Survivors of San Marcos apartment complex fire oppose plan to rebuild
At an emotional city planning meeting in San Marcos, zoning officials approved a plan for the developer of the Iconic Village Apartment complex to rebuild on the same site.
With a 4-1 vote on Thursday, the San Marcos Zoning Board of Adjustments approved a plan to have San Marcos Green Investors LLC rebuild the complex that burnt down in July, killing five people and severely injuring others.
ATF Investigators determined the fire was intentionally set. Law enforcement officials said they know where and how the fire stared but won’t disclose more information for investigative purposes -- they’re still trying to determine who started the blaze.
“We are also going to great lengths to move the project substantially closer to compliance with the current development code,” said Matt Goebel of San Marcos Green Investors.
The board approved a motion to replace 60 units with 266 bedrooms, and the once two-story building is now slated to be three.
The plans also call for a “revised streetscape with six foot sidewalks, a four foot planter area and street of trees.” Staff also recommended that the proposal is “subject to compliance with standards of the approved planed development district” along with “other relevant codes and ordinances including building and fire code.”
A few survivors of the fire took to public comment to oppose the developer’s plan.
“We don’t need more buildings on top of people who lost their lives, on top of people who lost their pets,” said Elise Rosen, 21, who lived at the complex before it was ravished by fire.
“The management made it very clear where their priorities where and it wasn’t with (the residents,) I don’t trust what’s been said, I don’t believe what’s been said and I actually don’t think there’s going to be any change,” said Lindsay Philippus, 24.
Some who spoke before the board asked for the site to be dedicated to the five victims as a memorial park while others explained how the building was managed poorly by it's staff.
After the vote, Philippus confronted Goebel outside council chambers and told him, “Nobody judges your good intentions, nobody cares, they care about the end product and your end product sucks,” then she walked away.
Goebel followed that by reading a statement to members of the media asking for anyone who knew anything about who started the fatal fire to come forth to help bring closure to the victims.
It’s unclear when the construction on the new complex will start but Goebel said he plans to work with the city throughout the process, including adding a sprinkler system.