Reader Rant: ‘Activism is dead in Ocean Beach’

by on August 7, 2008 · 6 comments

in Environment, Ocean Beach, Organizing

OB Planning Board Approves Condos for the End of Saratoga

by OB Tony

I got up and went down to the planning board meeting last night (Wed., Aug. 6) to see what would happen on the proposed “Dempseys” Project (12 condos scheduled for the half block where the old Dempseys restaurant existed and its surrounding apartment units)….I’m disgusted, so here is my commentary.

Last night at the Ocean Beach Planning Board meeting was a true moment to witness. If there was any question as to whether or not activism is alive in in well in Ocean Beach, last nights ruling of the planning board leaves nothing left to question. RIP OB….you are dead.

In a landslide victory of 4-3, the planning board agreed to allow the city to vacate the alleys behind the land at end of Saratoga and Abbott so that the developer of the project could put 2 additional units into his project. In return, the Parks and Rec department will be compensated a massive $50k for the 2700 square feet of land in question. This proposed project is a concrete and glass box with underground parking and will be immediately adjacent to the park as they will be combining the two lots in addition to the city giving up the alley in order to build the monstrosity.

The representatives Bush, Ingollia, Connelly, and Klein all voted in favor of the project and there was clearly some suspiciousness about the entire affair. Klein was clearly driving the discussion and it was clearly his agenda to push for an approval. He was making concessions and trying to convince the group at every turn that this was in the community’s best interest. Notably in the “crowd” was Klein’s wife and judging from the way the group interacted, they were basically all down there because she had asked them to be there. Klein began the entire discussion by actually telling the group that he was friends with the architect presenting the project and that he was going to participate in the discussion. Word from the group is that Klein’s wife is working with the architect through some other organization on a project with the lifeguard stand. Of course, both of them are business owners in the community and both are completely connected to the architect who is also a local. The whole thing stinks of corruption…

Sad things was that there wasn’t anyone to speak against the project except one lady who seemed kind of disorganized. It was a pathetic showing for the opposition.

Further confusing the overall story is that rumour that Klein actually was extremely influential in getting Connelly on the board and that his wife was pivotal in getting people from the community to vote against a different local businessman. There was a complaint filed and Klein was at the center of it. Classic conspiracy theory….

So, the discussion was quite lively with the architect presenting the project focusing most of his effort in actually talking to the crowd and not the board. As if he already knew what the outcome would be. He seemed to talk forever but the chairman just let him ramble on about how great this project would be for the community. The board seemed to have all kinds of right questions, but stangely enough…when it came time to vote….Klein was literally still working some kind of deal and trying to craft some kind of approval from the group. Clearly he was driving the discussion and he knew he had the votes.

The other reps included Watson the chair and two people that I couldn’t read their names maybe Taylor was one of them but I’m confused because there are three Taylors on the board. They voted in opposition to the motion but didn’t seem to make much difference to the opinions of the others. Watson made the point that that would be the cheapest beach front property sold on the California coast since the 70’s. That made me chuckle…

So that is that…..OB sold out. The four reps that voted for this project hardly made points that made any sense…they all seemed to actually just contradict themselves. OB just made it a precedent ALL over the city that it is ok for the City to just give up on acquiring park area for the citizens and to give it to developers so that they can build bigger buildings along our beaches and next to our parks!!!!

I’m guessing this is a done deal. I don’t know what the next step is….but if there is any activism left out there, it needs to wake up. People like this are selling you out, one project at a time.

Ocean Beach activism is truly dead. Ob-go….went. Starbucks….still here. Subway, submarina, Wings….all came. I’m sure the next project the planning board will approve will be the gas station project where the garden used to be on Voltaire. Word about the project that they approved tonight had been rejected several times in the past by other planning boards….well, if greed doesn’t win at first try….keep trying until you run off the people in charge and you can get your $$$$$.

Strange how the events of tonight are in contrast to the story you posted about activism and the jetty over the weekend. It would almost seem that your story was in a far away mythical land compared to what I witnessed. It made me sad for what I thought OB still stood for.

OB Tony – still keepin it weird

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar redneck August 7, 2008 at 1:21 pm

$50K for 2700 sf?!? How in the eff did they arrive at that number?

Not sure how the board is constructed, but it seems to have developed into a handful of good ol’ boys scratching each others’ backs…I know one of the Taylor’s primary reason for being there at all is to try and kiss enough ass to get some sort of waiver to demo his property on Pescadero and build up.


avatar Seth Connolly August 7, 2008 at 10:11 pm


It’s not appropriate for me to comment here as to the extent to which I personally do or do not agree with that representation of Wednesday night’s planning board meeting in particular or the OBPB in general, but I do understand your concerns and appreciate your comments.

There is no doubt that political activism and civic engagement are important aspects of OB’s history that have helped to shape what is a special community today, and that they will be absolutely necessary in helping to ensure that OB remains a special place in the future. I offer my avid readership of this blog as evidence of my personal interest in this regard.

I also fully encourage you or anyone else to not only engage in these public meetings, but to contact me personally with any questions or concerns that you may have.


Seth Connolly
5066 Saratoga Ave.


avatar OB Tony August 12, 2008 at 10:06 pm

Dear Representative Connelly,

I have a question for you.

Can you please enlighten us on how you made the choice to vote to allow to many units be allowed to be built as a trade off to the city not taking care of its roads?

….or maybe either you or the other guy Clein will offer an explanation as to why his vote was so heavy for the owner when he and the town council are getting FREE help from the architect for some expansion of the lifeguard stand????

Oh….thanks for reading OB Rag….that clearly makes you an intellectual….ha ha

OB Tony….weirder than fair vote in OB

PS — We’ll be keeping “score” on the Planning Board and making sure that the people know where our “elected” officials are voting. If you can’t justify it….step down! We are watching….and reporting. Oh yeah….$50K for an ocean front plot in OB…..come and get’em….they are going hot


avatar Tamara August 28, 2008 at 3:50 pm

What exactly is the new building going to be used for?


avatar Frank Gormlie August 28, 2008 at 4:37 pm

Tamara – 12 condos are planned.


avatar Seth Connolly August 29, 2008 at 9:30 pm

Tony et al,

Speaking as a private citizen, I would simply point out that the specific item in front of the board was for a tentative map and the vacation of public right-of-ways around the property. I fully understand the concerns about this project (that is largely under the purview of the Coastal Commission), but also do not think it is altogether appropriate to play out related discussions behind closed doors or on the blogosphere. To that effect, I would fully encourage people’s participation in public meetings, as well as holding board members accountable and also contacting me personally with any concerns that they may have.

There will be many difficult decisions facing the community, just as there have been for quite some time, and I feel strongly that it is important to for people to be engaged and invested and willing to fight for what is a special place for all of us.

Take care,
Seth Connolly
5066 Saratoga Ave.


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