As previously reported, a judge was set to render judgment on the merits of the ERRD lawsuit against the City of Encinitas challenging the City’s approval of the massive 250 unit apartment building on our doorstep in Olivenhain.
Yesterday, July 17th, the judge ruled in Encinitas’ favor on all three points, presumably now paving the way for Goodson to proceed with construction.
ERRD put forth three reasons to deny the permit. First, Encinitas didn’t give ERRD a chance to appeal the eventual permit grant. The Court said Encinitas is allowed to interpret its rules on what it must and must not do liberally, and it wouldn’t have mattered either way anyways.
Second, Encinitas didn’t properly apply its own rules about parcel sizes. The court told ERRD that County assessor parcels are not the same thing as legal parcels. ERRD was using assessor parcels as if it applied to permitting requirements, and it does not. This is something I’ve run into as well for parcels that hadn’t changed hands since the 1950s or so. Subtle difference and something to pay attention to since everyone gets mixed up about this.
Third, the court just tossed out all arguments about fire safety and CEQA compliance stating that the Encinitas Fire Department gave them a green light. The court wasn’t about to overrule the local jurisdictional expert in such matters, even if they are likely wrong.
I’m no lawyer, but as I read the judge’s decision, I didn’t see much grounds for appeal. In general, courts give a lot of leeway to public organizations to interpret their own rules. Alleging an organization breached its own rules is a tough argument. By the way, this has implications for the current lawsuit against the RSFA. As I wrote about years ago, suing an HOA is fraught with difficulties.
If you want to blame someone for the increased traffic snarl we’ll have to contend with driving up Encinitas Blvd., and the nightmare fire evacuation we’ll see, train your ire on Gavin Newsom, his District Attorney, and the CA Democratic party which passed the law which made this happen.