OCEANSIDE — There were few bright spots during Planning Commission discussion Feb. 23 of a zoning change for the proposed Fairfield Inn and Suites hotel on Oceanside Boulevard. The two-acre project site, between Vine Street and Nevada Street, has a steep grade and access in and out of the property is difficult.
The developer is considering asking for a zoning change from singe-family residential to commercial recreational, specific to hotel use.
Commissioners said the zoning change makes more sense for the property. However, they expressed strong concerns about severe grading, hotel orientation and ingress and egress of cars through one entry point.
“You’re putting a square peg in a round hole,” John Scrivener, commission vice chair, said.
The developer proposes a three story-hotel building next to the roadway with parking in the back. The lot would be graded and a retaining wall with a rough rock texture would be built.
Commissioners said extensive grading is not a site-friendly solution.
“It’s a great commercial property, I’m not sure it can support a building of this size and land-use intensity,” Commissioner Curtis Busk said.
Ann Gunter, The Lightfoot Planning Group vice president of planning, described the project as a select service, freeway-oriented hotel. She said a parking analysis would be done and variance would likely be requested to ask for fewer than the high number of required parking spaces.
Gunter said the project would bring the community benefit of sidewalk improvements to Nevada Street.
She added preliminary meetings with hilltop residents, who need to grant easement for the hotel’s retaining wall, were positive.
Neighboring residents at the meeting did not support the hotel project. They objected to the unsafe traffic flow, parking lot noise and having a budget hotel within a high-priced residential neighborhood.
“A mix hotel-motel is a nice development, this is not going to be it,” Oceanside resident Daniela Marshall said.
There were no solutions presented on how to safely accommodate hotel exit traffic.
Busk expressed his concerns that cars exiting the hotel would need to make an inconvenient U-turn to get back on the freeway. Others said drivers would look for the easiest way, and snarl traffic and overlook safety.
“Road infrastructure is not set up for this use on this property,” Busk said.
Commission Chair Louise Balma suggested the developer work with other property owners to find a traffic solution. An adjacent lot is in the early stages of development.
Commissioner Thomas Morrissey voiced the most support for the project. He gave the proposal kudos for site use and out-of-the-box thinking to the make the optimal use of the space.
City Planner Jeff Hunt said comments will be shared with the applicant so they can decide whether to move forward with the project.
Sergio Madera, city senior planner, said formal public outreach will be held if the developer continues with the project.
The site was previously considered for residential development and a four-story hotel without moving forward.