Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Density Destiny

Transforming Dumpy Little Areas; John DeWald's vision of high density


"Pacific Station," the "mixed-use" project proposed by Encinitas developer John DeWald, calls for two three-story buildings, a two-story restaurant and two levels of underground parking on the 1.39-acre lot between E and F streets. The 33-foot-tall buildings would be among the tallest in downtown Encinitas.

The project also would include a grocery store or pharmacy as the anchor, along with offices and smaller stores. The businesses would have 47 one- and two-level condominiums built on the floors above them.

full story on


The developer, John DeWald of Cardiff, is expected to present his plans for the subdivision to the Encinitas Planning Commission this month. DeWald would be able to build 10 homes on less than an acre near the beach by including a low-income residence in the mix.

Called Daphne Meadows, the planned subdivision adjoins the back of restaurants and stores on the west side of North Coast Highway 101. To the west is a mixture of single-family homes, duplexes and town homes. The beach -- at the bottom of a tall bluff -- is less than one block away.

DeWald said Tuesday that the Daphne subdivision would replace "a dumpy little area" with nice, small houses, each on its own little lot.

DeWald said it would not make economic sense to build multimillion-dollar homes so close to the highway and commercial strip.

What makes sense, he says, is providing housing that is within reach of working people.

By applying the state "density bonus" law, DeWald is entitled to exceed the property's zoning by two homes. Under the law, one of the homes can sell at market rate, but the other must be set aside for a qualifying "low-income" household.

full story on

Density Destiny

Developers are interesting creatures. They try so hard to say and do all the right things so not to anger the NIMBY's so their project can get built and they can get paid. But sometimes it's hard for developers to disguise their true selves.

DeWald attempts to build some goodwill by throwing in the working man angle. Affordable housing for hard working cops, fireman and teachers; the unsung American heros who are getting priced out of the neighborhoods they serve.

Sounds great. But DeWald quickly blows his cover by calling his Leucadia property "a dumpy little area".

This area includes Shatto's t-shirt store, Mozy Cafe and the beloved La Especial Norte. All important neighbors DeWald should want support from, not insult. I'm sure the homeowners on that street aren't impressed with getting called "dumpy".


Promised to boldly "transform" downtown Encinitas (as if it needed it with the recent streetscape facelift that improved the infrastructure but kept the charm) Pacific Station is an ambitious high density mixed use project that announces 21st century Encinitas like a Super Bowl ad.

The Pacific Station project has some good concepts; downtown urban living with underground parking and markets to serve the neighborhood.

But, judging from the concept drawings will it really work?

At best, Pacific Station will be like the Cardiff Seaside Market area with housing. At worst, it's a claustrophobic mess.

The multi curved roofs say "Hey, look at me I'm totally modern!" but unfortunately the curved roof line was plenty played out by 1998, let alone 2006. Maybe in 25 years the many curved roof lines in the Encinitas area will give us a retro look?

The living units, sure to be mostly short term summer rentals, are packed in close with no common area for residents to meet and greet, and offers views of the coast highway restaurants backsides and dumpsters.

The main metal building won't be any great loss but the other small quaint/cool metal barn building on F St will be missed.

The lifestyle of Pacific Station living, wedged between the busy coast Hwy101 and the constant blaring horns of passing and stopping trains, will mostly appeal to the younger hipster 20's and 30's crowd. Downtown Encinitas can provide them with some of the culture they crave; coffee shops, art films at the historic La Paloma theater, plenty of taco stands and Thai food and the Daily Double Saloon. But will the current Stepford-ish vibe that all residents of Encinitas must be in bed by 10 o'clock; no loud music, no parties, no DJ's or dancing allowed and the anti-skateboarding rules, spoil all the new fun?

I'm a fan of mixed use and I think Urban Lite style projects will be good for the coast highway strip. But I would like to see these projects be more thoughtful and subtle in Encinitas. Most developers are salivating to "transform" Encinitas into the next Newport or Manhattan Beach. This might be good for them and send them back to Ohio with a bulging wallet, but we need to keep our town functional and livable.

