Million Dollar Condos Take Shape on OB’s Waterfront

by on May 14, 2014 · 35 comments

in Culture, Economy, Environment, Ocean Beach

OB Saratoga condos drawgood

Artist rendering of condo complex.

The Saratoga and Abbott Street condos are definitely taking shape. The friendly on-site manager informed us that they hoped the condos will be ready by September – and p0tentially new residents to move in during November 2014.

Construction progress as of May 13, 2014.

The ten condos being built will go for around a million dollars a piece. We have heard that figure from two sources now. However, the condos may not be sold initially but instead rented out.

Whether rentals or for sale, the condo complex will certainly alter the waterfront of Ocean Beach.

The complex and the plans leading up to its construction certainly have a history that we at the OB Rag have been documenting.

Here is what we wrote in November 2012:

The 10 units will be condos in a 3 story building, 29 feet high, once the existing four buildings are demolished.  Three of the buildings are apartments with a total of 15 units, while the fourth is a shack-like structure boarded up for years whose most recent tenant was Dempsey’s At Ocean Beach, plus it was also the original location of Hodad’s restaurant.

This has been a sordid affair for some, as the battle to save OB’s beachfront from being over-developed has see-sawed back and forth over the last couple of years on this project.

It was just about a year ago, that the OB Planning Board voted to approve the new plans to a project that had had multiple problems.

OB Saratoga condos midMay2014 001Back on November 2, 2011, then board members made remarks about the planned construction. Seth Connolly, now off the board, said the design smacked of a “fortress”.

Other comments:  Nancy Taylor said the site would be better off as a park.  Member Scott Therkalsen said it would seem “set off from the rest of the community.”

Vice-president Landry Watson said, “If you’re going trick-or-treating in this location, it kind of says, ‘Stay away,’ not ‘Come on in and check it out.’”

Tom Gawronski said: “It’s a wild interpretation of the code solely for the purpose, as far as I can see, of allowing this building to be built.”

Board member Craig Klein: “The big beef is that we didn’t want cars visible from the street. That’s been solved. I’ve always regarded this as a difficult site that was going to require creative solutions.”

Board member Bill Bushe called the project a “trend” for beachfront structures.  “I don’t think they should be penalized for clever architecture. This is not a bad deal.”

Finally, however, the OB planners determined that they had no basis to vote against the project, finding the applicant had made some changes in response to the board’s feedback. The vote was 9-2 in favor of the project known as Ocean Park Villas. Taylor and Tom Gawronski were the dissenting votes.

OBceans on tour of proposed complex by members of the OB Planning Board, November 2012.

Here is a timeline of the controversial project:

