OCEANSIDE — The majority of the Oceanside City Council approved a permit for a business specializing in biodegradable detergents and sanitizers to set up shop near the Peacock neighborhood despite concerns raised by several nearby residents about the storage of more than 20,000 gallons of corrosive and oxidizing materials located within just a few hundred feet from their homes.
Back in March, the city’s Planning Commission unanimously approved a conditional use permit for ChemStation Pacific to allow the potential storage of 19,780 gallons of corrosive liquids and 1,100 gallons of oxidizing materials at an existing 26,641 square foot industrial building at 4630 North Ave.
The building is contained in a light industrial zoning area with a residential area located just south of the building buffered by North Avenue.
ChemStation is a nationwide company with 63 franchises nationwide, including one right here in San Diego County owned by Dario Paduano, who purchased the North Avenue building in 2021 after years of vacancy. The company specializes in providing concentrated detergents and sanitizers to many food and beverage businesses like local breweries Belching Beaver and Black Plague.
ChemStation products are water-based, biodegradable and safe for use around food. The products are approved for use by the USDA and FDA for food and manufacturing facilities.
The company is also organic certified, which means Paduano can help its customers store sanitizing materials safely and also earn their own organic certification.
Just as he did at the Planning Commission meeting in March, Paduano told the City Council during the May 4 meeting that he considers his company to be an “environmental company.”
“We consider ourselves good stewards of the environment,” Paduano said.
The company is unique in that it refills products for customers using the same containers rather than constantly sending out more plastic to be thrown away. According to Paduano, together all 63 ChemStation locations eliminate 350,000 plastic drums annually.
But residents fear that the business is far too close to the nearby residential neighborhood, a school less than a mile away, and the Loma Alta Creek which sits adjacent to the property.
Following the Planning Commission’s unanimous approval of the project, nearby resident Silvia Peters submitted an appeal to the city later in March with 33 signatures from nearby residents opposing the project.
The appeal cites several issues, one of which is that the project will have adverse health and safety impacts on nearby residents. In response, city staff noted that the project was evaluated based on city policies, codes and regulations under the General Plan, zoning ordinance, fire code and building code; plus its proposed use is regulated by the San Diego County Department of Environmental Health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
ChemStation was also required to obtain all necessary permits before operation and must continuously comply with local, state and federal regulations, which staff said will ensure the project will remain compatible with the surrounding area. The business will be subject to regular inspections from multiple agencies as well.
“The reason that the CUP was required was just for this reason: to make sure that all necessary precautions were being made so that it will not adversely affect the community,” said city planner Dane Thompson.
The site will not have any explosive materials or hazardous gasses on-site. The corrosive and oxidizing materials that are considered hazardous will be liquid-based. Additionally, there will be no hazardous waste or open use of hazardous materials kept on site.
Anne Catherine, a nearby resident who opposes the project, said the proposed amount of corrosive materials to be stored there exceeds city limits by 165 times and exceeds the oxidizing materials allowed by 11 times.
“If this CUP permit is granted, what precedent does it set for what we allow in residential areas filled with elderly people, homes and schools?” Catherine asked the council. “The city should be moving to decrease hazardous materials in densely populated areas, not pushing the limits of them.”
Both Mayor Esther Sanchez and Councilmember Kori Jensen were uncomfortable with the project and voted against its approval, but they were outvoted by Deputy Mayor Ryan Keim and Councilmembers Peter Weiss and Christopher Rodriguez.
“It’s a great business, I love the idea of refilling containers, and I think that’s great for the environment, but I think there’s a more appropriate location where the zoning is for that type of industry,” Jensen said.