Plans for fourplex on blighted lot met with mixed public reactions

OCEANSIDE — Plans to build a three-story fourplex on a blighted lot in the East Side Capistrano neighborhood received a majority of support and some criticism at Monday’s Planning Commission meeting.

Speakers in support of the Marquette Street project said project developer Jason Brandt is positively involved in community, will be an on-site manager, and the fourplex will improve neighborhood safety.

The vacant dual lot currently allows open access to adjacent Lawrence Canyon. Gang members and homeless individuals take advantage of the access and use the canyon that abuts homes for undesirable acts.

The community at large dumps trash at the canyon access point, and cars from outside the neighborhood are often parked there for extended periods of time.

Anna Stout, manager of an apartment complex next to the lot, repeated reports of trash dumping and criminal activities in the canyon. She said the apartment complex installed a streetlight and individuals threw rocks at it until it was broken.

“It’s really a choice of a four-unit building or an empty lot, and I’d rather have a four-unit building and the safety of our residents,” Stout said.

Supporters of the fourplex said the build would limit canyon access, and eyes and ears of future tenants would further improve neighborhood safety.

Brandt revised the building design to include balconies that overlook the canyon. He said he will be the on-site manager and take photos and report parked cars from out of the area.

“There are a lot of squatters and riffraff,” Brandt said.

A fair number of speakers opposed the project. They said it would add to the area parking problems, and that the neighborhood was promised no more multifamily homes. A petition against the build collected approximately 75 signatures.

Commissioners and city staff pointed out plans follow current city codes, which allow multifamily homes and have been in place since the 1950s, with latest major revisions in 1986. It was also noted two garage parking spaces and six or more driveway parking spaces per unit are included.

“It’s following zoning, Mr. Brandt did his homework,” Commissioner John Scrivener said.

Discussions on builds within the city’s coastal zone continue to bring up disagreements over city codes. Regulations adopted in 1992 set different building guidelines, but were later found not to be submitted to the Coastal Commission for verification.

In 2008 the Coastal Commission deemed the 1992 regulations, which guide the rest of the city, invalid along the coast and East Side Capistrano neighborhood adjacent to the San Luis Rey River.

Former Oceanside mayor Terry Johnson was among those who opposed to the multifamily build. He said the past city code blunder still causes problems.

“We’re addressing issues, which should have been addressed 24 years ago,” Johnson said.

Commissioners said they need to follow present regulations.

“He has done a nice job,” Commissioner Claudia Troisi said. “You can’t fault him for building what he’s legally allowed to build.”

Planning commissioners unanimously approved the project.

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