My friendly advice to developers and the city is to complete full traffic studies when it comes to major developments and changes like Pacific Station, the Cadmus intersection and Leucadia roundabouts, before shouting at the top of your lungs about it.

What we need is more Encinitas, not less. And "less is more" developments will bring us that. Pacific Station has potential. Will it be a great asset or another botched opportunity like the Lumberyard shopping center of the 80's?

I wish these Pacific Station style developments for Encinitas were a little less yuppie and were headed up by advanced thinking architects like San Diego's Ted Smith or Teddy Cruz.

Be mindful...

*The Planning Commission is discussing both of DeWald's projects at the Thursday January 11 meeting at city hall. link


  1. Ther in no market as a part of this project. You should do yourself a favor and quit touting this. It might be nice, but is not a part.

  2. For a guy who is touting the project J.P. just tore it a new one.

  3. I don't think Encinitas firemen qualify for low income housing because they make too much money.

  4. tortilla soup eaterJanuary 04, 2007 12:44 PM

    just tell me that especial norte is not going to get torn down, if it is i'm moving to idaho

  5. The Pacfic Station jams people in like sardines in a can. There is almost no open space, no commons and the housing will primarily appeal to short term rentals. I hate the existing plan.

    Daphne is one of my favorite flowers, the scent that fills the air when it is in bloom is to die for. The daphne meadows project has a smell but it is not sweet like the flower except for the developer. Low incme housing, you got to be kidding. An acre is 44000sqft. Ten units means 4000sqft lots. Side yards, back yards not likely. Twenty new cars searching for parking doesn't include boats, off-road vehicles,RV's and the like. Another project I have to hate.

  6. down in the dumpsJanuary 04, 2007 2:10 PM

    Thank god for guys like this DeWald cat to save us all from our dumpy little areas. THANK YOU.

  7. He is not building homes for the common folk on Daphne. He can make more money this way and if he is lucky the housing market will not have crashed by then and he will make a big killing.

    Good for him, but he should not try to say he is doing it for the little folk. That is spin. If he wanted to he could decide to only sell ALL of his units for cost plus 5% or something like that to a bunch of waiters and janitors. That would be a charitable and genuine thing to do.

    If he did that we might ask why a janitor should have the pleasure of an ocean near home when a young surgeon would have paid more to live in the same house. Why should the surgeon have to move to San Elijo Hills and not the janitor?

  8. City's driving out the charmJanuary 04, 2007 8:18 PM

    I don't think our water, sewer infrastructure can support either of these developments.

    I would really be sad to see La Especial Norte go, and Shatto, too. These businesses do give Leucadia charm, as does Mozy's. That was Papa Gus, and the City basically ruined it for him, in 2003, by making a new law where no one can have more than one "stove," in a home. People were not noticed of this change in law, either. City chased out, strong-armed, a small catering biz that Papa was running to make ends meet in his nearby residence. He threw his hands up and sold his business.

    This city has been ruled by money, developers and their "associates," for far too long. They have bulldozed over our heritage and our rights, too.

  9. "Lucky if the housing market hasn't crashed?" Sorry, It is crashing now. If you bought in the last two years you are going to take it in the shorts. Us Oldtimers bought our properties for 1/4 the price they will fetch today so we will still be here. In fact, when the Newbee folds, I just might pick up another short term rental too profit off this awesome place that everybody loves to remember as a small cool coastal town.

  10. Both these projects should be replaced by yurts and camel pens. They smell as bad as the camel pens will.

    You need a fatwah against these type developers. No respect for your community just cash. You should be glad you have no oil to sell. It would be worse.

  11. There is no MARKET or PHARMACY in the proposal, only bait, not conditions of approval.

    It is, of course, just possible Mr. DeWald really doesn't want to build this monster. It is possible he only wants to sell this monster to others. Discount the "Homey" attitude.

  12. I moved from Manhattan Beach to here, so I wouldn't have to live in an overpopulated beach town. After Manhattan Beach went this route -- they screwed the local town people. There is no where to park in their downtown -- they actually have valet parking, which you have to pay 11.00 for. UNREAL.
    We can not let this happen to us. Both of these project stink!!

