OCEANSIDE – The city’s planning commission on Monday unanimously approved a giant mixed-use development anchored by a resort and artificial surf lagoon to replace a 92-acre vacant lot and former home to a drive-in theater and swap meet.
Ocean Camp will replace the large parcel located on the corner of Foussat Road and state Route 76 with a mixed-use development with 700 homes consisting of apartments, condos, townhomes and senior housing; 134,400 square feet of commercial space with offices, retail and restaurants; several miles of trails and 20 acres of open space; and a 3.5-acre wave lagoon for year-round surfing, swimming and paddleboarding.
The project also proposes to build a hotel resort with 232 hotel rooms, eight villas with 18 rooms, 16 casitas with 20 rooms, and permanent Airstream trailers totaling 30 rooms.
Parking for the resort and commercial uses will include 1,050 spaces. The development would also have a few parks connected by a network of trails throughout the area with a mountain bike pump track.
According to Jon Corn, a partner with the project, the development would also work with the city to improve lighting, water and other safety features at the Prince Memorial Skatepark, known more commonly as “Prince Park” by locals sits directly across Foussat from the project site.
Of the residential units, 10% will be affordable housing, with 5% built on-site and 5% built elsewhere with in-lieu fees.
The commercial portion of the site will be anchored by the wave lagoon, which Corn described as a “thrilling, economic engine” for the city.
“Oceanside ranks very high in California’s surf history and surf culture, and we want to honor that and improve upon it,” Corn said.
Several of the commissioners were excited about the wave lagoon.
“I think this is the coolest project I’ve seen come here in a long time,” said Commissioner Tom Morrissey.
Tony Finn, an Encinitas resident who founded wakeboard manufacturer Liquid Force, noted that the swells recently haven’t been as good for surfers and supported the wave lagoon concept.
“There’s going to be great surf in Oceanside seven days a week, 365 days a year,” Finn said.
Not everyone in the public was thrilled about the idea of Ocean Kamp and its wave lagoon.
“I personally find it thrilling to actually watch the ocean rather than a large toilet flush,” said Oceanside resident Diane Nygaard.
Nygaard questioned the need for the overall project and asserted that Ocean Kamp would work against the city’s Climate Action Plan while also wasting “hundreds of thousands of gallons of water.” Other residents also questioned the project’s environmental impacts on water usage.
Corn explained that the wave lagoon would use far less water than the average Southern California golf course, which is about 90 million gallons annually. The wave lagoon would take an initial 5 million gallons of water to fill, requiring about 4 million gallons of water added annually.
The landscaping of the site would use reclaimed water. Corn noted that with Pure Water Oceanside online, which purifies recycled wastewater into drinkable water, the wave lagoon would help reduce water impacts even more for the wave lagoon.
The project received a mixed bag of both support and opposition from residents. Many of those in favor of the project were local workers and their families of the Union Carpenters Local 619, who the developer committed to helping build the project.
“You’ve heard from families today – those are parents who are gonna be able to coach their kids’ teams, those are parents who are gonna have a better marriage, they’re gonna be involved in their kids’ school,” said Doug Hicks of the carpenters union. “It’s going to reduce the commute time.”
Hicks praised the developer for committing to hiring local carpenters. However, other unions were not as happy about the project due to a lack of commitment for their workers.
Morrissey pointed out that the project is not a prevailing wage project, so the developer is not required to hire unions.
Commissioner Kevin Dodds encouraged the developer to consider hiring other local talents in addition to the carpenters.
“This is going to be a gem for the community – let’s take it a step further and utilize the talent here,” Dodds said.
If appealed, the project will go to the City Council for final approval.