City Staff Recommend Burk Residence Approval Despite OB Planners’ Opposition

by on March 12, 2012 · 6 comments

in Economy, Environment, Ocean Beach

San Diego City staff have recommended that the McMansion-type Burk residence on West Point Loma Boulevard be allowed to be constructed.

This recommendation flies in the face of the Ocean Beach Planning Board’s rejection of the project at their December 2011 Board meeting.

The city Hearing Officer will hear the case on Wednesday, March 14th.

The hearing is located at 202 C St on the 12th floor. Hearing starts at 8:30 a.m. and the Burks residence is early on the agenda.

Here is the link to the agenda.

Here is the link to the official staff report and recommendation.

This is what we reported from the December Board meeting:

If it had passed and ended up being built, this proposed building would seriously add to the gentrification occurring on that particular block of West Point Loma Blvd., which butts up to the beach and its grassy area.  The Burk family had submitted the application to demolish the existing two-unit, one-story place at 5170 W. Pt. Loma and construct a three-story, one-family residence, with just less than the maximum allowed, 1750 square feet.  If ever built, the Burk residence would join two other similar 3-story projects that either have already been built or have been approved.  The last applicant – the Cox residence – was fought by OB planners all the way to the Coastal Commission – unsuccessfully.

So, last night, the planners were unified in their opposition.  The main reasons for their stance were:

  • To be built, the Burks needed at least two variances from the City of San Diego; there are required standards to obtain a variance and the planners did not believe that the Burks had met them;
  • The three story behemoth does not conform to community character;
  • The property owners knew that the lot was a “sub-standard” one when they purchased it, so they can’t complain now that the lot is too small for their life-style in order to get a variance;
  • Any blight in the neighborhood is caused by the property owners’ neglect, and cannot be used as an excuse for a variance;

Allowing a precedent to be set with this project to be built would affect all of north OB, not just that block of West Point Loma

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar beach head March 13, 2012 at 7:42 am

I’m probably the minority on this one but I think it looks nice and will help improve this part of OB. This part of OB known as the “war zone” could use more improvements like this one, and will continue to see more improvements.

?Any blight in the neighborhood is caused by the property owners’ neglect, and cannot be used as an excuse for a variance;

-I don’t see the owners of this place neglecting it.

I wish I could say the same for some of the other places around here. I dare to say that some of these properties are owned by slum lords. I understand that is the option of many on here that this kind of gentrification is bad, but unfortunately option doesn’t hold much weight.


avatar beach head March 13, 2012 at 7:43 am



avatar john March 13, 2012 at 1:28 pm

“-I don’t see the owners of this place neglecting it.”

A little over a year ago a winter storm ripped the back patio awning (which covers about a third of the backyard concrete pad) off the mounts of the back wall of the existing Burks residence, as it and its support had a lot of rotted wood. It was never rebuilt nor was the wall repainted where the awning’s void was left.
Thus if one were to view the rear of the residence from the park, it would in fact appear blighted and neglected. If I owned the building and knew I was about to submit a permit application for demo and new project, I certainly would not bother building a new awning for my rental tenants nor repaint, so I am not portraying Burks as a slumlord or anything- in fact for the most part his building has been reasonably well maintained and painted- though not to the standard of the live in homeowners of course. (I rented Burks’ front unit many years ago, when I moved next door he returned my entire deposit even though my cleaning was minimal. Can’t say that about too many landlords)
I just want to inject a little reality to the mix here. Stebbins didn’t do a lick of work to his building (I’m between the two) for years as he awaited permits, even suffering a burglary because he left cardboard in place of a broken window. My own rental needs a lot of touch up paint work which is on me as I told my very gracious and accomodating owner I would tend to this ongoing maintenance, but have blown it off a while partly as he also is mulling plans to build.
I’m not blasting any of them , again, it’s just the flow of what happens when you plan to demolish a building and build anew- who’d invest in rehab?
However go a few houses to the southwest and that part of the block, which has mostly homeowner occupants in at least half of the duplex, the paint is fresh, they have beautiful backyard gardens or patios, nice drapes.
To think owners eyeing development do not purposely neglect their properties is kind of silly.
But then I’m still trying to grasp this “war zone” place you’re talking about. You DO realize Dago Choppers burned down years ago, those nice boys in that motorcycle club kind of gravitated eastward, they buried the utility wires not long after, and all the people who have moved in since 2000 or so are certifiable yuppies? Across the street two residents have a little outdoor drinking going on in the summer, but nobody gets robbed here, I’ve never heard of one car break in, since the booze ban the parking lot is a mausoleum. IN THE DAYTIME even.
In fact it hasn’t been a war zone since before I got rid of Cap’n Sticky’s old hearse in 2002. :-)
In the end, if common sense prevailed the argument “these properties we’ve been waiting to develop are now blighted, that justifies the development” wouldn’t even be raised by anyone without howling laughter.


