The Women & Children's Dorm at the Oceanside Navigation Center on July 21, 2023.
The Women & Children's Dorm at the Oceanside Navigation Center on July 21, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Oceanside’s first ever year-round homeless shelter is finally open – well, almost. 

The Oceanside Navigation Center is a 50-bed homeless shelter operated by the San Diego Rescue Misson in the former Ocean Shores High School building. 

The center won’t begin sheltering homeless people for another week or so, Paul Armstrong, vice president of programs with the Rescue Mission, told me.  

“Fingers crossed for early to middle of next week, but it is legitimately a day-by-day thing,” Armstrong said. “We are working a checklist of contractor items so that we can get our occupancy permits so that we can move people over.” 

What’s the hold up? Delays for the highly anticipated shelter are not new. It was originally set to open last summer, but construction delays, labor shortages and project changes were the primary reasons for its slow progression, Armstrong said. 

The former high school building underwent major renovations and upgrades, according to a city press release, including new windows, a new heating and air system, new roof, fire sprinkler system, sewer lines, showers, kitchen, furniture, computers, landscaping and accessibility improvements.  

The total construction costs for the shelter came out to around $7.5 million, which were mostly covered by federal, state and regional grants. 

What this means for North County: Oceanside has the second-highest unsheltered homeless population in North County, according to this year’s point-in-time count, and it’s just now getting its first shelter

It will also be a welcome addition to North County, which had a total of 861 unsheltered individuals when the count was conducted back in January. 

For roughly six years, there have only been three homeless shelters in North County – two of them are low-barrier, which means they don’t require things like sobriety or background checks to enter. The other is a higher-barrier shelter for women and families.   

In total, they provide 144 beds.  

Oceanside’s shelter is a low-barrier shelter. The city’s housing department social workers or the police department’s homeless outreach team will handle all referrals.  

The shelter’s first clients will come from the city’s motel voucher program. 

Status Update on Del Mar’s Seaside Ridge Development 

Peeking through the fence of where a potential affordable housing project will be built on Del Mar bluffs on April 25, 2023.

A couple of months ago, I reported on a proposed housing project in Del Mar called Seaside Ridge. City officials are against it, but the developer is trying to use state housing laws to override the city’s wishes. 

Some background: The development would be located on an ocean bluff site near Del Mar’s Dog Beach. It proposes 42 low-income units, 43 moderate-income units and 174 market-rate units.  

Del Mar isn’t on board with it. City officials argue they would have to rezone the site, or parcel of land, to even consider moving forward with the project. And they say they already have enough sites identified in their Housing Element to meet their state-mandated housing goals. 

A Housing Element is a state-required plan outlining how a city can accommodate enough new housing to meet its population’s needs.  

But the developers argue that the city has no choice in the matter because at the time they submitted their application to the city, Del Mar’s Housing Element hadn’t been approved by the state. In fact, it had been rejected by the state three times. 

The developers plan to continue processing the project under State housing law.

“The city seems to be looking for reasons to oppose this worthy project when it should be encouraging real affordable housing development in their city,” said Darren Pudgil, a spokesperson for the project. “Unfortunately, staff’s letters convey a policy of denial, which will continue to inhibit opportunities for families to find affordable housing in Del Mar.”   

The developers are leaning on a few state housing laws to make their case.  

  • The Builder’s Remedy: This says if a city doesn’t have a compliant Housing Element, the city can’t use its zoning code or general plan to deny an affordable housing project.  
  • The Housing Crisis Act: The city can only rely on rules that were in place at the time the developer’s preliminary application was submitted when they’re reviewing a development project.  
  • AB 1398: This requires cities that don’t have a compliant Housing Element to rezone all of the sites identified in its Housing Element that need rezoning.  

The latest: In May, state officials finally approved Del Mar’s Housing Element, which means the city is now in compliance with state law.  

Back in April, Del Mar officials told Seaside Ridge developers to resubmit their application because it was “incomplete” and “not supported by law.”  

On June 1, the developers resubmitted their application, but on June 30, their application was again deemed “incomplete,” and the developers were told to resubmit it for a third time. 

In Del Mar’s letter to the developers, city officials again pushed back against the state housing laws the developers are attempting to employ. 

“In sum, state law provides that the Builders Remedy only applies when an application is deemed complete,” the letter says. “As the city does not agree with these legal theories, the Seaside application remains incomplete.”  

Other North County Happenings 

  • Oceanside’s city staff is proposing a new cap on the number of homes per acre in the residential and commercial developments in downtown neighborhoods. Staff are suggesting a maximum of 100 dwellings per acre in response to the Oceanside City Council’s concerns about over-development. The proposal will go before the council later this year. (Union-Tribune) 
  • Repairs on the landslide that stopped train traffic for weeks between San Diego and Orange counties are expected to cost an estimated $8.5 million and take as long as one year to complete. Trains initially stopped April 27 because of a landslide, but resumed service in late May. Rail service was halted again June 5 after more sliding occurred in the same place. (Union-Tribune) 
  • The Del Mar Racetrack celebrated the opening day of its 84th racing season last week. I visited the track last summer and spent time with the tight-knit community of backstretch workers behind Del Mar’s multimillion-dollar horse racing industry. Read that story here. (Voice of San Diego) 

Tigist Layne is Voice of San Diego's north county reporter. Contact her directly at or (619) 800-8453. Follow her...

Join the Conversation


  1. 5 star resort or several hundred houses, guessing Del Mar might wish they had that vote back right about now…

  2. It was a high school and now it’s a warehouse for meth addicts. What we don’t know keeps the contracts alive and moving.

  3. Well, a shelter is better than nothing. But their 30 day stay model is performative. The city staff selected this model and provider over alternative, longer stay models that were offered in the planning phase. 30 days is nowhere near long enough to deal with issues like mental health, addiction, barriers to housing and employment, etc. If there is not sufficient transitional housing capacity (which we all know there is not) then folks are just going back out on the streets once they’ve exhausted their 30 days.

    SD Rescue Mission insists their model works but, let’s see the data about how many chronically homeless return to the streets after entering their shelters, compared to models with longer stays and longer term support.

    But, the city can brag about having a shelter and punish people for camping now according to the Boise decision, so, woohoo…

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