The fate of a proposed senior care facility — nearly eight years in the works — has been placed in the hands of Solana Beach voters.
The Solana Beach City Council on Jan. 30 unanimously approved sending the project to a special election on May 7. Voters will weigh in on the project with mail-in ballots only.
The developer, RhodesMoore LLC, will pay for the special election costs, city staff said at the meeting.
Current plans for the senior and memory care facility, proposed on a 2.9-acre vacant lot at 959 Genevieve Street, east of the I-5 Freeway, call for between 94 to 96 beds and about 60 parking spaces. It will also include amenities such as a library, cafe, bar, dining area, living rooms, activity rooms, fitness center, gardens and open space with park-like features.
Because of the city's Prop T — which gives voters a chance to weigh in on land use rules — the council could not approve or deny the project outright.
The next general election isn't scheduled until November 2020, at which point the city would have to foot the costs, city staff said. Additionally, the County Board of Supervisors recently placed a moratorium on special elections, and May 7 would be the council's last opportunity for one, explained City Attorney Johanna N. Canlas.
To qualify for the ballot, RhodesMoore LLC had to gather about 900 signatures — or about 10 percent of Solana Beach's voting population — within six months. The development company actually collected 1,250 signatures and submitted them to the city for verification in mid-January, the developer said in an email to the Solana Beach Sun.
If the project wins over voter approval, it would have to be submitted to the city council for input on its environmental impact report and overall plans. The project will also need to earn approval from the California Coastal Commission.
John DeWald, principal at RhodesMoore, said he hopes the project earns total approval in the summer, at which point they can begin drafting construction documents.
In January, he said he expected it would be "at least two years" before the project is built.
RhodesMoore has hosted several workshops to gather input from the community and plans to continue hosting more meetings to further educate and receive suggestions from neighbors of the project.