Solana Beach petition seeks to deny building use change on Cedros

Cedros Avenue Design District
Cedros Avenue Design District
(File photo)

A Cedros Avenue business owner has been circulating a petition asking the city of Solana Beach to deny an application from Flock Freight that asks to convert the mixed-use building they occupy to a corporate office.

The petition underscores the division between those in the community who want to maintain a walkable, retail environment on Cedros and those who want to prepare for a future that is evolving away from brick and mortar.

“It would hurt the vibe on the street,” said Carole Carden, owner of SoLo, a retail shop on Cedros that sells furniture, books, antiques and collections of other items. “The whole street was designed to be a walking, shopping, eating, visiting gallery street.”

Flock Freight, located at 240 S. Cedros Ave., in the same building where Lotus used to be, uses an algorithm to combine small shipments into one truckload, reducing costs for shippers and greenhouse gases by consolidating the number of trucks that are needed. The company recently announced that it received more than $100 million from investors and plans to keep growing.

City Council members will determine whether eliminating the building’s retail space and allowing only office space is consistent with Solana Beach municipal code, the city’s general plan and the Highway 101 Corridor Specific Plan.

The Flock Freight office is across the street from SoLo. Carden, who said the petition has more than 100 signatures, added that “we’re certainly not against any business coming to Solana Beach, but that business just doesn’t fit there.”

Sean MacLeod, a Cedros Avenue property owner who helped start the Cedros Design District about 30 years ago, said he understands both sides of the issue.

“I understand the industrywide concern for brick and mortar retail having a downward arc due to COVID-accelerated online retail,” he said. “The particular request, to me, is not in keeping with the retail/pedestrian-oriented, charming European-style street that a straight office building use would provide.”

But Flock Freight founder Oren Zaslansky, an Encinitas native, said his company has provided a significant boost to the local economy over the last few years in taxes and patronage of nearby businesses. He added that the company has committed to resolving the parking issues that some neighboring retailers have complained about, which is mentioned in the petition. He also said working from home will be part of the company’s culture going forward, limiting the number of employees who drive to Cedros every day.

“We’ve been an unbelievably good neighbor,” Zaslansky said. “We have put more money into Cedros specifically, let alone the Solana Beach economy.”

He said some of the other businesses have told him how much they want Flock Freight to remain in Solana Beach, but others make him feel like “we’re not wanted.”

“Cedros is going to try to hang on to what they were, and they should, if that’s what they think is right,” Zaslansky said. “My prediction is that everything evolves.”