A Response to post about the October 6th OB Planning Board meeting

by on October 7, 2010 · 4 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Ocean Beach

Editor: The following was a response by Seth Connolly, a member of the OB Planning Board, to Dan Morales’ post about the October 6th Board meeting (“Class bias dominates OB Planning Board discussion” ).  Seth had originally left it as a comment, but as it’s substantial and substantive, and continues a debate, we decided to post it.

by Seth Connolly

I always appreciate Dan’s perspective, but as someone who serves on the OBPB and who was at the meeting last night, I am just going to offer a few thoughts mostly in counterbalance… speaking only for myself as a community member, of course, and not for the OBPB or in that capacity.

First, on the food carts and Mariscos truck… this was not something that came out of the OBPB. There have been mentions of these new businesses during formal meetings, but it has not been visited by the board and no formal opinion has ever been taken. This was all a Neighborhood Code Compliance issue that arose mostly out of local businesses, and again, not the OBPB.

Now if there is a community discussion that needs to happen about whether or not these uses should be accommodated within OB, what that could mean in practice, then let us have that conversation. That is why the OBPB is there, after all. To represent the will and interests of the community-at-large on issues related to land use and development. I think it would be a beneficial conversation, personally.

Dan’s points about how affordable housing was being discussed in *tone* are well-taken, but I believe the content of the conversation was not as harsh as he put it here. The topic was whether or not to support incentivizing residential projects with 100% affordable housing units. It may be said that the conversation sidetracked a bit, but the points I recall made were that, historically, exclusively affordable housing projects have generally failed and become blighted areas, but that this perhaps may not happen when the projects are small-scale and well-integrated into communities. Kind of a wonky and boring discussion, perhaps, but that is pretty much land use planning in a nutshell and the devil is in fact often in the details.

I don’t know that I would take that to mean that the OBPB as a whole is against affordable housing, particularly when there is no one on that board who has ever voted to recommend an FAR variance that would allow homeowners to build larger projects that would allow them to maximize their profits and increase rents and/or property values.

Medicinal marijuana… I too appreciated the gentleman’s comments speaking in favor of medicinal marijuana and especially his point about whether liquor stores are subject to the same distance requirements as what are being proposed for these facilities. That’s a very fair question. When the OBPB voted on whether or not to support the Medicinal Marijuana Task Force’s recommendations for *land use* regulations of these facilities in the City of SD (the board is not charged with determining legalization, decriminalization, or anything to do with the legality of marijuana or these facilities), there was an unanimous vote a few months back to “recommend” the task force’s recommendations — with the additional recommendation that these facilities have a 500-foot buffer zones from schools and churches, and that they should go through a similar permitting process to what liquor stores have to do.

Last night, new recommendations were reviewed from the Land Use and Housing Committee that would have effectively eliminated the possibility of these facilities existing within OB. The item was tabled until the board can receive clarification on the practical definition of some terms, such as a church, school or park. Again, boring hair-splitting, but these regulations have to be clearly defined, as they will determine whether or not these facilities can exists within OB without having to get an expensive and perhaps difficult-to-obtain variance. In any event, this conversation is still ongoing, so people should feel welcome to attend these meetings to hear and be heard.

My two final points are the most relevant, I believe.

First, Sunshine is right that these meetings absolutely need more attendance and public input. OB is stronger when that happens. I personally see the board as representatives of the community, not governors of it. So show up and hold me accountable. I’m listening, and I don’t doubt others are as well.

Second, with that said, what I hear when I listen is essentially to “keep OB OB”. When Danny says that the OBPB is afraid of change and opposed to the “common spirit” of OB, that’s rather debatable, IMO. Preserving things as they are may just be exactly what the community wants in many cases.

Either way, let’s talk about it.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Barbara S. District 2 October 8, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Thank you Seth,

once again you’ve managed to clear up the confusion that sometimes gets carried away in these blogs


avatar scott October 8, 2010 at 9:50 pm

My name is Scott Therkalsen and I was officially appointed to the vacant district 2 seat at the last board meeting. I was also a little surprised to see the article covering the meeting. The original article as well as Seth’s follow up post help to clarify what was discussed but I thought I’d also venture my interpretations as well (not as a board member but a simple community participant) .

I joined the board because I enjoy Ocean Beach as is and support the spirit of the idea “keeping OB OB.” Some of the night’s discussions were technical and it was my first meeting but I got the impression that others present, in the audience and on the board, shared my view.

Specifically, when the discussion of affordable housing took place multiple board members did express their support for affordable housing as well as sustainable housing, however, the way the incentive program was drafted would not be in the best interest of Ocean Beach and was thus unacceptable. I think the members of the board represented the views of people in Ocean Beach I know who want to “go green” and keep rents down while not sacrificing important community components such as open space, parks, density issues, etc.

Next, the issue of medical marijuana. While many views were presented I think the thought that “But nobody seemed to care” may not be completely accurate. My observations were that, while the board was not in total agreement, there were comments that did address the “one brave soul” in the audience, stating that his points were valid, important and deserved consideration. Others commented on the recognition of the important medicinal uses of marijuana, support for decriminalization and necessity of the legal sale of medicinal marijuana; there was support expressed for MM on the simple grounds that it has been deemed a legal business by the state of California. In fact as discussion continued there was concern that as written the new regulations would essentially not allow for any legal medical marijuana businesses to operate in OB, as a result of this concern and others the issue was tabled – that is, the board did not vote to approve the city proposed regulations.

Again, I am new to these meetings but from what I’ve observed “Class bias dominates OB Planning Board discussions” may be a bit misleading. I’m a young person whose rented a home in OB for 6 years, I don’t consider myself “upper class” by any means and would venture to say that I am in fact pretty representative of the majority of people within district 2.

With all that said, I thank the author for actually showing up at the meeting, keeping tabs on the board, reporting for those who could not make it, and offering his interpretations of the meeting. I’d second (or third?) the notion that the important thing here is to get the word out about the very existence of this board, the meetings and the valuable input needed from the community. The board members are there to represent the views of their constituents so go to the meetings or contact them directly to hold them accountable to represent the views of those they serve.

Scott Therkalsen


avatar Danny Morales October 9, 2010 at 5:43 pm

Thanks Seth, Barbara and Scott for the courage to lift the board out of the shadows of apathy and into the light of public discourse. You all give me hope by not dragging that discouse away from a debate about ideas and pricnciples and into the slime of personal politics. You apparently listen, think and then articulate your positions. Good qualities for a community memberto have in my book.-Until next time,

Dan Morales


avatar Brenda McFarlane October 13, 2010 at 8:06 am

This discussion has made me want to attend the meetings. Thanks to you all. (As soon as I am free from night classes I will attend.) I hope it inspires others as well.


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