COMMON QUESTIONS
Click here for the project Fact Sheet and visit the Overview page for more project details. If you have a question that is not answered below or would like more information, please email us at RevitalizingSH@hgfenton.com. We appreciate your interest and look forward to continuing the conversation with you.

GENERAL PROJECT QUESTIONS

Why does the Solana Highlands apartment community need to be revitalized?

Solana Highlands is nearly 50 years old and was built even before Solana Beach became a city. Residents of Solana Beach today need something more functional, attractive and environmentally sustainable to fit their lifestyles and expectations. With this project, we also have an opportunity to address shortcomings of the current site like insufficient parking and poor traffic circulation which will benefit its residents and neighbors as well.

H.G. Fenton, a family-owned San Diego company since 1906, plans to own and manage Solana Highlands for decades to come.  We want to provide homes where our residents can live well and of which all city residents can be proud.

How many homes are proposed?

The revitalized Solana Highlands will have 260 apartment homes from its current 198 units.

What impact will this project have on housing supply in Solana Beach?

Only 27 new housing units were built in Solana Beach between 2010 and 2016 per the City’s most recent housing element update. The housing element is required by the state and had projected a need for 340 new housing units in Solana Beach during that period.

Revitalizing Solana Highlands will provide 62 new housing units including 32 new units for low-income seniors as Solana Beach’s population ages  (See SANDAG population projections below).

SANDAG population chart

How has the project plan changed based on community input?

For nearly a decade, we’ve been engaging with community members and their input has led to a revitalized Solana Highlands plan that reflects their feedback and preferences. To learn more, see our project history in the News & Events section.  Through the story pole and View Assessment process that began in 2015, the plan has been adjusted so that key buildings are set up to 17 feet lower to eliminate view impacts and two of the three-story Valley View buildings have been reduced to two stories. Additional parking spaces and affordable senior housing were also incorporated based on the community’s needs.

What improvements are planned?

We plan to invest in many improvements. These include attached parking garages for most units, washer-dryers and storage space in all homes, updated interiors and Craftsman-style exteriors, energy efficiency features, more recreational and fitness features, significantly more parking on the property and increased landscaping and usable open space for residents including bicycle and pedestrian-friendly features.

How many units per building are planned?

Our plans include six homes per Bungalow building and between 4-32 homes per Valley View and Lifestyle buildings. Click here to view the complete site plan.

 

PARKING QUESTIONS

How much parking will be provided?

Accommodating more vehicles onsite is important.   We’ll increase parking to 525 spots from 311, which is a 68% increase in parking to accommodate a 31% increase in homes. In addition, all of the 228 market rate apartments will have private garages per the latest plans. Parking will be increased to just over two spaces per home from roughly one and a half spaces today.

Will parking space width be maintained while expanding the number of parking spaces?

The parking space dimensions will meet or exceed the minimum standards required by the City of Solana Beach. No compact spaces are currently planned, and the drive aisles between spaces will meet or exceed the City’s minimum width to improve traffic flow and parking convenience.

Will it be more convenient for Solana Highlands residents to park on S. Nardo Avenue or on the property?

Onsite parking for Solana Highlands will expand considerably, making it more convenient. Specifically, the units closest to S. Nardo Ave. will have more convenient access to garages than to street parking. Some of the garages will open directly into first floor units or to the interior courtyard for second floor units. Additionally, the lowered pad elevation further deters residents from parking on the street.

Will anything special be done with the sidewalk or parking along S. Nardo Ave. to make it less convenient for Solana Highlands residents to park there?

The design of pedestrian sidewalks and street parking will be evaluated by the City of Solana Beach with input from residents. Additionally, the lowered pad elevation further deters residents from parking on the street.

Will residents be charged a fee for parking or for garages?

One bedroom leases will include one parking space and two bedroom leases will include two spaces. In addition to the 380 parking spaces included in the residents’ leases, there will be 145 additional rentable and guest parking spaces. In addition, all the onsite parking will be more accessible, convenient and secure with after-hours gated entry.

How much guest parking will be provided in the Revitalized Solana Highlands?

There will be 65 guest parking spaces, or 1 guest space for every 4 units. The Revitalized plan will provide 68% more parking overall while only increasing the units by 31%, which will provide significantly more parking for both residents and guests. Today there is not enough parking on site, guest spots are scarce in some areas and parking within the property is not connected. The Revitalized plan is designed to alleviate these issues with increased parking, evenly distributed and more convenient guest spots and improved community circulation.

