Editor: This is a report of a Pacific Beach planning sub-committee grappling with similar problems facing Ocean Beach planners and residents, by “Sub-Committee” – the nom de plume of a Pacific Beach activist.
By Sub-Committee/ San Diego Free Press
Capital Improvements or Capital Waste?
The first meeting of the ad hoc sub-committee that was recently formed to handle the increasing interest/protest over the proposed life guard beach tower in North Pacific Beach also convened last week, packing a crowd in the library community room. Although many agree that the lifeguards merit better facilities at this beach than the rusty cargo container which currently serves as their storage unit, the problem is the location and size and use of the proposed plan. The City planners who were asked at the planning meeting 3 months ago in July to provide more information as to the nature of the lifeguard tower design before a site could be considered, had no more information for us.
The director of the sub-committee introduced the project as a high impact development on the community beach equal to a 50 unit condo development, and worthy of special examination.
Local resident representatives are collecting hundreds of signatures on petitions, to block the development of this project at the foot of Law St, where the lifeguards would prefer to build, mostly because of the access ramp which exists for their trucks (emergency vehicles) and beach demographics. One article of the protest is about parking their trucks (emergency vehicles) on the beach in the garage/storage scenario desired by the lifeguards.
Another article of the protest, and probably the main concern, is the environmental impact on the eroding coastal cliffs, and on this narrow section of beach inundated at high tide. In spite of photographic evidence as to the tidal surges at this beach, the city planners and lifeguards seem confident that they can handle whatever the ocean throws at them, but considering the recent roar of the ocean and Nature on the Jersey Shore, perhaps they will re-consider.
A misconception of the public was that this 3000 sq ft, $5 million permanent structure would also be permanently staffed. Lifeguards admitted that this facility, although being designed for live-ins like the one a few blocks away on Grand Ave., is largely administrative, 9am-dusk, that they “needed somewhere to process their ‘tickets’,” and take breaks, do their laundry, store their stuff, etc. , but, of course, lifeguards working in the building would respond to eventual emergencies on the beach and water.
We were also informed that although lifeguards’ (who actually DO guard the beach) salaries and hours have been cut, that budget has nothing to do with the capital improvements budget. We were also asked not to confuse the subject of this lifeguard tower with the $12 million lifeguard headquarters that is budgeted for Quivera Basin. Positive suggestions from the crowd included the possibilities that some modern technologies (cameras, wireless, etc.) be implemented to help guard this beach and facilitate the lifeguards, and that renting or leasing or even buying an apartment on the cliff would solve many of the administrative logistics, as well as being cheaper than a lengthy city construction project, especially on this disappearing beach.
Alternate plans to fill in the canyon entrance at Law St., several feet above the tide line, but below the street level, with a garage structure, topped by cemented terraces and landscaping, similar to one being built at Moonlight Beach in North County, was presented.
No one in the audience, though, not the present lifeguards, nor the city planners, nor the planning board members could respond to the relevant question: is the city of San Diego libel for people who might drown on our beaches?
That the city is spending a lot of time and money, designing a facility that is likely to be rejected by the California Coastal Commission when it is presented, for obvious reasons, puzzles us non-initiates to the political process.
That the Pacific Beach Planning Board is split on approval of this project when item #1A on their recently compiled “Neighborhood Code Compliance Priority List” is: Environmental Protection/ Disturbance of Coastal Cliffs, also surprises us.
Addendum: The mostly completed plans for the beach bathroom re-model at Law St. /Palisades Park (proposed over 2 years ago) were unofficially floating around this sub-committee meeting. Official approval from the Pacific Beach Planning Board is pending, perhaps at the next planning board meeting: (4th Wednesday of the month) Nov. 28, 2012, 6:30 pm., Pacific Beach Library Community room. According to comments overheard, the plans are bigger than what was tentatively approved a couple of years ago and the city did not comply with their schedule to present the plans for approval at 65% completion. Check the www.pbplanning.org website for more information
Next scheduled ad hoc sub-committee meeting for the life guard beach tower: Friday, Nov. 9, 1pm, Earl and Birdie Taylor Library Community room, Pacific Beach.
The Destiny of Density
Shoulders were shrugged as the Pacific Beach sub-committee for commercial and residential projects approved a new 4 bedroom+den/4 bath single family town house, with 2 “carport” parking spaces, on Oliver Avenue by the bay. No closed “garage” as to allow the maximum square footage for the habitation. Minimum required “yard.” Discussion as to how many cars will actually be “living there” ensued, but as the plans were in compliance with the existing building codes, shoulders were shrugged, and plans were approved. All expectations are for an increase in density in this zone.
This article first appeared at San Diego Free Press.