Why does the Solana Highlands apartment community need to be revitalized?
Solana Highlands is nearly 50 years old – even older than the city of Solana Beach! Today’s Solana Beach residents need housing that is 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, such as insufficient parking and poor traffic circulation, which will benefit Solana Highlands residents and neighbors as well.
Who is the developer?
H.G. Fenton Company, family-owned in San Diego since 1906, currently owns and manages the site and plans to do so for decades to come.
How many homes are proposed?
The revitalized Solana Highlands will have 260 apartment homes (an increase of 62 homes from its current 198 units).
What impact will this project have on housing supply in Solana Beach?
The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) has conducted a Regional Housing Needs Assessment to determine the City’s share of the housing needs for the San Diego region for the 2021-2029 period. For that time period, the City’s growth need is 875 new homes, half of which are needed at low income levels. The Solana Highlands project will provide a net increase of 62 new homes (7% of the city’s need), of which 32 will be affordable for low-income seniors, meeting an important need for the city’s aging population (see SANDAG population projections below).
How has the project plan changed based on community input?
We have engaged with community members for nearly a decade, and their input has led to a revitalized Solana Highlands plan that reflects their feedback and preferences. Through the story pole and View Assessment process that began in 2015, the plan has been adjusted so key buildings are set up to 17 feet lower, eliminating 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 to the community. New apartment home features will include attached parking garages for most units, washer-dryers and storage space in all homes, modern interior finishes and Craftsman-style exteriors, and energy efficient features such as solar and highly efficient building envelopes and heating/cooling systems. Around the property we will add more recreational and fitness features, significantly increase parking, increase the landscaping and usable open space for residents and irrigate with reclaimed water, significantly reducing the property’s water use. We will also add 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 building. Click here to view the complete site plan. The Bungalow neighborhood will be located along S. Nardo Ave., with smaller buildings adjacent to the single-family neighborhood.
How much parking will be provided?
Recognizing the importance of accommodating more vehicles onsite, we will increase parking to 531 spots from 311, a 71% increase in parking to accommodate a 31% increase in homes. Parking will be increased to more than two spaces per home (from roughly one and a half spaces today). EV charging stations will be provided throughout the property, and most residents will also have the opportunity to charge a vehicle in their private assigned garage.
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. The new parking areas will also feature increased landscaping per current city guidelines, to both soften the visual impact of the parking areas and provide additional vehicle shading.
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 onto the interior courtyard for second floor units. Additionally, the lowered pad elevation further discourages 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?
Yes. Based on community input during the approval process, the grade of the property will be revised, and many of the homes on S. Nardo Ave. will sit below the street grade, with no pedestrian connection to the sidewalk. They will be served by private garages, and an internal drive aisle with additional parking that will be more convenient than parking along S. Nardo Ave.
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 151 additional resident and guest parking spaces. In addition, all onsite parking will be more accessible, convenient, and secure.
Will residents be allowed to use their garage for other uses?
Lease requirements, enforced by periodic inspections, will strictly require that the garage spaces be used for parking vehicles. Onsite management will enforce this requirement.
How much guest parking will be provided in the Revitalized Solana Highlands?
There will be 63 guest parking spaces, or approximately one guest space for every four homes. The Revitalized plan will provide 71% 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.
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. H.G. Fenton Company has worked with neighboring residents and the City of Solana Beach to create revised improvements to the sidewalks and intersections of S. Nardo Ave. that will increase pedestrian safety at crossings and slow traffic along the street. Specific improvements include enhancements at the Fresca and S. Nardo intersection, new crosswalks at the Solana Circle/Nardito/S. Nardo intersection, medians along sections of S. Nardo Ave. near Stevens, and automatic speed signs. Improvements at S. Nardo Ave. and Stevens Ave. intersection include enhanced crosswalks and a revised curb design to slow turning movements for safety.
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 view 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?
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, 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 follows 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 the height does not impact the street view. In addition, all Nardo-facing buildings will be no taller than any current street-facing building. The 13.4-acre property is zoned for 20 units per acre, or 268 units; the density calculation is based on net acres which total less than 13 acres and required a density bonus. Additional incentives and waivers were granted pursuant to Solana Beach and state rules in return for the provision of 32 affordable senior housing units on site.
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 have 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.
What are the project’s environmental impacts?
In conjunction with project approval, the city prepared an extensive Environmental Impact Report and published it for public comment. The EIR analyzed potential environmental impacts of the project and identified necessary mitigation measures. The project was found to have no significant impacts with the mitigation that was required by the city. H.G. Fenton has been honored for its environmentally responsible designs for both water and energy conservation; learn more on our Overview page. This project incorporates sustainability features that will reduce the community’s environmental impact.
