by Lois Lane
If you want to see OB, come to an OB Town Council meeting, and you are here. Held in the Masonic Temple Building on Sunset Cliffs Blvd, this icon of OB may not be quite historical status, but is provides ample parking, easy entry, and a comfortable venue for the number of people who arrived during the evening, along with their bicycles, children, and definite opinions on the agenda topics.
The meetings follow a standard format of public comment, official business, reports from the various elected official staff members, a special program, and committee reports. This meeting had special sixth item – pie with the president, as Gretchen Newsom, OB Town Council President, celebrated her birthday with her friends in Ocean Beach. And yes, the shoo-fly pie was every bit as good as promised.
Ms. Newsom, a potential candidate for the soon-to-be empty City Council seat, packs a lot of action into the time available.
Public comment is always interesting. There to represent District 2 City Council candidate Sara Boot was Laura Fink, her campaign manager, providing Ms. Boot’s support message for the special topic for the meeting, bicycling.
Tony Catalando came with pictures and a plea for solutions to the use of nooks and crannies around the pier as de facto public bathrooms.
The representatives of our elected officials are obviously in a state of transition, with John Ly hopeful to move to Mayor Faulconer’s office. A cheerful Chet Barfield, interim Mayor Todd Gloria’s rep, reported for the mayor’s office. With the expectation that he will not be at the next meeting, Mr. Barfield was presented with a gift from the OB Town Council. Always wearing a hat, he was presented with a feather for his hat (with the disclaimer that the OB parrot who contributed it had done so voluntarily, in case any animal activists were present).
Mr. Barfield provided the exact details for filing for candidacy for the City Council seat vacated by Kevin Faulconer. Nothing can be done until there is a vacancy, and that will occur March 3 – the day Faulconer becomes mayor and vacates the City Council position. Only then will the City Clerk post on the City of San Diego web site a form for prospective applicants, and instructions for filing it. There will be a two week window to apply. After that, applications will close, and two weeks later, the city council will vote to select the next City Council member for District Two. There will be at least two rounds of voting.
There is no limit on the number of people who may apply, so the first round will be to reduce the slate to a reasonable number of candidates, something like the selection of a Pope more than a primary election, and the City Council will continue to vote until a majority is reached. The case where the city council can’t come to a decision wasn’t covered, but presumably there is some sort of fail-safe provision along the way.
The main program for the evening consisted of a panel discussion of bicycling experts – Andy Hanshaw, Executive Director of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. Chris Kluth, Active Transportation Manager of SANDAG, Bryan Genovese, City of San Diego, Ed Clancy, the Bike Guy SD, and Nicole Burgess, OB Bike Advocate.
Everyone was interested in the report from City of San Diego rep Lana Findlay, who outlined the planned bike-share program. Although the details are still not available, Ocean Beach is expected to have 5 bike stations by this summer. The City provides the bike racks and bikes, there is a fee in some cases – you pick up a bike in one place and drop it off in another official location.
SANDAG has the truly ambitious programs, with $200 MILLION allocated to implement biking plans and 15 projects under way. OBcean Nicole Burgess advocates for “safe routes to school” efforts. And the city of San Diego itself has set aside $100,000 for bike racks.
Committee reports wind up the meeting – a request by Giovanni Ingolia for more OB Planning Board members, and a request by the president for people to become members of the OB Town Council, with information about how to join available on their web site: http://obtowncouncil.org/join-obtc.
Others in photo and on panel include:
Andy Hanshaw, Executive Director of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition
Chris Kluth, Active Transportation Manager of SANDAG
Sam Olinger, Executive Director, BikeSD
Lana Findlay, City of San Diego
And then there was pie. The perfect end to a perfect OB day. As I walked home, I found myself thinking “will I ever learn to ride a bicycle?” But this is OB – anything can happen.