  • August 65, 2008:  OB Planning Board by a vote of 4 to 3 agreed to allow the city to vacate the alleys behind the land at end of Saratoga and Abbott so that the developer of the project could put 2 additional units into his project. In return, the Parks and Rec department will be compensated for the 2700 square feet of land in question.
  • January 30, 2009: Coastal Commission issues its Coastal Development Permit to build the new structures. Interestingly enough, the Permit includes this language:  “Expiration: If development has not commenced, the permit will expire two years from the date on which the Commission voted on the application.” (Our emphasis.)
  • November 2009: the Coastal Commission approves the original plans for demolishing the current 15 units of the four detached buildings, including the former location of Hodad’s, and the construction of a two- story, 30 foot high 12-unit condo building, that would sit over a 27-space subterranean parking garage. The two alleys that border the west and south sides of the property will be eliminated, and half of the alleys will become the property of the new development. The entire alley area will be turfed for pedestrian use and open space.
  • In July 2010, the property sold for $3.8 million, cash, to buyer entitled 1984 Abbott LLC, c/o Clark Realty Capital LLC, 3655 Nobel Drive, Suite 500, San Diego. Clark Realty is an Arlington, Va., headquartered real estate company.  The new owners plans on developing 12 new townhomes with an average projected unit floor plan of 1,200 square feet.
  • Summer 2010: Local OB architect Steven Lombardi presented his drawings to the OB Planning Board.  There are a number of outstanding issues about this site, including the underground garage being built in a flood zone, the city giving up property adjacent to park land allowing the developers to intensify the project.  Importantly, the OB Planning Board requested the new owners to consult with local architects, and bring a preliminary design to the planning board before they finalized their plans. The public right of way “give-away” concerns revolve around the fact the property line actually runs right down the middle of that right-of-way, and if vacated, half reverts to City property (park space) and half reverts to the owner’s use.  But some believe that the City did not own all of that land, but had a right to use it that was based upon an obsolete public purpose.
  • Sometime between the Summer of 2010 and the Fall of 2011, the proposed project switched hands.  It was taken over by Marengo Morton Architects, Inc., with Claude Anthony Marengo leading the re-newed efforts to throw the project up.   Because of changes, Marengo applies to the Coastal Commission for their approval of his amendment, bypassing the OB Planning Board.
  • September 7, 2011:  the project’s original architect, Steve Lombardi, returns to the Planning Board to inform them that the entity who had purchased the plans and permits for the Ocean Park Villas project has proceeded to make significant changes to the design (his design) and is attempting to proceed with the amendments to the Permit with the Coastal Commission under the concept of “substantial conformance”.
  • September 21, 2011: Coastal Commission staff issues report, and recommends approval of amendment for development to proceed under the old Coastal Permit, despite many changes to the original design. Staff opines that new designs are in “substantial conformance” of earlier, approved design. (Details below.)
  • November 2, 2011: The OB Planning Board votes 9 to 2 to approve the new plans.
  • November 2012: Residents of current buildings receive order to vacate by Jan. 2, 2013
  • Early 2013 – Construction to begin

 

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Geoff Page May 14, 2014 at 9:06 am

Nice article, OB Rag.

The saddest part of this story is the first entry in August 2008. By one lousy vote, the PB Planning Board voted to allow the developer to have the vacated alleys on the south side and the west side and the price for this land, where million dollar condos will be for sale, was a measly $50,000. Parks and Rec lost an opportunity to widen the park by 15 feet wide the width of the park, well over 100 feet, and the community lost the opportunity to widen the parking lot by 15 feet as well.

This is why everyone should pay attention to what the planning boards are reviewing and should speak up.

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avatar Seth May 14, 2014 at 12:55 pm

That’s not quite accurate, Geoff. The case was never made very well by anyone presenting it, but the property lines actually ran down the middle of that 20′ alley. The right of way easement straddled both the public and private sides by 10′. That’s a small but very important distinction. There is an widely-held impression, including by some City staff, that once that easement was vacated, that land was “given” to the property owner. At the end of the day, what actually happened was that the guy had to buy his own property back from the government — whose only claim to it was having a fire access alley that hadn’t been used in close to *fifty years*.

I’m not the staunchest defender of individual property rights, but not a fan of government withholding private property with little to no justification, or at the least, a highly obsolete one.

The flipside of this, and likely more relevant going forward, is that the City did retain their 10′ of that alley, which could easily be transferred over to Parks and Rec, and/or used to expand the parking lot. As it stands, that 10′ of public property is currently within the construction site. It’s quite possible that it will be forgotten about and subsumed by the property owner without community oversight, and I think that this is something to keep an eye on going forward.

FWIW, a preview of the parcel map is available at:
https://arcc.sdcounty.ca.gov/Pages/parcelmaps.aspx
Parcel Number = 4480101800

It’s hard to make out the exact dimensions, but you can see that there is currently a 10′ alley going around the property (contrast with width of Saratoga Avenue).

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avatar Geoff Page May 14, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Seth, thanks for the additional information.

It isn’t possible to really make out what the parcel map shows. And your information is a little confusing. I was told that there was a paper alley on the south side and the west side. The standard alley width is 15 feet. Property lines do not run in alleys. It is possible that what was visible there north of the lot may not have been the actual alley boundaries. An easement is a very different thing. I have to admit I am skeptical that the developer had to buy back his own property just because there was an easement, an easement can be relinquished by the City at little cost.

