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Oceanside seems to say ‘not here’ to more workforce housing

OCEANSIDE — When SANDAG representative Ed Schafer asked where projected needed housing can be added for 2050 at a Nov. 10 workshop, City Council fell silent and didn’t name land areas.
SANDAG forecasts that by 2050, the North County region will be 380,000 houses short and wants to take measures before a shortage occurs. “We’re looking for some areas by 2040 ripe for development,” Schafer said. “Areas where we can go up to 100 percent of plan density.”
Schafer suggested smart growth opportunity areas along the Sprinter rail line are favorable locations for multifamily, mixed-use housing.
Residents and council members expressed concern that predicted growth may not be sustainable. Quality of life, a sufficient jobs-to-houses ratio, and the ability to provide services to an increased population were questioned.
“We haven’t heard good answers to what level of growth is sustainable with air quality, water, sewage,” Oceanside resident Diane Nygaard said. “Until we find answers, we shouldn’t go forward.”
Councilwoman Esther Sanchez said more jobs are needed before more housing can be considered. “With housing that we do not tie to jobs, we lose our ability to be sustainable and we fail our residents,” Sanchez said. “At what point do we say we can’t? Are we going to create a whole underbelly of residents that can’t make it?”
The ability to provide sufficient infrastructure was also questioned. “We can’t build houses or businesses if you do not have infrastructure,” Mayor Jim Wood said. “Those people moving into the region may just think twice about it if they don’t have housing and don’t have jobs.”
Wood said regional growth that borders Oceanside will also impact services.
Councilman Jack Feller said that while growth is not welcome, it is important to plan ahead. “They’re going to build workforce housing around transit corridors,” Feller said. “It’s important to keep moving forward with all our roads, all our connections, our public and private partnerships.”
SANDAG will develop a final 2050 forecast plan in December. City Manager Peter Weiss said Oceanside will keep working with SANDAG to determine where housing can be added. “We have the ability on our transit corridors to accommodate additional growth,” Weiss said. Weiss added that while Oceanside has the room to grow it is also important to look at the jobs-to-houses ratio and ask neighboring communities to consider their impact.