re 2.5 to 3 million housing units in the state of California. It’s brought in at the average house price to be $ 800,000 – far out of reach for most of working families ”.

The project, proposed for the Olivenhain district, would include 41 units aimed at lower-income families.

Bonta’s office said the project should be approved because state housing laws limit local governments from refusing permits for such projects.

“You don’t have this unlimited discretion to do what you want. There are laws that apply … laws like the density bonus law, the housing accountability act. Those come into play. here with the city of Encinitas, ”Bonta told Mullen. .

In a letter dated Thursday to Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear, Deputy Attorney General Matthew T. Struhar wrote that the project developer is expected to present a revised proposal that sets aside 20% of its units for affordable housing, which is about 5% more than initially planned.

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City officials did not immediately respond to comments regarding the Justice Department’s letter.

“While we are pleased that the city may have the opportunity to take corrective action by approving a modified version of the Encinitas Boulevard Apartments project, it must not take the threat of legal action to induce compliance with the law,” Bonta said. . “As we work to address the housing crisis in California, we need local governments to act as partners to increase housing supply, not to drive out roadblocks. Our Strike Force of l “Housing is working to enforce those who break our housing laws to help California families. We are struggling with the high cost of housing, and we are in this fight for the long haul.”