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Emotions run high, Vista council approves Santa Fe Vista Apartments project

Deep in discussions - emotions ran high Tuesday night as neighbors turned out to again object to the Santa Fe Vista apartment Project at 1375 South Santa Fe Avenue.
Deep in discussions - emotions ran high Tuesday night as neighbors turned out to again object to the Santa Fe Vista apartment Project at 1375 South Santa Fe Avenue.
Carla Miles

Vista City Council members got another very vocal earful from property owners in a neighborhood surrounding a proposed plan for apartment units at 1375 S. Santa Fe Avenue last night, but they unanimously approved the site development plan application anyway.

Objections continued as property owners vented their upset and still festering turmoil about anticipated traffic and density issues Tuesday night, and few seemed able to appreciate any of the changes which the property owner made after listening to their concerns in previous months. "It's a beautiful project, but put it somewhere else" seemed an overriding attitude as stated by at least two speakers.

Despite a number of substantial revisions being made by property owner Tim Winslow, after hearing his neighbors concerns made at the June 10 council hearing previously reported upon at the Examiner, continued objections were voiced to Vista City Council members.

Each council member patiently took time to listen and then explain their own thoughts before voting on the matter.

Rush hour traffic

Thomas Brown, originally from the East coast, said he lives in the area. "Right now, come rush hour, it's bumper-to-bumper as it is," he told the council. He added that 18-wheelers have problems coming off the freeway there anyway and the roundabout addition would make the traffic flow worse for them all. (Council members later responded that it is illegal for 18-wheelers to be there, and there was signage so stating.)

Another property owner warned that guests visiting apartment dwellers would have no place to park in the complex, and so would be parking anywhere they could find and then running across the street and jaywalking.

One of the few speaking in support of the project, another resident said that traffic was predictable on Mar Vista. He said he spent time looking at the information provided for this project and believed there would be time to "adapt" to traffic. "... we users of Mar Vista will have time to adapt to a slight increase in traffic. Now I guess, however, that it's going to take two to four months to reach low vacancy, so there's going to be time then to get used to the gradual increase."

Vista Chamber of Commerce

Bret Schanzenbach, Chief Executive Officer at Vista Chamber of Commerce, came out once again in support of the proposed plan. "We are here ... to encourage you to adopt the staff's recommendation in favor of this project."

Schanzenbach added:

"You're in a tough spot, there's no doubt that any project that is ever done in that corner will impact some traffic on Mar Vista. There's no way around it. The owner even shared last night when we were discussing this that at one point he was in discussions with a Walmart to possibly to go, and I can only imagine what discussions we'd be having now if that were coming forward instead of some .. apartments. It's a quality development that meets the zoning that you and your leadership have put together for that property. To reject the project at this point would feel like ... telling the owner it's ok to own that piece of dirt as long as you never do anything but keep it dirt."

12 year struggle

In a previous planning commission meeting on the project last May, property owner Tim Winslow made his own remarks regarding the property. These comments were officially stated to be:

"Mr. Winslow said that he had struggled with this property for over twelve years; at one time it was zoned commercial and after hiring the best commercial brokers in the area, the only proposal he received was from Walmart which soon lost interest when they were told they would have to conduct an EIR (Environmental Impact Report). Mr. Winslow said that the General Plan and multiple years of General Plan Amendments were worked on over the years and everyone in the room was welcome to attend those meetings and express their views on zoning. Mr. Winslow stated that what resulted from all those years of discussing the General Plan was that this subject neighborhood lacked the people to shop at the stores; it needed the rooftops in order to increase the retail sales and services there."