Commission considers senior housing project

ENCINITAS — Plans for a massive senior living facility along South El Camino Real are back before the city’s Planning Commission, two years after the commission ruled the previous proposal was too large and bulky looking. 

Westmont Living, which operates nine senior homes in California, is proposing to build an 85,800-square-foot, 101-bed facility on roughly 3.2 acres of largely agricultural land on the west side of El Camino Real near the intersection of Manchester Drive. 

South El Camino Real has several similar facilities, including Atria and Somerford Place, which cater to one of the fastest growing segments of the population. 

The Planning Commission Dec. 7 will decide whether to approve several permits, including a major use permit, a request to consolidate two lots into one, a mitigated negative declaration and a coastal development permit associated with the project. 

The project also calls for the demolition of a home on the southern edge of the property and the relocation of a florist shop also on the property.

Previously, Westmont proposed building a 110,000-square-foot facility with 132 beds on the same site, but the Planning Commission voted to return the project to the developer to redesign it, after residents and commissioners expressed concern about the size and design of the building. 

At 110,000 square feet, the senior village would have been larger than Encinitas Walmart on North El Camino Real. 

“Building mass was a central concern expressed by Commissioners with the prior design,” according to the staff report. “The proposed building has been reduced in size as compared to the prior project.”

Residents expressed concern with the revised project, despite its smaller footprint and size.

Ben Ross, who has lived adjacent to the site for three years, said he was concerned the project would take away a piece of history.

The home on the property, he said, is the oldest house along the El Camino Real corridor. 

“It is just another piece of history in Old Encinitas that is being lost and developed for money,” Ross said.

“I know a retirement home has its place and purpose … I just think there could be a better use for the property.”

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