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Take That Mr. Feller

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
June 13, 2002


One can only applaud the efforts Oceanside's Citizen for the Preservation of Parks and Beaches who have once again proved themselves up to challenging bad civic planning on the part of an over-reaching City Council. With the California Coastal Commission backing them up, this group has halted the over development of Oceanside coastal resources not once but twice.

Because of these hard working citizens, paving the beach for parking and destroying coastal bluffs isn't as easy as it once was. Oceanside, a city on the mend, is all the better because of it. No one is questioning whether or not property owners have the right to build profitable businesses in the downtown redevelopment district. At issue is at what scale and cost to the quality of life of existing residents, is development to be allowed.

Any project which aims to give public parkland to a private interest is doomed to fail at a time when growth is out of control and public amenities and open space are at a premium. The Coastal Commission understands this, and with their ruling last week, made it clear public access to the Pacific Ocean was a right due to all Californians, including Oceanside residents.

Unhappy with the outcome of the Manchester towers project, in a statement to the press council member Jack Feller made said, "I'd love to see the city of Oceanside have something first-class." Which would imply that it is Mr. Feller who sees Oceanside as a second class "lazy little beach town." Opponents of the Manchester project would agree with the Council majority that something must be done to improve the economic stability of the downtown region, where they part company is the appetites aimed at meeting this need.

Ever the pragmatist, council member Ester Sanchez would like the city to rework its coastal plan and locate downtown parking before any new project is considered. In other words, Ms. Sanchez would like to see infrastructure improvements in place before more people are drawn to the area. One of the problems with the Manchester was that it replaced the public parking at Betty's Lot with private parking for its guests and none for Oceanside residents not using their 5–star luxury resort.

Hopefully the ruling of the Coastal Commission will be a big enough clue to allow Doug Manchester the ability to understand that downtown Oceanside is not downtown San Diego and that the residents of Oceanside residents like it that way. With this new understanding Mr. Manchester can now design a project in keeping with the scale and character of Oceanside's Historic downtown district.

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