City-Wide Committee of Planners Agree to Investigate Ocean Beach’s Issue With San Diego

by on February 29, 2012 · 7 comments

in Economy, Environment, San Diego

OB sunset - September 2010, by Jim Grant.

It worked.  Last night’s outpouring of support and solidarity for the Ocean Beach planners in their fight with the City proved the ticket.  The city-wide committee of neighborhood planners agreed with the OB Board that this issue of the City granting improper variances was indeed an issue worthy of study.

Formally known as the Council of Planning Committees (CPC), they voted unanimously last night to create a committee to specifically look into the issue of the variances and to facilitate a resolution.  There was sympathy for the issue when it was brought up at the regular monthly meeting of the CPC last night, as it appears the same type of city granting of variances is occurring in other communities as well.

Specifically, the CPC agreed that it was indeed an issue that could be applied city-wide and demanded the CPC’s attention.

In an email sent out to thank supporters, OB Planning Board vice-chair Landry Watson, stated:

 This is a big step in the right direction and hopefully we are moving to a resolution of the issue with the city.   Thank you so much for the outpouring of community support!

 Puzzled? See these for background: See here, here, here, and here.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Cindy March 1, 2012 at 8:23 am

I’m sorry I’m I missing something here. I wouldn’t call the attandance of resident’s from OB “outpouring of community support”. There were about 8-9 people in attendance from Ocean Beach as well as my husband and I. 4 of those individuals serve on the Ocean Beach Planning Committee. And your statement that “it appears the same type of city granting of variances is occuring in other communities as well” is inaccurate. The statement was “that this same type of city granting variances could be occurring in other communities as well”. If the 4-5 people outside of the OB Planning Committee board members is considered an “outpouring” of community support, then we had our own “outpouring” of OB Residents in favor of our development at the OB Planning meeting held on February 15th since we had 5 supporters in attendance in addition to 3 others. I’m sorry, but the articles you are posting seem to be somewhat slanted. I will say that the article written the day after the February 15th meeting at least shared what really happened at the OB Planning Review and shared the comments made that support the project. Bravo to you on that article.

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avatar OB law(yer) March 2, 2012 at 3:15 pm

I wasn’t there, so I won’t argue numbers – which seems petty anyway. The vote seems clear enough, unanimous. Don’t even need to count that.

Miss Cindy…in looking over your posts it is becoming clear to me that maybe yours is the next in the list to propose said variance for FAR bonus to the OBPB.

But on a previous post…. You mention this – “one simple question, would they approve these projects without the variance”

I challenge you this. WHY DON’T YOU PROVIDE THEM WITH A DESIGN THAT DOESN’T NEED THE VARIANCE.

Then I believe you will have your answer…. Hey…just trying to help.

And yes…Frank’s articles do tend to slant…..to the interest of the community. Or his perceived (and possibly warped) sense of the interest of the community.

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avatar Frank Gormlie March 1, 2012 at 9:18 am

Vice-chair Landry Watson told supporters he had a handful of emails in support of the Planning Board’s position. It’s clear what your interests are – what about the community’s interest?

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avatar Landry Watson (OBPB District 1) March 2, 2012 at 7:26 am

@Cindy – You ARE missing something – Context. That email was sent to a group of people who either attended the meeting or wrote emails in support of the Planning Board. It wasn’t intended to be posted as a quote, but it wasn’t meant to be private either and I assume everthing sent via the mail could end up posted, which doesn’t bother me. Frank is just trying to update people on the issue and make the news, I don’t fault him for posting it. If I had known you or your email, I’d have sent it to you as well. Thank YOU for taking the time to attend and ensure that the CPC understood it was an important issue for the community. It was vital that people on both sides of the issue were in attendance to show that it truly is a community wide issue. It might be hard for you to separate your project from the overall issue. But let me say that the issue discussed at CPC wasn’t about your project.

@Frank – Instead of interpreting things further, why not just go ahead and post my email here. With the context that it was sent to people who had either offered support or actually attended the meeting to show support. In defense of my own words, having numerous people contact me to tell me their support, a stack of over 15 emails and then having a dozen people in the audience of a community hearing on a cold and rainy night in Kearney Mesa at 8:30pm on a Tuesday…is certainly an “outpouring” in my book. I stand by those words and anyone who has been to these types of meetings would agree as well.

Some further context:

The CPC indeed agreed that the issue was worthy of their attention and decided to create a specific committee to research and investigate the issue city-wide and hopefully work with the city attorney and Planning Division to come to a resolution.

The issue got a moniker of “serial variances” by the vice chair of the CPC but was also referred to by several other community groups as “de facto zone changes” – who indeed confirmed they were occuring in their communities as well. Communities that desire faster zone changes were as concerned about the issue as those who were frustrated with continued unwanted variances – which was precisely the intent of us raising the issue to the group. It was this interest on both sides of the issue that ensured that the CPC voted unanimously to form the committee and to even change the original motion from an issue just in OB to a City-wide issue. A change that I welcomely accepted.

It will be hard for some people to understand that the issue has moved on from Ocean Beach and is now about the City’s actions around changing zones. It is now about process and procedure and not about projects in any one community – specifically here in OB. Those will continue to be discussed appropriately in our community meetings and dealt with on a “by project” basis.

Thanks again for people on both sides of issue who spoke up and made this a city-wide issue that we can now work to resolve to everyone’s satisfaction.

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avatar La Playa Heritage March 2, 2012 at 8:50 am

Great news.

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avatar OB law(yer) March 2, 2012 at 3:27 pm

This would seem to be a victory for the planners.

I hope for the Planner’s sake that whatever committee gets formed isn’t just some stumbling block or red herring to buy the City time so that more of these can be approved and the list of precedent ‘cases’ gets longer and longer.

Perhaps some simple lititgation to cease all building until this is resolved could be put into place. I read much about the fight that the planning group in Uptown has with their interim height limit battle and how that has put a halt to illegal construction in that part of town until they can resolve it.

Of course, everyone thinks back to the Sunroad building when the Mayor’s Attorney actually put the Kiebash on them for exceeding the height limit of that building due to the building code and the proximity to Montgomery Field (only a few years back).
In the end – Sunroad did have to rip off the last floor of that building that was built after they were told to stop.

Good luck moving forward to the planners….although – I still fear (to my obvious benefit) that you will be in litigation at some point, because the Mayor’s agenda is to remove any and all real and perceived obstacles to building any private structure (where they collect permit monies) that any applicant can possibly drum up. And the city council has been relegated to deleting their own policies when any corporation with more than two people collect signatures against them and to arguing over and over what day of the week they will open the winter homeless shelter. They will be no help in this matter.

Your only hope Planners is if the Cal Coastal Hippies decide this somehow violates the Coastal Act. Keep fighting though!

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avatar Seth March 3, 2012 at 4:33 pm

I am on record at public meetings stating that (a) a citizen’s lawsuit might change the City’s thinking about granting these variances, and that (b) a fear of litigation from the original applicant may have a motivating factor in granting the first one.

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