Dear Mayor Filner,
This letter is submitted on behalf of the Ocean Beach Planning Board in regard to the ongoing issues between the City and the Ocean Beach community involving the multiple variances granted on West Point Loma Avenue in Ocean Beach. The block in question was purposely zoned under the Ocean Beach Precise Plan to be consistent with the rest of the Ocean Beach community.
The City has made the community aware that it disagrees with this aspect of the Ocean Beach Precise Plan. However, the Ocean Beach Precise Plan was created democratically under the processes put in place to ensure transparency, equality, and community participation.
It is the application of the zoning regulations that have allowed the Ocean beach community to preserve the unique “character” touted on the City’s own website, “Ocean Beach is a small community that celebrates individuality and creativity in its preservation as a traditional Southern California beach town”. The City has benefited economically from the tourism draw of the Ocean Beach community. It is this uniqueness that is now in jeopardy by the continued variances.
City staff is now attempting to rezone an area of Ocean Beach through repeated variances without going through the required official channels. Against the recommendation of the Ocean Beach Planning Board, the City has approved multiple variances on one specific block of West Point Loma Avenue.
The variance requirement for a “unique hardship” clearly has not been met; there is nothing unique in Ocean Beach about these lots since we have hundreds of such lots. In addition, Planning Commissioners have repeatedly overlooked the community by ignoring the recommendations of the elected Ocean Beach Planning Board.
Staff and Commissioners have relied on precedent variances to grant new variances to homes being constructed (even when advised by the City attorney not to take past considerations into account). Commissioners have also repeatedly informed the Ocean Beach Planning Board that the variances are being granted because they do not think the zoning for this block is correct and have suggested that the Board reconsider the issue.
We are writing today to ask specifically for that opportunity. Although we continue to disagree with the findings of the City, we have accepted that fact that we are powerless to stop the variances that staff have very directly told us will continue to be granted. In light of this, we are asking that the Ocean Beach Planning Board have the opportunity to work with City staff to reconsider the zoning for this very specific block in Ocean Beach.
We are specifically requesting an immediate moratorium on variances for this area while the city and the community work together to solve the zoning problem (as recommended by the Commission).
(signed) Jane D Gawronski, PhD
Chair, Ocean Beach Planning Board