By Kristina Houck
A homeowners association representing hundreds of residents filed a lawsuit against Solana Beach in May after the council’s unanimous approval of a mixed-use affordable housing development on a city-owned parking lot on South Sierra Avenue.
Filed May 23 on behalf of Seascape Surf Estate Management Corporation, the lawsuit contains 12 causes of action, including a violation of the California Environmental Quality Act.
Everett DeLano, an attorney representing the homeowners of Seascape Sur, the residential community across from the project site at 555 S. Sierra Ave., noted the lawsuit also says the site is deed-restricted for public parking.
“I think it’s very easy for people to look at this and think the neighbors are complaining because it’s a low-income project coming in,” DeLano said. “They’re not. They would like to see a different city parking lot do this project. It’s just that this site is uniquely used for public parking.”
The council on April 23 unanimously approved the development.
Called “The Pearl,” the-three story building will feature three one-, two- and three-bedroom units ranging from 505 to 1,032 square feet, one 1,383-square-foot four-bedroom unit and 795 square feet of commercial office space.
The 10-unit project will not only help the city satisfy a state requirement, but satisfy a legal settlement.
All cities are required to provide affordable housing, but Solana Beach has been subject to lawsuits since the 1990s after the council took action that closed a mobile-home park. Rather than go to trial, the city entered into what became known as the Perl settlement, which mandated the replacement of 13 affordable units. So far, only three units have been built.
The project, to be built by San Marcos-based Hitzke Development Corporation, will also provide 53 parking spaces in structured parking, replacing the 31 public spaces and adding the required 18 spaces for the residential component and another four for the commercial space.
Many neighboring residents argued against the project before the council’s vote.
Some residents said they were concerned the replacement spaces will be smaller and underground, and therefore difficult to access.
Others argued against the project, saying they feared it would increase crime and traffic while decreasing property values.
In a recent interview, Ginger Hitzke, president of Hitzke Development Corporation, said that her company is not only replacing the public parking, but that the public will be able to use the residential and commercial spaces during the day.
“In effect, we’re really increasing the daytime parking,” Hitzke said.
“I feel like the real motivation is that they’re concerned about their property values and they are responding out of fear for that,” she added. “I definitely feel bad that they’re having those feelings, but there is no evidence anywhere that having housing with a deed restriction next to housing without a deed restriction devalues property.”
The Pearl is estimated to cost more than $6 million. With the council’s approval, the city will loan the developer more than $2 million for the project, which includes $648,000 in redevelopment funds and more than $1.4 million in general funds to be used for housing.