Editor: The following “Reader Rant” is written by Geoff Page, a former chair of the Peninsula Community Planning Board, as a response to presentations by City planners of the new Draft OB Community Plan Update. Geoff is responding to a report in the OB Rag of Maxx Stalheim’s presentation to the OB Planning Board on June 5th, plus to other sources as well. Maxx Stalheim is the senior planner involved in the 11 year process of rewriting OB’s Precise Plan, and he did announce he was retiring next month at the OB Planning Board meeting on June 5. The OB Rag has invited Mr Stalheim to write a statement about the new Draft Update.
By Geoff Page
I am really happy Maxx Stalheim is retiring, we all should be.
Let’s look at the “highlights” Stalheim described. The first one was :
“There is a new facilities financing section to help guide planners in determining public facility funding.”
Huh? This just sounds like training material for new city planners, why would this be at all unique to any one community? Isn’t it the job of planners to know these things anyway?
“OB has been “park-deficient” over the years, and earlier the City determined that the neighborhood was 40 acres deficient in terms of size and population. The new draft includes the use of “equivalencies” – like cliff trails and “comfort stations” (read restrooms) that reduce the deficiency, and now it’s down to only 18 acres.”
Huh? So Stalheim is saying the City has solved 22 acres of park deficiency in OB with semantics?
“Another highlight is within the urban design element, that addresses the City issuing questionable variances to home builders along West Pt Loma Blvd. The new plan has tools to evaluate development projects to determine if a project is in compliance with the Precise Plan.”
“The new plan has tools to evaluate development projects to determine if a project is in compliance with the Precise Plan?”
This one isn’t funny. The community plans don’t need “tools” to see if a project is in conformance. Those tools are community planning board members who know this stuff and care about it. What is needed is a way to stop the City from allowing variances to the Municipal Code when a community objects to those variances. And the only way that will ever occur is if the community plans become part of the Municipal Code. Today, there are no teeth in these plans and they can be, and are, ignored regularly and with impunity.
Here is another quote from Stalheim from the SDNews:
“The controversial trend among property owners on West Point Loma Boulevard to replace one-story duplexes with three-story homes could become a thing of the past. Language in the introduction will state that variances allowing homes with larger square footages than permitted by zoning is not compatible with the plan.”
Vintage Stalheim. “…could become a thing of the past?” Notice the hedging?
“Language in the plan will state that variances allowing homes with larger square footage than permitted by zoning is not compatible with the plan!!!”
I don’t even know where to begin with that one. Homes with larger square footage than allowed by the zoning are illegal anyway but perhaps you aren’t familiar with the Municipal Code. Of course violations of the Municipal Code are not compatible with the plan.
But in all seriousness folks, do not believe the community plan will stop the City from granting variance requests because the City is not bound by the OB Plan or any other.
And this highlight:
“The update ensures that new development will not destroy view corridors, particularly along the public right-of-way along streets.”
Huh? I am straining to control my tongue here. First, view corridors along the public right-of-way have always been protected; these are the ONLY view corridors that are protected. There is absolutely no provision in the San Diego Municipal Code that protects view corridors across private property. And, language in a community plan, which is not part of the Municipal Code, is only a plea for owners to respect other property owners. Some do but those who don’t want to, don’t have to, and don’t.
I have no idea what Stalheim’s last “highlight” meant.
To conclude, do not be fooled by the way this plan was presented by the City. There is only one way these plans will ever be effective and that is to make them a part of the Municipal Code which would force the Development Services Department to use them in their reviews. They don’t do that now.
But, to end with the good news again, Maxx Stalheim is retiring