OCEANSIDE — Villa Storia celebrated the grand opening of 38 affordable housing units that are part of the 380 home development Jan. 17. They are the first affordable housing units in the city that have been built by a developer.
Construction of the apartment units broke ground in March 2017, and families moved in December 2017. There are 12 one-bedroom units, 20 two-bedroom units, and six three-bedroom units that range from 550 to 1,000 square feet.
“Everyone moved in last month,” Charles Schmid, chief operating officer of Chelsea Investment Corporation and developer of the Villa Storia affordable apartments, said.
During the grand opening celebration city officials and community members toured a three-bedroom apartment that housed a family of four. Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery was a speaker at the event and part of the walk-through tour group.
“The mom could barely stop crying, she was so happy they had a home,” Lowery said.
Other families also expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to rent a budget-friendly, safe, newly built unit.
“We really need this apartment,” one couple said. “It is very beautiful and the space is perfect for my family.”
Schmid said some families who took occupancy were close to becoming homeless and said the units “saved their family.”
Most of the renters are Oceanside working families. To qualify for units residents must earn 50 to 60 percent of the area median income, and pass a credit and criminal background check.
Rents range from $822 per month for a one-bedroom apartment, to $894 for a two-bedroom unit.
There are 200 families on the waiting list to become future renters.
“The affordable development has received a lot of positive attention from people that live and work in Oceanside,” Schmid said.
There are also residents who opposed the 300-plus home development, which required a General Plan amendment and zoning change. City approval of the project fueled the proposed SOAR initiative that would require a citizen vote on zoning and land use changes.
Dana Corso, president of the ACTION community group, continues to have objections to the project.
“The Villa Storia project is not good for Oceanside because it raises the city’s negative jobs/housing balance,” Corso said. “The conversion of land to residential uses eliminates the opportunity to locate projects within the city that provide jobs for its residents.”
Corso also objects to the development being outside a smart growth area, and the added public safety cost it brings.
“Oceanside needs to respect and maintain the well-being of our existing neighborhoods,” Corso said. “We need to listen to our community and not Integral (the master developer), who will develop every square inch of Oceanside if given the opportunity.”
Lowery stands in support of the development. He said the project’s 3.5-acre lot, adjacent to Mission San Luis Rey, previously attracted loitering and dumping of used furniture.
Lowery said that in addition to building affordable units, the developer also improved drainage and roads for the neighboring Rancho San Luis Rey mobile home park.
Residents of the affordable housing units receive free after-school tutoring for children, computer access and organized sports. Adults can access ESL instruction, financial literacy classes and job counseling on site.
Extensive community outreach was done by master developer Integral Communities, home builder Beazer Homes and affordable developer Chelsea Investment Corporation prior to city approval of the project.
“The developers will continue working with the city and other stakeholders to ensure the for-sale housing is completed safely and efficiently,” Schmid said.
Market rate for-sale housing is now under construction.