Residents question high-density housing plans for historic mission district

Residents question high-density housing plans for historic mission district
The 37-acre site on Academy Road will need to rezoned before proposed high-density housing can be built. Part of the site is currently zoned for schools, parks and civic institutions. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — Homeowners at the end of Academy Road, a quiet two-lane street just east of Mission San Luis Rey, question the impact of the Viastoria high-density housing project on the historic mission district. 

Between 394 and 568 housing units are proposed to be constructed along the road that now serves 328 San Luis Rey Cove mobile home owners who own their homes and parcels of land beneath them.

Residents are concerned about traffic, water and sewage capacity, and the impact of the high-density housing project that doubles to triples the current number of houses along the road.

“That’s a lot of houses,” Ione Elsner, San Luis Rey Cove homeowner, said. “We started a letter writing campaign a couple of weeks ago.”

In order for the housing project to move forward the city must change the zoning of the two parcels of land the 37-acre housing project will occupy.

The parcel west of Academy Road is currently zoned for auxiliary community uses such as schools, parks and civic institutions. It will need to be rezoned to high-density residential use for the project to move forward.

The parcel east of Academy Road is now zoned for single family residential with larger lot sizes than the developer proposes. It will need to be up zoned to higher density use to accommodate the project.

“The likelihood it will be approved is a difficult question to answer,” Russell Cunningham, city senior planner, said.

Neighborhood compatibility, fiscal impact and traffic impact are among the issues that will be considered before rezoning is approved and the project can continue forward with a public review process.

Consideration of the historic overlay district guidelines will also be weighed.

“It is part of the historic core of the San Luis Rey Mission,” Elsner said. “I grew up in California. In fourth grade I studied the mission. We need housing, but we don’t need it on historic land.”

Cunningham said at this stage the city needs a more detailed plan of the project with specifics on street networking, grading and housing product. Project details are expected to be received from the developer within 30 days.

“I expect it will be forthcoming with the second submittal,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham said the city welcomes residents’ questions and concerns early in the planning process. He has received 75 letters and met with four groups of residents about the proposed project within the last month.

He added he has passed residents’ concerns on to the developer.

“Every project is different and has its own dynamics,” Cunningham said. “The process is designed to encourage input. We’re receiving it and welcome it. I look forward to working with all stakeholders and the applicant to reach an outcome that’s in the best interest of stakeholders and the city at large.”

Current information on the project is public record and is available for residents to review at the Planning Department City Hall office. Once the project is deemed complete, information will be posted on the city website at



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