OCEANSIDE — The Oceanside City Council on Oct. 19 gave final approval for Ocean Kamp, a giant mixed-use development with a wave lagoon, to replace the former site of a swap meet and drive-in movie theater.
The project will be a residential-commercial development with up to 700 homes, a 300-key resort, 134,000 square feet of retail and office space and a 3.5-acre wave lagoon on a 92-acre site at the northeast corner of Foussat Road and state Route 76.
Two local groups filed appeals shortly after the Planning Commission approved the project in July — Diane Nygaard on behalf of Preserve Calavera, a group that advocates for open spaces and protecting natural resources, and San Diegans for Sustainable, Economic, and Equitable Development (SD SEED).
O’side Partnership, the developer of Ocean Kamp, reached a settlement agreement with SD SEED that included several environmental concessions related to air quality, biological resources and water supply. As part of the agreement, SD SEED withdrew its appeal of the project.
Nygaard and Preserve Calavera maintained their appeal, arguing the project would bring negative environmental impacts.
“We agree this project could bring some benefits to Oceanside, but the project before you tonight also includes huge risks and huge impacts,” Nygaard said. “Those impacts include traffic congestion, air pollution, greenhouse gasses, compromising the regional wildlife corridor, among many others.”
According to staff, the project will produce a $3.4 million net surplus to the city’s general fund at build-out, $295 million in one-time economic impacts from construction, generate nearly 1,800 jobs throughout construction, and drive $8.9 million annually in economic activity countywide.
The San Diego Airport Land Use Commission reviewed the project and found it to be consistent with the Oceanside Municipal Airport’s adopted Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan. Additionally, the Federal Aviation Administration completed an aeronautical study of the project and determined it would not create a hazard to air navigation.
An air quality report concluded the project would result in three metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per year, which is below the city threshold of significance at 3.5 metric tons established by the Climate Action Plan. Per the city’s plan, the project’s impact is less than significant in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
Nygaard and others also see the wave lagoon as wasteful amidst the state’s water supply issues and drought conditions, noting the pool’s close proximity to the ocean, where people already have access to surfing and other water sports virtually year-round.
Jon Corn, CEO of O’side Partnership, argued the wave lagoon will be a huge economic driver and tourist attraction for Oceanside.
“When I started on this project four years ago, I was kind of a wave pool doubter,” Corn said. “But then I went to a couple, and they’re amazing. They’re super fun and have an energy about them that is very thrilling and makes people happy to be around them.”
Corn explained that, unlike the ocean surf conditions, which can vary, the wave pool creates consistent conditions all year round.
“It gives us an opportunity to support Oceanside’s very rich surf history,” Corn said. “I believe it’s going to attract more surf and action oriented-businesses to want to locate here.”
Corn also noted the wave lagoon will use approximately 5 million gallons a year — the same amount of water used to maintain a single hole of an 18-hole golf course each year.
For housing, Ocean Kamp will provide all of its required affordable housing (10% of total units) on-site and short-term rentals will be prohibited. (In a previously approved version of the plan, the developer had committed to building only half of its affordable housing obligations and paying off the rest with in-lieu fees.)
In addition to its trade agreement with a local carpenters union, the developer also entered into three new trade agreements with local plumber, sprinkler and iron workers unions.
“We want to make this a local project as great as it can be for Oceanside,” Corn said.
A majority of more than 40 members of the public spoke in favor of the project, several of which were local workers who are excited to be able to work closer to home instead of traveling far distances away from their families. A handful of surfers also believed the wave pool would be a valuable asset to the surf community, and others noted the addition of homes will help the city’s low housing numbers.
Several people were still concerned about the project’s impacts on the environment and traffic. In response, city staff and developers said the Ocean Kamp project will generate far less traffic than the Oceanside Pavilions shopping center, a proposed retail plaza slated for the site 14 years earlier. The center was never constructed and later sold to O’side Partnership in 2018.