Zoning changes for Villa Storia development get final approval

OCEANSIDE — City Council gave final approval on Wednesday to zoning changes to allow the medium-to-high-density Villa Storia housing project to be built within the mission historical district.

There was little council discussion prior to the approval, but numerous comments from residents, many that live adjacent to the 35.5 acre site on Mission Avenue and Academy Road.

Speakers shared concerns about the 5,000 traffic trips a day the 420 units and pass through road would bring. One resident said development would turn Academy Road into an obstacle course.

“You’re knowingly creating a dangerous environment,” the resident said.

There were also questions about fire truck access, and added demands on city services.

Speakers pleaded with council members to postpone the approval and look at the project further.

The proposed development has been reviewed at two Planning Commission meetings and three city council meetings.

Residents have expressed the same concerns about the project throughout the review process. Following Wednesday’s vote resident Kitty Talley said no one was listening.

Zoning changes received a 3-1 approval on Wednesday, with Councilwoman Esther Sanchez voting no and Councilman Chuck Lowery absent. The previous council OK in September was a 4-1 vote, with a no vote from Sanchez.

Between the City Council’s September vote and final approval on Wednesday, Sanchez and Lowery each held separate information meetings with residents of the neighboring San Luis Rey Mobile Homes park.

The Oceanside fire chief spoke at both meetings and assured residents the fire department would be able reach homes and provide service.

Don Greene, aide to Lowery, said Lowery’s meeting went well and most residents were in support of the project.

Residents who spoke at the City Council meeting said Lowery shared misinformation at the residents’ meeting, to which Greene disagreed.

Residents also mentioned proceeding with a referendum.

To do so they would need to collect about 9,700 signatures within 30 days to put the project to a citywide vote.

Following the meeting Mayor Jim Wood said objections are chiefly from neighboring residents, so it’s unlikely there would be enough opposition to collect needed signatures.

The Villa Storia project boasts high quality finishes, adds a park and Mission Avenue sidewalk improvements, and funds a stretch of reclaimed water pipeline through offset fees.

Council members Jerry Kern and Jack Feller shared their support Wednesday.

“I think everyone will be pleased with the outcome,” Kern said.

Sanchez said she believes there is a good amount of city objection to the proposed development within the mission historic district.

“It’s just too many homes,” Sanchez said. “I believe the project should never have gotten off ground.”

Prior to the vote Sanchez said the development of shops and a hotel on the site, which was suggested at a workshop in May 2014, would be more fitting and a greater benefit to the city.

She added she hopes future projects include an independent analysis.

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