OCEANSIDE — Many residents say a proposed eight-story, combined residential and hotel development to be located on the corner of Seagaze Drive and Nevada Street downtown is too big for the neighborhood.
The proposed 147,060 square-foot, mixed-use project that would take over what is now an empty lot at 712 Seagaze Drive includes 103 market rate and 12 low-income studio apartments, and 64 hotel rooms on the upper two floors of the building.
A total of 153 parking spaces with 97 standard- and 49 compact-size would be provided in the project’s parking garage, along with an additional 7 spaces on Seagaze Drive adjacent to the project’s boundary.
Of those garage spaces, 25 will be reserved for electric vehicles, with 12 of those providing charging stations. An additional 59 bicycle racks will be included and five bicycle lockers for residents as well as a loading space for commercial purposes.
Normally a project this size would require about 186 parking spaces, however, because the project is located in the Downtown Transit Oriented District (TOD), with close proximity to bus and rail public transportation, only 136 are required.
The studio apartments would be about 300 square feet each. While on the smaller side for standard American studio apartments, the project’s developer justifies the apartment size paired with the 1,700 square feet of common outdoor living areas and more than 2,750 square feet of indoor amenities like a pool, spa deck, indoor gathering space with a catering kitchen, dining and lounge areas; workspaces including a private room for individuals to work outside of their apartments without commuting; a gym and an outside area for pet relief.
Kansas-based project developer Elsey Holdings LLC, also known by its firm name as The Prime Company, plans to market the studio apartments to “young professionals, singles and military personnel wanting a beach town experience” according to its website.
The project received a majority vote of approval from the city’s Downtown Advisory Committee at its Dec. 1 meeting, with five in favor, two opposed and two members absent.
A few conditions were made upon approval: the project must restrict short-term rental (STR) usages, commit to limiting access to hotel and STR guests from primary residential floors, dedicate one space per unit with no monthly parking fees, and also review its proposed alleyway garage entrance before the project goes to City Council.
Residents oppose size, density
Several residents are opposed to the project mostly due to its height, parking and density.
“Parking on our streets has been more and more difficult as the years’ pass,” said Annie Wilson.
Several residents asked that the building be bumped down to somewhere between four and six stories, to remove the hotel component of the project and to add more parking spaces for overflow.
Joseph Gallagher, a resident of Vine Street, called the project a “future blight.”
“In cities such as New York, Chicago or Cleveland, a development such as this would be seen as just a future tenement,” Gallagher said. “Not a good proposal for our future in Oceanside.”
Because the development provides 12, or 10% low-income units, it is allowed to go over the area’s maximum density as per the state’s density bonus law. The law also allows for waivers of certain development standards.
The developer of this project is currently requesting waivers for setbacks, open space requirements, landscaping minimums, parking width next to columns, compact parking spaces, garage drive aisle widths, building height and required façade modulation.
In the past, city staff explained projects that apply the state density bonus law are often difficult for local municipalities to deny because of the law’s focus, which is to encourage developers to build more affordable and senior housing. The law allows for up to a 50% increase in density for most of these projects.
According to the developer, competing developments at the top end of the market have priced out many people who want to live in a coastal California beach community. Meanwhile, they are able to target market-rate and low-income residents due to the project’s higher density.