If the developer had to buy back 10 feet of his own property, then the story we were told, that the two alleys were sold for $50,000 isn’t accurate. But, you said the City retained their 10 feet of alley so was this paper alley only 10 feet wide to begin with because the other 10 feet was the developer’s property? Or, was this only an easement only and not actually a paper alley?

If it was just an easement, the City didn’t relinquish any land. According to your account here, the only one who was actually hurt in this deal was the developer, not the community. Something doesn’t sound right, but if that is true, we should not be criticizing the City and the developer. I got my information at the site, I’m in the picture the Rag ran, from one of your former members, the ex-Navy guy whose name escapes me. I had a number of conversations with him and he seemed very sharp and well-informed.

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avatar Seth May 14, 2014 at 3:16 pm

Geoff, thanks for the thoughtful reply. I agree that it is and was confusing. Also agree that right of ways do not typically encroach upon private property in the City of SD, although it is more common in unincorporated areas of the county. However, that lot is on the margins of OB and not within the “grid”, so to speak, and not unheard of for lots to have special issues or circumstances, such as this.

I am using the term “easement” to refer to the part of the alley that was on private property. In order to maximize his buildable space (for maybe 2 more units), the property owner needed to get rid of that easement, which meant vacating the alley on the whole. The argument for that was that the alley served no valid public purpose. Given that it was blocked off and unused for several decades, I agreed.

There also needed to be a finding that there was no valid potential public purpose for that alley. Some argued that it could be added park space, or even a tot lot. Certainly true, but I find that to be a less valid purpose than the original fire access alley, and venturing into a potentially illegal taking. Why not just take 10′ feet off everyone’s property who borders a beach, park or open space?

During that first meeting, it was suggested to the property owner by the board that his request might be more palatable if a $50k “donation” was made to Parks and Rec or whichever specific fund, ostensibly for help building a tot lot or painting the lifeguard station or what have you. The owner agreed (ironically, his financing appears to have subsequently fallen through and he chose to sell to the new developers).

Whether you call that a compromise, extortion, or whatever else, I personally would not call it a formal real estate transaction in which the ownership of any property changed hands. Unfortunately, it has largely been perceived that way, which makes it even more confusing than it already was.

Totally understand your skepticism here, but is it really more plausible that the City just decided to play Santa Claus and give this guy beachfront property for well below market value?

The actual parcel map is probably worth picking up next time anyone is at the Assessor’s Office. I could very be wrong about it being 10′ and not 15′. But while the online preview is hard to read, one can easily see that the alley is now about half as wide as it is on the other side of Abbott Street.

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avatar Geoff Page May 14, 2014 at 6:42 pm

Seth you wrote: “I am using the term “easement” to refer to the part of the alley that was on private property. In order to maximize his buildable space (for maybe 2 more units), the property owner needed to get rid of that easement, which meant vacating the alley on the whole. The argument for that was that the alley served no valid public purpose. Given that it was blocked off and unused for several decades, I agreed.”

Seth, this part is still confusing. An alley would never be partly on private property, it is a city street designation laid out on plot maps many years ago. There is one behind my own house but you would never know it without looking at the plot map. The land belongs to the city. An easement is a right to have access across private property. Vacating an alley and relinquishing an easement are very different matters. During my involvement with the PCPB, we heard several paper alley vacation requests and we heard similar arguments, that they did not serve a valid purpose. But, we disagreed, the land can serve as a piece of undeveloped open space. In this case, I would argue there was a valid use for the land other than it being an alley.

The idea that this was private property all along and that keeping it and using it would be a taking just doesn’t jibe with me. If there was an easement on private property, all the owner had to do was petition to have the easement removed. There may have been some administrative costs but nothing on the order of $50,000.

Seth you wrote: “Whether you call that a compromise, extortion, or whatever else, I personally would not call it a formal real estate transaction in which the ownership of any property changed hands. Unfortunately, it has largely been perceived that way, which makes it even more confusing than it already was.”

Do you know for certain that no property changed ownership between the city and the developer? There has to be either a record of a land transfer or a record of an easement removal, it has to be one or the other.

