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Vista Motel 6 to transform into studio apartments for rent

The Vista City Council has approved the transformation of a former Motel 6 into a studio apartment building.

The renovated property will include 75 studio apartments averaging 375 square feet each.

The rent price will be based on market rates at the time they are rented. If construction was completed today, the rents would be around $1,400 per month, according to Vista International, the property developers.


During the Aug. 9 city council meeting, a special use permit was granted amending the city's code to allow for a single-room occupancy (SRO) development at 330 Mar Vista Drive, the former Motel 6.

The vote was 3-2 with council members Corinna Contreras and Katie Melendez voting against the project.

Contreras said the rent is anything but affordable.

"What I disagree with is calling this any kind of attainable or affordable housing, because it is not deed restricted. And essentially what this developer is doing is very modest modifications," she said.

Contreras said brand new, luxury, studio apartments, with more square footage are going for approximately $2 per square foot in the city of Vista.


“If we're looking at $1500 dollars per room, at an average of 375 square feet, that's $4 per square foot ... that's outrageous," Contreras said. "Without a deed restriction ... I can't swallow this for the community."

Contreras toured a model unit before the city council meeting and was unimpressed.

She said that for the "market value" price tag, she would like to see more renovations done.

“For someone to be paying $4 per square foot for a new paint job, 375 square feet of space — where previously people were allowed to smoke, and the room hasn't been gutted, there hasn't been an attempt to mitigate that ... That's a huge issue for me," Contreras said.

Renovations to the units include new paint, flooring and installation of efficiency kitchens. The property will get renovated landscaping, energy efficient lighting, repairs to the pool and tennis court, and additional parking.

Contreras fears that approval of the project could set the stage for future rental prices in the city of Vista.

"What does that do for the history moving forward of what we are charging per square foot?" she asked.

Council member Joe Green agreed that the price per square foot was high, but that it is a product the city of Vista doesn't have right now.

"I want the community to see what the alternative could possibly be ... (Developers) make this into an Airbnb where you charge $120 bucks a night and you make four grand per unit on 75 units, and you don't replace anything," he said. "I know the other option isn't providing housing for the community."

Other concerns raised were the traffic on the busy road leading to state Route 78 and the lack of public transportation nearby.

Vista resident, Wardell Campbell, pays $950 a month for a low income studio on Postal Way. He's familiar with the Motel 6 property and thinks the price is too high for the size.

"A reasonable price for low income would be no more that $1000. Especially with the Motel 6, the rooms are just way smaller," Campbell said. "Something reasonable would be $700 to $800 for something like that.”

No date has been set on when the units will be available.

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