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Stringline setback along the coastline questioned

OCEANSIDE — If you ask where the stringline setback is, which determines how close to the ocean homes can be built, the answer depends on what year you pose the question.

Beachfront homeowner Steve Parker said he was told to remove a brick wall on his property that was less than an inch over the stringline in 2009.

On June 8 his immediate neighbor to the north proposed building beyond his home and view line without a variance.

City planning staff said the project fell within the refined stringline setback.

The Planning Commission unanimously approved coastal permits for 1631 South Pacific Street.

Construction will demolish the existing home and replace it with two detached houses.

Parker objected to use of the refined stringline setback, which he said is not accurate.

In a letter to the Planning Commission he said the Planning Department is attempting to “redraw the existing stringline.” He said the stringline that has existed since 1985 is 85 feet (from the front property line), and the refined stringline measures 95 feet.

He added the proposed build would block his view and reduce the value of his home by $500,000 to $1.25 million.

Approval of the build exasperates the problem of his views already being impacted by his immediate neighbor to the south.

In 1990 that neighbor was given a variance to build 9.5 feet beyond the stringline used at that time.

“I’m in a tunnel,” Parker said.

Another neighbor expressed concerns that the planned six-bedroom homes would only have two-car garages, which minimally meets existing parking requirements that are in the process of being reviewed.

Commissioners confirmed with city planning staff that building plans meet parking requirements, and expressed satisfaction that the refined stringline setback is the best determination of the build out line.

Planning staff reports state the furthest the proposed project is built out is 86.25 feet from the property line, which falls 3.2 feet short of the refined stringline.

“The stringline is what it is,” Commissioner Tom Rosales said. “The project will not extend beyond the stringline.”

The Planning Commission previously reviewed plans for the site in April. At that time balconies extended beyond the refined stringline.

New plans, presented on Monday, pushed the design two feet east and enabled the project to fit within stringline limits.

“None of the proposed improvements would project beyond the stringline,” Amy Fousekis, city principal planner, said.

Fousekis said the refined stringline was determined by engineers, gave consideration to existing buildings and is much more accurate.

The stringline map, developed in 1983 and certified in 1986, was determined by an aerial photograph, and took buildings and anticipated development into account.

It has variances of 5 to 7 feet, which prompted the Planning Department to have engineering studies conducted to refine it.

The refined stringline map will be certified by the Coastal Commission next year, and is currently being used by the city as the best measure.

Planning Commission approval allows the build to go forward.

If the decision is appealed within 10 days, the City Council will make a final decision on the project.