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North County's transit agency looks to maximize land use around its transit stations

The need for more housing and sustainable transportation has North County’s transit agency exploring ways to maximize the use of their land. North County Transit District (NCTD) says there is opportunity in the underutilized land around their transit stations.

“The goal is to transform our stations into vibrant, multi-mobility hubs that have mixed uses. Housing, commercial retail, as well as our transit operations," said Chris Orlando, the chief planning and communications officer with NCTD.

He said mixed-use projects are being proposed around four North County stations: Oceanside, Carlsbad Village, Carlsbad Poinsettia, and Escondido. The goal: "To not only drive ridership, but to also create revenue for the district and add housing to the region,” he said.

Pictured, an undated rendering showing the hotel and retail proposed for the Oceanside Transit Station.
Courtesy of North County Transit District
Pictured, an undated rendering showing the hotel and retail proposed for the Oceanside Transit Station.

Oceanside Transit Station redevelopment

  • Developer Selected: Toll Brothers
  • 547 residential apartments
  • 82 affordable housing units (15%)
  • 165 room hotel
  • 4,000 square foot train and bus transportation center
  • Enhanced pedestrian and bicycle access
  • 23,862 square feet for retail and dining options and parking structures
  • 1800 parking spaces for private and public use
  • Construction estimated to start: 2025

Source: North County Transit District

The furthest along in the pipeline is the redevelopment of Oceanside’s 10.2-acre transit center. That hub connects travelers to Greyhound, Amtrak, Orange County’s Metrolink trains, and NCTD’s Coaster, Sprinter, and Breeze buses.

The station's redevelopment includes over 500 mixed-income apartments, along with a boutique hotel, and commercial space. The transit center will also get modernized.

NCTD’s headquarters will also be relocated to Oceanside’s transit center. Once they’ve moved, their old building will be redeveloped into residential apartments that will include 176 market rate units and 30 affordable units.

“The redevelopment of the Oceanside Transit Center is a keystone for the city and their long term vision of the development of the city. Redevelopment of this site is an extension of downtown,” said Lillian Doherty, NCTD’s director of planning and development.

She said developers are currently negotiating with the city of Oceanside, and construction is anticipated to start in 2025.


Oceanside city council member Eric Joyce said while the project has many benefits to travelers, he will be pushing for a space that benefits the Oceanside community.

Pictured, North County Transit District's administrative offices in Oceanside, Calif. February 14, 2023.
Tania Thorne
Pictured, North County Transit District's administrative offices in Oceanside, Calif. February 14, 2023.

"We're always looking for more community spaces. We have the Junior Seau (Beach Community Center) not too far away... But there's never enough space for programming. There's never enough space for our classes," Joyce said. "So we are working with the developer to make sure there's something that is a public benefit directly in the final project."

Joyce said he also hopes the affordable housing element will help keep more people from getting pushed out of the city.

"I think this project, in particular, is really important, and it's a really good opportunity for us to show that new development is actually working for the people that live in Oceanside," Joyce said.

Carlsbad Village Transit Station redevelopment

  • Developer Selected: West Village Partners
  • 184 market rate housing units
  • 50 affordable housing units (27%)
  • 110 room boutique hotel
  • 435 NCTD designated parking spaces
  • 407 commercial/retail/other parking spaces.
  • 17,000 square feet of ground floor retail space
  • 80,000 square feet of office space
  • Construction estimated to start: 2025

Source: NCTD

Carlsbad Poinsettia Transit Station redevelopment

  • Developer Selected: Raintree Partners
  • 146 market rate housing units
  • 31 affordable housing units (17%)
  • 345 NCTD-designated parking spaces
  • 398 parking for residential/visitor use
  • 5,00 square feet of ground floor retail space
  • Construction estimated to start: 2027

Source: NCTD

Carlsbad’s two transit stations are also up for redevelopment. Last month, two developers were chosen for the Carlsbad Village station and the Poinsettia station.

"We anticipate that there will be mixed-use development that will provide for affordable housing and market rate housing, as well as ground floor retail," Doherty said.  

Between the two projects, Carlsbad will get 411 more apartments, and 81 of them will be affordable housing.

"Between NCTD and MTS (San Diego Metropolitan Transit System), there's a real big effort at creating more housing for folks," said Corinna Contreras, who represents Vista on the NCTD board.

She said the agencies are making progress when it comes to housing, but when it comes to transit, there is still more to be done to connect North County with the rest of San Diego.

"To have on the 78 (freeway) transit priority lanes or managed lanes that allow our buses to go from Vista and quickly down to San Diego, that provides us more opportunity. Whether that's economic opportunity or the opportunity to participate in different recreational things," Contreras said.

Escondido Transit Center is the newest project NCTD has opened up for proposals, with 13 acres available for housing and retail.

Developers have until March to submit their plans.

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