SOLANA BEACH — The Solana Beach City Council approved an eight-unit apartment project along Ida Avenue after hearing the developer’s plans to transform the site from a vacant, overgrown patch of land along Interstate-5 into a family-oriented residential complex.
The for-lease, market-rate apartments will be located on a site just under one acre in size, south of Genevieve Avenue and directly west of I-5. Two of the units will be in a duplex, and the remaining six will be housed in a neighboring second building, with both structures surrounded by landscaping and a playground to the west.
“We believe the Ida Avenue site, currently covered with ice plants and bare patches of ground, can be altered to be used as a verdant parcel that perpetuates Solana Beach’s coastal community charm,” said Sam Chereskin, principal of Chereskin Architecture and architect for the project.
The City Council approved a development review permit and structure development permit and mitigated negative declaration for the project at their July 13 meeting, over four years after applicant KNN Management LLC first applied for the project in March 2018.
Another developer also applied to develop residential units on the site back in 2008, but it was withdrawn, according to city staff. Council members were pleased to finally see a viable project for the space.
“We have seen the storey poles up there in a variety of configurations for many, many years. I never thought it would get done, and you’ve provided us with a really nice project, and I think it fits in well with a single-family neighborhood with some multifamily as well,” Mayor Lesa Heebner told project representatives.
While council members are eager to see new residential developments be used for affordable housing whenever possible, this project comes with more complex requirements. Because the application was first submitted in 2018, it is still subject to the affordable housing requirements at that time, which mandate the developer to pay affordable housing impact fees calculated based on the square footage.
KNN Management must pay the city just over $400,000 in fees to go toward future affordable housing projects before being issued any building or grading permits.
If the application had been submitted after new regulations were adopted in 2019, the developer would have been required to set aside 15% of the units — one unit, in this case — for low- to very low-income households.
“I do want to thank the architect for bringing eight housing units to our city; it’s fabulous. I do wish one of them was going to be affordable, but I understand why it’s not,” Councilwoman Kristi Becker said.
“This is a good chunk of money,” Heebner said. “We are working toward finding projects that we could add this money toward so that we can see more livable affordable units in our community.”
Each two-story unit will contain up to three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a private yard space and an enclosed patio. A sound wall will also be constructed between the units and I-5 to mitigate noise impacts from the highway.
Parking at the site and potential construction impacts were the main concern among neighboring residents on Ida Avenue. There are 20 parking spaces for the complex, including 16 for residents (two per unit) and four guest spaces, all located in onsite garages off the street.
City staff confirmed parking would be prohibited directly in front of the development along Ida Avenue.
Heebner asked whether it would be possible to allocate some of the approximately 6,000-foot playground area west of the units for additional parking spots, worrying that two spaces would not be enough for some of the three-bedroom units. Chereskin agreed to look into it.
Resident Mark Stenson, who identified himself as living across the street from the future site, said the current amount of parking “is not enough, especially in this neighborhood, [where] it’s a project that’s essentially blocked off on the other side from Interstate 5.”
However, he said he appreciated the efforts to establish underground, off-street parking at the site.
“I’m appreciative of the designs for that project compared to previous attempts for that space,” Stenson said.