Inside Oceanside: Utilizing the city’s space

Last week I wrote a half-serious/half tongue-in-cheek column about why Oceanside was better than Carlsbad. 

It followed a previous more serious column about how Oceanside jumped the shark by having four Walmarts when Carlsbad won’t stand for any.

In the Walmart column I asked, is there anybody within the city of Oceanside who is looking out for our economic big picture? I’ve been told there is, somebody titled “Development Coordinator.”

But the rubber meets the road at the city council level.

Consider the most important undeveloped parcel in Oceanside. That would be the city block just west of Oceanside High bounded by Mission Avenue, Seagaze Drive and Horne and Clementine Streets. It’s just dirt and temporary fencing. This prime real estate, right in the heart of town, about a half mile from the beach, has been just sitting there for years. It’s called the Belvedere Project.

It started off as a “mixed use” project that would include retail on the first floor and hotel suites (some with ocean views) on the floors above.

Well, the Belvedere people told the City Council last fall that they had to downscale the project. The new Belvedere now looks more like low income housing than a hotel.

The new Belvedere calls for a six-story, 70-foot building. Replacing hotel suites are 65 multi-family condos and 28 “live/work lofts,” which is a nice way of saying one-room studios with a kitchenette and a bathroom. There will still be a first floor for retail.

Well, what do you know, the City Council signed off on this new Belvedere project in October. It will fit right in with the 99-cent store and incoming Walmart just a diagonal block away.

The developer is now taking his new plans and is out trying to get funding. He presumably is waiting to pull building permits until he secures funding.

That’s a mind-blowing 93 extra units right in the heart of town. We need more upscale businesses, not more Walmarts and high-density condos.

Are you bloody kidding me?

Oh, and to the letter writer who claimed I have never been to the El Super supermarket just east of this new Walmart, I would point out I have been there many times. They have a bountiful produce section and a full service meat department with real butchers. This is the place you go to if you want a hand decorated sheet cake for a birthday or office party. The store is plenty big (it used to be a Kmart) and it has plenty of selection. It serves the neighborhood just fine as it it always packed. Please spare me any racial slurs suggesting El Super isn’t as American as Walmart. Really? Walmart is like two-thirds made in China!

And I have to say, I have gotten a unanimous thumbs down, wrinkled nose, or “that sucks” response to the people I have told about the arrival of the new Walmart in downtown Oceanside.

The current council, like Lucy, will have some ‘splaining to do.

Beach Shorts

It looks like Oceanside will get its first In & Out burger.

The city of Oceanside just tried to auction off two parcels of property.

There were no takers for a 10,000 square foot property bounded by N. Coast Highway and Neptune.

But the other was sold to a company who does In & Out. That parcel is between Interstate-5 and the Carrows Restaurant. That 6,500 sq. ft. parcel doesn’t seem to be enough for an In & Out, so look for that developer to swallow up the property now used to house Carrows….

It looks like the wheels are in motion to change Mission Avenue to a one-way (westbound) thoroughfare from Clementine Street to the beach.

The plans call for more pedestrian/bike paths and more attractive and more verdant storefront property.

I am amazed that more folks are not up in arms over a separate “improvement” project that calls for the entire stretch of Coast Highway to be reduced from four to three or two lanes. The plan means well: it wants to make our part of old Highway 101 more attractive. But it is a huge example of bad civic planning to restrict this already heavily used highway and cut its capacity by up to 50 percent.

As anyone who lives near Coast Highway can tell you, anytime I-5 becomes congested, southbound travelers invariably get off the interstate and take Coast Highway down the coast until they can get back on a less congested segment of I-5. Narrowing Coast Highway will force these cars into the adjacent neighborhood streets like Tremont, Ditmar and Nevada.

Please pay attention to this Coast Highway “improvement” as it will be discussed in future city council sessions and speak up about it whether you agree with me or not….

It is interesting to note that our congressman and our state assemblyman seem to be embracing different sides of the republican elephant.

We know Congressman Darrell Issa, who surely must be Rush Limbaugh’s favorite congressman, has called President Obama, “one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times.”

Meanwhile our freshman GOP Assemblyman Rocky Chavez and former Oceanside councilman, was one of only two Republicans in California’s lower house to vote to pass a bill that would allow prosecutors to allow prosecutors to allow mere users of cocaine and heroin to be charged with a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

This of course does not affect those who sell it or give it to children who will still rightfully continue to be charged with a felony. This is clearly the best way to get these people into treatment, not clog up our prisons, and not turn them into hard-core criminals.

Kudos to Rocky for this profile in courage moment.

Oceanside born and raise, Ken Leighton writes columns for The Coast News, the San Diego Reader and is an Oceanside business owner. He may be reached at





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