ENCINITAS — The Encinitas Planning Commission approved another multi-story housing project this week, joining a growing list of city-approved developments in recent months.
The Sunshine Gardens project, a 140-unit residential development, was unanimously approved in what was likely the least controversial project reviewed by the commission.
“This is the first housing element site that’s actually well placed,” said Commissioner Kevin Doyle.
The project will be located at 155 Quail Gardens Drive and 628 and 630 Encinitas Boulevard in Old Encinitas.
The location is close to a highway, mass transit, schools and shopping centers.
“I felt this was very well placed and well built,” Doyle added. “Perhaps a little heavy on the stucco for my taste but that’s neither here nor there.”
The project next will go before the Encinitas City Council for approval. If approved, the project begins construction, joining another development on Vulcan Avenue.
Sunshine Gardens will feature 21 low-income units as part of its 140 total units and was designated as part of the city’s housing element adopted earlier this year.
While the development is much less controversial than the Vulcan Avenue project — the location for which residents have called a public safety and traffic nightmare — there are still those who raised concerns about the development’s feasibility.
More specifically, former Encinitas Mayor Sheila Cameron said the commission and the city are not considering the cumulative effect these major developments have on traffic in the city.
“These decisions regarding the cumulative effect on traffic cannot and should not be decided in a vacuum,” Cameron said. “This commission cannot consider each individual site and ignore the cumulative effect on the traffic on this street, which will spill out onto Encinitas Boulevard and other surface streets all over our city.”
Keith Harrison, of Harrison Properties, also raised concerns with the project’s design and ability to handle daily traffic needs.
“The onsite vehicular circulation outside the building envelope is inadequate to handle the project’s needs without materially impacting the health and safety of its residents and visitors, and surrounding properties,” Harrison said.
According to Harrison, the project’s design was not adequate for delivery, moving or garbage trucks.
The applicant, Brian Grover of Sunshine Encinitas LLC, said he has worked with city staff and directly with Harrison to address some of those concerns.
“(Harrison) and I have been working through a lot of those issues,” Grover said. “In fact, that’s largely what we’ve been focused on for the last six months in terms of redesigning our project.”
The applicant did request one waiver for the project for the parking garage located in the center of the project to be allowed to be four stories with the first floor being underground.
“This one seemed like a real good solution,” Commission Steve Dalton said. “The only waiver they’re asking for is for a garage in the middle of their project that you can never see from outside the project site. This is a tree falling in the forest and no one is there to see it or hear it.”
With little opposition, the applicant is unlikely to face any roadblocks before the project goes before the Council at a public hearing yet to be scheduled.