  13. Look whats on the Planning Commission's agenda for the 11th, hopefully they won't pass this one!!!

    Planning Commission

    Planning Commission Hearing January 11, 2007
    Case #: 05-267 DR/MIN/CDP
    Location: 565 Westlake Street

    Case #: 06-097 DR/CDP
    Location: 763 Second Street

    Case #: 05-237 TM/MUP/DR/CDP/EIA
    Location: 687 South Coast Highway 101

    Case #: 06-170 MUPMOD
    Location: 2437 Summerhill Dr

  14. someone is making fun of camels on this blog.please stop it or I will give you a lump on your hump.


  15. The Planning Dept. is processing numerous mixed-use projects in downtown Encinitas, some better than others. One that seems poorly conceved is at the location of When in Rome. More underground parking, more full coverage of site.

  16. JP new post

    Developer proposing 1,000 homes south of San Marcos

    By: QUINN EASTMAN - Staff Writer

    ELFIN FOREST ---- A developer is proposing to build more than 1,000 homes on a plateau south of San Marcos' Coronado Hills, as part of a project called University Heights that could eventually become part of the city.

    Residents of the rural communities of Elfin Forest and Harmony Grove, some of whom were taken aback by its scope, got their first look at the plans Wednesday night at a meeting of the Elfin Forest/Harmony Grove Town Council.

    1000 homes equals 10,000 vehicles trips per day- thats 10,000 more cars cutting through Encinitas local streets to avoid the I5 jam north of Manchester. Get ready folks, traffic on our local streets will be getting a whole lot worse in the next few years.

    I bet the project EIR traffic study doesn’t even address the traffic impacts to Encinitas streets. But we all know we get all the cut through traffic from San Elijo Hills and we will get all of this development's 10,000 cars per day traffic as well.

    The only funny thing will be to watch the folks at San Elijo Hills fight this project screaming that the traffic will kill their community and ruin their quality of life. Go figure!

  17. Also, Oceanside is considering building a new stadium for the Chargers. Now as much as I love them (at least right now), can you imagine how much extra traffic that would add to the freeway and local roads? What are they thinking, or are they thinking at all? Is the green stuff REALLY that important to ruin all of the North Coastal area. We have to protest this and do what is necessary to stop this unchecked aggression.

  18. Yup. Just add a few more thousand cars to the I5 gridlock in the morning- no problem. We can have nonstop gridlock up to San Clemente.

  19. Bored by stupidityJanuary 05, 2007 8:56 PM

    Hey that sucks! ten thousand more cars added to the two hundred thirty thousand daily car trips Encinitas currently generates on its own? Those bastards!
    Surely nobody from Encinitas drives on roads in say Rancho Santa Fe or Solana Beach when the freeways are crowded, right? Get a clue putz, we live in a community of commuities.

  20. Please further elaborate on what you mean by "botched opportunity like the Lumberyard shopping center of the 80's"

    The Lumberyard seems pretty successful, and my friends and I love hanging out there for a chat in a mellow environment. Seriously, how was it botched?

  21. Sounds like we have some developers on board.

    Only 230k for all of Encinitas? Thats not that much. Adding another 10k from that one development coming through Encinitas, thats alot. There should be a moratorium on building until the developments pays for expanding I5.

    what about our lack of water and overcrowded street and beaches?

    Why would I support this development that take open space and give me more kooks on the beach, More kooks on our roads, and put money in your pocket?

  22. Dewald's vision looks like a place in Shanghai.

  23. When the Lumberyard added the fountain it was greatly improved (I love public fountains). There are a couple of nice places but overall the theme is hokey. It is very 80's and could use a major facelift in my opinion.
    The Lumberyard is rare in that the addition of a corporate business actually improved it. Someday I will post a full review of the decent but flawed Lumberyard.

  24. That's the first time I've heard the "M" word since the 80's. Let's hear more of it.

  25. M as in moratorium?


  27. I did ask on this blog, before, if they can have a moraturium up in Northern Calif, such as in Petaluma and Sebastopol, why can't we have one? They knew they didn't have the water and other infrastucture for rapid development. The people got to decide up there, not the developers.

  28. Get the petitions ready.

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