A six-story, 180-apartment building approved for downtown Oceanside

A six-story, 180-apartment mixed-use project proposed for Pier View Way east of the Civic Center won approval from the Oceanside City Council this week despite concerns about increasing downtown density.

The Sunsets project, located at the northwest corner of Pier View Way and North Horne Street, will have shops, a plaza and other activities on the ground floor. The upper floors will contain 50 one-bedroom apartments up to 375 square feet, which is the size of a two-car garage, and 130 two-bedroom units up to 750 square feet.

“I really struggled with this project,” Mayor Esther Sanchez said. “I have a very hard time believing that these are livable spaces.”

She said the proposed boxy building reminds her of housing found in major cities across the United States.

Sanchez said the “only alternative value” is that it would include 18 apartments designated for “affordable housing” and would only be available to families with incomes below the area median.

Councilman Rick Robinson championed the project.

“Comparing this to projects in New York or Chicago or any other large city is misleading,” Robinson said. “We can’t assume that every single bedroom is going to be (occupied by) a family of six.”

He said the apartments are intended for “young people starting out” and for families struggling to find an affordable home.

The building will have amenities including pet washing stations, bike storage areas, co-working spaces, a rooftop deck with barbecue grills and a swimming pool, said Dan Niebom, of Lightfoot Planning Group in Carlsbad.

Solar panels installed on the roof and exterior walls are expected to generate at least half of the electricity consumed at the property. The building will include a three-story, 315-space parking garage and an additional 15 on-street spaces.

As with similar recent projects, other City Council members said they had to approve the development because of state laws intended to help solve the area’s housing crisis.

“I get frustrated with these things too,” Councilman Ryan Kim said, but if the city denies a project that complies with state law, it will likely be overturned in court.

The 0.7-acre site is mostly vacant except for two single-family homes that will be demolished. The vacant lot was occupied by a West Coast National Bank office in the 1960s and later by a branch of La Jolla Bank & Trust Co. before it closed.

Before that, the City Council twice approved plans to develop the property, and both times those efforts were halted for economic reasons.

When the City Council signed off on the project in 2021, it included 76 one- and two-bedroom apartments and ground-floor commercial space on just under half an acre. Since then, the developer, Howard Jacobs, of Rancho Santa Fe, has acquired a small adjacent parcel of land to increase the size of the lot.

Before that, it was called the Portola Project, and 15 condominiums and seven condominiums were approved. Portola’s plan ended in 2018 before anyone began work.

The project is one of several high-density projects coming to downtown Oceanside.

Earlier this year, the City Council approved construction of a 64-apartment building in an apartment building west of Sunsets, at Pier View Road and North Clementine Street.

Preliminary plans have also been submitted for two eight-story buildings totaling up to 360 apartments along Pier View Road west of the railroad tracks near the Oceanside Municipal Pier. The project will occupy the last two vacant blocks in the nine-block master plan approved by the City Council more than 20 years ago.

Both buildings will include restaurants and retail businesses on the ground floor, with apartments above. Ten percent of the apartments will be available only to low-income renters.

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