 

TRAFFIC QUESTIONS

How will traffic be affected on surrounding streets?

Traffic flow and safety on S. Nardo Ave. is a priority. Our current plan reduces and relocates driveway entrances to improve traffic flow. The current four entrances off S. Nardo Ave. will be reduced to two. The main entrance will be moved further east on S. Nardo Ave., closer to Stevens Ave. and away from Fresca St., to guide traffic toward the I-5 and away from the surrounding neighborhood. The 32 affordable senior homes will be accessed from Stevens Ave.

What is “traffic calming” and will the project include it?

Traffic calming refers to mechanisms that might help slow traffic on S. Nardo Ave. such as narrowing the road in some places or building raised crosswalks.  The City is evaluating these concepts, but the desires of the community, especially neighboring owners along S. Nardo Ave., are important to help determine which, if any, of these techniques might be implemented.

 

ARCHITECTURE & BUILDING QUESTIONS

What will the new Solana Highlands look like?

The 13-acre site will be broken into three neighborhood areas. Each will feature Craftsman-inspired architecture that incorporates the character of the surrounding community. The buildings’ color palettes, building materials, rooflines and grades will be varied to create visual interest and be consistent with the appearance of the surrounding neighborhoods. In some cases, street-facing buildings will be set back as far as 40 feet from the street. All two-story Nardo-facing buildings will be lower than current street-facing buildings at Solana Highlands today, and taller buildings will be located towards the southern sloping portion of the property. New landscaping will consist of water-wise plants, trees and groundcover.

You can see a conceptual site plan, architectural renderings and a summary of the most recent changes made to the site plan and elevations on the Overview page featured on our project website. Email us at RevitalizingSH@hgfenton.com to schedule a time to meet the community manager or ask questions.

How tall are the buildings?

Please refer to the latest project Fact Sheet to see the significant modifications made to building locations and heights.

The current site plan proposes buildings of varying heights.  The architectural concept envisions a one- and two-story character along S. Nardo Ave. as well as increased setbacks from the street, which is consistent with the scale of development in the neighborhood. All Nardo-facing buildings will be lower than any current street-facing building. The tallest buildings will be three stories and located at the center of the property and southeastern slope towards Stevens Ave.

What is the height of the tallest building?

In response to community input, building pads have been lowered three to 17 feet across the property in the new site plan. The tallest building will be 38.3 feet tall from its base to the highest peak of its roof. Its eave height (the edge where the roofline starts) will be 30 feet. This building is located on the lower slope of the Solana Highlands site.

How will the new project affect views and privacy for neighboring residents?

Based on the City’s View Assessment process, we have worked with neighbors to make significant modifications to the site plan to accommodate individual neighbor feedback. This results in all building pads being lowered three to 17 feet across the property in the new site plan.

How does the project comply with height and density restrictions in the City’s development code?

The project is following State law and local ordinances that provide incentives and waivers for increased height and density in some situations. The site plan is designed with low densities along the street-facing, two-story Bungalow homes, while the Valley View and Lifestyle homes accommodate the additional density in a two- and three-story design located behind the Bungalow buildings to ensure that the height does not impact the street view. In addition, all Nardo-facing buildings will be no taller than any current street-facing building. While the 13.4-acre property is zoned for 20 units per acre, or 268 units, the density calculation is based on net acres which are expected to total less than 13 acres and require a density bonus.

Why are three-story buildings proposed to be built in the middle and the southern part of the site?

We have designed the revitalized project to respect and reflect the existing character of the neighborhoods surrounding our large site.

Neighborhoods to the north and east are predominantly one- and two-story single-family homes and multi-family residential developments. Therefore, we’ve strategically placed our two-story Bungalow neighborhoods at the north end of the project.

Neighborhoods to the south of the project are a mix of commercial and residential uses, including two- and three-story residential complexes such as Ocean Crest and La Vida Del Mar retirement community.  Accordingly, we’ve placed our two- and three-story buildings towards the middle of the project.

This approach was chosen to best blend with the surrounding Solana Beach neighborhoods.

What is the height of the three-story buildings at the outside edges of the roofs?

The eave heights at the edge of the three-story buildings where the roofline start will range from 29 to 34 feet.

 

SUSTAINABILITY QUESTIONS

What are the project’s environmental impacts?

