The Vista City Council met to discuss the “mixed-use loophole”, which allows commercial buildings to be redeveloped into apartments and condos in areas that were intended for mixed-use development.

The city had broadly defined mixed-use projects to attract investment, but four years after approving that definition, its vision for a walkable, urban center resulted in nearly 2,000 homes, and very little commercial space.

The city made a series of changes in hopes of achieving its vision of developments that include both homes and commercial or office space. It re-applied a specific commercial designation to four sites, added standards meant to restrict development (like parking, landscaping and setback requirements) for projects that don’t include commercial space and reduced building heights along Civic Center Drive and South Santa Fe Avenue.

Most notably, the Council voted 4-1 to rezone to commercial the Breeze Hill Promenade, a shopping center that was recently granted approval for redevelopment into apartments. The change would still “grandfather” in the apartments, but should that project fall through, it wouldn’t be able to be redeveloped into apartments in the future.

Breeze Hill had become somewhat of a poster child for the effects of the mixed-use loophole, because the strip mall was said to be “failing” and more valuable as apartments.

Neighbors and Council members said the strip mall was just poorly designed in 2008, as a car-oriented plaza that could better serve people walking down the street, or coming from the nearby park. Council members said that with an ever-growing population, they’d like another chance to keep the shops.

“This is a sharp idea, and it may give us the additional bite at the apple we wish we had,” said Councilman John Franklin.

San Marcos Women’s March Doubles Expectations

North County residents joined millions of like-minded protesters across the country with Saturday’s Women’s March in San Marcos, tied to hundreds of similar rallies around the nation.

Protestors gave speeches and chants in English and Spanish, and marchers carried signs in opposition to President Donald Trump, and in support of women’s rights.

“This man is despicable,” Sharon Watson told the Union-Tribune. “He is unfit — mentally and emotionally — for this office, period.”

The protest began at the San Marcos Civic Center and protesters marched down Mission Road to Palomar College, where they held a larger rally. About 2,000 people were expected for the march, but the Sheriff’s Department estimated nearly twice as many people turned out.

“On a visual estimate, about 4,000 people, which was certainly more than anticipated. Quite well behaved, no incidents,” Field Lieutenant Dave Schaller said.

Many marchers wore “Pussyhats,” which were created as a way to protest Trump’s comments about grabbing women’s vaginas. One woman said it was her way of taking her actions beyond the march.

“I, like many of these people, felt pretty powerless and disappointed after the election and I just wanted to do something to say that, ‘I didn’t agree with it and I’m worried,’” resident Leah Rives told The Coast News.

And Now for Your Weather

The Union-Tribune published a survey of coastal damage caused by this week’s winter storms, and the high tides and rough surf that accompanied them. The storms eroded North County beaches that had recently been replenished with sand, and threatened various beach access points. In Carlsbad, a section of Highway 101 that was repaired last year after waves took out a chunk of road was closed again as of Monday night.

The storm damage has also highlighted the need to address the location of the railroad tracks in Del Mar, where the tracks run along the top of the bluff.

The Coast News reports that the San Diego Association of Governments already has it in its plans to move the tracks inland by 2050, but studies have concluded that bluff failure is imminent. The bluffs could be brought down either by storms or earthquakes.

Del Mar City Council members had already taken up the issue this month in response to the number of people who have been killed by trains over the past few years. Councilman Dwight Worden sees moving the tracks and putting them in a trench below grade as the only solutions.

“You’ve got this high-speed rail line with trains going 90 miles an hour blocking the people from getting to the beach,” Worden said, according to The Coast News. “There’s only two solutions to that. You keep killing people — and we’re doing it at the rate of about a dozen a year now between Oceanside and San Diego — or you grade separate it.”

Also in the News

The volume of water in the San Luis River has swelled enough this week that the river finally reached the ocean – a first in several years.

The High Point camera on Palomar Mountain captured some awesome shots, including this timelapse of the storm that left five inches of snow. (UCSD)

Encinitas’ approval of Council members’ raises is part of a countywide trend. (The Coast News, Union-Tribune)

Vista’s Iron Fist Brewing is a local example of a company that benefited from one of 17 federal agencies that the Trump administration plans to cut. (Time)

Encinitas may be moving toward a freeze on alcohol licenses (Union-Tribune)

Dr. Bronner, the late, eccentric founder of the soap company bearing his name, speaks the gospel on a new vinyl LP. (Union-Tribune)

Normally reserved for the public, Oceanside’s mayor calls for time limits for Council members when speaking on agenda items. (The Coast News)

Ruarri Serpa

Ruarri Serpa is a freelance writer in Oceanside. Email him at ruarris@gmail.com and find him on Twitter at @RuarriS.

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