A Brief Recap of OB Planning Board Meeting of July 7, 2011

by on July 8, 2011 · 31 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

For those that are interested…

Faulconer and the Mighty, Mighty FAR

Michael Patton, the envoy from Kevin Faulconer’s (San Diego Council Member, District 2) office , reported that Faulconer had no comment available in response to community allegations of effecting re-zoning via variance.  The complaints come in relation to exceptions to FAR as it relates to mandatory enclosed parking on new units that are in the process of drastically altering the character of the west side of W. Pt. Loma Blvd.  “I’ll ask him if he wants to give a response [to the board’s inquiries],” Patton promised…

Fresh Funds for Farmer’s Markets

The Rag’s sometime-resident writer Sunshine shared info on an interesting program called Fresh Fund that allows recipients of social services including CalFresh (food stamps)/SNAP, WIC, and SSI/SSDI to receive $20 monthly credits to be used for the purchase of fresh local food at several farmer’s markets around town.  Ocean Beach is not currently one of the five around the county participating.  Mallory Cochrane (Mallory.Cochrane@rescue.org) was listed on a handout Sunshine provided as the contact person for more info on the program…

Variances for Chickens

Rachel Hiner of the Urban Food Network gave a presentation on a proposal to create a variance allowing people in urban neighborhoods to raise chickens.  Currently, the city allows up to 25 chickens (hens and roosters) to be kept, so long as their range is 50 feet or more from the nearest residential building.  Rachel would like to see an exception to allow residents to keep up to 5 hens (no roosters), so long as they stay at least 20 feet from any neighbors, with no restrictions on how far the coop would have to be from the owner’s home.  Comments were generally positive, and the Board will have an action item at a future meeting to recommend approval or disapproval of the variance.

SANDAG’s 2050 Regional Transportation Plan

The Board was to review and provide comments on SANDAG’s 2050 Regional Transportation Plan, which would guide transit and highway development in the county for the next 40 years.  It was noted that there was no light rail service planned that would serve OB in that time, and a brief debate was held over whether light rail (like a trolley extension) would serve the community well.  The counterpoints were that OB is too small to justify its own trolley route, and that for the cost of extending rail the community would be better served by significantly increasing bus access to other transit points Downtown San Diego and in Old Town.

Also at issue is wording in the RTP that suggests while considerable attention is being given to mass transit, highway expansion would be given priority when it came to scheduling projects.  The city council last week submitted comments with the support of citizens that reflected general support of the RTP, but urged SANDAG to switch priorities and fund transit before highways.  Faced with a July 8 deadline (tomorrow), the Board elected to issue a vague, yet similar statement.  Members voting against issuing the statement clarified that they did so mainly due to the inability to gather public comment from OBecians to ensure the statement accurately reflected the desires of the community…

Ocean Beach qualifies under SANDAG as a ‘Smart Growth’ community

It was also mentioned that OB qualifies under SANDAG as a ‘Smart Growth’ community eligible to apply for grant money for ‘shovel ready’ projects that develop and encourage smart growth.  Landry Watson called me out as “media,” and suggested I throw this out to the community to see what kind of projects we can suggest.  An ad-hoc committee will form at the Project Review Committee meeting on July 20.  Proposals are due by August 1.  Landry, other Board members, anyone else at the meeting – please call me out if I’m wrong on these dates and expand if you can on what it takes to make a project ‘shovel ready,’ my understanding is a little fuzzy.

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Shift July 8, 2011 at 3:47 pm

The SANDAG RTP is shit. Right now, they are planning on widening the highways and bike infrastructure is left by the wayside. Light rail, a bus rapid transit system, and a good bike infrastructure plan would be the far better option for San Diegans in terms of social, economic, and health benefits.

OB is definitely a Smart Growth community with my house on Brighton receiving a walk score of 85 (intersections per square mile, shops/restaurants w/in walking distance of residential homes/apartments). Since we qualify for shovel ready projects, can we please start the conversation about bike infrastructure…

How awesome would it be (not to mention healthy) to ride downtown to catch a Padres game on a safe dedicated bike lane?