The City has published the draft Environmental Impact Report for public comment, which analyzes potential environmental impacts of the project and identifies any necessary mitigation measures. You can view the draft EIR here.  H.G. Fenton has been honored for its environmentally responsible designs for both water and energy conservation. Learn more on our Overview page. The project is incorporating sustainability features that reduce the community’s environmental impact.

What are the project’s sustainability features?

Sustainability features include:

  • Electric vehicle charging stations
  • Photovoltaic panels
  • Low water use appliances, in-home fixtures and irrigation
  • Low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paints
  • Community recycling program
  • Energy Star appliances
  • Energy-efficient LED lighting, appliances and HVAC design
  • Saltwater pool with solar heating
  • Building insulation elements installed under the inspection of the HERS rating agency
  • Drought-tolerant landscaping
  • Reclaimed water for irrigation
  • Walking paths and bicycle lockers will also help residents live more sustainable lifestyles

 

WATER USE & LANDSCAPING QUESTIONS

Will Solana Highlands use recycled water? Is there a requirement for “purple pipes”?

The Revitalized Solana Highlands landscape plan incorporates a recycled water, or “purple pipe,” system to irrigate the community’s landscaping.

Will the revitalized Solana Highlands reduce residential water use?

In addition to recycled water being used to irrigate landscaping, the apartment community will incorporate the latest water-efficient appliances and fixtures and each have their own individual water meter, which allows residents to actively take control of their water usage and monitor their conservation efforts.

Will you replace grass with less water-intensive groundcover?

We will use artificial turf in many areas that functionally require manicured turf, such as for a dog run or children’s play area. All other areas will be low water use spreading groundcover or shrubs, and possibly some naturalizing grasses in bio-retention facilities. Recycled water will be used for all landscaping within the Revitalized Solana Highlands community.

What are you planning to do with the trees?

Trees will be removed during grading. We are currently studying some options for preserving some of the mature trees along S. Nardo Ave. The ability to preserve these trees will depend on the condition of the trees and will be evaluated by a professional arborist. In total, two new trees will be planted for every tree that is removed based on the current landscape plan.

 

AFFORDABLE HOUSING QUESTIONS

Will the revitalized Solana Highlands have affordable apartment homes?

Yes, City regulations require that new developments incorporate provisions for affordable housing. The project will include 32 affordable units at the Low-Income level, which will be designated to provide housing for the community’s low-income seniors, a growing segment of the community.

Is the project displacing any low-income housing units?

No. The existing project originally included 39 affordable units at the Very Low-Income levels, but the original affordable housing obligation expired in 2010, and most of these units have been converted to market rate units upon the departure of the tenant. The few remaining tenants who qualified for affordable housing rents prior to 2010 will be offered the opportunity to relocate to the new affordable apartments (if they meet the age requirements) or will receive relocation benefits.

How will a revitalized Solana Highlands impact current and prospective low-income residents? 

Solana Highlands currently has 14 affordable units that become market rate upon vacancy. As part of the revitalized Solana Highlands, 32 affordable units are proposed, which would increase the available inventory of low-income housing in Solana Beach. Prospective tenants will need to meet age and income qualifications for the proposed units. More details about the application process and selection will be available approximately six months prior to completion of the senior apartments.

 

APPROVAL PROCESS QUESTIONS

Have you presented this project to the City yet?

Yes, we have submitted our plans to the City. An Environmental Impact Report is expected any day for public review in advance of a City Council hearing sometime later this year (date TBD).

When will the City decide on the project and how can residents continue to stay engaged?

The City is currently circulating the project’s environmental impact report for public comment.  While no dates have been set, a future City hearing will provide an opportunity for public comment. In the meantime, if you would like to support the revitalization of Solana Highlands or have concerns you feel we haven’t addressed in our plans, we want to hear from you. You can reach us by emailing us at RevitalizingSH@hgfenton.com. We appreciate your interest.

 

CONSTRUCTION QUESTIONS

When will construction start?

No construction will start until after we collect community feedback on our plans, submit the finalized project to the City for its review and the project receives all required City approvals.

How long will construction last?

The estimated construction timeline for a three-phased construction project is 39 months.  Our goal will be to minimize any construction impacts on our neighbors.

What about construction noise and dust?

