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By Joe Naiman
Village News reporter 

CPG recommends zoning modifications for village area


Last updated 10/1/2020 at 5:33pm

The Fallbrook Community Planning Group was presented with two revitalization options during the planning group's Sept. 21 meeting and chose zoning and design guideline modifications.

Option 1 was a form-based code. Option 2 was an update of the county Zoning Ordinance and the community review guidelines and a streetscape plan for Main Avenue. An 11-0 vote, with three members recusing themselves due to potential conflict of interest, recommended Option 2.

"Option 2 would work better for Fallbrook," said planning group member Mark Mervich. "Option 2 gives us a little more flexibility."

In February 1996, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors activated a community revitalization program for several unincorporated communities in San Diego County. The committees include regular meetings, coordination of community resources, and direct connection to county staff and resources.

After the committee establishes goals committee members work with county staff to achieve those goals based on available resources.

In March 2019, the Board of Supervisors directed the county's chief administrative officer to establish and activate revitalization committees for Fallbrook, Valley Center and Borrego Springs. Revitalization committees were previously established in Alpine, the East County backcountry, Lakeside, Ramona and Spring Valley.

Members of the Fallbrook Revitalization Committee have been working with the county's Department of Planning and Development Services. The revitalization area would be bordered by View Street on the north, Mission Road on the west, Fallbrook Street on the south, and Brandon Road on the east.

PDS advance planning division chief Eric Lardy gave a presentation at the Sept. 21 planning group meeting. Lardy noted that three sets of meetings with community members have been held. "The No. 1 issue we heard about was parking," he said.

Lardy noted that both the quantity of parking or lack thereof and parking regulations have hindered the ability to improve existing building infrastructure. Lardy added that the county will perform a parking study which will review vacant parking spaces at different times of the day.

"We also heard a lot about the traffic congestion and speed," Lardy said.

The county will also review where visitors to the village area live to determine whether the existing land use activities are still the best mix for the village area. "We heard a lot about the land use in those areas," Lardy said.

"We also talked a little bit about economic development," Lardy said. "It's not necessarily something we have a large capital budget to do."

Lardy noted that while the county would likely not be able to provide economic assistance, PDS could assist with permitting.

"We need to make everything more cost-effective for business owners," said planning group member Victoria Stover.

Conventional form-based code is currently being used in Alpine and Ramona. "It focuses on building features and the area between the building and the street," Lardy said.

"It is a more complex code," Lardy said. "It takes some more time."

Lardy noted that form-based code is likely best for a new area being developed. "It may not be as beneficial for infill development," he said.

"Option 1 is when you have a community that's starting out," said Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Lila MacDonald, who also chairs the Fallbrook Revitalization Committee's public safety subcommittee.

The original subdivision map for what was then called "West Fallbrook" was recorded in 1887. "The community is not starting out," MacDonald said.

The zoning and design update option would have more of a focus on use. "It can more quickly change some of the regulations and be a more streamlined process," Lardy said.

In 2003, the Board of Supervisors approved five zoning classifications specific to Fallbrook. The Fallbrook village zoning and its associated regulations in Fallbrook's business district are intended to promote and preserve the village character, create a pedestrian-friendly environment for residents and visitors, and encourage the growth of Fallbrook's art industry. Uses which were in effect before the 2003 adoption of the Fallbrook village zoning are allowed to continue in those locations.

The Village 1 zone is intended to encourage primarily retail businesses fronting a pedestrian-oriented street, and residential dwelling is allowed as a secondary use. The Village 2 zone is intended to serve as a buffer between the retail-oriented Village 1 zone and the more industrial Village 3 zone; in addition to the uses allowed in the Village 1 area, Village 2 zoning also allows more intensive civic and automotive service uses while residences are allowed as a co-principal use subject to limitations.

The Village 3 area is intended to provide opportunities for clean industry and manufacturing, including art creation. All uses allowed under Village 1 and Village 2 zoning are also permissible in the Village 3 area, and the zoning also allows manufacturing and other general industrial uses if the activity is indoors and meets noise and other limitations.

The Village 3 zoning also allows service-oriented civic and commercial uses which are more intense than those allowed in the Village 1 and Village 2 areas. Residential use in the Village 3 area is allowed if it can be shown to be compatible with the adjacent commercial and industrial uses.

The Village 4 zoning is similar to the Village 1 zoning but allows for more automotive-oriented uses and a flexible front yard setback. The intent of the Village 5 area is principal and dominant administrative office and professional services use; residential uses are allowed, and development shall have a scale and appearance compatible and complementary to adjacent residential uses while uses which generate high volumes of vehicular traffic are prohibited.

"We could create new zones if we needed to," Lardy said.

The more likely option is that regulations for each of the five zones would be modified, and the county could also merge some of the zones.

"We can maintain what we have and really make it better," MacDonald said.

Although residences above a business are currently allowed in the village area, the updates may encourage more mixed use. "It's theoretically allowed now to be able to do that, but it's not happening," Lardy said.

Traffic as well as use could be reviewed in the zoning and design update. "We can focus on parking regulations," Lardy said.

Ideally PDS, with the assistance of the community, will review the updated zoning and design guidelines to ensure that they are still in the best interests of the Fallbrook village area.

"The intent is not to change our rural village," Lardy said.

The update of the design guidelines will help ensure that community character is retained. "The design guidelines are about the form of the building and what the building looks like," Lardy said.

The streetscape plan would also be part of the zoning and design guideline updates. Lardy noted that permission alone might not accomplish the goals of the community. "It may need other economic partnerships," he said.

Both options have an estimated development and processing cost between $200,000 and $400,000 and would take approximately two years to implement. The Board of Supervisors has budgeted $900,000 for Fallbrook revitalization.

"Option 2 would probably cost a little bit more," Lardy said.

Lardy explained that the Zoning Ordinance update, the design guidelines modifications, and the streetscape plan would be three different documents.

The proposed changes will first be brought to the Fallbrook Community Planning Group for approval of the specific measures. PDS will work with the planning group before bringing a formal proposal for approval. "We looked at projects that were more recent, but we also want to rely on the community group," Lardy said.

Meetings will also include the general public. "We would have a series of focus workshops," Lardy said.

The proposed changes will then be brought before the county's Planning Commission for a recommendation before being docketed for a Board of Supervisors hearing.


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