Can We All Think?


avatar RuthAnn July 8, 2011 at 4:59 pm

I agree. I WANT to ride my bike more places, but it’s too scary out there. We (San Diego) keep building, but very little is done for pedestrian/bike traffic. Even in the north part of the City. Commuting by bus isn’t better. Aaarrrgghhh.


avatar Citizen Cane July 8, 2011 at 5:20 pm

More bicycle racks at the beach, and on the dead end streets in the Northern portion of Sunset Cliffs. We should have some sort of mandatory ratio of car parking spaces to bicycle racks in our public parking lots.

We should also allow people to ride bicycles (responsibly) on the Ocean Beach Pier.


avatar Sunshine July 8, 2011 at 8:08 pm

hey dave, nice of you to let the community what’s going on at THEIR Planning Board meeting. glad you were able to attend and cover this important slice of our community structure.

i attend these meetings as i can, and their online agenda (thanx frank) caught my interest and encouraged me to attend. There were quite a few moments of laughter at last night’s meeting (great community spirit!!) and the information presented was informative.

one question to the rest of the OB residents who did not attend last night: what was so dang important between 6-8pm last night that prevented you from getting directly involved in your community? just wondering.


avatar dave rice July 8, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Ditto the thanks to Frank on posting these meeting agendas a few days in advance – I don’t make every meeting, but I’ve made more this year than in the last 4 years I’ve been here combined.

I’ll also ape Sunshine by saying that it’s immensely rewarding to take part in these meetings, even though they go down during prime farmer’s market time. We can hate on the people working to destroy OB in any other forum as much as we want, but unless we show up at OBPB to bitch, our voices go unheard.

Also nice to see you and Danny again, ‘Shine!


avatar Sunshine July 8, 2011 at 8:48 pm

by the way, i’ve got a shovel & i’m ready. will this quality me for some grant monies from SANDAG for community smart growth? beyond this, i really don’t know what it means either. indeed, so much for this ole dog to still learn.


avatar dave rice July 8, 2011 at 9:10 pm

How about showing up en masse to the meeting on the 20th with shovels, seeds, and bags of manure ready to dig up and re-plant the impromptu Voltaire Street Park?


avatar Kenloc July 9, 2011 at 11:51 am



avatar OB Mercy July 8, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Here here on more bike racks at the beach! Wait…there are NO bike racks at the beach here in OB as far as I can see. At least not down near Dog Beach or Avalanche. I have a tricycle and I have to drag it onto the sand to get near a sign pole to lock up, and most of the time, there are already bikes there. There are SO many bike riders in OB, I just don’t get it!

And another yay on letting us legally onto the pier! I do it anyway as I’m partly disabled, and no one has stopped me yet.


avatar dave rice July 8, 2011 at 9:08 pm

I think there are plans for racks to house a dozen or so bikes, if/when the bathrooms are ever put back in at north beach. That only leaves us a hundred or so racks short of capacity.

And I’m with you guys, I’ve been riding on the pier (slowly and respectfully) for years without harassment. I’ve been popped a few times in recent months on the streets, however, twice for California stops and once for riding two bikes at once (when school’s in session I always ghost ride my daughter’s bike to OB Elementary to pick her up after school).


avatar Kenloc July 9, 2011 at 11:53 am

They should at least install more racks at the pier entrance if the don’t want you to ride on it.


avatar john July 9, 2011 at 1:33 am

On transit/bicycles…. what makes them think extending light rail to the west would only serve OB? Depending on which side of the river channel it was located on, it could extend to mission/PB instead, or if it was on the OB side you’re providing coverage for the Sports Arena/Midway district as well as OB- and if you backed it up with adequate bus service an OB terminated line would serve mission/PB too.
Citizens and Planning Board members should take this light rail matter seriously because these long term plans have great impact but seem so far off in the distance, and if other areas capitalize on resources we lose. Light rail planners also need to consider without grand, visionary plans with complete coverage, they might as well not even waste their time doing it half-assed. People won’t get out of their cars unless you can get them everywhere they need to go, when they need to get there. This includes surface street transit support to transfer to.
As for bikes I put more miles on my bike each year than my car, and it’s nearly criminal how this city has ignored making the streets accessible (read SAFE) toward human powered transportation considering our weather. You could commute every day of the year save about a dozen, our weather is the envy of cyclists nationwide yet it seems there has never been a “grand plan” toward mapping out routes that are consistent and could get cyclists from one place to another without being roadkill.
Is it because no fuel tax paid=no consideration?
It also seems that at least in the west part of the city if you’re using a bike for transportation you are discouraged from access to some business. (neither Vons nor Ralphs have bike racks, Salvation Army angrily threw me out for carefully placing my uber clean ti hybrid unobtrusively just inside the door as there wasn’t so much as a piece of pipe outside to lock it to)
I can’t help but wonder if they consider bicycles to only be the transport of the homeless or thieves?


avatar Seth July 9, 2011 at 8:58 pm

John, nice thoughts. As someone who serves on the OBPB but who does not speak on their behalf here, here are some of my own. I am just going to number them to help my brain stay organized. Don’t mind me.

