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Politics

Measure L: Deciding The Future Of Oceanside's Farmland

A sign on the edge of the land in Oceanside where the North River Farms development is proposed, May 23, 2019.
Alison St John
A sign on the edge of the land in Oceanside where the North River Farms development is proposed, May 23, 2019.

In an area dominated by commercial farms, Integral Communities, an Encinitas-based developer, wants to build a project called “North River Farms.”

The South Morro Hills neighborhood is where North River Farms would be located, creating a “farming community” for the city of Oceanside.

Measure L: Deciding The Future Of Oceanside’s Farmland
Listen to this story by Tania Thorne.

The North River Farms project, known as Measure L on the November ballot, includes a 268-acre site made up of 585 affordable homes, parks and trails, a fire station and a children’s learning center. But the key detail to the project is an 88-acre working farm.

Tanya Castaneda, with Yes on L, says the farm — the size of 67 football fields — will provide organically grown food for Oceanside families.

“Run by locals for locals, it will produce enough fruits and vegetables to feed thousands of local households and will establish U-pick fields, orchards and a farmer’s market — as well as an education center for children to learn the importance of agriculture,” she said.

The North River Farms development has been in the works for five years. The original proposal included nearly a thousand homes. The Oceanside City Council approved the final plan in November 2019.

Opponents pushed to overturn the council’s decision — collecting enough signatures to put it on the ballot for voters to decide.

South Morro Hills neighborhood farm adjacent to North River Road in Oceanside, CA.  October 21, 2020.
Mike Damron
South Morro Hills neighborhood farm adjacent to North River Road in Oceanside, CA. October 21, 2020.

Opponents of Measure L say project managers have been misleading about the impact North River Farms would have on the South Morro Hills area and beyond.

Dennis Martinek with Let Oceanside Vote says the project isn’t about preserving farming.

“They’re not building a farming community. What they're building is possibly some community gardens around the edge of the property. It’s very obvious that they are building a housing development, 585 units," Martinek said.

Martinek said the new development would result in a strain on North River Road.

“It's gonna result in over 7,000 vehicle trips each day on the two-lane road and that two-lane road is our main fire evacuation route not only for East Oceanside but also for Bonsall and Fallbrook,” he said.

Castaneda says several roads, including North River Road, will be expanded to accommodate the influx of traffic. She says developers plan to contribute $7.5 million dollars to roadway improvements at no cost to taxpayers.

A proposed map of the location for the North River Farms project in Oceanside. October 22, 2020
Yes On L
A proposed map of the location for the North River Farms project in Oceanside. October 22, 2020

Castaneda says the project's 585 affordable housing units is a good use of the land.

“If Measure L doesn't get a yes vote,” Castaneda said, “This land would revert to sprawl development of luxury homes on 2.5 acre lots with no public benefits.”

Opponents believe that if Measure L fails, the land will remain agricultural.

“There are no guarantees but the land now is agriculture and it would remain agriculture if this project is denied,” he said, “So the 2.5 acres is the minimum and economically they could not build estates on 2.5 acres lots here.”

Martinek says the proposed project site holds the last 12% of agriculture in Oceanside.

It’s now up to voters to decide if the city‘s need for more housing is more important than keeping the existing farms.