City considers extending notification area for building projects

OCEANSIDE — City Council discussed the idea of extending notification for building projects to a 1,500-foot radius on Jan. 7.

Written notice of building projects shrunk to 300 feet in 2011.

At that time, requirements were added to notify residents in the local newspaper, on the city website and with signage at the building site.

Councilwoman Esther Sanchez suggested a 1,500-foot notice be reinstated for major commercial projects in order to amply notify residents. She also suggested a 500-foot notice for smaller projects.

Councilmen Jerry Kern and Jack Feller voted against further discussion of the item, saying they did not want to make the city unfriendly to business development. Both added the current notification requirements are sufficient.

“I feel like this is a punishment,” Feller said.

Mayor Jim Wood, Councilman Chuck Lowery and Sanchez voted to bring the item back for discussion.

Wood agreed with Sanchez that more notification is needed up front and early to better inform residents and address potential objections as soon as possible. Both Wood and Sanchez said it would save time and streamline the process for builders.

“It’s much more costly when input comes at the end of the project for the builder,” Sanchez said.

An example Sanchez shared was the 300-foot notice given for site changes for the proposed Robertson concrete plant. Notice did not reach homes beyond the required radius, and late opposition eventually brought a lawsuit against the company and stopped the plant from being developed.

Following the meeting, Kern said everyone knew about the cement plant. He added that he stands by the present process of notification.

“We don’t do these things in secret,” Kern said. “We did a lot to make it transparent.”

Kern said complaints often come from residents who don’t want anything built.

Reconsidering notification requirements for building projects is expected to come back to City Council with staff recommendations by February.

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