OCEANSIDE — The city wants to open its downtown area to different types of businesses and quicken the process that allows businesses to operate.
At its Feb. 26 meeting, council approved amendments to the city’s Downtown Zoning Ordinance that not only allow for more commercial uses within the downtown area, which are currently allowed in other parts of the city, but also implement a streamlined review of some commercial uses in the downtown area through an administrative conditional use permit (ACUP) process or by permitting the use by right.
Council voted 5-0 to introduce a “rezoning ordinance” that would make these changes.
These amendments go back to Aug. 7, 2019, when Councilman Chris Rodriguez and Mayor Peter Weiss brought forth an item that would implement a streamlined planning case review process for certain projects. Council ended up directing staff to develop such a process, which has now been fully implemented.
The amendments proposed on Feb. 26 “complement” the process’s streamlining efforts “by reducing regulatory barriers for Downtown businesses,” according to staff.
The changes to downtown zoning include:
- Permitting daycares through an ACUP or by right
- Removing single-family dwellings from some subdistricts
- Adding animal facilities, ATMs and commercial recreation
- Permitting more bars and cocktail lounges through a regulated use CUP
- Adding fast food to some subdistricts and adding fast-food drive-thru to subdistricts north of Neptune Way
- Permitting by right personal service businesses such as nail salons
- Adding health clubs and spas to some subdistricts
- Permitting by right retail sales and custom retail businesses
- Allowing for wine and beer tasting rooms through an ACUP
- Adding hotels and resorts to some subdistricts through a CUP
- Prohibiting liquor stores, massage businesses, maintenance and repair businesses, pawnshops, payday loan businesses and smoke shops.
Terry Strom, a resident of Oceanside and an entitlement consultant in the area, asked the council to allow for a high-end tobacco and cigar shop on The Coast Highway on the northern side of the city that one of his clients wants to open.
“Our goal is to bring a very nice, high-class cigar and tobacco shop,” Strom said.
Strom also noted the zoning ordinance amendments would need to be approved by the Coastal Commission as well, which could take several months. He asked that he and his client be allowed to open the business if they apply prior to the Coastal Commission approving the ordinance.
In response, Councilwoman Esther Sanchez motioned for the council to consider permitting the cigar shop through a regulated use CUP provided that the application is filed and complete prior to the effective rezone date.
Councilman Chris Rodriguez expressed his support for a high-end cigar shop in Downtown Oceanside.
“What I’m not looking for is another head shop dynamic,” Rodriguez said.
The council unanimously approved the amendment.
Sanchez also tried to prohibit drive-thru and fast food establishments through an ACUP in the downtown area but withdrew her motion after none of the other council members backed her.
Samantha Nelson covers Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and the decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. She earned her journalism degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and has previously reported for The Athens Messenger in Athens, Ohio, and USA Today in McLean, Virginia. Follow her on Twitter: @samm1son