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Letters to the Editor- “Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity”

The Loma Alta Creek Restoration Plan…Coastal Rail Trail…Buccaneer Park Remodeling Project…La Salina Lift Station Project and the decommission of the seven acre La Salina Wastewater Plant – five projects, one third of a mile long beginning at the 1400 block of South Pacific St to the 1500 block.  We say, when opportunity knocks, open the door.  Opportunities like this rarely come along, therefore, let’s master plan the entire area including the seven-acre parcel that currently houses the soon to be decommissioned wastewater facility.  As it is, the city separated each project, therefore, bypassing the master planning process.  The entire area could be dynamic and serve residents and visitors alike.  Imagine, the creek enlarged/enhanced, an expansive park, possibly an interpretive center, larger restrooms, more parking, enhanced galley, who knows – maybe a surf shop.  Just a spectacular place for residents and visitors alike.

Master planning the entire area makes sense considering what is recommended in our Local Coastal Program (LCP) and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements.   Our LCP states, “Any residual land not needed for the La Salina Treatment Plant should be considered for public use”.  We’d love to see the creative minds in our community at work on something that comes along once in a lifetime – master planning the entire area. Some might argue that there is no funding for planning and implementation of a project like this. Well, that’s just not true.  We direct you to the recent $8 million grant received from the office of Assemblymember Boener Horvath for beachfront improvements at The Strand!  The Assemblymember recognizes the economic benefits of our beaches and the necessity to improve services for the public alike.  Buccaneer Beach Park is one of Oceanside’s most widely used beach parks providing free beach parking and lower-cost visitor serving uses.

As Oceanside continues to densify along the coast, and with the looming threat of sea-level rise, the need for more beach access is clear – expanding the park area will provide more and better access to the beach.  We are confident that should we put the bright minds in our community to work master planning the property, funding will follow.  Furthermore, data collected while updating our Parks and Recreation Master Plan depicts high beach use in Oceanside.  Ninety-seven percent of residents surveyed visited our beaches or harbor (43% once a week or more, 32% once a month,18% once every few months, 4% once a year, and 3% did not use).  We can only imagine what the numbers would look like if visitors were included.  Lastly, piecemealing the area/looking at things separately could lead to CEQA issues later.  According to CEQA, cumulative impacts must be considered first, not as an afterthought.

Will planning the area be a missed opportunity?  As H. Jackson Brown Jr. once said, “Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity”, let’s not let this slip through our hands.  We urge you to write the city council at council@oceansideca.org , copy our coastal planner tross@coastal.ca.gov , and urge the city to master plan the entire area including the La Salina Wastewater Facility for more and better beach access. The property should stay in public hands for public uses, not sold for luxury housing.

 —Shari Mackin, Former Council Member, City of Oceanside

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