avatar Kenloc March 13, 2012 at 1:31 pm

The OB precise plan was written to keep people from building their dream homes here and is quoted like gospel on this site beach head.Perhaps the people who are wanting to do improvements will wise up and try and change the plan that was written in yesteryear and make it more in line with todays homes.Not many are willing to pay loads of money to rebuild a tiny house,so houses remain old and rundown,cited in this article as property owners neglect.Seems like a direct result of the precise plan to me.
I think an updating of the FAR and the precise plan is in order. No more variances needed and people will stop whining when someone dares to make improvements to their property.


avatar john March 14, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Would you portray the Stebbins residence as a “property improvement”? That phrase brings to mind new siding, a roof, fresh paint, landscaping… not taking a single story duplex with two humble units with driveway parking and putting in its place a luxury 3 level single occupant home with electric gate.
It’s indeed a complete transformation of the property, and even more than that, such residences inherently foster a different lifestyle regarding its occupants interaction with the community. Stebbins drives his Mercedes to his law office 3 blocks away, and returns home, opening the gate by remote control, parks and returns into one of the expansive rooms or lofts of his tower. There is a fence between his home and mine now, there never has been fences between any of these properties. It doesn’t matter much, where his kitchen window used to face mine is now a blank wall, I have to crane my neck to look high up a wall to see a window of any sort, let alone be able to tell if anyone is even home.
Though I’m trying to word this in a way which doesn’t vilify David, the house is out of place. He’s completely isolated from his neighbors. I’ve been on this block for 18 years, that’s not the way we live down here. This is how they live in University City, in their yuppie boxes. That’s why the car prowl crime stats have always been off the page in Golden Triangle, everyone scurries home to their little boxes, (I guess W. Pt Loma or Mission Beach South will be big boxes) and doesn’t see a thing going on in the community.
I’m not sure what you mean by unwilling to rebuild a tiny house, it remains to be seen why, if the Stebbins home were several hundred or whatever square feet smaller, his lifestyle would be severely impacted. If people are living in their own “tiny home” pride in ownership should be all the motivation required to keep it in good shape.
What you are alluding to is it’s not worth investing a large sum of money to completely rebuild a home on a lot unless the square footage is a certain minimum level, to recoup the investment and then some.
In other words, to develop the land for profit.
I think that’s exactly what the OBPP had in mind and it’s saved this community from being turned into a faceless smattering of canyon walled buildings.
If that’s what some people like, there is nothing stopping them from moving to Mission Beach or one of the dozen or more Los Angeles communities already like that.


avatar Seth March 15, 2012 at 9:52 pm

It has nothing to do with the Precise Plan. The FAR is city code.

Not once in my four years on the OBPB has the Precise Plan prevented anyone from getting a building permit. The City pays no attention to it whatsoever. An update has been underway for over 10 years.

The city’s code is law, however. If it needs to be changed relative to the FAR in that area, let’s have a conversation about that. But currently, the variance process is being used to circumvent their own law. I can’t and won’t support that.


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