OCEANSIDE — One of North County’s most anticipated measures on the ballot this year is Measure L, which will determine the fate of the controversial North River Farms housing development project in the northeast region of Oceanside.
According to the City Attorney’s impartial analysis, Measure L asks voters to uphold with a “yes” vote or repeal with a “no” vote the City Council’s adoption of an ordinance that amends the zoning of a property for the North River Farms project.
Specifically, the ordinance would rezone approximately 176.6 acres of agricultural land in South Morro Hills to accommodate the project, which includes 585 homes, a nearly 25-acre commercial village, 68 acres of agriculture and 17 acres of parks and open space.
Council narrowly approved the project in November 2019 by a 3-2 vote, with Councilmembers Esther Sanchez and Ryan Keim opposed. Mayor Peter Weiss, Deputy Mayor Jack Feller and Councilmember Christopher Rodriguez were the three members who approved the project.
A referendum petition protesting the adoption of the zone amendment was signed by at least 10 percent of the voters a few months after the project’s approval, which required the Council to either repeal the zone amendment or place it on the ballot. Council opted for the latter option.
What Supporters Say
According to supporters, North River Farms preserves the city’s farmland and farming by creating an 88-acre working farm inside the neighborhood for local growers.
Integral Communities, the developer of NRF, has also promised to build a new fire station with staffing and equipment funding. Integral also promised to widen College Bridge to six lanes to reduce traffic congestion, add bike lanes and improve wildfire evacuation routes.
The development will also include ten miles of public hiking and biking trails, an agricultural education center to teach residents about fresh food and farming.
What Opponents Say
Those against the development argue that NRF contributes to urban sprawl and will worsen traffic congestion and wildfire risk in the South Morro Hills region of town.
Opponents also call the housing units proposed in the project “high-cost luxury homes” that will pass fees onto buyers that are beyond what most current city residents can pay.
Opponents are concerned about the loss of nearly 200 acres of agriculturally zoned land in the city, suggesting that this project puts all of South Morro Hills’ 3,350 acres of farmland at risk.
Opponents also note that the project was previously denied twice by the Planning Commission and that hundreds of residents oppose the project.