OCEANSIDE — South Oceanside residents whose homes abut the Coast Highway commercial district are feeling the growing pains of city development.
A number of residents have complaints about a gastropub restaurant that opened in January, and are skeptical of a proposed zoning change to allow craft brewery tasting rooms on Coast Highway.
South Oceanside resident Kathy Derham said it’s been impossible to find weekend evening parking since Urge Gastropub and restaurant opened two months ago. She said headlight beams and noise from vehicles leaving the parking lot, which faces homes, are intolerable.
“Right now we’re experiencing firsthand traffic safety and major parking issues,” Derham said. “Our neighborhood has been suffering since the night the restaurant opened. It’s like someone is having a party with 100 people every weekend.”
Derham and neighbors are concerned they did not get notice of plans for the permitted by-right business, which did not require city commission or council public review to open.
Once neighbors found out about Urge Gastropub they challenged its ABC license, but found the licensing agency does not address traffic and parking concerns.
Derham said neighbors would like to see residential permit parking in South Oceanside, and businesses arrange leaseback agreements with owners of empty parking lots to accommodate patrons.
“I’m hopeful, but there are not going to be any guarantees,” Derham said. “This is a bigger issue that could effect all of South O.”
South Oceanside residents are letting adjacent neighbors know what a zoning change to encourage breweries could bring. A petition with 30 signatures was presented to the city at a brewery zoning workshop in late February.
City Planner Jeff Hunt said South Oceanside is unique in that residential zoning is right next to commercial zoning.
“I don’t want people to think it’s an example of craft breweries or Coast Highway development,” Hunt said. “It’s an anomaly of what will occur. We want the situation to result in a positive outcome for everyone.”
City staff has been working with South Oceanside residents and Urge Gastropub to bridge understanding and help remedy the situation.
Part of the problem is that residents have not lived next to a successful business.
The gastropub restaurant follows all city regulations and exceeds parking requirements. The previous business that occupied the building was underperforming, so fewer vehicles became the norm and adjacent businesses used the parking lot.
“It’s a change, but it’s not a bad change,” Richard Greenbauer, city principal planner, said. “It’s a successful business, that’s a good thing.”
Now with a thriving business in place, next door dance studio and art studio patrons park on neighborhood streets.
“The perceived parking issue is a culmination of uses in the area,” Greenbauer said.
The owner of Urge Gastropub has taken extra steps to be a good neighbor. A red curb was painted by the city to create greater visibility for vehicles that exit, following a parking lot accident, and a shade fence was installed by the owner to lessen the impact of vehicle lights.
The owner has also encouraged his employees to use alternative transportation to reduce the number of vehicles, and installed a bike rack.
Residents’ concerns have prompted the city to rethink its initial brewery zoning recommendations.
The city is considering how to give adjacent residents notification of permitted by-right businesses, and allow input.
‘We’re still formulating the ordinance,” Hunt said. “We want to make sure we address concerns we heard.”
The city is also working on parking solutions for its growing downtown.
Permitted by-right businesses, which would include small brewery tasting rooms under proposed zoning, are not required to meet parking standards.
Hunt said permit parking in South Oceanside is a consideration, but needs Coastal Commission approval.
“It’s potentially challenging,” Hunt said. “The Coastal Commission has concerns about impacting beach access parking.”
Another idea the city is considering is charging businesses an in-lieu fee to finance public parking lots.
“We believe innovative approaches to both reducing demand and increasing supply of parking in the corridor will create options for future Coast Highway business and development projects,” Cunningham said.
The city will prepare a parking demand management plan in conjunction with the Coast Highway Corridor Study.