Encinitas group appeals commission's approval of Marea Village project
Jacqueline Covey, July 6, 2022
ENCINITAS — Despite being labeled a “model project” by city planning commissioners, Marea Village, the sister development to luxury Alila Marea Beach Resort in Leucadia, has officially received local pushback.
Local group Friends of Seabluffe is challenging the Encinitas Planning Commission’s recent approval of developer Larry Jackel’s Marea Village mixed-use project, which consists of 94 rental apartment units, 34 hotel units, four mixed-use commercial buildings and two commercial buildings, and connects to the neighboring resort.
“In terms of effectively utilizing this property, this is the right place for the project on a commercial and residential level,” said Chairman Kevin Doyle during the June 16 meeting.
Represented by land-use attorney Everett DeLano, Friends of Seabluffe argue the 110,000-square-foot Marea Village development will negatively impact aesthetic value, land use, neighborhood character, traffic and air quality. The group hopes to appeal the project and its “inadequate” final environmental impact report.
In a June 27 letter to the city, DeLano writes the approval of Marea Village is inconsistent with land use requirements under the city’s Local Coastal Program, and the city failed to address relevant comments about the Final Environmental Impact Report.
The development is set for the Coastal Overlay Zone and must conform to the Encinitas Local Coastal Program, DeLano wrote in his appeal to the city.
DeLano argued that the presented project is inconsistent with the city’s general and specific plans for development in that area. One major factor is multiple asks for the height increases, with the largest being a 10-foot-6-inch allowance for a mixed-use, flat-roofed building.
The development’s proposed height far exceeds the “existing community conditions and is thus not compatible with existing development in that area,” DeLano wrote.
“As is demonstrated by the project plans, the project’s bulk and scale are out of character when compared to surrounding structures and communities,” DeLano said.
Leucadia resident Pete Albanese, who is not in favor of the project, agrees with DeLano’s sentiment.
Living off nearby Europa Street for nearly a decade, Albanese said the coastal community might not be the place for the extensive Marea Village buildout.
“I think the big problem here is the location they’re putting in density,” Albanese said. “Leucadia infrastructure is not supportive. This is a beach community with old infrastructure.”
The Marea Village Final Environmental Impact Report notes the potential for significant adverse impacts on carbon emissions, traffic and biological resources that can be mitigated through intelligent planning.
However, on behalf of the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, Pasadena-based attorney Mitchell Tsai argues the project’s environmental impact report, which claims no significant emission impacts, is “legally inaccurate,” as the study relied on offset mitigation methods to reach its conclusion.
Tsai said the environmental impact report must be recirculated to reflect the city’s additional observation of the traffic conditions in that area.
Traffic and the preservation of public infrastructure are a concern among residents and the public, too. Albanese said that La Costa Avenue, adjacent to the site, is “a disaster.”
“The [final environmental impact report] concludes the projects’ [vehicle miles traveled] impact will be significant,” DeLano wrote in a June 15 letter to the city. “Despite the acknowledgement of a significant VMT impact, the final EIR failed to consider feasible mitigation measures that would reduce VMT impacts.”
Another cause for concern is the project’s Density Bonus designation. The entire project site is subject to the requirements of Senate Bill 330 and is eligible for certain incentives — such as the leniency on the height.
While Albanese is not against unit-dense developments, he feels Marea Village is not appropriate for the coastal corners of the city. In his opinion, the city may be seeking to aggravate traffic.
“They want to bring us to a standstill,” Albanese said of the congested area near the project site in Leucadia. “They want us out of our cars, and more development will cause more problems.”