The Oceanside City Council voted 5-0 Wednesday to overturn the Planning Commission’s approval of online shopping giant Amazon’s plans to open a distribution center with about 500 employees in the Ocean Ranch Corporate Center.
Council members said an addendum to Amazon’s application produced after the Planning Commission’s unanimous approval in May showed discrepancies in the information provided to the city about the number of delivery vans, noise, parking and other details of the project.
A representative for the project, Jeff Forrest of the San Diego law firm Sheppard Mullen, said Wednesday that the additional information was provided at the request of the city. “We listened to what the public was saying, went back and revised,” he said, adding that the addendum expanded on the earlier information and did not conflict with it.
Forrest and another representative of the applicant, Scott Moffatt of the Lincoln Property Company, did not respond to emails Thursday asking for comments on the decision.
The package distribution center was widely opposed by residents of two nearby residential communities, who said their quality of life would be severely affected by the noise, lights and traffic of the 24-hours-a-day operation.
“It’s going to create a serious traffic problem at all the intersections in this area,” said resident Reuben Estrada.
“This project threatens the safety and welfare” of people who live nearby, said Jeanne Leeper, a resident of the Vista Capri neighborhood. “All night it will shine light into our homes … (and) send invasive noise pollution into our homes.”
Many of the residents opposing Amazon live in the St. Cloud community on land that originally was part of the 400-acre Ocean Ranch Corporate Center. In 2004, the city changed the zoning on 28 acres from industrial to residential at the request of the center’s developer Stirling Enterprises to build the homes.
The residents filed three separate appeals of the Planning Commission’s approval of the Amazon center. Rather than support the appeals, the council voted to deny the project.
“The traffic and noise impacts appear to be underestimated,” said Councilmember Peter Weiss, who moved for the denial. Mayor Esther Sanchez seconded the motion.
No one could have anticipated a company like Amazon and its 24-hour-a-day distribution center when the city approved the Ocean Ranch center in 1999, Sanchez said. Nor could they have expected the residential development to be built next door to the site.
About 30 people spoke to the council on the issue Wednesday, some in person and some remotely by Zoom, and their support was divided. Many were union members or Amazon employees who said the city needs the jobs.
“It’s exactly the type of development for this property,” said Al Sanchez, a 30-year Oceanside resident and second generation, 36-year member of the Laborers International Union of North America.
“We support developers who hire well-trained union tradesmen,” said Ralph Velador, the union’s Southern California coordinator. “This developer gives us the opportunity to build.”
Several pointed out that the hundreds of Amazon vans that would work out of the center already deliver in Oceanside from nearby centers in Vista or Carlsbad.
Others said the jobs are low-wage and high-turnover, and that Oceanside could get a better employer for the site, which is the last available in the corporate center.
Amazon proposed building a 142,746-square-foot, single-story, concrete tilt-up building on Ocean Ranch Boulevard with 15 truck terminals and parking for 230 employee vehicles and 703 fleet vehicles. It would cover two vacant industrial pads totaling 28 acres near an existing FedEx warehouse and the U.S. postal facility on Avenida del Oro.
The Amazon distribution center would provide “last-mile transit” for orders packaged elsewhere from inventory stored at one of the company’s “fulfillment centers.”