SOLANA BEACH — Residents may soon get to vote on whether developers will open up a new senior care facility on the east side of town — on what is currently a 2.9-acre vacant lot.
The senior care facility would be the second of its kind in Solana Beach, and the first to offer memory care service for residents with dementia.
The project’s developer is beginning to gather signatures to qualify the project’s specific plan for a special election. This process is required under Proposition T, which stipulates that projects involving zoning changes — particularly those that up the density of a site — be subject to a vote of the people.
Adjacent to the I-5 and at the corner of Marine View Avenue and Genevieve Street, the lot is currently occupied by an abandoned prior caretaker’s home and overgrown foliage.
The developers are proposing a one- and two-story facility with 94 to 96 beds. A third of the facility will be reserved for patients with dementia. The assisted living portion will be comprised of efficiencies, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units with kitchens and private bathrooms.
The facility will offer a cafeteria, café, bar, fitness center, beauty parlor, and large common rooms for its residents. It will also be fronted with a public park area, on the side of the property abutting Marine View Avenue.
Developer John DeWald said the project’s architect is going for a “homey feel,” similar in concept and style to the Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla.
In a March 2018 workshop aimed at receiving community feedback, most residents worried about potential increases in traffic, or took issue with the location.
DeWald said the site’s operator would attempt to mitigate traffic — the majority of which would come from caregivers and staff traveling to the facility — by making shift changes at low-traffic hours. He said having the facility would actually reduce ambulance calls, as caregivers would be able to triage some situations that would typically prompt calls, such as falls or trips.
DeWald pointed out that the location is in close proximity to shopping centers and medical facilities, and called the area “a nice, quiet neighborhood.”
He said that another senior care facility is something the community “very much needs.”
Solana Beach is one of the oldest communities — by demographic — in the county, with 22.8 percent of the population being 65 and older as of 2017.
“We have the ability to serve residents that are here,” DeWald said. “As they get to that stage, they don’t have to go too far from where they grew up, from where they lived, from where their friends are.”
If the project secures the signatures it needs — at least 10 percent of the city’s registered voters —- residents will vote on the project’s specific plan in spring.
If approved by voters, the facility will be considered by the View Assessment Committee and the City Council over the summer, before being brought to the California Coastal Commission.
DeWald estimates the project would take about 12 to 15 months to build.