OCEANSIDE – The City Council gave its stamp of approval to a 164-townhome residential development on the former site of Pacifica Elementary during the final meeting of the year.
The new, for-sale, three-story townhomes will offer a mix of two, three and four bedrooms ranging from 1,200 to 1,800 square feet, each complete with a two-car garage and an additional 61 guest parking spaces.
The development will replace the vacant 14.55-acre site at 4991 Macario Drive in the North Valley neighborhood, which has been left empty since Pacifica Elementary closed in 2007. The Oceanside Unified School District declared the property surplus in 2019 and sold it to project developer Meritage Homes and MLC Holdings, Inc.
Both planning commissioners and local environmental group Preserve Calavera previously hailed the project for its design features and local benefits to the community, like public park access, sewer lift station replacement and energy efficiency.
“We initially had concerns about the project, but we appreciate city staff and the developer who have worked with us and addressed those concerns,” said Diane Nygaard, board president of Preserve Calavera, at the Dec. 20 council meeting. “In fact, this project has raised the bar on many key issues to address climate change, and we hope that other developers will follow their example.”
Despite its good qualities, some neighbors were concerned about the project’s size impacting nearby homes’ water pressure and traffic safety.
Mayor Esther Sanchez said while many residents would have preferred to see the lot’s open space preserved as a park, the school district decided to build housing on the site years ago.
“There was no way we were going to get this property and build a park,” she said.
Staff assured the council that the project wouldn’t hurt nearby homes or neighborhood traffic. The project will include public park amenities open to the surrounding neighborhood, including picnic areas, fire pits, an off-leash dog park, pickleball courts and a “tot lot” or playground for smaller children. The project will also replace the existing sewer lift stations, serving its current 90 homes plus the entire Pacifica development.
To mitigate the project’s increased traffic in the neighborhood, a stop sign will be installed at the Roja and Redondo Drive intersection.
Some residents suggested installing a roundabout at Macario and Roja Drive. However, staff said that while a roundabout could work, it was unnecessary given the traffic volume and its larger footprint, which would impact its surrounding public right-of-way and residential properties.
Unlike most developments coming down the pipeline in Oceanside, this one is not a density bonus project. Sanchez noted that the developer isn’t including any affordable homes in the project, instead opting to pay nearly $2.4 million in in-lieu fees, which will go toward a city fund reserved for affordable housing projects.
The development will also ban short-term rental properties from operating within its boundaries.
According to representatives, developer Meritage Homes focuses its developments – many of which are in-fill projects similar to Pacifica – on first-time homebuyers.