Seth you wrote: “Totally understand your skepticism here, but is it really more plausible that the City just decided to play Santa Claus and give this guy beachfront property for well below market value?”

Absolutely it is, we saw alley vacations that the city did not charge anyone for. One of my neighbors tried to vacate the alley behind my house years ago. All the city required was that we pay to close the alley entrance off the street with new curb and gutter. I estimated this at less than $10,000. This is a piece of land 15 feet wide by 160 feet long. In Pt. Loma, that is valuable land. There was another like this for a development project on Voltaire.

I think I’ll see if I can get the parcel map, now, I’m really curious.

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avatar Seth May 14, 2014 at 10:36 pm

Geoff, right on. I don’t want to get too bogged down in definitions here. The public right of way typically refers to streets and sidewalks that are usually public property, however, right of way can also refer to one of the most common types of easement. In this case, it’s more or less both. The property owner asking to vacate the right of way is essentially the same thing as removing the easement, because once vacated, there is nothing to encroach onto his property.

I think it is entirely possible that when the streets were laid out in 1887, and revised in 1907-1910 or whenever, the alley either did not extend past Abbott Street (true of the alley one block south), or that it did, but was only that 10′ wide portion that is still on the parcel map today. My understanding is also that a smattering of homes existed here prior to 1887, and this parcel could very well have been one of them, possibly not conforming exactly in dimensions to the subsequent grid that was laid out.

Lots of possible explanations for why the City would have needed a public right of way easement for this location somewhere along the way. Such as updated fire codes that required alleys be at least 20′ wide.

As to proving their wasn’t an actual real estate transaction involved that transferred actual ownership of property, I’m not sure how to go about doing that. It would seem that the burden of proof there lies on those saying that there was, in fact, some sort of sale. I do know that this is not what the $50k was for (formally, at least). I think that the public record will demonstrate simply that the right of way was vacated during the granting of a tentative map waiver.

The parcel map to see would be the previous one, I think. It would probably confirm or deny all of this.

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avatar Geoff Page May 16, 2014 at 8:27 am

Seth, The definitions are actually important in this discussion and need to be specific. The public “right of way” is a secondary way of describing publicly owned property. An easement is a designation across private property and the secondary way of describing that is the term “right of way.” For example, a friend of mine owns a property that has an easement across part of it that allows the property owner next door a “right of way” across her land but it is defined as an easement in the documents, not a right of way.

You wrote that the land we are talking about is both a right of way and an easement but the governing term would be “easement,” the term “right of way” is a secondary definition. So, the distinction is that the property owner had to ask for either relief from an easement on his property or vacation of public property, two very different things. If the former, I would argue there should have been minimal cost, if the latter, then there should have been considerable cost or it should not have been granted and the land retained for the community.

You wrote: “Lots of possible explanations for why the City would have needed a public right of way easement for this location somewhere along the way. Such as updated fire codes that required alleys be at least 20? wide.” I have to say I’m a bit skeptical about this being designated a fire lane, what would be the purpose? The existing property was accessible from two streets and beyond that would be open land- the park and the parking lot. Do you know for certain this was designated a fire lane?

In reply to your last comment, that you’re not sure how to find out if property changed hands, I’d say the burden of proof is on the OBPB. The planning group voted to allow this to happen, I would expect it to know what happened. Did it vote to allow an alley vacation and to allow the property to go to the developer or did it vote to agree with a petition to remove an easement across private property. The story I got from the former OBPB member was that it was a vacation of two alleys. You’ve been a member of this board, if my memory is correct, maybe you can find out.

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avatar Seth May 16, 2014 at 11:41 am

I agree the specifics are important here, just not trying to get bogged down into semantics that obfuscate. Not saying you are doing that, but what I am saying is that the former alley was partially on private property (10′, perhaps only 5′), and that it was vacated during the process of a tentative map waiver that created a new parcel out of two smaller ones. During that process, no property changed hands, and this parcel/parcels did not grow in extent. Lacking the ability to disprove a real estate transaction that never took place, that’s about as clear as I can be about it.

Should the original property owned have been asked to make a $50k donation? Should he have agreed to it? I leave that to other people. I did vote to support a motion that included that language, although I was personally ambivalent about it.

