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Beachfront home remodel that exceeds stringline denied

OCEANSIDE — The City Council upheld the Planning Commission’s decision to deny a Coastal permit for a beachfront home remodel that would go past the stringline build-out limit toward the ocean on April 20.

The property on South Pacific Street sits about one foot back from the stringline. Proposed plans add balcony decks that extend 5.5 feet and 9.5 feet past the limit.

The active 1986 city coastal zoning ordinance allows balconies to extend past the stringline at the discretion of the commission and council.

Following last Wednesday’s meeting the property owner, Candace Cross, said she was appalled the council upheld the commission’s decision.

“We are 100 percent within the code, I’m extremely disappointed,” Cross said. “The Planning Commission is confused; they’re still trying to enforce the 1992 code.”

During Planning Commission discussion of the remodel in December 2015, Commission Chair Louise Balma said she favored the 1992 ordinance, which does not allow build out past the stringline.

The 1992 ordinance governs city inland areas, but has not been approved by the Coastal Commission and therefore does not regulate coastal builds.

Some beachfront home remodel proposals were decided under the guidelines of the 1992 ordinance, before it was realized the Coastal Commission has not adopted it.

The city is in the process of consolidating three separate city zoning ordinances. The process is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

The 1992 ordinance is anticipated to be adopted by the Coastal Commission early next year. At that point it will guide coastal builds.

The appeal before council, by Cross and her husband Dan Matlock, states the commissioner’s decision and following discussion shows a prejudice in decision making.

Cross said action to deny the remodel is wrong. She added city staff’s initial support for the remodel in December 2015, shows it follows city guidelines.

“It no longer is an addition issue, it’s a property rights issue,” Cross said. “We’re definitely not going to stop here.”

At last Wednesday’s meeting city staff said after further consideration, staff now supports the commission’s denial.

Following the meeting City Planner Jeff Hunt said the commission’s decision is based on the current 1986 regulation that says allowance of balconies beyond the stringline is discretionary, and balconies should not block views, which one adjacent neighbor said the remodel would do.

Hunt added the commission also cited the local coastal program that says buildings must fit the size, scale and character of the neighborhood. The proposed remodel is faulted for excessive height, bulk, scale, a mezzanine, monotone dark color and lack of vertical setbacks.

Wording was added to the City Council 4-1 decision, to say the project was denied without prejudice.

Councilman Jerry Kern cast the no vote. After the meeting Kern said he would like to see a compromise that follows city staff’s initial recommendation to limit proposed balconies to 4 feet over the stringline. He said some other houses extend past the stringline by an average of 8.5 feet.

He said he also sees merit in commission and council objections.

“Technically the submitted plan pushed it to the limit,” Kern said. “It may be too much.”

Cross said she and her husband plan to take further action to pursue the remodel.