Report on Ocean Beach Planners’ Hearing on Proposed Waterfront Design Changes

by on May 19, 2012 · 10 comments

in Culture, Economy, Environment, Ocean Beach, Popular

From OB Planning Board Project Review Committee Meeting of May 16th, wherein the “Ocean Beach Master Plan” is renamed “Waterfront Enhancement”, and more …

Last Wednesday evening, the Ocean Beach Planning Board Project Review Committee met at the OB Recreation Center. It’s worth noting the first change to the agenda was item#1, originally entitled the “Ocean Beach Master Plan”. At the onset of discussions, it was requested by the submitters to rename the agenda item as “Waterfront Enhancement”. The new proposal was discussed too briefly, and it is expected to grow as additional projects are developed.

Currently, the plan lists a series of important and independent projects around town. A new committee has been formed around these efforts, and they are requesting additional members join them from the community at-large. The newly formed committee has several important tasks, as they work together to develop and submit more formal plans and proposals intended to modernize the legacy of our waterfront areas and reshape our “funky” OB imagery.

Among the projects being developed are a wide variety of new proposals and designs for the OB waterfront. New construction would improve aesthetic, safety and security features of some high traffic public spaces, while further enhancements would redefine pedestrian areas and walkways, and modify long-standing structures around our most popular beach front spaces.

Lifeguard Tower and Parking Enclosure

Projects for several signature art pieces and community landmarks are being discussed, not the least of which are plans to securely enclose the life guard encampment to provide safe equipment and vehicle access during emergencies, and continue to provide parking for the existing 10 employee spaces.

Surrounding the tower structure, a new fence line would enclose the three borders of the campus which currently remain open to pedestrian traffic. A secure, enclosed campus reduces public hazards and provides street access for emergency vehicles via an automated gate system, along with re-painting the pedestrian crossing at Abbott Street and Santa Monica.

Various elements of the plan would slightly expand the tower’s southern property line, extending the property by about 43 inches at the southern end of the proposed tower encampment area.

New Pedestrian Soft Paths

A new pedestrian soft path traverses the proposed southern fence line, and somewhat redefines the grassy spaces. This path would enable access between the beach and shower areas to the Abbott Street sidewalk.

A second soft path would connect the beach areas at the lifeguard tower to Dog Beach in the north.

Additional presentations were made for greening the tower structures and installing a solar-power array, along with plans for a new sculpture dedicated to our lifeguards and the memory of a band of lost soldiers who were reported to have drowned along our beachfront more than 100 years ago.

Two new sculptures, new stairways, wall tiling . . . and more!

In some ways the most impactful of these planned “visualizations” might be the addition of two new sculptures, one piece being located along the new soft path, near the twin palms and lifeguard tower encampment.

Enlarged images were circulated during the meeting depicting the youthful bronze model of a poised and ready lifeguard, red suit and blue swim fins in hand. Some folks seemed to question the subject matter, which was described as an “interactive” artwork where tourists might pose for self-styled vacation photographs. Most agreed some type of dedication is appropriate and could be presented for our highly effective and time-honored lifeguards.

The momentum behind the bronze piece seemed motivated by private donations and organizers who have earmarked enough funds to cover the expenses of creating and mounting the piece. Additionally, the artist is a former OB native now living in Colorado. As briefly explained, none of the funding for the statue we examined would be obtained from the proposed $200,000 worth of tower and campus modifications.

It should be noted that no further information was provided as to any intended statue mountings, nor were any specific dedications presented, and the exact nature and dedication stories seemed mixed and details were inconclusive.

New “ob” Sign Models Presented

Several sample models for a second sculpture were presented as possible replacements for the termite-infested sign which marks the entrance to Ocean Beach. The existing sign is deemed to be beyond repair, and it is currently located on the East side of Robb Field at Sunset Cliffs Blvd. For this, a new “ob” sculpture (two lower case letters) has been proposed which could be up to 15 feet tall. New “OB” lettering and font would replace the classic OB-styled font, as currently seen throughout the city on various signs which mark the business district, beach areas, and parks. The proposed entry piece may or may not be lit each night using stored energy from a solar array which could be installed nearby. Again, details were sketchy throughout this limited presentation.

Two New Pier Stairways?

