A proposal to build a 300-room resort hotel, retail stores and up 700 homes centered around an artificial wave lagoon for surfers in the San Luis Rey Valley has some Oceanside residents hoping for a wipeout.
“To me the ‘wave lagoon’ is just a bone thrown at us to get their housing project approved,” said Carolyn Krammer, a longtime resident, surfer and member of the group Citizens for the Preservation of Parks and Beaches.
“The other thing that really bothers me is the use of water,” Krammer said. “We are in a drought and current residents are being asked to curb their water use and here we are proposing this huge water guzzler. Sure does not make any sense to me.”
The city released a draft supplemental environmental impact report in August for the Ocean Kamp project, billed as a “resort • spa • adventure” community to be built on the 92-acre former site of the Valley Drive-In theater and swap meet at Mission Avenue and Foussat Road.
The report is considered “supplemental” because another IDN Poker Login environmental report was completed and approved by the city in 2008 for a project on the site called The Pavilion that would have been the largest shopping center in Oceanside with multiple big-box anchor tenants. But the shopping center idea lost its luster as online shopping continued to soar, and The Pavilion was never built.
Traffic, noise, air quality and other issues are examined in the supplemental report, which generally concludes that the effects are within allowable standards. The report does not take a position for or against the project.
Encinitas-based Zephyr Partners bought the property in 2018 and developed the Ocean Kamp plan based on the artificial wave concept.
Then in 2020, Zephyr handed control of Ocean Kamp to another company called N4FL Worldwide, also known as N4FL development, with offices in Encinitas and Rancho Santa Fe. N4FL’s vice president, Michael Grehl, is a former senior vice president at Zephyr, where he helped develop the wave resort plan.
“We are moving toward a hearing date this winter with construction to start sometime in the spring,” Grehl said by email Friday. “Full buildout will take two to three years.”
“Ocean Kamp remains as originally proposed and will create a fun destination for locals, families, health and fitness enthusiasts, foodies, surfers, and anyone who enjoys an experience centered around a state-of-the-art wave lagoon,” Grehl said.
The project “embraces the Oceanside lifestyle and brings a fresh way of living, working, playing, and staying,” he said, adding that it “incorporates health and well-being with experiential retail, a new employment hub, cool hotel accommodations, and much-needed housing.”
After the draft supplemental report on the project was released in August, the city received 10 comment letters before the comment period closed Oct. 8.
“The environmental consultant for the project is in the process of preparing responses to comments received,” said Sergio Madera, the city’s principal planner, in an email Thursday.
So far there’s no timetable for when the responses will be finished or when the project will go to the Oceanside Planning Commission for a public hearing. The Planning Commission’s decision on the project will be final unless it is appealed to the City Council.
One of the comment letters was from Nadine Scott, a founder of the group Friends of Loma Alta Creek. She questioned the document’s treatment of several issues, including traffic.
“It is apparent that this project has not adequately analyzed long term traffic impacts, as Highway 76 is already congested,” Scott wrote. “Transit stops in the project will do almost nothing to remove the vehicle miles traveled, as Oceanside is notorious for a poor transit system that is anything but rapid.”
The project also lacks affordable housing, Scott said.
“The proposed project also fails to take into account the … needed affordable units,” she said. “If they are going to build at that corridor site they must include affordable housing units to satisfy the (city’s) Draft Sustainability and Corridor Plan.”
Greenhouse gases released by the residential, commercial and recreational activities are another issue addressed by comment writers.
“Our primary concerns with this project are its failure to adequately address impacts on biological resources, and the immediate and cumulative impacts on greenhouse gases,” states a letter from Diane Nygaard of the North County nonprofit Preserve Calavera.
Other people have said the site is too close to the municipal airport to the west.
“Building houses under the flight path is just an accident waiting to happen,” Krammer said in her email.
Planning staff members are working with the environmental consultant Helix Environmental Planning, Inc., to prepare responses to the comments.
The developer, under approvals the city granted for The Pavilion project, completed a months-long grading project in 2020 to prepare the site for construction. Contractors trucked in 450,000 cubic yards of fill material to raise the property above the San Luis Rey River flood plain. Little has been done on the site since then.
No details have been released about what type of surfing lagoon would be built, and various technologies are available. Drawings show a rectangular pool with a wall at one end that would push waves toward an artificial beach at the other end.
Retailers such as surfboard shops, bicycle stores and purveyors of outdoor gear and clothing would be sought to complement the activities. A climbing wall, stand-up paddle-board pool and trails for hiking and biking also are part of the plan.
Man-made wave projects have proved popular elsewhere and more are on the way.
Professional surfer Kelly Slater opened his 20-acre Surf Ranch in 2016 at Lemoore, in Central California, more than 100 miles from the ocean. It held its first competition in 2018, and two-part reality TV show called “The Ultimate Surfer” recorded there this year aired on ABC in August. Oceanside resident Tia Blanco, a surfer and model, was one of the series’ two winners.
Progress is underway on four surf parks planned to open in the Coachella Valley in 2022-23, according to an article in Wave Pool Magazine.
One is a partnership between Slater and two development companies at Coral Mountain, a proposed master-planned, 400-acre private resort and residential community in La Quinta.