As to whether it was originally a fire access alley, I do believe that was the case (keep in mind that we voted on this nearly 8 years ago). I do recall that it was generally accepted that it was not serving any sort of existing public purpose, nor had it done so for quite some time. It was even blocked off by wooden fencing on both sides. The debate was on whether it had the potential to serve a legitimate public purpose.

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avatar Geoff Page May 16, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Well, if I read you correctly, you are pretty definitively saying this was removal of an easement on private property. What you refer to,what we both have been referring to, as an “alley” was not really a paper alley after all but a public easement for some undetermined purpose, across private property. In that case, there was no “vacation.” If that were the case, then I would have agreed that asking the owner to make a donation of $50,000 would have been completely improper. But, this can’t be accurate because voting on removal of an easement on private property would not fall under the purview of a planning board. Vacating an alley would fall under the purview of a planning board. And, if an alley – public property – was vacated, then the community got screwed.

The opinion that this public land, one piece bordering a small park that could have been enhanced and another piece bordering a small parking lot that could have been used to enhance the lot, served no legitimate public service leaves me cold. This is the standard argument of a developer or an adjacent homeowner that I’ve heard many times and a lot of us vehemently disagree. Every piece of land in Pt. Loma is valuable, if for nothing else as some open space. In this case, there were legitimate higher uses than allowing a developer to squeeze in two more units.

I just recalled the name of the former board member I spoke to at the site, his name is Landry Watson, maybe you should contact him for some clarity.

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avatar Seth May 16, 2014 at 3:33 pm

I do realize this is confusing. The term “right of way” can be used to either refer to where the public has the right of access, or a type of easement that allows for public access. The part of the alley that encroached upon private property is an easement by definition, and one of the more common ones.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easement

They are definitely not that common for streets and alleys within the incorporated City of SD, but they are quite common in many other places. Many rural roads are actually right of way easements on private property, as are many of the sidewalks in Las Vegas.

When the property owner applied for a tentative map that created a new parcel of his two existing ones, there was no need for him to remove the easement because vacating the right of way served the same function. Once it was gone, there was no easement and a blank slate on his new parcel.

Not to bog this down with two many links, but here are a couple more:

The City’s code for this process, which specifically states that it can take place as part of a tentative map waiver:
http://docs.sandiego.gov/municode/MuniCodeChapter12/Ch12Art05Division09.pdf

From Kern County:
http://pcd.kerndsa.com/faq/public-easement-street-vacation/163-what-is-a-vacation

This second link obviously doesn’t apply to our jurisdiction, but describes well that (a) a right of way vacation often returns use/development rights of the land to the property owner, and (b) that a specific motivation for doing this might be for the property owner to get more buildable space.

This last point is exactly what this was all about. With two small lots that had alley encroachments on them, and the setback issues that entailed, the property owner didn’t have that much buildable space. Two narrow rectangles running parallel to Abbott Street and the ocean, with the alley running around the outside of them.

By vacating an obsolete right of way, and consolidating the two parcels into one, the property owner was able to turn his two narrow rectangles of buildable space into one larger square – in turn allowing for maybe 12 smaller units instead of 10 (there were something like 15 in the previous structures).

Having served with Landry and others on the board during this item, all of whom I completely respect, I can tell you that it was *easily* the toughest vote I had to make in 4+ years, and one of the most complicated development requests I have seen. There were issues upon issues associated with this, and many reasons to vote for or against.

A few other facts worth mentioning, as long as we are on the topic:

* The OBPB did not actually have purview for design review, but rather the Coastal Commision. The board can always offer opinions on that, and did, but as you link just below, the 2008 Action Item concerned only the alley and tentative map waiver.

* Since 2007, I have lived within a couple of hundred feet of this site, that impacts my ocean view, and am looking at the construction site as I type this.

* What is being constructed in 2014 is not what was proposed in 2008.

At the end of the day, all I am really trying to convey here is that despite what has been written, spoken or perceived, no ownership of property changed hands during that process. That’s not a small point, and a worthy correction to make to the discussion. If one is arguing against it on that criteria, I don’t think it is factual.