What are the project’s sustainability features?
Sustainability features include:
- Electric vehicle charging stations
- Photovoltaic (solar) 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
What community input was sought on the landscaping?
Based on community input, a “buffer” was created around the entire perimeter of the property, typically setting buildings back 50 feet or more from the property line and allowing a variety of planting to transition between the property and surrounding neighbors. H.G. Fenton Company worked closely with several stakeholders to develop a unique plan focused on native and other climate-appropriate and drought-tolerant species that will be arranged in informal patterns in 7 different “zones” across the property to create a naturalized appearance and reflect the uniqueness of the Solana Highlands property and the Solana Beach climate. The City Council unanimously approved the final landscape plan in March 2022.
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, each with their own individual water meter, which allows residents to take control of their water usage and actively 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 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 options for preserving some of the mature trees along S. Nardo Ave. Preservation options will depend on the exact location of tree in relation to the new grading, and the condition of the trees, which 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.
What is your plan regarding the birds in the trees when removing them?
When planning the Revitalized Solana Highlands, we spent a significant amount of time working with the community to develop detailed landscape plans that replace existing trees at a 2:1 ratio. This provides, at a minimum, twice the future tree canopy than what exists today, bringing tremendous environmental value and a renewed parklike experience to future residents and the surrounding Solana Beach community.
During our project approval process, preserving mature trees was discussed extensively, and the community determined that it preferred an extensive grading plan to preserve views for the surrounding neighbors. While we may be able to preserve a few of the mature trees, the extensive grading will impact most of the existing foliage. With the new plan we look forward to creating a newly landscaped community (with native and low water-demand species) for generations of Solana Beach residents to enjoy.
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 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 residents 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 12 expired affordable units that became 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 residents 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 low-income senior apartments.
Have you presented this project to the city yet?
The project was approved by unanimous vote of the city council in December 2018. In March of 2022, the council further approved the final landscape plan, final traffic calming plan, and some minor revisions to the clubhouse and an internal building that were consistent with the previous view assessment.
Grading plans and building permits were secured March 2023.
When will construction start?
Construction is anticipated to start in the 2nd quarter of 2023. The first phase of work will involve creating the new driveway and access point from S. Stevens Ave. Full construction activity will start in the 2nd half of 2023 with the abatement of lead and asbestos on the property’s existing buildings and demolition activities.
How long will construction last?
In its final approval of the project, the city council directed H.G. Fenton Company to adopt the single-phase construction timeline of approximately 24 months following completion of demolition to minimize the duration of construction impacts on our neighbors.
What about construction noise and dust?
H.G. Fenton Company 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 Company 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 lead paint and asbestos containing materials due to the age of the buildings. All lead and 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 controlled throughout construction and significantly improved (as compared to the existing system) upon completion of the new project. 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, reducing peak storm flows and diverting water into the city’s storm drain system which will protect the landscaping and improve drainage between the two communities.
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 grades will be cut than will be filled to accommodate lower building pads across the board.
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 will manage a transfer to an alternate home size/floor plan that meets our standards and resident needs, 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 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 Company also conducts annual unit-by-unit inspections once per year.
How does H.G. Fenton Company intend to address tenants who are mid-lease when the construction is slated to begin? For example, assume my lease runs from May 1, 2022, to April 30, 2023, and construction begins in March 2023. Will the entire premises be vacant during construction and how and when will tenants be notified about construction?
H.G. Fenton Company will honor all leases and will coordinate the start of construction activity with the expiration of all lease terms. We recognize the disruption that redevelopment of the property will have on current residents and have already met individually with each resident to notify them of anticipated timing and to assist with each household’s unique needs. We will offer flexibility to the maximum extent possible, allowing tenants to break leases early if they find alternative housing, and extending tenants on a month-to-month basis if lease expiration occurs before construction starts. Tenants should contact the onsite Community Director to discuss timing and for assistance in finding alternative housing options.
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.
How will pedestrian circulation ﬂow through the project?
A conceptual site plan and architectural renderings are available in the Overview section of the project website. Making Solana Highlands more walkable is a priority, and the new plan will allow all apartments to have interior pedestrian access to the recreation center and other amenities, a feature that is not possible with the current layout.
Will you maintain green space?
Solana Highlands residents value green space so our revitalized design concept will maximize green open spaces for their enjoyment. In fact, useable open space is increased by 43% in the new plan, despite the increased density. The green space is part of our vision for creating a more livable community that delivers the quality of life residents are seeking.
What constitutes usable open space?
Usable open space is defined as 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.