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City Council Votes to Buy Land from Water Utility, Give it to Private Developer

By: Ruarri Serpa

Oceanside CA-The City Council approved $175,000 to purchase land from the Water Utilities Department, this evening, to offset the environmental impact of the Mission Cove Affordable Housing Project. The 7.3 acres of property will be a further subsidy to the developer, National CORE, who is expected to receive up to $16 million from the city in the first two phases of the project.

“Environmental Agencies said that no mitigation was necessary,” said Margery Pierce, Neighborhood Services Director. “But that was not in writing.”

Under California law, state and local agencies have to study the measures to mitigate any project with a potentially large environmental impact. According to Lundstedt’s comments at the meeting, the city, and developers were confused about the requirement to mitigate any environmental impact.

In a report to the Council, National CORE identified 7.3 acres, out of 144 acres of land owned by the Water Utilities Department at Tuley Canyon as land that would satisfy their environmental mitigation requirement. The report also valued the land between $350,000 and $525,000. National CORE, and the City will split the $350,000 low-end cost of the purchase from the Water Utilities Department, to reimburse water rate-payers for the land.

“Wouldn’t the developer be responsible?” asked Councilman Felien, citing the National CORE’s responsibility to provide its own mitigation measures.

National CORE is a large non-profit developer, based in Rancho Cucamonga. It has over $850 million in assets, and over 10,000 housing units that it has built, and managed. This is their third project in Oceanside.

The measure passed the City Council 4-1, with Kern as the sole opponent.

“[Mission Cove] is being pecked to death by ducks,” Council-member Kern said. “I’m done with this project.”

Ruarri Serpa is a freelance reporter from Oceanside, CA. You can contact him directly at RuarriS@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: @RuarriS