Project with 400-plus homes to move forward

OCEANSIDE — The Planning Commission recommended the Villa Storia housing project move forward in a 5-1 vote on Monday.

Commissioner Dennis Martinek did not support the EIR, development plan and zone changes for the project, which sits on a 35-acre site east of the Mission San Luis Rey Parish.

Martinek objected to the project’s negative impact on the city’s already poor jobs-to-housing ratio, and asked that the housing density be reduced.

The majority of commissioners recommended the project.

Villa Storia will bring a maximum of 420 single-family detached homes, cluster housing units, duplexes and townhouses to the mission historic district. Densities range from six to 29 units per acre.

Forty (or 10 percent) of the units will be on-site inclusionary housing.

The developer has worked to accommodate requests of the city, mission and neighboring homeowners. Plans promise road improvements, drainage fixes, installation of a traffic light and a park that will be open to the public during daylight hours.

Bike trails and sidewalk connectivity along Mission Avenue are also part of the plan.

Additional project plusses include open space, drought-tolerant landscaping, home graywater systems, a custom bus shelter and a mission gateway sign.

“It’s an exceptional design,” Russ Cunningham, city principal planner, said. “The public benefits are all we asked for and others.”

Numerous speakers supported the benefits of the project.

Those on board included the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce and Mission San Luis Rey.

Others questioned traffic and environmental impacts. Many were concerned about cut-through traffic once Frazee Road is linked to Academy Road.

“I don’t think we can handle it,” an Oceanside resident who neighbors the project said. “We’re the ones that have to live with the results of it.”

There were also questions about high-density and inclusionary housing being added to an area that is not designated for smart growth. Some called Mission Avenue a “corridor for low-income housing.”

“It’s the wrong place for this type of project,” Nadine Scott, member of Friends of Loma Alta Creek, said. “You’re down zoning families into tiny homes.”

Project density has been reduced since community input began two years ago.

Residents have warmed up to the project over the years. In fall 2013 the city received 100 letters of protest. More recently 50 letters of protest and 20 letters of support were received.

Cunningham said the project is consistent and compatible with surrounding development. He warned the seven lots the project sits on could otherwise be developed in a piecemeal fashion.

All speakers expressed a love of the historic site and the open space it has provided.

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