Editor: The following are comments to an article published recently at the Voice of San Diego, entitled The Coastal Height Limit’s Legacy, that to us, at least, signals the beginning of the attack on the thirty foot height limit at San Diego’s coast.
Comment from Geoff Page to VOSD article:
The pro-development comments here sure stand out; I agree with Mr. Wood. The language used, like smart growth, walkability, city of villages, is designed to make increased density sound acceptable. The new frontier for development is this kind of thing because there are no more wide swatches of land left for development. The 30-foot height limit law is perfect example of the difference between what people want and what development interests want. in this case, the people won and developers have been trying everything they could to get around the law, with remarkably little success.
I contacted the VOSD reporter because I wanted to see them dig into the municipal code changes that took place last year. Every bit of the language regarding the 30-foot height limit was altered in last year’s revamp of the Municipal Code. The result is a new interpretation of how to measure a structure in the coastal height area. My hope was that the VOSD would talk to the City about these changes and see what they had to say but the article did not contain anything along those lines. Hopefully, there will be a follow up story. As of right now, it appears that the City is allowing a home on a slope to go up 30 feet from the highest grade and drawing a straight line across the top of the lot. If the back is lower, the back of a building can now be as ,much as 40 feet high. This is a change. It used to be that the measurement was taken from the lowest spot five feet from the building. As the lot sloped up, the building could go up as long as it did not exceed 30 feet above existing grade. This meant that no part of the building would exceed 30 feet from grade. This needs to be investigated in better detail.
Geoff Page is the Chair of the Peninsula Planning Committee.
Coastal Height Limit Protects Public’s Interest
comment posted as article :
Posted: Thursday, January 10, 2013 4:05 pm | Updated: 4:11 pm, Thu Jan 10, 2013.
By David Little |
Your article relative to the 30-foot height limit reminds me of the Vietnam military official who famously said we are going to have to bomb that city to save it. Bombing San Diego’s coastal zone with 60-foot high-rise condos ruins our city — as bombing tends to do.
You imply that the coastal zone is from “Point Loma to La Jolla” when actually it is from Del Mar to the end of Imperial Beach. To say “it withstood a battery of legal challenges” is an understatement. The 30-foot limit was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court and when the decision was handed down a justice said “communities can zone themselves as they see fit.” This initiative means the people of San Diego don’t have to be intimidated by political and rich developer interests.
The initiative was passed by the residents of the entire city — Clairemont, University City, Tierrasanta and City Heights. Imagine the impertinence of the voters in those areas thinking they had a right to unrestricted access to their public beaches.
Your article misstates the goal of the initiative as “maintaining ocean views” — explicitly. The real goal was to prevent San Diego from becoming a Miami Beach or a Rio de Janeiro. I should know; unlike Mr. Keatts, I voted for it.
Matthew Yglesias, who would readily lower our standard of living, should pedal his snake oil in Carmel and Santa Barbara where the rents are really high. When he has convinced those communities to reduce their zoning restrictions, then San Diego should consider it.
Why was this limit done with a voter’s initiative? Precisely so that politicians like Mr. LaCava cannot tweak the limit to 34 feet or some other arbitrary number. Variances to the people’s initiative do not exist, and that is why the grassroots community went to all the trouble to get a height limit through the Supreme Court. They could not and do not trust their local authorities, who clearly have diverse interests. The “rigidity” of the law is what keeps big money developers from being able to change the height law for the benefit of their own bank accounts.
David Little lives in La Jolla.