#1 – I am a huge smart growth guy and love light rail. Have lived on light rail lines in both Boston and San Francisco, and twice in my adult life I have gone 4 years without even owning a car. If I felt light rail was appropriate for OB, I would be first in line to advocate for it.

#2 – I don’t think it is appropriate for OB. There’s jut not enough ridership as is to justify the costs compared to the alternatives, even if it runs from Old Town through OB and then up to La Jolla. Not enough people, and not enough trips to and from the same places. If built, it would make increased density and gentrification almost a certainty for OB. The #1 thing I hear from people here when I ask what they want for OB’s future is to preserve the community character of the place, and adding light rail would probably be the #1 way to NOT do that, in my opinion.

#3 – The RTP does include a proposed bus rapid transit (BRT) extension into Ocean Beach from Old Town. For my money, this is pretty sufficient to handle the needs of the community and those who visit it. Yeah, everyone would rather ride a train than a bus, but BRTs are not “loser cruisers” like a regular bus is often referred to. They have their own dedicated lanes, traffic light priority, can be put in at a fraction of the cost, are far more flexible to future changes and would be just as fast if not faster than light rail. Also rest assured that the added costs of light rail would be turned over to riders, making it less affordable for people to use than BRT. Personally, I just need to get to Old Town in 10 minutes or less if I am commuting, it doesn’t need to be the Orient Express.

#4 – Some people might still be arguing about climate change, but those in charge of determining large public works projects are definitely paying attention, and are not going to invest big money for infrastructure that could get regular flooding within a few generations. I have seen some of the data on this, and the projections for the Midway district and parts of Mission Beach are bad, bad, bad. BRT is just a lot more easily adaptable to future changes than light rail is.

#5 – Again, in my own opinion, what needs to happen is largely what is being proposed. Old Town needs to become a major transportation hub, and people in our community need to be able to get there via public transit much, much quicker than we can currently. Likewise, all those new residents moving into the San Diego region need to be able to get to the beaches a lot faster, too. BRT does this, I think.

#6 – Agree with everyone here calling for more bicycle infrastructure in and around OB. Absolutely. In all forms.

#7 – Between the Sandag RTP/Regional Bike Plan, the City’s General Plan/Bicycle Master Plan and the OB Precise Plan update, there would be a whole lot of policy directed at expanding public transit and non-motorized transportation modes. Politics and money are surely going to present obstacles to implementation, but the policy should be there.

#8 – As always, best way to be heard is to speak up. Go to public meetings, yell at people on the internet, support a non-profit that promotes sustainable transportation… whatever works.


avatar john July 11, 2011 at 2:53 am

Well composed reply, you brought up a lot of points I’d never thought of.

“The #1 thing I hear from people here when I ask what they want for OB’s future is to preserve the community character of the place, and adding light rail would probably be the #1 way to NOT do that, in my opinion.”

There’s the rub I guess, balancing providing services with not changing drastically.
Or, “If you build it, they will come”.
So even though we’d all love to make it easy and fast to come and go from OB, if we did so to an extreme everyone would want to live here.
Moreover you hint at the dilemma facing everyone involved in politics, planning and policy: How can you possibly keep everyone happy? If you did, (give them what they ask for) would they really be happy? (the fundamental flaw of true democracy, if you gave the people what they say they want, what a nightmare!)

