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A developer has proposed building 138 townhomes at the site of the former E.G. Garrison Elementary School in Oceanside. Photo via X/Vicki Gravlin
A developer has proposed building 138 townhomes at the site of the former E.G. Garrison Elementary School in Oceanside. Photo via X/Vicki Gravlin
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Developer proposes 138 townhomes at Garrison Elementary site

OCEANSIDE — A developer who purchased most of the land where the former E. G. Garrison Elementary School is located has proposed changing the land use and zoning rules to allow the development of townhomes.

The city received an application from The True Life Companies earlier in May that seeks to change 333 Garrison Street’s existing land use designation from “civic institutional” to “medium-density residential” and its zoning from “public/semi-public” to “planned development district” for a 138-unit, three-story townhome project.

On the 8.3-acre site, each home would be between 1,320 and 1,850 square feet. This would give the project a density of 16.6 units per acre (DU/acre), which falls within the city’s medium-density zoning standards.

If approved, the project would demolish and remove the property’s existing 10 abandoned school structures, playground equipment and other maintenance materials before grading.

True Life also committed to deed-restricting 10% of its units as affordable housing, granting the developer a 5% density bonus on the overall project. 

Earlier this year, a City Council majority agreed to increase the city’s inclusionary housing requirement from 10% to 15%. Developers must save at least 15% of their proposed homes as affordable or pay the $20 per square foot in-lieu fee, which would go toward the city’s affordable housing project fund.

They will need to either provide more affordable units on site or pay the in-lieu fee for the difference,” said City Planner Dane Thompson via email.

Increasing the percentage of affordable housing will also mean a higher density bonus increase for the developer, which could lead to additional units. As part of the state’s density bonus law, the developer may request waivers and concessions to development standards.

“We are excited to collaborate with the City on fine-tuning the project design and description through the entitlement approval process and look forward to providing new homeownership opportunities for the region’s growing population, contributing towards the City realizing its RENA allocation, and creating an attractive new neighborhood that is compatible with the surrounding community,” writes Michael Torres, director of acquisition and development for The True Life Companies, in the project’s justification letter.

According to Thompson, since the project involves a general plan and zoning map amendments, the city’s Planning Commission must recommend it before the council decides to approve or deny it.

“The project is too far out from approval to give an estimated hearing date at this time,” Thompson said.

The site was declared surplus district property in 2020 after the school was permanently closed the previous year due to several sinkholes found on campus.

In 2022, the Oceanside Unified School District sold the 8.3-acre site to True Life for $17 million and nearly three acres to the city to build a sewer lift station.

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