In looking to heighten interest within the Village of OB for the election and the Planning Board itself, the OB Rag will be examining each of the seven planning districts over the upcoming weeks.
It’s bordered on the north by Dog Beach, the San Diego River and Robb Field – which makes the district the gateway to two of OB’s parks.
It’s the site of the most famous dog-friendly beach park in the city and due to the district’s proximity to the beach, it has a heavy impact from tourists and visitors.
District 1 includes most of the Voltaire Street commercial zone, which is the second busiest business area in OB.
It has numerous bars and definitely some of the more high-end restaurants in the village. Lucy’s, Mother’s, the Tilted Stick. The OB Noodle House is one of OB’s most famous places, but there’s also Bo-Beau’s, Third Corner, and O’Bistro’s.
Of course, most of the district is residential – and contains a real mixture of small beach cottages, single-family homes, condos, and two to three story houses and apartments. Muir is its longest street.
Lotus is one of OB’s more peculiar streets as it seems to wander through north OB.
And those with any memory know the district as OB’s “War Zone” – a reputation gained over the decades by this area of northwest OB which District 1 shares with some of the other districts.
For years, it held a good number of modest rentals, enabling young people, students, seniors and other low-income folks to reside at the beach. It also is one of the most dense neighborhoods and has always been known where “sex, drugs and rock n roll” is alive and vibrant.
Part of the pressure on this district is that from the process of gentrification. District 1 is definitely on the frontline of OB’s fight with gentrification. And the 5100 block of West Point Loma Avenue is where that battle is occurring.
For the last several years, the City’s planning department has granted variances to property owners who have torn down their duplexes and in stead built three story behemoths – large structures out of character in terms of bulk and size with the rest of the immediate neighborhood.
The OB Planning Board has resisted these variances, which appear improper and even illegal, and it has made its appeals. New language in the recently-adopted draft community plan update prohibits those type of variances.
All this makes District 1 extremely important and hence, its representation on the Planning Board is very important. Currently, the district is represented by two relative newcomers, Andrew Waltz and John Ambert.
Waltz was just appointed to the Board in early June 2013 and Ambert hasn’t been on the board much longer. Ambert was noticeably vocal during the CVS Pharmacy debates on the side of holding the corporation to live up to requests from the community.