The Coast News Group
Community Oceanside

City Council discusses zoning changes before approval

OCEANSIDE — City Council sailed through approval of most items on the Oct. 18 agenda, with a pause to discuss coastal zoning changes, which also passed.

Councilwoman Esther Sanchez voted against the introduction to consolidate the 1986 zoning ordinance provisions for open space, public utility, transportation and harbor zones.

The proposed ordinance is a final step to bring cohesion to city regulations, which were previously different for the coast, downtown and inland areas. City planning staff has been working for more than a year to create uniform city rules through a series of zoning repeals, amendments and adoptions.

City Planner Jeff Hunt said the proposed regulations would replace the need for temporary use permits, and further the end goal to create a more user-friendly permit process.

The council majority supported the change.

Sanchez objected based on the history of coastal zoning rules.

While proposed zoning changes do not affect beach housing development, prior adopted changes to establish cohesion did.

Rules set for the coastal region in 1992 called for less density and lower building heights than in other areas of the city. Sanchez said the regulations provided community character for the coast. She added lower density benefits all areas of the city.

A wrinkle in the 1992 regulations was former city staff overlooked making a request for Coastal Commission approval. This oversight meant 1986 rules still prevailed, which allowed greater density and taller buildings.

As city staff worked to bring cohesion to zoning rules, there were numerous Planning Commission discussions about the discrepancy of some homeowners following limitations of 1996 rules before they were found to be defunct, as well as some residents favoring the lower density rules.

Following the meeting Sanchez said she would have liked to see the council adopt the 1992 rules, instead of 1986 regulations.

Items unanimously passed on Oct. 18 included approval of additional funds for an organics feasibility consultation and support for the Neighborhood Services community participation plan.

The city will spend an additional $20,000 on an organics feasibility consultation, bringing the total bill to $95,000. The feasibility study looks at best practices to reduce and recycle organic waste. The added fee allows three additional cost scenarios to be analyzed, following community input. The fee also covers a feasibility study report and an additional public meeting.

All California cities are mandated to reduce organic waste. Oceanside aims to cut edible food waste by 25 percent.

Colleen Foster, city solid waste and recycling senior management analyst, said study data has shown the city generates 30,000 tons of organic waste, which provides numerous opportunities for recycling and diversion.

A study to determine the best course of action to reduce waste began in January, and is expected to wrap up sometime next year.

The approved Neighborhood Services community participation plan ensures residents participate in the planning, execution and evaluation of the city’s five-year housing plan and annual action and performance plans.

It also ensures significant projects include greater community outreach. Strategies used to involve residents include public hearings, notifications, access to records and replies to written complaints. Outreach is conducted in English, Spanish, Tagalog and Chinese.

The participation plan is required for the city to be eligible for Housing and Urban Development grant funds, including Community Development Block Grants.

Also unanimously approved was the adoption of an ordinance to allow rowhome development on 2,500-square-foot coastal lots. The regulation exempts lots that front North Coast Highway.