Saying no to high density housing zone changes will play a part in the process
OCEANSIDE — Oceanside jobs to housing numbers were shared at the Dec. 10 Economic Development Commission meeting and fell startlingly below those of other North County cities.
While most North County cities have a healthy 1-to-1 ratio, Oceanside has a .6-to-1 ratio, with fewer jobs than houses.
“I think it’s an urgent perspective,” Tracey Bohlen, economic development manager, said. “We’re actively trying to increase that number.”
Bohlen asked commissioners to be alert to rezoning requests that allow high-density housing to replace space for businesses that bring needed jobs.
Oceanside land use plan and zoning designations map out a balanced development plan for the city, but that balance can be thrown off kilter when changes to the plan are made.
“Every time City Council tries to allow someone to take a piece of property — it changes that balance,” David Morris, economic development commissioner, said. “We don’t have a lot of land left for commercial purposes.”
“Council already understands the dynamics we just want to remind them of it,” Morris added.
A decision that furthered the low jobs to housing ratio was when City Council rezoned industrial property to high-density residential in 2002 and apartments were built.
“It happens every cycle,” Bohlen said. “If we keep rezoning pretty soon we will not able to get job numbers up if we don’t hold the line.”
Oceanside currently has 19,000 apartment units. They make up 49 percent of Oceanside housing. Most can agree that no more high-density apartments or condos are needed.
Bohlen said the city has tried to play catch up with low jobs to housing numbers since the city economic development department was established in 1995. Prior to that no one had the task of looking at jobs to housing numbers and drawing businesses to the city.
At that time Oceanside had grown into a bedroom community next to Camp Pendleton.
Since then jobs have been established with the development of Ocean Ranch Business Park, Pacific Coast Business Park and the industrial area by the airport, as well as other business pockets in the city.
“The business parks are getting fuller,” Bohlen said. “They are not full, but absorption is occurring.”
Biotech industry and hospitality related businesses including hotels, restaurants and microbreweries are increasing, as well as healthcare facilities.
While Oceanside is headed in the right direction to bring its jobs numbers up, high-density housing will have an ill effect on the city’s progress.
High-density apartments and condos, which are not part of a managed low income housing development, often draw multiple families that live together in one unit and in turn cause traffic and parking issues as well as a higher demands on social services like police and fire.
The balance is further impacted by financing being easier to obtain for high-density housing developers than businesses.
Bohlen said if Oceanside stays on track, says no to zoning changes for high-density housing, financing loosens up and businesses expand, the jobs to housing ratio will be healthy in 10 to 15 years.
“We need to look at it,” Morris said. “How do we bring in good jobs to Oceanside and allow great things to happen?”
There are many advantages to having a healthy jobs to housing ratio. People live closer to work and have less of a commute and more time with family. Greenhouse gas admissions are reduced because of less driving. Families need fewer childcare hours. Individuals have more disposable income and a higher quality of life.