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Solana Beach residents voice concerns over size and traffic flow of proposed 101 development

From size and scale, to parking and traffic, Solana Beach residents shared their concerns about a proposed mixed-use project along Coast Highway 101 at a July 20 public scoping meeting in City Hall.

If approved, the abandoned commercial buildings, single-family residential homes, mobile home park and parking lots on the 1.9-acre site would be demolished and replaced with retail, restaurant space and commercial office space, 31 multifamily residential units, and a 341-space, two-level underground parking structure.

Located west of Highway 101, north of Dahlia Drive and east of South Sierra Avenue, the proposed project includes 24,284 square feet of first-floor commercial retail space that would accommodate a specialty supermarket. An additional 10,215 square feet on the first floor is slated for restaurants and retail shops.

The second floor includes three commercial office spaces totaling 14,137 square feet.

The residential portion of the project has four two- and three-story buildings, each with four to 10 one- or two-bedroom units ranging from 650 square feet to 1,025 square feet. There would be a total of 31 units, including 16 one-bedroom units and 15 two-bedroom units. Property owner American Assets has proposed to pay an in-lieu fee rather than build affordable units on-site.

In preparation of a draft environmental impact report for the proposed project, city staff and consultants invited input from the community at the recent scoping meeting, which is required as part of the environmental review process under the California Environmental Quality Act. The meeting’s purpose was to focus on what needed to be studied in the report, including aesthetics; air quality; cultural resources; geology and soils; greenhouse gas emissions; hazardous materials and public health; hydrology and water quality; land use; noise; population and housing; public services and recreation; traffic; and utilities.

The report will also look at potential alternatives, including a reduced project or no project at all.

More than a dozen people shared their concerns about the project during the meeting. Written comments were also accepted from the community.

Some Solana Beach residents were concerned about the project’s size and scale. The tallest building is 35 feet high — the maximum allowable.

“It looks like it will easily be the largest project on 101 since we became a city,” said resident Tracy Richmond. “It’s huge. I would like to see the reduced project discussed thoroughly. You’ve got 35-foot heights with flat roofs, so you’ve basically maximized the mass and volume of the building.”

Several people had concerns that vehicles would only be able to access the site from one driveway off Dahlia.

“There’s one entrance and one exit,” said resident Gary Martin. “So all the trucks, all the cars, all the offices — everybody feeds through one entrance on Dahlia, which is a traffic issue.”

Resident Kelly Harless agreed.

“Dahlia is such a short street. People will be coming from 101 and Sierra,” she said. “It’s all going to increase the traffic and speed issues that residential homes north of the area experience already.”

Resident Bill Gifford said he had no problem with the project, but questioned whether it should, in fact, include affordable units.

“It’s been said we need low-income units in this area,” he said. “I think the city should take a good look at that.”

Among other concerns, some said that a grocery store and retail shops aren’t needed in the area. Resident Pat Coad said she was concerned about the project’s aesthetics.

According to the plans, buildings will be designed in a California contemporary style of architecture, which emphasizes massing structures together with interlocking volumes of differing heights and widths and a variety of colors and materials.

The proposed color palette includes warm earth tones with accented balconies, wooden trellises, stone or tile finish and metal roofing.

Landscaping includes a variety of trees, shrubs and ground cover, seat walls, a water feature, trellis plantings and green screen planters. Also, a 6,150-square-foot green roof would be located on the second floor above the commercial retail area and would feature ornamental shrubs and 14 skylights.

“I think this whole development is pretty ugly,” Coad said. “I don’t think it fits into Solana Beach. I think it’s massive. I don’t think that’s what we want in our community.”

The 45-day review period opened July 1 when a notice of preparation was released with a project description and potential environmental impacts. The public has until Aug. 17 to provide input on what should be studied in the report, reasonable alternatives and mitigation opportunities.

To submit a comment, contact Corey Andrews at candrews@cosb.org.

At the start of this year, two South Sierra Avenue residents filed applications stating the proposed project would affect their views.

In March, members of the city’s View Assessment Commission sided with the community members and did not support the project.

The commission denied the project 4-0-1, with two members absent. With the commission’s recommendations, the City Council will make the final decision on the project.

If approved, construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2017 and be completed at the end of 2018.


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