Oceanside agritourism hinges on City Council’s actions

OCEANSIDE — South Morro Hills farmland community residents, commercial farmers and small farmers are holding their breath on the next steps for agritourism, as they wait for the City Council to give direction this week.

About 60 stakeholders gathered for the second daylong agritourism workshop to discuss developing a vision for South Morro Hills on Feb. 28.

A dozen of those attending said they are interested in exploring agritourism opportunities on their land. To do so city land use and zoning changes would need to be made.

During the workshop city commercial farmers and planning staff presented information on farming challenges, what farming and development is currently allowed, a proposed housing development, and developing a Vision Plan for the area.

Temecula Valley city staff and wine growers also shared their process in creating a community vision plan, and its impacts on farming and agritourism. An overview of Temecula Valley’s vision, zoning and regulations was given, and well received by attendees.

Workshop discussion sparked hope in preserving Oceanside farmland. Many said agritourism is something Oceanside can do, thanks to authentic farming taking place.

Ideas piggybacked on discussions from an earlier workshop.

“During the first workshop there was a consensus that a plan was needed to preserve agriculture as well as realize the potential for economic development in South Morro Hills,” Leslee Gaul, Visit Oceanside Conference and Visitors Bureau CEO and president, said.

Further action to develop Oceanside agritourism needs the City Council’s direction in order to move forward. That will be determined on March 8, when council looks at the 680 to 985 home North River Farms housing project proposed for South Morro Hills. Many stakeholders say the project should be delayed until a Vision Plan is developed.

A request to approve set aside funds for a Vision Plan will also be considered at this week’s council workshop.

“It is up to city council to decide what is best for the future at South Morro Hills,” Gaul said. “That will give everyone a sense of the direction.”

The goal of the agritourism workshop series is to preserve city farmland and create economic vitality.

A third agritourism workshop will be held following the council’s direction on the proposed housing development and funds for a Vision Plan.


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