H.G. Fenton will follow the City of Solana Beach’s policies for noise and dust control during construction. Although noise and dust are inevitable on a construction site, H.G. Fenton prides itself on being a good neighbor and will follow all ordinances for noise and construction dust, and pledges to be responsive to community members’ concerns throughout the process.

During construction, will buildings be demolished and what, if any, hazards do I need to be aware of?

Yes, buildings will be demolished. Our goal will be to minimize any construction impacts on our neighbors. There are certain areas of the existing buildings that may include small amounts of asbestos.  Any asbestos discovered on the property during the construction process will be handled and removed in a manner consistent with all State and County guidelines and oversight.

How will you manage storm water runoff during and after construction?

The drainage situation will be improved and controlled. The site will be re-graded which will allow new landscaping approaches that detain and treat the storm runoff as required by State law. For residents of Turfwood, south of the site, this will be an important enhancement protecting the landscaping and improving the drainage between the two communities.

Which of the three phases of construction would see the most dirt moved?

The initial phase will require the most earthwork, with the least dirt moved in phase three.

What time of day is construction allowed in Solana Beach?

Our construction hours on the Solana Highlands property will be conducted in compliance with the City’s code. Construction work on buildings as well as grading and excavation activities are permitted by the City of Solana Beach between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday. Such activities are prohibited on Sundays and the following holidays: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

How much dirt will be removed from the site to level the grade and how will the slope change?

Based on community feedback and the significantly lowered grade, we will export 154,000 cubic yards of fill from the site as more grade will be cut than will be filled to accommodate lower building pads across the board.

 

TENANT POLICY QUESTIONS

How will a revitalized Solana Highlands manage how many occupants are allowed in each unit?

Our Solana Highlands community has terms and guidelines that outline our policies for guests, use of the premises and occupancy standards. For example, a one-bedroom unit allows 3 people maximum. In the event the number of occupants exceeds the maximum number for that floor plan, we manage a transfer to a home size that meets our standards with an alternate floor plan, manage the resident’s compliance with the existing lease agreement, or manage the termination of a non-complying household. Additionally, annual unit-by-unit inspections are conducted to review the condition of the home and ensure the current residents follow the lease agreement.

What type of screening does Solana Highlands conduct before leasing to a tenant?

H.G. Fenton Company’s stringent tenant application requirements include credit reports, employer information, rental history, a deposit and application fee. We are proud of our apartment communities and the caliber of tenant we serve. Our revitalized Solana Highlands will be a very attractive community to renters seeking the quality of life that Solana Beach offers.

H.G. Fenton also conducts annual unit-by-unit inspections once per year.

How does H.G. Fenton intend to address tenants who are mid-lease when the construction is slated to begin? For example, assume my lease runs from September 1, 2018 to August 31, 2019, and construction begins in April 2019. Will the entire premises be vacant during construction and how and when will tenants be notified about construction?

We are too early in the development application process to have determined what construction schedule will be required for the project or to provide detailed information about potential resident impacts. However, generally speaking, should the project move forward, we will work with each of our residents to accommodate their needs on a case by case basis and communicate any impacts to all residents as soon as they are known.

 

MISCELLANEOUS QUESTIONS

Is this proposal consistent with zoning and the Solana Beach General Plan?

The Solana Highlands apartment community is zoned by the City of Solana Beach as high-density residential with several other properties nearby also similarly zoned. To see how your neighborhood and the surrounding neighborhoods are zoned, visit the City of Solana Beach website’s Community Development Department section to view the City’s zoning map, or find it here.

Will there be public art, or will the project pay the in-lieu fee?

H.G. Fenton has not yet determined how it will satisfy the Master Art Policy in Solana Beach.

How will pedestrian circulation flow through the project?

You can see a conceptual site plan and architectural renderings on our project website. Making Solana Highlands more walkable is a priority and the new plan will allow all of the apartments to have interior pedestrian access to the recreation center and other amenities – something not possible with the current plan.

Will you maintain green space?

The residents of Solana Highlands value green space so our design concept will maximize green open spaces for their enjoyment. In fact, useable open space in the new plan increases by 43% despite the increased density. The green space is part of our vision for creating a more livable community that delivers the quality of life they are seeking.

What constitutes usable open space?

Any passive grassy area, landscaped area or recreational area that is relatively flat and at least 250 square feet and a minimum of 15’ in the shortest dimension. The revitalized community will have significantly more flat usable open space than exists today.