Solana Beach Council approves extension for previously approved affordable housing project


Despite protest from some residents, the Solana Beach City Council on Dec. 9 unanimously permitted a time extension request for entitlements for a previously approved affordable housing project.

The council unanimously approved the mixed-use complex in April 2014 for construction on a city-owned parking lot on South Sierra Avenue. The project was stalled, however, when the Seascape Surf Estate Management Corporation, on behalf of nearby condominium owners, filed a lawsuit against Solana Beach. In August, Superior Court Judge Robert Dalquist sided with the city on all claims.

The Seascape Surf Estate Management Corporation filed an appeal in September. To date, the Court of Appeals has not yet issued a briefing schedule on the matter.

The three-story project, called “The Pearl,” will feature 795 square feet of commercial office space on the first level, 10 affordable units on the second and third levels, and structured parking on the first and basement levels. The project will replace the existing 31 public parking spaces and add 18 spaces for the residential units and four for the commercial office use.

Residents who opposed the project argued against the development for a variety of reasons. Some claimed the project would increase crime and traffic while decreasing property values. Others said that the project was not suitable for the particular property.

“This is not a profit vehicle for the builder. This is a cookie cutter project,” said Seascape Sur resident Bill Gifford, who previously served as president of the Seascape Sur Homeowner Association. “If these people can put this 35-foot mansion on this tiny parking lot right on the beach, they can get it all the way up and down the coast. I think that’s what’s going to happen.”

“This is a squashed project,” agreed Tamara Kushner, also of Seascape Sur. “It’s squashed into a little parking lot. It’s on a piece of property that’s not big enough for the development.”

After hearing concerns from several neighbors, the council voted 4-0 to grant Hitzke Development Corporation’s two-year time extension request for all previously approved entitlements, including administrative structure development and development review permits to construct the mixed-use complex on the city-owned 14,721-square-foot site. Deputy Mayor Peter Zahn was absent from the meeting.

“I appreciate everybody coming out again, however, as was stated a number of times, what is before us is not the merits of the project, not the items that you spoke about to us tonight,” said Councilwoman Lesa Heebner.

Councilwoman Ginger Marshall was not on the council when it approved the project. Although she said she might not have voted in favor of the mixed-use development, she, too, approved the extension because the council was not reviewing the project and only considering the time extension.

“I’m not sure that I would have approved it,” Marshall said. “Because this is just an extension of what was approved … I have to just look at the extension only, not the merits of the project.”