Ocean Beach split on World Oil’s Sunset Plaza

by on July 31, 2009 · 7 comments

in OB Shop Talk, Ocean Beach, Organizing

For a week we ran a poll on how people feel about World Oil’s Sunset Plaza. The results are in, and with 67 respondents (and there’s no way to tell whether a respondent lives in OB) people are split on the two-story medical building planned for the corner of Sunset Cliffs and Voltaire.

The largest bloc of voters, 29 of them for 43% think the building is too ugly and out of character for that area of OB.

24% (16 respondents) thought World Oil should build what they want.  Another 22% (15 voters) would not approve the current design but would if it had a more suitable look and appearance.

Two respondents (3%) had no opinion, and another 7% (5 voters) checked the response “Who’s World Oil?”

Because we cannot decipher who the voters were, we can’t really say “Ocean Beach is split” on the project. But it’s still interesting to see the breakdown.  The divide on this issue does reflect the OB Planning Board’s own split. (See this post on the Dec 3, 2008, Planning Board meeting.)

Sunset Plaza is coming back to the Board at its August 5th meeting at the OB Rec Center.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar PSD July 31, 2009 at 7:23 pm

I voted that I don’t like the building as it sits but might support it if it was a better fit for the character of the neigborhood, though I’ve got a couple caveats to add this opinion. I think ultimately if we’re going to call ourselves a free society we’ve got to let a landowner do what they want on their private property within reason, so the marginally conservative side of me leans toward another of the possible poll answers. But I do wonder whether this is the time and place for this specific development to break ground. Below is a copy/paste from my response to Frank’s other recent article on this issue:

“I’m thinking there are already three medical/professional buildings along Cable between Santa Monica and Del Monte, plus another on Sunset Cliffs past Naragansett (which has been advertising open space for rent for at least the last six months). Are these buildings all at or near full occupancy, and is there really demand for more of this kind of space, or will the building just try to lure tenants from some of the older existing facilities?

“As long as there’s empty professional space or commercial space that could be converted to professional use (and I know we’ve got plenty, at least of the latter), I have a hard time justifying a need for another 6700+ sf when we’ve probably got twice that much space around town sitting vacant.”

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avatar Gary Gilmore August 1, 2009 at 9:26 am

OB is the kind of neighborhood that is amenable to sensible, ecologically aware innovation. The two obvious examples are Peoples Food Store on Voltaire and the Hanna Gabriel Wells Architecture office at the corner of Bacon & Santa Monica (they designed Peoples Food). If World Oil built an innovative “green” building they could use it as an example of their efforts to be sensitive to the environment as well as being friendly to the community and they could show it to their stock holders for extra kudos. World Oil has a golden opportunity to use this as a major publicity ploy.

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avatar Frank Gormlie August 1, 2009 at 10:28 am

This is what I wrote in the comments to the accompanying post:

(The OB Planning Board meets Wed Aug 5th at) 6:00PM at the Ocean Beach Recreation Center at 4726 Santa Monica Ave.

Unfortunately, this is a probably done-deal. The Planning Board already approved the “concept” of Sunset Plaza at its Dec 3, 2008 general meeting. Unless a lot of OBceans show up and express reservations – it’s probably going to go through and be constructed the way it is.

There was no grassroots organization in OB that mobilized residents and property owners to the Dec 3rd meeting (OBGO is gone, where’s the OB Town Council? where’s “Save OB Coalition”?) to oppose the project. There’s liberal slow-growth and progressive members on the Board but they are no longer a majority.

The OB Rag blog is willing to help get the word out, but people with boots on the ground will have to do it.

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avatar Kim August 4, 2009 at 8:30 am

World Oil’s proposed construction is overwhelmingly over-the-top when considering bulk and scale and leaves much to be desired when considering compatibility with the existing community character.

