The Ocean Beach Planning Board as the steward of the local community plan has been making a grave strategic mistake. Although the October 6th meeting was both informative and entertaining it was also revealing in terms of class perspective.
The meeting started out with the Center City Development Corporation’s report on the efforts to reduce homelessness downtown and segued to our city councilperson’s representative.
When the issue of food vendors operating outside of established limits came up, we began to see a bias towards the conventional and conservative. Retail establishments like Subway and Nico’s appear to fear the competitive advantage offered by the new market economy. Pop-up vendors like Marisco ’s, OB Kanobe’s, the tamale stand and the Brazilian food cart were forced to roll out of town in the name of “balance”.
The removal of our councilperson’s discretionary funding for infrastructure projects foreshadows the death of the firepits while guaranteeing advertising on the lifeguards…and maybe the Brighton Street Comfort Station to be (hopefully) opened by Memorial Day.
The city’s water purification demonstration project left the board flush with questions and terminated the information items of the meeting.
The action items of the meeting were where the rubber hit the road.
The bias toward the governing class was no better represented than in the discussions regarding the medical marijuana dispensaries and affordable housing and sustainable construction. In effect the recommendations made by the medimary task-force would all but eliminate another creation of the new economic system. Watching the board split hairs over definitions while maintaining an intolerant posture all but assured the collectives are going the way of the “roach coach” and tamale stand.
Likewise, bedeviling themselves in the details while approving a draft for the city’s Affordable Housing and Sustainable Development Incentive Program is leading our community’s chin toward gentrification and more real estate developments like the Stebbins residence on W. Point Loma Blvd.
Everyone on the board seemed to agree that by not being issued tax certificates as non-profits, the dispensaries were operating illegally. Everyone seemed to agree that by issuing cease and desist orders to the dispensaries while crafting draconian legislation limiting their existence ensures a flurry of law suits and requests for variances in the future. But nobody seemed to care. Only one brave soul in the audience questioned the cultural and class perspective of the board on the subject and its hypocrisy with regards to alcohol outlets in O.B.
If language is any indicator of class perspective then the comments made by board members show us how far our community has strayed from its moral if not civic compass.
Almost immediately the discussion on affordable housing gave way to anecdotes about the “projects” of Boston and Chicago. Their law and order perspective of the medical marijuana issue descended into a ‘fear of other’ in affordable housing. It was only by seeing the proposed incentives program as a Trojan Horse for developer interests did the board turn against it. Instead of confronting the issue on principle however, the board chose the easy road of nit picking a few of the sustainable construction elements of the draft while approving the general thrust of the proposal.
So to conclude, if the board continues to ignore the common spirit of Ocean Beach and instead focuses on well intentioned technicalities, then we are in for some unintended and undesirable consequences.
And that’s my story an’ I’m stickin’ to it!