View obstruction an issue with proposed beachfront development

OCEANSIDE — Discussion about the coastal stringline setback, which tells developers how far they can build out homes toward the ocean, caused frustration for residents, developers and planning commissioners April 20.

KCS Properties LCC proposed building two contemporary single-family homes on two side-by-side beachfront lots, with the contingency that balconies extend 2 to 3 feet beyond the city’s revised stringline. Chris Smither, member of KCS Properties LCC, said the balconies would be staggered and constructed chiefly of glass.

Half a dozen neighbors spoke against the project on 1631 South Pacific Street saying balconies would block beloved views of the pier and obstruct panoramic views of the coastline. Many of the speakers stated they have owned adjacent homes for 30 or more years.

“The best part of my house is the beautiful views of the lights of the pier at night and the sunset,” neighbor Steve Parker said. “The building would extend out past my deck 8 to10 feet. Even if I leaned over my deck I still wouldn’t be able to see the pier.”

City Principal Planner Amy Fousekis confirmed the project would impact neighbors’ views.

“It will impact views of older homes that have not maximized stringline,” Fousekis, said.

Initially there were questions by commissioners on the validity of the revised stringline that has not yet been adopted by the Coastal Commission.

Fousekis said the revised stringline was established after the previous standard, which was determined by an aerial photograph of the coastline, was repeatedly challenged. The old stringline was much less precise and contained varying widths of 3 to 4 feet on where it was said to be located.

The revised stringline is determined by a combination of a formal survey and points of reference from earlier approved projects.

Fousekis added all recent city projects have been judged by the revised stringline that was determined 18 months ago. City staff is in the process of preparing the revision for Coastal Commission approval by the end of summer.

KCS Properties began the development process for the project six months prior to the revision, and adjusted the inhabitable building space to the new stringline that lopped three and a half feet off the maximum build out of the site.

“We’re not trying to push anything past the limit,” Smither said.

Even with the revised stringline accepted as the standard, numerous complaints from neighbors, and balconies that extend beyond the stringline caused the commission not to approve the project.

Commissioner Dennis Martinek proposed directing city staff to consider the project’s fit within the community, in order to address neighbors’ concerns.

Commissioner Thomas Morrissey said the project already fits the neighborhood, and added the developer should not be limited in the design because neighboring homeowners have not yet built to the stringline.

Fousekis confirmed the proposed five-bedroom dwellings fit in with new development in the high-density, residential, tourist zoned neighborhood.

Commissioners were in unanimous agreement that they would not grant a contingency to allow any part of the structures to extend over the stringline.

Several commissioners voiced the necessity to stick with established limits to give all beachfront homeowners equal access to a view.

The Planning Commission approved a continuance to June 8 to allow the developer to make adjustments to the project that has been two years in the works.

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