In sum, I linked the current parcel map above. The existing alley is no longer 20′ wide, as it was previously. While I feel your skepticism is warranted, I have yet to hear a rational explanation for why the property owner would want to purchase only half of the alley, or why the City would be willing to sell it to him.

Now… whether or not the City would sell the remaining part of the alley to the property owner is certainly worth keeping an eye on. As it stands, that construction site is encroaching onto public property as we speak.

avatar Geoff Page May 16, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Here is the OBPB agenda item in August 2008 showing this was an alley vacation:

Item #001 – Action Item
Ocean Park Villas. Ocean Beach JO#42-8627. (Process 5) Tentative Map and Public Right of Way Vacation to vacate a portion of an alley to create 12 residential condominium units on a 0.40 acre site at 5113 Saratoga Avenue in the RM 2-4 Zone within the Ocean Beach Community Plan, State Coastal,
Coastal Height Limit, Parking Impact, Residential Tandem Parking OZ, Airport Influence Area, FAA
Part 77, Council District 2.

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avatar Geoff Page May 20, 2014 at 8:56 am

Seth,

“The part of the alley that encroached upon private property is an easement by definition, and one of the more common ones.” See, this is where I have a problem, I’ve never seen an alley that was an easement on private property. The only way to settle this issue is to see what this piece of land actually was. If it was an easement, it wasn’t an alley but as the OBPB agenda showed, this was an alley vacation and alleys are on public property.

“When the property owner applied for a tentative map that created a new parcel of his two existing ones, there was no need for him to remove the easement because vacating the right of way served the same function.” And there you have it, the “right of way” you are talking about that was vacated was public property, an alley, which, again is why the OBPB reviewed the issue.
“By vacating an obsolete right of way, and consolidating the two parcels into one, the property owner was able to turn his two narrow rectangles of buildable space into one larger square – in turn allowing for maybe 12 smaller units instead of 10 (there were something like 15 in the previous structures).”

This quote gets to the crux of the problem for me. What you call an obsolete right of way, I call valuable public property. There were existing buildings on the site so it was a clearly buildable site. But, the developer wasn’t satisfied with that, with building to what the existing site would accommodate, and wanted more. In order to have more, the developer needed concessions from the community. I can’t tell you how many applications for development I saw where the owner needed variances in order to build what they wanted on the lot they had because they could not build what THEY wanted. My answer was almost always, build to what the lot can accommodate, if you want something bigger buy an appropriate lot.
“* The OBPB did not actually have purview for design review, but rather the Coastal Commision. The board can always offer opinions on that, and did, but as you link just below, the 2008 Action Item concerned only the alley and tentative map waiver.” Yes of course, because the developers first apply to build apartments, which is something the planning boards don’t get to review. During construction, they apply for the map waiver to turn the project into condominiums, which the planning boards do get to review, but this maneuver cuts out the planning boards.

“* What is being constructed in 2014 is not what was proposed in 2008.” If that is significantly different, you should be speaking up.

“At the end of the day, all I am really trying to convey here is that despite what has been written, spoken or perceived, no ownership of property changed hands during that process.” If that is true, there is no issue here but I don’t get the impression that you are certain of this statement.

I do appreciate your involvement in the discussion, Seth, despite it not being entirely settled, I believe the information you have provided has been useful to the readers.

avatar Tyler May 14, 2014 at 9:18 am

Any hard evidence that these will be priced in the 7 digits? I can see them fetching in the high 6 figures but 7 is a stretch for smaller sized condos, beach front or not.

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avatar Frank Gormlie May 14, 2014 at 10:51 am

“Hard evidence”? No, but two reliable sources have quoted me those rough figures.

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avatar Tyler May 14, 2014 at 11:17 am

Fair enough. Seems oddly overpriced. I originally thought there were far fewer units, which would make more sense to have them in the 7 figures. Those two new homes (ugly) on Santa Monica and Ebers are for sales for something in the high $800s I believe and no one is touching them. The market is artificially high right now due to all the cash buyers in the past year but that is quickly dissipating. If they thought they’d fetch 7 figures a unit, they may have been hoping the market stayed the way it did.

