In a recent interview with online media, Councilmember Kevin Faulconer – who represents Ocean Beach and the Peninsula – reconfirmed his strong support for the 30 foot height limit. The recent debate about the height restrictions in San Diego’s coastal zone must have caught his eye, and he wanted to make his positions clear.
I’ve been a very strong supporter of the 30-foot height limit. I think it’s one of the most important tools that we have to protect the coastline.
That statement pretty much summed up Faulconer’s views on the height limit for San Diego’s coast – a coast that he has helped represent for years, as the Council rep for OB, Point Loma, the Harbor, parts of downtown. Faulconer added that the height limit is ” one of the things that makes San Diego unique.”
Faulconer neither anticipates any efforts to change it, nor would he support them, if there were. It doesn’t need any tweaks, either. He said:
My sense is it’s working, and it’s working well. It doesn’t need any tweaks. It’s serving the protections that we want.
While denying that he had heard of any concerted effort to change it, as “that would not make any sense at all,” to the question of how often his office ends up enforcing the limit against those looking for a new interpretation of how the height limit is measured, he responded:
We do get questions in our office from time to time about a particular project, whether it be a house or something else, to make sure it’s under the requirements of the 30-foot height limit, and I think that just goes to show you how keyed in the neighborhoods are, and how supportive they are, of the 30-foot height limit. People support it and they want to be sure it’s constantly being enforced.
Faulconer, a Republican, assured the reporter that support for the height restriction “is not a partisan issue at all.” He said:
It’s about neighborhoods. And San Diegans support protecting our view corridors, particularly our public view corridors. And that’s one of the hallmarks of the height limit. Other cities … wish they would have installed that years ago. We had the foresight to do that here.
He was very specific about protecting public views. He said:
We’ve made a definitive statement that says we are going to protect our public views, and every time someone visits either Mission Bay Park or the coastline, they see the reason why we made that decision. It is something that has protected our city for the last 40 years. I would never support changing it.
More on public views:
Yeah, it’s all about public views, and view corridors. And I would say, particularly that the public view corridors are where you’re in public places, like public parks, and that’s potentially the rationale behind Prop. D, … And that’s important. Those public views are what we want protected for generations to come, obviously.
Faulconer kept being pressured by the reporter to comment on what the reporter called a “persistent fear” that the height restriction is “under attack” – a fear among its supporters, he said, making it seem like some kind of irrational paranoia, implying that it was weird to believe, “that you always need to guard against the possibility” of any attack. But Faulconer dodged the brunt of the point, by answering:
I think, … it’s very secure and strong with public support here in San Diego. But I think people have seen in other municipalities that don’t have this protection, how things can turn out, and they don’t want to go down that path.
The Councilman explained that San Diegans – by voting for Prop D – wanted to protect those views, “and not be subject to the whims of change from year to year.” He said:
That was the point of the citizens’ initiative. And I think if you look at how it’s worked, and the fact that we do have vistas, we do have views, San Diegans no matter where you live have a connection to the water.
On a hot summer day, we’re going to have over 100,000 people that come down to Mission Bay Park. … They love the park that you can look out, it’s expansive, you can see, breathe the fresh air, that’s part of the experience. And you’d never want that blocked off, or walled off by other types of development. That’s just not who we are as San Diegans.
As the reporter pressed Faulconer on the reporter’s view that the height limit has restricted development unnecessarily, and causing congestion inland, the councilman rejoined: “San Diegans made a conscious decision to limit heights and protect our public view corridors of beaches and the bay.”
There are numerous other areas where density is encouraged, and planned for, particularly in downtown, which I’ve represented for the last seven years. … Higher and taller buildings are part of the downtown community plan, and that was a conscious decision.
And finally, Faulconer said:
I believe the beaches and the bays belong to every San Diegan, and no matter where you live, if you want that protected, and that’s what the height limit ensures, and that’s why I’m such a strong supporter.
(Thanks to VOSD reporter Andrew Keatts for the interview of Faulconer.)