City council pondered proposed changes to the Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) last night which were suggested by the Project Advisory Committee.
John Conley, director of community development for Vista, brought forth “a few items” which he needed to find “consensus” upon. Conley hoped that they could go through each individual item and have a vote from council.
And residents came out during their allowed time as being either in favor or against certain items.
[Density, height limits]
Brooks Cavanaugh spoke regarding the Sycamore Creek area of 13 acres. He identified himself as a member of “the Vista conservancy,” and stated that 40 units per acre “is intense and exceeds the need for that area.” As far as the proposed increase, he added that “the negatives outweigh the positives” there.
Other words on Sycamore Creek specifically heard from the public were about the uniqueness of the property and one admonition.
“Don’t screw this up,” said one upset citizen who added that development would be “expensive” because “it is a flood course” and will need a lot of engineering.
Some speakers, who did not mention Sycamore Creek, spoke about being either “really excited” about the changes or thinking that “it really adds a lot of flavor” to have the proposed changes.
Bret Schanzenbach, head of Vista’s Chamber of Commerce, spoke in support. He believes that there is an opportunity here, with a lot of interest coming to Vista and added that going to three stories “would not be visually detracting.”
From the dais Councilman John Franklin asked development director Conley for clarification of his presentation. “Is it 45 feet or three stories?”
Conley replied it would be “the shorter of the two.”
Councilmember Cody Campbell’s statements were about land values and the future. “I just want to say that I concur with our chamber of commerce that we do need to allow more than three stories in the downtown area.” Campbell mentioned that the planning department does a good job and he is “fully confident” about the proposed change, believing it will integrate well and can improve economic vitality of the downtown.
Saying that he has seen other cities actually “preserve the historic buildings and the historic architecture,” Deputy Mayor John Aguilera said he could support the plan “if we have some requirement for certain buildings to be preserved.” He added he would “also like to see new development integrated into that.”
Conley assured Aguilera there is a historic inventory and a handful of the properties are downtown. He could provide that list if needed next time.
“I’m just not envisioning it as lovely as some people are describing it when they’re talking about increasing the height downtown,” Councilmember Amanda Rigby remarked.
She said she was “not a fan” of increasing the height at all and would need to be “talked into it.”
Promoting public art is the idea here. Conley said the arts fees “are a recommendation” to the council. According to the report by staff, a “major focus of the DSP update is to encourage the establishment of arts and cultural uses within the plan area.” And the Advisory group suggested the arts fee ” be 15 cents per square foot of new floor area” for new development projects.
Schanzenbach of Vista’s Chamber of Commerce encouraged the adoption of this item. He spoke to the fee proposal and what he termed as “our calling card” of supporting art here in Vista.
“The chamber is very pro development, as you know, because I’ve come here many times to speak in favor of development.” Schanzenbach said they did not see the fee as a significant hindrance to development, but added it “really goes to the core of our identity as an art community.”
Mayor Judy Ritter mentioned the fact that when artists display work here in Vista it is “on loan to us” for a set amount of time, but “you can purchase it” from the artist and display it permanently if desired. With the money generated, perhaps the city could purchase the ones they wanted to put on a permanent display.
While the current DSP prohibits “tattoo establishments as land use category within the Specific Plan area” apparently citywide two tattoo businesses are legally established. One is at 1916 Hacienda Drive and the other is located at 2129 Industrial Court.
The Advisory group allowing “up to two new tattoo businesses within the DSP area, not to exceed one such establishment in any planning district.”
In discussion, the city council were informed about the notion of “a high-end tattoo gallery,” by the owners who are longtime Vista residents now with a gallery in Bonsall who want to be here in Vista where they grew up.
They informed the council that they only have clients who book far in advance and they will not tattoo anyone underaged or drunk. Taking in concerns from the public and the council, they were amenable to closing the store at 8:00 pm if that would be a concern.
Currently there is no allowance for temporary buildings within the DSP.
According to staff, “temporary buildings would include modified cargo containers, temporary structures, modular offices, or other buildings that could occupy otherwise vacant properties for a permitted use during a temporary period.”
The advisory group recommended allowance of such uses “through a discretionary
permit process to regulate the appearance, land use, and parking requirements for such requests.”
Councilmembers discussed a desire for higher-end appearance and lot improvements being made. as shown in presentation of temp buildings situated in London and Dubai.
[Mobile Food Carts]
No councilmember wanted to allow mobile food carts within the DSP., even though the advisory panel recommended they be allowed through a “discretionary permit process.”
All items on the DSP last night were approved by council with the specific rejection of Mobile Food Carts.