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Vista plans to add 88 apartments.

The city of Vista has approved a controversial apartment project just South of the 78 off Melrose. The Breeze Hill Promande back portion will be removed to make way for 88 new units to be rented out at market rate.

Courtsey of Teri Figueroa

Courtsey of Teri Figueroa

While it's obvious we need more affordable housing in North County San Diego, local residents are worried the traffic and crowding. Resident Nicki Hobson, part of a growing group dubbed Vistans for a Livable Community, said traffic and parking — already “oozing out” onto nearby residential streets — top the concerns. She said building more apartments could also bring a hit to property values and could destroy the community’s identity.

Silvergate Development, the company behind the project, said they “totally agreed” with the city’s findings. He said he has worked with neighbors, listening to and responding to their concerns.

For instance, Silvergate has cut the size of the project, shrinking it from 100 units to 88 units, which allows for 25 feet of space between the buildings and the street. Under the previous plan, the buildings were 15 feet from the street. Zoning at the site allows as many as 124 units.

The land is zoned mixed-use, which in most cities means a combination of residential and commercial units. Vista, however, allows mixed-use to mean either residential or commercial or a combination of the two. The planned Breeze Hill complex doesn’t include any stores or commercial uses, so critics argue it should conform to residential zoning rules.

Several new apartment complexes are in the pipeline in Vista, which — like the rest of the region — is in the middle of a housing squeeze.

Rents are rising, and vacancy rates are at about 2.8 percent in North County, according to a spring 2016 survey by the San Diego County Apartment Association. Countywide, the vacancy rate is 4.5 percent.

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