Sure, the rights of the property owner should not be disregarded, but what about the community for a change? Ocean Beach has many property owners that reap pockets full of income off the expense of our community and with no regard, and with no respect, and with no significant positive contribution to our community.

World Oil is not new to the character of Ocean Beach; for many, many years now, they’ve been presenting projects for this property before the community via the Ocean Beach Planning Board, they’ve corresponded with a variety of our community members, they’ve dealt with the city regarding our community, etc. Their corporation knows what would be a good fit, yet they continue to bring incompatible projects.

I attended the December meeting and was very disappointed at the logic put forth in some of the decision-making to support the project. For example, a common theme was “At least it is not a gas station”. Are you kidding me?! The gas station project was never approved by the community and was never approved by the city because of the property size and layout, not because World Oil wanted to do us a favor and not build a gas station! Quite the opposite, as they actually tried over and over for years to push through the gas station project. There isn’t a gas station because they were not able to get the appropriate permits! Then I heard exclamations of the plan to house a deli on the bottom floor of the proposed project. I had to ask myself “Why was everyone so excited about a deli?” That specific neighborhood of our community already has Chris’ Liquor Deli, Liticker’s Deli, Ocean Beach People’s Deli, Stephanie’s Bakery Deli. Perhaps a “Deli” isn’t really a “Deli” unless they are a corporate chain? I still can’t figure out that logic of support for the monstrous World Oil project. What else….oh, then some stated that this gigantic two-story structure, planned to house a deli and medical offices….I think they even mentioned a pharmacy perhaps (corporate, I am sure)…..that this is exactly what is needed for the Voltaire Street neighborhood. Really?! As we enter the community from the north/northeast, this is the image of Ocean Beach we want shown. A nice “welcome to industrialized Ocean Beach” is what this building will provide. Don’t we already have a surplus of empty spaces for medical offices? As I view the existing Voltaire Street businesses: Ocean Beach People’s Co-operative, Jimmy’s Party Store, The Green Store, Mihn’s Alterations, Stephanie’s Bakery, just to name a few….I just can’t see how the proposed World Oil project is just want Voltaire Street needs, as the project is not unique, doesn’t really provide any services, products, etc, of significance to the neighborhood, will clearly serve as an eye-sore due to the bulk and scale, lacks artistic character, the list goes on…..as I can (obviously) go on and on about this ridiculous project.

Once again, World Oil is displaying its disregard to the voices of our community with even bringing this proposed mammoth of a structure for consideration; an insult to the existing community character; an insult to the community as a whole.

In the meantime, I sure wish they would be good neighbors and maintain their property, or is neglecting maintenance also their “right as a property owner”?

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avatar jon August 4, 2009 at 9:55 am

Not to mention the way the building will be constructed. Are there any plans to use recycled building materials, keep the place energy efficient and “green?” Like the People’s co-op building? This was brought up to the committee and to the World Oil rep at that December meeting by the chair at that time, Landry. Although the rest of that meeting was a bit of a fiasco, I do give him credit for at least pushing back on them for more sustainable building practices. Being that the company is World OIL corp, I doubt they have much care for environmental issues.

Very well said Kim. My prediction is that their “Deli” will end up being a Togos or a Quiznos. Because we already have two subways and a submarina now.

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avatar Lisanob August 5, 2009 at 10:57 am

AHA!!!

finally….someone who hit it on the head! Gary is RIGHT.

Although not currently approved yet, the Hanna Gabriel and Wells renovation of the old OB Auto Garage is going for a very high green rating and that makes TWO green buildings in a row for OB….

Let’s keep this the trend and also convince these Oil Barons that they can still walk away with a win tonight if they really try…

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avatar Dave Gilbert August 5, 2009 at 1:56 pm

So glad Lisanob found someone here who sees things her way, hopefully she’ll be at the meeting tonight too.

Before the Hanna Gabriel Wells Architecture office at the corner of Bacon & Santa Monica was remodeled it was actually condemned and that spray booth was and is supposed to be torn down.

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