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avatar Geoff Page May 14, 2014 at 11:11 am

There is not really a great deal of difference between $1 million and “the high 6 figures.” Either way, they will be expensive and out of the range of most people.

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avatar Tyler May 14, 2014 at 11:15 am

Well it’s oceanfront property – I’m not surprised.

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avatar objamie May 14, 2014 at 12:49 pm

I wish I was surprised by this pile o’ pork, but I am not.

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avatar Catherine May 14, 2014 at 2:06 pm

I think it must be an improvement over the eyesore that existed there previously. I thought the comment about how the new design is not welcoming to trick-or-treaters was funny. Who in their right mind would have sent their child into the old building to ask for candy?

I don’t think $1million is off much for the beachfront location. A lot depends on the size and layout of the space. If the living space is very well designed to maximize the efficiency with all the modern conveniences and secure parking, $1 million seems about right to me. However, I think there is about a 5-10% chance that these homes are occupied by residents of the neighborhood. Whether vacation rentals is a good or bad thing is hard to say. My family visits us every summer and always rent a house in OB because we don’t have space to accommodate them. I’ve been surprised by how often I had no idea the house they rented was a vacation rental. Most of them blend in pretty well.

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avatar Geoff Page May 14, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Talk to some people who live around those vacation rentals, you’ll get an earful. Some may blend in well but very certainly not all.

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avatar Seth May 14, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Agree with both of you. Was on vrbo.com last year to help a visiting friend find a vacation rental in OB, and was totally surprised by how many of them are all around here. From a community standpoint, I’d rather that they were occupied by residents and not tourists, but they do tend to spend money here, and really not a lot you can do to stop it. As the chair said as the last meeting, anyone who owns property here can use it as a vacation rental, be it a condo, SFD or apartment. Whether they are good or bad to be around is to some extent no different than any other neighbor. I live next door to a property with two rental cottages on it, and have had no problems, as they are responsible as they can be about who they rent it out to.

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avatar Catherine May 14, 2014 at 3:40 pm

I guess my point is that if you live in OB, you live around vacation rentals, myself included. They are all over the neighborhood. Just take a spin around vrbo.org or airbnb.com. I doubt there is much more noise coming from a vacation rental than you are likely to get from any other random selection of residential renter or owner in the neighborhood. I get the point about wanting more property for actual residents vs. tourists, but as a resident who enjoys having family visit and yet has no space to accommodate them, I do appreciate that they can easily rent a home just a few blocks away. I would also guess that tourists spend far more money on Newport than residents and make it possible for us residents to enjoy the convenience of walkable shopping.

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avatar Geoff Page May 16, 2014 at 8:45 am

Take a look at the Municipal Code, there is no mention of vacation rentals in residential areas. These would be commercial ventures and the closest thing in the Code is Bed & Breakfast establishments that require either a Neighborhood Use Permit or a Conditional Use Permit, either of which would be subject to public review, which would include the neighbors. Ask the people you’ve rented a house from if they have either, I would doubt it. Some rentals operate quietly and are not a problem but some have been serious problems.

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avatar Seth May 14, 2014 at 3:56 pm

One other arcane land use note as it pertains to this property and others in OB. It is mentioned that these units are located in a floodplain. Anyone who lives nearby can confirm that these properties can and do flood during large storm events. Pics can be seen here:
http://obrag.org/?p=16896

But while this is true, it is the result of storm water runoff gathering in a low-lying area. It is not an official floodplain, and whether you take it as face value or not, the City and the developer’s reps have said that this can be alleviated with public storm drain improvements and private pumps/walls. In either case, it is officially only a de facto floodplain.

I have also recently read a letter from a homeowner on West Point Loma where multiple FAR variances have been granted, where it was claimed that his property also lies in a de facto floodplain that only exists because of deficiencies in municipal infrastructure. It should be stated that this is not accurate, and that many areas in North OB lie within an officially-designated FEMA floodplain, specifically Zone A, where it has been deemed that there is a 1% annual chance that these properties will temporarily become part of the Pacific Ocean and/or San Diego River during major storm events.

