Commission gives input on stretching development notifications

OCEANSIDE — The state law requires 300 feet notification of building projects, most North County cities ask for 600 feet notification, and Oceanside is considering extending notification to 1,500 feet.

Planning staff presented draft recommendations to the Planning Commission on March 9.

The idea of expanding notification did not sit well with some.

“I could open a topless bar if I notified 300 feet,” Michael McSweeney, senior public policy advisor for the Building Industry Association, said. “It’s reasonable at 600 feet. It’s unreasonable at 1,500 feet, that’s a third of a mile.”

In January council directed staff to revise city policy to extend building notification from 300 feet to 1,500 feet for large projects, and 500 feet for smaller builds.

“It’s an effort to engage the community early on rather than last minute,” Jeff Hunt, interim city planner, said.

Property owners within 300 feet will be notified by mail on building projects, and residents will be notified within 100 feet.

Mail notification to property owners will be extended to 1,500 feet for proposals that include General Plan Land Use Amendments, Specific Plans, zone changes, and those exceeding 20 dwelling units.

The applicant’s cost of notification for 300 feet is about $607. This gives property owners notice of environmental determination, public hearing by the Planning Commission, and public hearing by the City Council.

The cost for greater area notification is approximately $933 for 500 feet, and $1,775 for 1,500 feet.

Commissioner Dennis Martinek said getting the word out early on large projects is worth the cost to applicants.

“I think I’d rather face problems up front,” Martinek said. “It’s not nice to hear people say I didn’t hear anything about it. (Notice of) 1,500 makes sense on large projects that may have an impact on the community.”

There was debate about notification getting diluted if there is direct notice on every city building project.

It was ironed out in meeting discussion that interested parties, and specifically representatives from each of the city’s 17 neighborhood and homeowner groups will receive email notification of all building projects.

In addition applicants must post on-site notification, and project information on the city website.

The commission recommended nixing the requirement that all Morro Hills project give extended area notification.

Commissioners also asked to add projects with Conditional Use Permits to the list of builds that require extended area notification.

The 1,500-notification rule hearkens back to requirements the city previously imposed.

A new addition to the requirement is a call for a community outreach plan. The applicant must have a written notification plan that includes provisions for comments, and follow up with a written report on concerns and how they will be addressed.

Encinitas and Del Mar have similar requirements.

Planning staff will take recommendations to council for approval.

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