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Rendering of the eight-story, mixed-use Seagaze apartment project in downtown Oceanside. Courtesy photo.
Rendering of the eight-story, mixed-use Seagaze apartment project in downtown Oceanside. Courtesy photo.
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Seagaze developer looks to swap hotel rooms for more apartments

OCEANSIDE — The developer of a 90-foot high-rise slated for downtown Oceanside has asked the city’s permission to revise its previously approved plans by swapping out the hotel rooms for more studio apartments.

The Seagaze project, an eight-story mixed-use development approved by the City Council in 2022, is set to take over an unused 15,589-square-foot parking lot at 712 Seagaze Drive.

Currently, the Seagaze project plans to construct 115 studio apartments and 64 hotel rooms at the northwest corner of Seagaze and North Nevada Street. However, the developer has submitted requests to remove the hotel rooms and instead build a total of 179 studio apartments.

As part of the proposed change, the project would include an additional 1,581 square feet of commercial space for retail, food, or personal services on the ground floor.

The project would also provide 149 total parking spaces – 142 in the parking garage and seven on-street – which is 17 more spaces than required.

Furthermore, the change would increase the number of affordable units throughout the project from 12 to 18, meeting the state’s density bonus law minimum of 10% inclusionary housing. These units would be proportionate to the market-rate apartments and dispersed throughout the building.

By reserving 10% of the units for affordable housing, the state’s density bonus law allows the developer not only to request incentives, concessions, unlimited waivers from development standards, and reduced parking ratios but also to maintain the eight previously approved waivers, including setbacks, height, site landscaping minimum, open space requirements, parking, required façade modulation, ramp grades, and reduced garage aisle widths.

Since the project was approved before the implementation of the 86-dwelling unit per acre density cap, it is not subject to the cap. Initially considered to have a density of 321 dwelling units per acre, the project, with its revisions, would increase to a density of 500 dwelling units per acre.

More renderings of the eight-story, mixed-use Seagaze apartment project in downtown Oceanside. Courtesy photos.

Many surrounding neighbors oppose the project, claiming that the eight-story building is out of place and will exacerbate traffic and parking issues in the area.

While most City Council members were not enthusiastic about the project’s size, hotel rooms or the number of waivers, a majority approved the project, arguing that state law prevented them from denying it.

According to staff, the project’s vertically-oriented, mixed-use nature, coupled with its proximity to the Oceanside Transit Center, is consistent with other downtown redevelopment efforts and would help boost the city’s housing numbers and support public transit.

The Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) for the Sixth Housing Element Cycle between 2021 and 2029 estimates that Oceanside will require 5,443 new dwelling units, including 718 low-income units, over the next eight years.

“By contributing 179 rental dwelling units, including 18 reserved for low-income households, the proposed project would help to meet the City’s projected housing demand and provide an opportunity for much-needed workforce housing within the core downtown area and in proximity to a variety of transit options,” the staff report states.

When first approved two years ago, the approximately 300-square-foot studio apartments were estimated to rent between $1,800 and $2,000 monthly, while the affordable housing units would be around $1,618 per month. These prices were based on an annual median income of $73,000, with tenants spending no more than 30% of their income on rent.

The city’s Downtown Advisory Committee approved the project’s revisions by a 5-2 vote on Jan. 24. 

According to City Planner Sergio Madera, the City Council is tentatively scheduled to consider the changes on March 13. 

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