More multifamily homes in southern Escondido
The San Diego Union Tribune
May 13, 2016
The character of the neighborhood along Centre City Parkway in southern Escondido is continuing to evolve as more vacant properties turn into multifamily housing projects.
The Escondido City Council last week approved plans to construct 113 town homes on 4.9 acres of land at the southwest corner of Brotherton Road and Centre City Parkway, across the street from the Canterbury Gardens & Gifts store. The development will be known as Del Prado.
The council’s unanimous approval, with Councilman John Masson absent, came despite a Planning Commission recommendation that the project be denied because of its size, as well as parking and traffic concerns. A few residents live in single-family homes just west of the vacant land also opposed the project.
The three-story town homes will be contained in 27 different buildings on two parcels of land. The larger parcel, 3.47 acres, is where Woody’s Restaurant and Bar (and before that a Cask ‘n Cleaver) once stood before being torn down nearly a decade ago to make way for another development that never materialized.
The second lot, 1.4 acres, just to the south, has been vacant and is adjacent to a San Diego Gas & Electric substation that has been there for decades.
“This project fits the existing General Plan and the updated General Plan that we just did,” Mayor Sam Abed said. “…I know it’s going to create some impacts on the neighbors, it’s very unfortunate. But I think we need to weigh (that with) the needs for housing and the affordability of housing … for our police officers, our firefighters, our employees, our teachers. And I think that’s a reasonable density.”
The town homes will all be three stories and have two-car garages, and will range from 1,109 to 1,584 square feet. Representatives of developer Touchstone Communities said the bottom floor of the homes will be built six to nine feet below adjacent homes so that the three-story buildings will look more like two-story buildings.
Councilman Mike Morasco, who represents southern Escondido, said the current vacant lots are unattractive.
“The before and after pictures speak for themselves,” he said. “I really think it’s a fantastic project.”
Added Councilman Ed Gallo: “We have to plan for future growth and this is one way to do it.”
In April the Planning Commission, in a split 3-2 vote, recommended denial of the project with the primary concern that the South Centre City Parkway corridor is a major entry to the city and residential projects should be more suburban in design with a lower density.
Several residents spoke at the meeting, many of them concerned about the added traffic the housing will bring to the street, which at times can be very congested. Because Centre City becomes a metered on ramp to southbound Interstate 15, traffic can back up a great distance on the road each morning.
Some were also critical of the plans because they don’t call for a traffic light at Brotherton Road. City engineers told the council their studies indicate a light is not needed, even with the additional 900 car trips a day the project will cause.
“We feel it is way too dense, way too many people to add into that tiny little space,” said longtime Brotherton Road resident Cindy Hamilton. “Our roads don’t warrant it. This intersection — its a horrible intersection already There are already accidents there all the time.”
City engineers pointed out that current zoning would allow for commercial development of the property that would probably cause far more traffic than the town homes.
As for the backup on Centre City due to the metered on ramp, that’s a regional issue controlled by the state’s Department of Transportation which should not effect decisions about specific projects, the engineers said.