Toward point #4, you know I have a neighbor with an aerial photo taken, I believe, in 1926, of the Ocean Villa motel down the block from me on W. Pt. Loma. While it doesn’t specify if the tide was high or low, looking at it I think you could easily argue mean sea level was higher then than now. There may be a scientific consensus that AGW is real, however its long term effects are far less understood, sea level change in particular. The Maldives Islands had been predicted in studies cited by the IPCC to be soon inundated, but that has been shown to not be the case, by one of the top scientists in the field, Nils-Axel Morner (who was also a reviewer for the IPCC):
The thinking is not without precedent:
and history shows AGW or not, we can plan for the sea levels to rise, they have been anyway since the last ice age.
However don’t give up on OB, at least until you see our hand come up for the third time.


avatar dave rice July 11, 2011 at 9:57 am

Great points, thanks for chiming in Seth. I think the biggest anti-rail thing that can be said is closely tied to your argument that it would change the character of OB. With enough people already up in arms about the FAR variances being granted, imagine the reaction to the drastic up-zoning that’s both inevitable and sensible near any transit corridor, like along a rail line.

Faster and more frequent bus service to transit hubs in Old Town and downtown would go a long way toward making transit as a whole more viable.


avatar OB Dude July 9, 2011 at 8:46 am

As always, thanks for the update!!!

Bike racks at the beach and benches on Voltaire! YEAHHHHHH

Also, bike racks at the entrance to the pier. Is it really necessary to ride your bike on the pier? If so, why? Just curious.

Chickens huh? 20′ feet from a neighbor….is that the neighbors property line? If so, that leaves out OB or at least most of OB.


avatar OB Mercy July 9, 2011 at 10:12 am

OB Dude, I have osteoathritis in my back and just had a hip replacement, so walking or standing for any length of time is difficult. Riding my bike…nothing hurts!


avatar dave rice July 9, 2011 at 10:27 am

Thanks for the suggestion of bike racks and benches – seems like either project could be pretty easy to do, hopefully easy to get a grant for. And since they’d serve cyclists and pedestrians, seems like these would be very ‘smart growth’ friendly items.

I don’t think it’s necessary to ride bikes on the pier, but I don’t think it’s necessary to ban them either. OB Mercy makes a pretty solid argument, however, that it is necessary to have bike access or you’re denying people with mobility issues the equal enjoyment of the pier. I’ve personally never seen or heard of someone on a bike ramming a pedestrian and causing them to break a hip, but there are tons of things I don’t know…

Chickens – 20′ from the nearest wall of a neighbor’s house, so it could potentially be less than 20′ from the property line.


avatar OB Dude July 9, 2011 at 10:16 am

ok but must you ride on the pier where you could possibly run into someone and cause them to break a hip? I just don’t get why bikes need to be on the pier.


avatar OB Mercy July 9, 2011 at 10:21 am

I also ride slowly and respectfully, and after what I’ve been through, I’m no speedster. And the pier is very wide and I want to enjoy it, seeing the ocean from that viewpoint is incredible and I don’t want to have to avoid it since I do live here. Hope that gives you some understanding. Baby strollers, single and double wide take up the same kind of room, and again, if you ride slowly and over to the side…I’ve never run into anyone!


avatar OB Dude July 9, 2011 at 10:32 am

I believe Mercy you would be the exception to most other bikers that would be on the pier. Just seeing how some bikers and skateboarders act/ride on our sidewalks tells me that they would be no less considerate on the pier. Yes, strollers take up room but they don’t go any faster than a walk. I’d be happy to walk/stroll you down the boardwalk anytime for you to enjoy the view should bikes continue to be prohibited.


avatar OB Mercy July 9, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Thanks, that’s very sweet OB Dude! I’m also on a tricycle, so it makes it easier to go slowly and control it. But you’re right, I do see some crazy things on skateboards and bikes sometimes!


avatar OB Dude July 9, 2011 at 10:57 am

Just an FYI, bikes are subject to rules of the road according to the CA DMV for the safety of the rider and public. Have a great weekend everyone….ride safe!


•Must obey all traffic signals and stop signs.•Are lawfully permitted to ride on certain sections of roadway in rural areas where there is no alternate route.
•Must ride in the same direction as other traffic, not against it.
•Shall ride as near to the right curb or edge of the roadway as practical– not on the sidewalk.
•Are legally allowed to ride in the center of the lane when moving at the same speed as other traffic.
•May move left to pass a parked or moving vehicle, bicycle, animal, avoid debris, or other hazards.
•May choose to ride near the left curb or edge of a one-way street.
•Should ride single file on a busy or narrow street.
•Must make left and right turns in the same way that drivers do, using the same turn lanes. If the bicyclist is traveling straight ahead, he or she should use a through traffic lane rather than ride next to the curb and block traffic making right turns.
•Must signal all their intentions to motorists and bicyclists near them.
•Must wear a helmet if under the age of 18.
•Should carry identification.
•Shall not operate a bicycle on a roadway during darkness unless the bicycle is equipped with:
A brake which will enable the operator to make one braked wheel stop on dry, level, clean pavement.
•A front lamp emitting a white light visible from a distance of 300 feet.
•A rear red reflector visible from a distance of 500 feet.
•A white or yellow reflector on each pedal or on the bicyclist’s shoes or ankles visible from a distance of 200 feet.


