OCEANSIDE — Oceanside residents filed a lawsuit against the city and Villa Storia developer Integral Communities following City Council approval of the project and zoning changes made in late September and early October.
Residents have spoken out against the housing project since it was heard by the Planning Commission in August.
Chief complaints of those who filed the lawsuit as Citizens Preserving Our Historic Lands are the project’s location and size. The groups says the 420 units that will be built 800 feet from the mission are not compatible with the historic district. The project generates 5,000 daily traffic trips and taxes already stretched city services.
Another beef residents have is they say City Council members had their minds made up prior to the vote, which passed the project and zoning with Councilwoman Esther Sanchez voting against.
Attorney Everett DeLano, who represents Citizens Preserving Our Historic Lands, said the aim of the lawsuit is not to stop the housing development, but to make it a better project.
The lawsuit was filed on Oct. 16. City Attorney John Mullen said the city had not been served as of Oct. 22, and he did not have a comment as of press time.
DeLano said residents are hoping to resolve issues with the city and developer prior to a hearing. He added the group has not developed a specific settlement proposal yet, but its principal demands are to protect the mission, mitigate traffic and increase fire and police protection.
“If this project could do one good thing it would be to provide more funding for police and fire protection,” DeLano said.
Oceanside fire and police chiefs said the 400-plus homes will increase the demand on city services, and stated more personnel are needed.
DeLano said the City Council should have addressed increasing pubic safety prior to approving the project.
Members of Citizens Preserving Our Historic Lands spoke at the City Council meeting on Oct. 21. They shared their continuing concerns and asked council to listen.
Beatrice Nelson, who is part of the group and lives in the San Luis Rey mobile home park adjacent to the development site, spoke at the meeting. She said the through road will bring additional traffic and impact emergency responses.
Nelson said she has concerns about roadwork, modifications to the mobile home park entrance and traffic flow on Academy Road.
“Eight traffic lanes are going to be dumping into a two-lane road,” Nelson said.
Following the meeting she said she took offense at comments Councilman Chuck Lowery made in his October newsletter. They included calling residents NIMBYs because they used their right to speech, and incorrectly stated the lawsuit will be paid for by the city not the developer.
“It disturbs me he’s resorting with name calling,” Nelson said. “He accused us of wasting city funds. Lowery is incorrect.”
Other residents who spoke at the City Council meeting said their concerns go way beyond their immediate neighborhood.
“My backyard is 40 feet by 40 feet, I’m concerned about the whole planet,” one resident said.
“Seniors have lots of experience seeing and dealing with problems, and we don’t like to be ignored,” another resident said.
Following the meeting Lowery said his comments were taken out of context.
Lowery added he supports the project and feels it benefits the city.
“The company fit the project into the community of Oceanside, including addressing needs of neighbors including mobile home residents and Mission San Luis Rey,” Lowery said.
Lowery said in addition to public sidewalk improvements and green practices, the project would improve storm water drainage for the mobile home park.
“Flooding of their park from runoff will stop,” Lowery said. “It’s a significant improvement, than to have to shovel out on their own. It’s a new high-quality neighbor.”
Councilman Jerry Kern also said he supports the project, and feels it will improve the quality of life for neighboring residents with better roads and improved access.
“It’s the best project for the site,” Kern said. “Their lives are going to be better.”
Due to privacy laws the number of residents who are represented by Citizens Preserving Our Historic Lands was not shared.