Remodel of beachfront Oceanside home denied

OCEANSIDE — The Planning Commission gave a unanimous no to a proposed beachfront home remodel because of building height, lack of setbacks, overall color and decks extending beyond the stringline buildout to the ocean.

Commission chair Louise Balma said building plans presented on Dec. 7 were inconsiderate of neighbors’ views, and proposed a bulky, square building.

“It is a big stucco box, and does not have articulation,” Balma said. “All the lines are straight up and down with no difference in detail or color. It was a slap in the face. It’s not a good thing for Oceanside.”

Proposed plans for the home on 1709 South Pacific Street add 1,515 square feet, including a third-floor 630-square-foot mezzanine.

The mezzanine feature is unique for a residential property, and is usually found in commercial buildings.

It is described as a half floor, and adds space to the home that is limited to two floors by zoning. The feature was not supported by the commission because it adds height, mass and scale to the building.

Balma said neighbors at the meeting who recently remodeled were against the project that crossed the stringline, while homeowners who had yet to remodel supported it.

About a third of area homes have not been remodeled since the 1960s.

Prior to the commission meeting applicant Dan Matlach worked with city staff, and modified building plans several times. First plans extended 11.5 feet beyond the stringline.

Following plans reduced building size to 9.5 feet over the stringline.

City staff’s recommendation was to scale back the building to four feet over the stringline, in accordance with the active 1986 zoning ordinance, which allows building beyond the stringline as long as it does not impair views.

Jeff Hunt, city planner, said Matlach did not agree with the four-feet recommendation.

“He thought it should be allowed to be further,” Hunt said.

The commission denied the proposal for a 5,606-square-foot residence, with balconies 5.5 feet past the stringline.

Balma said the commission favors the 1992 city code which disallows buildout over the stringline. She added the commission will hold the line on oceanfront buildout unless there is a compelling reason to approve it.

“We’re trying to hold to the 1992 code we all agree with,” Balma said. “It’s surprising that he (the homeowner) pushed it that far.”

The city is in the process of combining the best of the 1986 and 1992 ordinances, in order to establish consistent citywide regulations. The process, which needs Coastal Commission and City Council approval, is expected to take several more months.

“The net result is we’ll have one zoning ordinance, and one set of procedures (with some differences in the coastal zone),” Hunt said. “It should be far more efficient, fair and understandable for everyone involved.”

Hunt said in the meantime city staff have noted the commission’s stand on not building past the stringline, and will make building recommendations accordingly.

“I’m sympathetic with the Planning Commission’s frustration,” Hunt said.

A residential denial will be brought back to the commission to declare a final no to the project on Dec. 21.

Matlach already attempted to file an appeal before the denial. After the denial and appeal are made the item will be heard by the City Council.

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