avatar dave rice July 9, 2011 at 6:25 pm

I’m aware of all these. I’m also aware of when I’m in an area dominated by cars versus an area dominated by people-powered transit (pedestrians, wheelchairs, strollers, skateboarders, cyclists), and that many others may not be aware of the rules.

I’m also aware that many cagers (motorcyclist term for people who spend their lives enshrouded in a cage of glass and metal colloquially known as a car) are either unaware of the rights of others or, more commonly, blatantly disrespectful of anyone in less danger than themselves. The converse of this played out time and again when I’d see jerks in little subcompacts try to dash up to the I-8 line intentionally in the wrong lane, then launch a failed attempt to cut in front of me (in my old, beat-up 1994 F-250 pickup) trying to get to work and save 3-4 minutes at the expense of everyone who knows how to drive.

I temper how I ride with what I feel the appropriate and accepted protocol is for the neighborhood, tempered by the awareness that others might not recognize things as I do. As it relates to the pier, when I’m on my bike I’me the car and the pedestrian is the bike rider on the street, and as such the burden of care is on me, the more powerful individual in terms of speed and ability to cause damage in an accident.

Not sure if that makes sense at all, re-reading it sounds like an idiotic rambling…


avatar Sunshine July 9, 2011 at 10:01 pm

should this be done using semaphore? “•Must signal all their intentions to motorists and bicyclists near them.”

and thank goodness we have permission to do this one, “•May move left to pass a parked or moving vehicle, bicycle, animal, avoid debris, or other hazards.” before they suggested this most people just smashed into these things. thank goodness they’re spelling it out so clearly.

thanx for the laughs, obdude. i rather enjoy reading the ‘rules of the road.’


avatar john July 10, 2011 at 10:59 pm

“•Must ride in the same direction as other traffic, not against it.”

There should be accompanying code specifying other cyclists are allowed to carry a stick and be required to use it upon clueless idiots who ride against traffic “because I feel more comfortable seeing traffic coming at me!” I probably see at least one a day somewhere in OB.
What does anyone else do when confonted with these wrong way morons? Do you stay right or figure their twisted logic will lead them to go left instead?

What about skateboarders? What side of the street should they be on? Maybe I should know this, I’ve had a few near misses lately, be nice to know when I stop and help the guy up if I should say “gee, I’m terribly sorry!” or “you imbecile!”
(New Yorkers have it much more simple, “**** you!” works in any circumstance.)

“•Shall not operate a bicycle on a roadway during darkness unless the bicycle is equipped with:
A brake which will enable the operator to make one braked wheel stop on dry, level, clean pavement.”

Now I don’t get that one at all, but then I think fixies should be banned 7/24. (j/k, don’t want to start a war with the hipsters) Why would a brake be required only in darkness?


avatar Karen July 13, 2011 at 4:07 pm

How can we go about submitting a proposal? Are there parameters and specifications that define shovel ready projects?

Thanks for the information and great discussion.


avatar dave rice July 13, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Hi Karen – I think a project needs to have plans and, if necessary, permits in place to be ‘shovel ready.’ However, I’m admitting ignorance on this and invite comment from those smarter than me…


avatar Karen July 13, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Thanks Dave. I have a plan/idea and don’t think permits are necessary for what I have in mind. Is there a way to submit a proposal?


avatar Karen July 14, 2011 at 6:21 pm

How can we go about submitting a proposal? Are there parameters and specifications that define shovel ready projects?

Thanks for the information and great discussion.


avatar dave rice July 14, 2011 at 6:33 pm

I’m sorry Karen, I don’t have those answers or I’d be glad to provide them. Your best bet might be to attend the next meeting on Wednesday the 20th at 6:30 and ask one of the board members.


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