Several people wanted to know my opinion on the issue of allowing apartments to be built in Leucadia instead of condos. Since I am an opinionated person I will oblige.
I had opinions that didn't matter,
I had a brain like pancake batter.
--Jack White, The White Stripes
The North 101 Corridor Specific Plan says that any multifamily or other residential structure within the plan area must be constructed as condominiums instead of apartments. This probably seemed like a good idea at the time but these days developers don't want to build condos anymore because A) the market is dead for condos B) the people who buy condos are Nazis and will sue the developer sooner than later. The architecture firm my wife works for will no longer do condos because the liability insurance is too high.
People don't really want apartments built in their neighborhoods because apartments are mostly rented by A) Mexicans B) young people ages 18-30.
I heard that apartments don't have the same parking requirements as condos, so that becomes a huge problem.
In this week's Coast News article on the matter (Hey Coast News, please, please, please update your website. Transcribing stuff sucks. I want to copy and paste man) there is quote from Leucadia resident Mary Anne Penton who says, "Leucadia tends to be a dumping ground. We have enough low income housing. We don't have to carry the weight for low income housing for all of Encinitas."
Ouch. I felt a little sting there because I've rented apartments in Leucadia before. She does have a point though, how many low income apartments are there in say, Olivenhain?
I'm not really against apartments and here is why, since everyone in New Encinitas has 4 or 5 kids these days and those kids are rapidly approaching age 18; many of these kids need to strike out on their own. It's important that there are places for them to rent and live. It's a rite of passage, you get a few roommates, scrounge some ugly couches and learn how to pay rent and bills while working crappy night jobs at restaurants and going to school during the day. These 18-30 year olds are the most powerful consumer force in America. They spend money freely and are good for local business. Plus it's totally sweet to meet girls and bring them back to your swanky bachelor pad.
This age group of renters do bring bad things, like late night noise. It's a culture clash of sleepy baby boomers and wired up 20somethings. A well managed apartment complex shouldn't have too many problems and apartments should be built as soundproof as possible.
Vulcan Ave. in Leucadia is a well known apartment area. Some of them are nicer than others and some are fairly ghetto, run by slum lords. Some of those shag carpets haven't been changed in over 25 years and reek of beer and bong water. Many of the Vulcan apartments are rented by Mexican families. The general consensus of the local population is that all the Mexicans should move to Vista. Personally I like the diversity and the culture clash but that is not a popular opinion in this age of Minutemen and am talk radio screamers. I am also the only white person in the world who has an appreciation for Ranchero music besides my friend Josh. We both feel that tubas and accordians are overlooked instruments.
Now, regarding the apartments themselves. Regular readers of this blog know that I am an architecture snob. I hate ugly foo foo pink stucco crappy ass apartments. The vast majority of apartments built in southern California look like buildings that threw up on themselves. I have a conspiracy theory that developers who build apartments want the renters to feel bad about their lives so they make apartments as lame and tacky as possible. Then they label the apartments LUXURY.
The Poinsettia Ridge LUXURY apartments off Leucadia Blvd (by Target and the post office) are a good example of this lameness. With it's faux shutters and steroid puffiness I laugh everytime I drive by that stucco heap of shit.
An example of cool apartments would be the more modern approach taken by San Diego architect Ted Smith. His apartments are hip, cool and well designed and are cheaper to build than your typical southern California apartment complex.
Sorry I don't have better photos but this is the Ted Smith Merrimac apartment complex in Little Italy.
Planning Commissioner Bill Snow has this quote in the Coast News article, "Apartments can be nice or they can be crappy." This is true, the devil is in the details as always. Can we trust our planning commission to have our back and keep crappy architecture out of Leucadia? The Rite-Aid rejection gives me hope that they won't rubber stamp any apartment that comes crosses their desk. Oh, and props to Mr. Snow for using the word "crappy" in an official city meeting. Personally, I believe the word crappy should be found in architecture dictionaries.
Fred Caldwell, whom I have great respect for, has this quote, "Building apartments disrupts the flow of commerce. Apartment building are dead zones of commerce."
From the article, He asserted that the goal for Leucadia is to encourage a pedestrian friendly, business to business area along the corridor.
I agree 100%. Caldwell is a good man and he cares about Leucadia. I think a good compromise solution is too build mixed use live/work buildings. The greatest example of this has been in old school downtown Encinitas all along. On E St above the Detour hair salon are apartments. The key is that the apartments don't have balconies for drunk frat guys to lean over and leer at passing pedestrians. If any apartments are to be built on the coastal Leucadia corridor they should have business located in the ground floor. This creates a more lively downtown vibe. The landlord can collect rent from both civilian renters and a business. The coastal corridor gets more pedestrians walking around and patronizing the shops and restaurants. Call it Urban-Lite.
The commission has currently not reached a decision on this issue and will discuss it again next month.