New condos could come to Vista

New condos could come to Vista
Left to right: City Manager Patrick Johnson, Mayor Judy Ritter, Councilman John Aguilera, Councilman Cody Campbell, Councilman John Franklin and Deputy Mayor Amanda Rigby review the agenda at the Jan. 12 City Council meeting. All council members but Rigby said they were open to rezoning land in South Vista to accommodate for a mixed-use development. Photo by Hoa Quach

VISTA — A mixed-use development that would include roughly 200 new condos could come to Vista despite pleas from the public to reject the idea.

The development was the topic of discussion at a Jan. 12 City Council meeting where leaders considered whether to rezone a 17.7-acre site in South Vista that would allow for a mixed-use project. The site, which borders the city of San Marcos, is currently zoned for light industrial land uses including research and development, distribution facilities and manufacturing.

A vote wasn’t taken but a majority of the City Council said they were open to the idea of rezoning the land at 2100 W. San Marcos Boulevard to allow for a mixed-use development. Vista Palomar, proposed by Integral Communities, would include 196 two- and three-bedroom condos and a 100-room four-story hotel.

Deputy Mayor Amanda Rigby said she wanted to examine the differences between mixed-use and residential zoning before moving forward on the idea, but her colleagues expressed support for a housing development.

Councilman Cody Campbell said he considered the proposal smart growth.

“We’ve been very poor at putting jobs and housing in close proximity to each other,” Campbell said. “We’ve generated massive problems with traffic. This proposed housing provides opportunities for employees already working in Vista to have a place to live. If we want to continue to attract the best and brightest in the business we need to have adequate housing. This is a model for rezoning.”

But more than 250 people from communities such as Las Brisas Pacificas and Rancho Dorado in San Marcos signed a petition against the proposed development.

William Cappella, a resident of Las Brisas Pacificas, told the City Council the main concerns surrounding the project are traffic, density and the impact on the existing water infrastructure.

“It would clutter our entrance and increase the probability  of more traffic accidents,” Cappella said. “What happens if the condos don’t sell? Frankly, we don’t think they will without amenities.”

Matt Little, development services director and city engineer for the city of San Marcos, also expressed concern on the impacts to traffic. In a letter to the city of Vista, he wrote that a new traffic signal, which some suggested would be needed to accommodate the development, will “cause excessive delay and increases vehicular travel time on an import regional arterial corridor.”

But traffic to the region is an issue regardless of the type of development, Councilman John Franklin said.

“This traffic issue is going to happen one way or another,” Franklin said. “It’s going to be up to our neighbors in San Marcos on how to address the traffic situation. We got to work together to make it something workable for all of us. I think we got a good developer that’s willing to work with their neighbors and willing to make concessions.”

The property is currently at assessed at $1.2 million but the value could increase to $90 million if the development happened. That would bring in an estimated $126,000 in annual property tax to the city, according to a staff report.

The next step for the proposed development is for city staff to review the application. The proposal would then go through an environmental review, a public hearing at the Planning Commission and a public hearing at the City Council.

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