OCEANSIDE — The City Council approved the development of 70 townhouses at El Corazon Park to the chagrin of residents present at Wednesday’s meeting. The OK changes the park’s Specific Plan to allow additional homes.
The majority of speakers in support of Park Villa homes identified themselves as realtors, landscape architects and professors who live outside of Oceanside.
Those in support of the project said they saw merit in providing needed housing within a smart growth area, and putting residential development next to abundant retail. They claimed adding 38 more homes would not change the look, feel and environmental impact of the development.
“People need to live and work close to that area,” Linda Gonzales, Oceanside resident and past city council candidate, said. “It’s a good solution to funding what we want to do (to develop the park).”
The townhouses are set to sell for about $600,000. Brian Rupp, senior vice president of development with Shopoff Realty Investors, said target buyers are young professionals, and empty nesters looking to downsize. He added new construction housing is lacking in Oceanside.
“Businesses need new housing,” Rupp said. “The only thing we’re asking is the addition of 38 units.”
Most Oceanside residents who spoke were against the increased number of houses. Residents asked that development plans go back to the drawing board and extra homes be built elsewhere. Many said their dream is for a park that will become the city’s legacy.
“The developer assured us he would comply with the (park) vision, let’s not compromise the plan to one development,” Diane Nygaard, president of Friends of El Corazon, said.
Councilwoman Esther Sanchez shared the backstory of residents’ 16-year fight to keep the land donated to the city to create a 465-acre park.
The Specific Plan spells out how the park will be developed. It earmarks 44 acres for commercial space to finance park maintenance, and includes 300 total live-work dwellings.
Housing was originally envisioned to be second story units above ground floor retail. Modifications were later made to allow housing and retail on the first floor.
The approved development provides 3,000 square feet of commercial space housed in two buildings, and 70 attached townhouses including 22 live-work units on a 5-acre site at the park’s southwest entrance. It brings the total park housing count to 338 units, including 268 units planned for a second site at the east entrance of the park.
The El Corazon Standing Committee and Planning Commission both denied development plans.
Mayor Jim Wood said he approved the plan because the development is on private property within the park.
Councilman Jack Feller said housing is needed for the expected population growth, and hailed it for being in a smart growth area and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The council approved the development plan 3-2, with Sanchez and Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery voting no.