Many, many years ago, before I was a school administrator and working 11 months a year, my husband and three daughters took a trip to the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico City, Guadalajara and surrounding areas.
We were gone a little over three months. When we returned we were amazed to find that the six vacant lots on the corner of Sunset Cliffs and Adair had houses on them; many already sold, and they were two stories high.
We were never notified of these potential structures, but they effectively removed any view that we had of the ocean, even if we were standing on the top of our sun deck. We were horrified to find that we could no longer view the fireworks on the Ocean Beach Pier on the 4th of July.
Skipping ahead to today, April 28th, I was stunned to find out that there is a potential building change going to be asked for that will totally destroy the Sunset Cliffs area.
Let me tell you what I know – and let me stress I do not know how much truth there is to this, but people are talking, just like we heard the “talking about the VFW building.”
“The Inn at Sunset Cliffs” – corner of Pt. Loma Avenue and Sunset Cliffs – is seeking permanent and private ownership of the coastal area just west of the hotel.
The Ocean Beach Planning Board hearing is scheduled for this Wednesday, May 1, at 6:00pm at the Ocean Beach Recreation Center.
A survey of the property shows that “ . . . the Inn does not own some of the coast property that it proposes to continue to fence off from the public. The City permit process has ignored or eliminated state and city environmental laws and requirements that protect Sunset Cliffs from private development and guarantee the public’s right to access, use and enjoy our coastal bluffs, beaches and ocean.”
Although I cannot state that the following is completely true, what I have been told is that the Inn is owned by wealthy Arizona people that have hired well connected local lobbyists who have aggressively pressured City Hall to remove important coastal act protections and documented constraints on this property.
The Inn and the City seek to formally approve the removal of these public rights without informing the people about what they are really doing.
In 2008 The Inn was listed For Sale in the amount of $9.7 Million dollars. The information sent to residents that might have been impacted by the sale stated, “ . . . The zoning, FAR and 12 attached garages create the potential for future conversion to 27 condo units or a “fractionalized ownership hotel.”
However the property did not sell then. They stated that there were plans for “24 parking spaces” but if there are only 12 attached garages, where will the other cars be parked?
A letter dated June 29, 2010 from the City of San Diego to the owners of the Inn, stated that there were several violations that needed to be corrected. As an example, citing the top 3 violations,
- 1) The construction of a concrete patio, fence on top of the sea wall, and stairs leading to the lower concrete deck adjacent to the Sensitive Coastal Bluff Edge without the required Site Development Permit/Coastal Development Permits.
- 2) Operating the premises as a commercial venue for weddings where the hotel lacks the facilities associated with conducting weddings (no banquet room, restaurant or dance facility) and no area to accommodate gatherings of large numbers of people is considered an intensification of use without a Site Development Permit and Coastal Development Permit.
- 3) Garages constructed to provide off street parking for the original apartment and hotel use are being used for storage, elimination required off-street parking. I do not know if these violations were ever fixed, but suffice it to say that the “Notice of Violation” is 8 pages long, and I only cited a small amount of the first page.
The Inn has been good to many people in the area. They offer a discount to home owners that are having work done on their own home – albeit still too expensive for me; at one time they threw a party for the residents of the area which included drinks, food, and entertainment. (I have not been invited to a party there for several years and do not know if they still do this.) They are members of the OB Merchants Association and the Town Council.
All of this scares me. If this possibility is approved – and, once again, as far as I know they are only asking for a renewal of their permits at the meeting on May 1st, granting the Inn at Sunset Cliffs’ private ownership of the coastal area probably means that there will no longer be the public’s right to access, use and enjoy our coastal bluffs, beaches and ocean. And, if what I have heard is correct, and I have trouble believing this will be the case, the Inn will also be required to install a drainage system that dumps polluted run-off water directly into the ocean at Pt. Loma Ave. instead of into an available storm water diversion system.
Please don’t just sit by and let this happen. Let the Planning Board know that we are opposed to this move. Please join me at the meeting on May 1 at 6:00pm at the Ocean Beach Recreation Center. Let the Planning Board know that we do not want to see any condominiums where the “Inn at Sunset Cliffs” is now. You know the saying – use it – (your right to free speech) or lose it (access to the beautiful beach at Sunset Cliffs.) This is another situation we must fight.