Several larger scaled projects would create two stairways connecting the pier entrance to the boardwalk, below. The existing staircase will be replaced with a new design which descends to the walk, below, and where a breach in the wall is envisioned to enable beach access from the boardwalk, under the pier. A second, spiral staircase is proposed for the pier connecting the boardwalk to the pier entrance, above. This circular stairs would ascend from the boardwalk, located on the north side of the pier where the pump house currently resides. Among other statements we heard, the stairs are being proposed to provide better visibility and security for pedestrians walking along the boardwalk to the pier.

Join the Committee

These are only a few highlights from the proposal and ensuing discussions. For example, brief mention was made for replacing the sign on Sunset Cliffs Blvd at Newport Ave which announces our business district. Though it was not presented, this sign is one of four matching signs, each one using the same theme, including the classic “OB” font and bird. Though the business district is marked by a second sign located on the south-east corner of Newport and Sunset Cliffs Blvd, some feel the district is not readily identified, hence a new sign is being proposed.

Of those ideas not presented, one suggestion briefly floated would add custom tiles lining the sea wall from south of the pier and ending at the north end near the life guard tower. In future meetings, these and other projects are likely to be proposed and developed prior to any formal submissions to the council.

Regular meetings of the Design committee of the OB Main Street Association are held at 8:30AM on the first Tuesday of every month, at the OBMA. This committee is being assembled and will further develop more detailed models and samples of each project.

To ensure your voice is heard, please consider joining the Design committee to provide your input and feedback for these projects.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Frank Gormlie May 19, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Chris, I don’t see any mention of a “soft trail” from Dog Beach to the Lifeguard station. Was there any?


avatar Christopher Dotson May 19, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Tx Frank! Among some other key enhancements barely mentioned at the meeting, a second soft path is proposed to connect the beach and tower areas with Dog Beach in the north. I only hope to encourage others to join the next meeting and take part in the design committee processes which will re-shape more than OB’s personality and style.


avatar Frank Gormlie May 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Chris, thanks to you, many of us who couldn’t make the meeting have a good idea of what is going on. Was there a vote taken on this agenda item?


avatar Christopher Dotson May 19, 2012 at 10:56 pm

Again, this brief presentation introduced a wide range of important OB projects, some currently have momemtum and ready-made-designs, such as the proposed bronze statue. Other projects do not. All plans must be developed and submitted voted on. According the Landry Watson, Vice Chairman, Ocean Beach Planning Board, each project will be submitted for a formal board review process (voting, budgeting, etc.). For additional information on the Waterfront Enhancement projects and status, please consider joining the committee. For further questions, email to Additional OB community planning info is available at the website:


avatar OB Mercy May 19, 2012 at 8:14 pm

That would be so cool to be able to ride my bike from Dog Beach to the Lifeguard tower with the beach more visible then riding on Abbott.


avatar Christopher Dotson May 19, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Yeah, right? One benefit noted for this soft path between the tower and Dog Beach is to allow off-street access. Much more fun than using Abbott :)

Again, the presentation was very brief :( I think it was really only intended to serve as an introduction, as not all ideas were even presented. For this new phase of planning hopefully more OBceans can attend the planning sessions to learn more and contribute their ideas.


avatar OB Mercy May 20, 2012 at 7:52 am

Would be nice to attend if they didn’t have it when most of us have to be at our job.


avatar Christopher dotson May 20, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Again, this meeting was held in the evening but the design committee meets during the week in the morning. For thr Wed evening meeting, less than 30 people were present, though it seemed most were attending for other agenda items, rather than this important “master plan”. Also, This agenda item was rushed from start to finish. I was able to ask two questions but felt I was imposing on the meeting. Too rushed.
For some, these design meetings might be even MORE important than the Respect OB meeting, in terms of long-term outcome.


avatar Alissa May 20, 2012 at 8:46 pm

I vote no on the lower case ob. I just saw it on the new bathroom and I can deal with that, but I say no thank to it on entry into town. It’s a little goofy; I say it’s okay to stick to tradition on certain things.


avatar A gated community? May 20, 2012 at 9:08 pm

In regards to the lifeguard station, the new design looks fine from the very brief description, however the idea to wall off the whole complex is terrible. The reasons given for a new gate were unconvincing and the idea of seperating the lifeguards from the community is worrisome. Having public service employees that interact with the public as they do now is important and continueing to build walls around everything near the beach is turning OB into PB/mission beach. Eventually all these combined plans is leading to a series of tiny walkways allowing limited access to the public beach. Building a gate while also infringing on current public park space is not the answer.


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