Oceanside surf lagoon resort makes waves at meeting

SAN DIEGO — Plans to build a resort and new homes around a wave lagoon cleared a key hurdle in Oceanside last week.

Ocean Camp would take over a 92-acre site at Mission Avenue and Foussat Road, near state Route 76, that was once used for swap meets and a drive-in theater.

Developers outlined their vision for the project at a July 25 Oceanside Planning Commission Meeting. Resort lodging would include a four-story hotel with 232 rooms, over a dozen more “villas” and “casitas,” and a series of Airstream trailers for guests on site.

The rooms will surround a 3.5-acre lagoon with artificial waves of various sizes for surfers. The technology is similar to that of Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch in Lemoore, just south of Fresno.

A map for the Ocean Kamp development, which includes an artificial surf lagoon, resort and new housing planned for North County San Diego. (Photo: N4FL Development via Oceanside Planning Commission)

When sets of “perfect waves” aren’t rolling in, the developers say guests can use the lagoon for stand-up paddle-boarding or other activities.

The project also brings a conference building, retail space and housing, with up to 700 new homes in the form of condos and apartments.

Jonathan Corn, the CEO of N4FL Development, displayed renderings and took questions from commissioners at the July 25 meeting. Officials also heard from public commenters. The speakers included residents who supported the project, and some who opposed on environmental or other grounds. The commission also heard from a significant number of union representatives who want to work on the project.

Diane Nygaard, who spoke representing the nonprofit Preserve Calavera, called the lagoon’s waves a “giant toilet flush.” She took issue with the project’s approach to affordable housing, with only some of the city’s required units being built, and others accounted for by paying the city a fee. And she raise environmental concerns.

“Do we need expensive ‘pay-to-play’ games that wastes hundreds of thousands of gallons of water when our region is in a sustained drought?” Nygaard asked the commission. “Do we need to increase our greenhouse gases and roadway congestion for a project like this that isn’t smart growth, and makes climate change worse?”

Corn responded to concerns about water waste, in part, by comparing the project to golf courses. He said he anticipates the lagoon will use about 5.2 million gallons of water per year, with about an 80% loss due to evaporation, filtration and “spillage.”

“Every year, you’re probably going to put in another 4 (million),” Corn said.

By comparison, an average 18-hole golf course uses 90 million gallons per year, the developer continued. That’s according to the California Alliance for Golf.

After hearing impassioned pleas from union workers and their leadership to include more of their work in the project, commissioners said the because the project was private, they wouldn’t have authority to make any kind of requirements about who the developer does and doesn’t hire.

“That’s not our sphere of influence, we don’t go there,” said Planning Commission Vice Chair Thomas Morrissey.

After all the discussion, the commission voted 6-0 to certify the supplemental environmental impact report they were discussed and approved a tentative map and conditional use permit for the project. Morrissey called the development the “greatest project I’ve seen here in a long time.”

Reached by email, a spokesperson for the Oceanside Planning Division said the project will likely get appealed to the city council, which has final decision-making authority.