Editor: This response to an article in the Beacon in mid-November is by OB Ragster and long-time planning activist Dan Morales, who is also announcing his candidacy for the OB Planning Board. (We link to the Beacon post below.)
Friends and neighbors,
I would like to thank former Lifeguard Tony De Garate for jumping into the waters surrounding a proposal to build a ten unit, three story condominium complex in Ocean Beach (Beacon 11/17/2011, pg 1).
Although his efforts appear sufficient on the surface, the author fails to recognize current developer interests, the ebb and flow of real estate finance, and the waning of a material basis for democratic community planning in the public interest.
My community of Ocean Beach appears in extremis amongst the swell of gentrification while “most of the planners (on the Ocean Beach Planning Board [OBPB]) had had no basis to vote against the project,” clinging again and again to the San Diego Municipal Code, the California Coastal Regulations, and the jetsam and flotsam of personal opinion. Flailing in this soup, ignorant of the neptunian nature of their dilema, the OBPB needs a life saver, not a skeleton key to Davey Jones’ Locker.
First of all, I didn’t vote for my planning board member so they could have a soapbox for their own personal opinions. But rather I voted for them to be stewards of the community interests as articulated in the Ocean Beach Precise Plan. To do otherwise would breach the principals of representative democracy and cause the premier elected California community planning board to founder.
So, let me throw out a line that may buoy the spirits if not the rationale of those of us who struggle to save OB:
- Given that the Precise Plan (pg. 8 ) identifies the “threat coming from new condominiums, the cost of which precludes the existing residents”; Was affordability of proposed units considered relative to the median income of census tracks 75.01, 75.02, and 73.01? (Residential & Housing Element, Ocean Beach Precise Plan).
- Given the vacating of a public right-of-way: Does this proposal mitigate for the loss to our community in accordance with Board policy? (Public Facilities Element, Ocean Beach Precise Plan).
- Given that a Virginia based corporation said “this planning board should take pride” in its collaboration with the developer: Does the OBPB still have no basis to vote against the project when it is perfectly clear that “all the elements of the plan consider the community from a neighborhood standpoint and as a major recreation area” and that “the recommendations of this plan should be kept fundamentally intact and followed unless amended by due process.”? (Significance of the Plan, Ocean Beach Precise Plan).
Finally, it’s been over 25 years since Tony De Garate critiqued my swimming strokes. It would be irresponsible for me to sit on the shore and not put my experience, strength, and hope to good use. In order to be of service to my community, I am currently collecting signatures to fill a vacancy on the Ocean Beach Planning Board.