Zoning change to allow housing on Vine Street supported

OCEANSIDE — Overall the City Council was supportive of a zoning change to allow 56 medium density townhouses to be built on Vine Street during a workshop discussion on Wednesday.

The workshop provided initial feedback and direction on the project that will build three story, two to four bedroom units and provide garages and guest parking.

The site is currently zoned for mixed-use development. Most council members were satisfied that commercial development could be built nearby.

A Fresh & Easy market and undeveloped pad are located in an adjacent lot on Oceanside Boulevard.

Mayor Jim Wood said a new hotel is proposed for another lot on Oceanside Boulevard.

Councilwoman Esther Sanchez recommended some commercial development be added on site.

City staff also included the consideration of commercial development in their recommendations.

Andy Gerber, City Ventures director of development, said the Vine Street site was not viable for commercial use due to its poor street visibility. He added townhouse residents would be a catalyst for area commercial development.

Most council members agreed.

“If I was going to walk around the city and identify a spot that would fail (for businesses) that would probably be my number one pick,” Councilman Jack Feller said.

Wood said the city is reluctant to change commercial zoning to residential, but this development is a good fit for the neighborhood.

In other feedback Councilman Chuck Lowery expressed concern about the speed of downhill traffic, which flies by the entrance of the proposed development.

Gerber said the developer would pursue traffic calming measures.

Residents at the workshop shared concerns about area parking shortages, groundwater drainage, and transients who live in the adjacent canyon.

Gerber said neighborhood concerns are noted, and the developer will work with city staff to address them.

He promised nine guest parking spaces to help alleviate street parking congestion, and guaranteed the storm drain would be upgraded to meet area demands.

Most speakers supported residential development on the site over commercial.

There were concerns about city smart growth, and project-by-project approval of zoning changes.

“Let’s look at policy and see how we can balance smart growth in our community,” Diane Nygaard, Preserve Calavera president, said.

Councilman Jerry Kern said the city needs to update its general plan to streamline development approval.

The next steps for the project are for the developer to work with city staff to address concerns, and bring the final project back to the Planning Commission for approval.

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