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avatar kenloc May 15, 2014 at 12:00 am

If you visit the website on the signage,Veerliving.com,it gives monthly and weekly rental rates.2 bed 2 bath from 3k per month,3 bed 3 bath from 4k per month.
It doesn’t say anything about selling the units.If I were the developer I wouldn’t sell them either.

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avatar OB Dude May 15, 2014 at 9:15 am

Looks like this property will be vacation rentals also based on info on the website:
Weekly rental rates:
2BR/2.5BA beach-front unit from $2,700 per week
3BR/3BA beach-front unit from $4,000 per week

The property is managed by Harland…here’s a write up

http://www.lajollalight.com/2012/05/12/harland-property-management-the-property-wrangling-specialists/

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avatar OB Dude May 18, 2014 at 11:14 am

I know there is alot of hootin’ and hollerin’ about new buildings being built on vacant lots, or tear downs and re-builts or condo conversions but it appears that current property owners are prospering on increased rents…check out the link below. A rental in OB 400 sq. ft. for $1,100 per month…to live in a “big box”.

Condo living may not be ideal but for those that want to leave near the beach (which is NEVER affordable anywhere on earth) but it may beat the price of apts in the near future……………..just a thought.

http://sandiego.craigslist.org/csd/apa/4473950952.html which says

Awesome Opportunity to live by the beach.One bedroom cottage.Hardwood floors.Private yard in front, shared yard in back.Washer/dryer in shared by all three tenants.Non-smoking.Parking on street only.Walk to shopping village, restaurants and Beach.Available June 1, 2014.Security deposit $1150.Live the Lifestyle…OB Please do not disturb occupant. 4665 Greene Street

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avatar Marc Snelling May 19, 2014 at 5:40 am

That’s an American myth. All you have to do is leave the US to find affordable beachfront property.

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avatar OB Dude May 19, 2014 at 7:08 am

Well….for all those that complain about affordability….there is a another option!

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avatar Marc Snelling May 19, 2014 at 9:32 am

Sort of. It’s only an option to own if you immigrate, have dual-citizenship or go to a country that allows foreign property ownership. After the wave of condo conversions hit I know a half dozen people who left OB for other countries. Just out of the small group of people who were OBGO activists in the 2000s there are 2 in Canada, 2 in Costa Rica, 1 in the UK, and 1 in India.

The sad thing is that OB used to be one of these affordable beach communities. Unaffordable Cali beach communities are a dime a dozen. ;-)

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avatar Ben May 18, 2014 at 10:12 pm

Geoff and Catherine, having lived at the end of Saratoga for seven years, I have never had a single “trick or treater”. Not 1. Who lets their kids go door to door in this part of OB, nobody who lives their kids.

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avatar Geoff Page May 20, 2014 at 8:20 am

I never made a comment about trick or treaters. My experience over the years is that they have disappeared because of the new trend of carting the little beggars to expensive neighborhoods that misguided parents think are safer and will result in better booty for their little darlings. When my kids were little, we all got together with our kids and trick and treated in our neighborhood. I don’t see more than one or two any more.

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avatar Ben May 18, 2014 at 10:18 pm

Geoff, talk to some homeowners, not just renters who live near the project and you will likely get a more balanced response. Most of us see both sides of the coin. It’s too bad dempsys never worked out but the owners, like many of the rats in the park, were drug addicts. I hate to see vacation rentals but they make better neighbors than tweakers.

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avatar Geoff Page May 20, 2014 at 8:23 am

My experience with this matter comes from being on a planning board where we tried to help people suffering from a nightmare vacation rental in their neighborhood, I never said they were all bad but most are operating illegally. This project would be fine for vacation rentals because this is a high density area anyway.

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avatar Marc Snelling May 19, 2014 at 5:38 am

Neighbors are people, vacation rentals are buildings. The people who rent these places are a mixed bag. Go to Mission Beach during Spring Break and tell me if the vacation rental one-week tenants make better neighbors than long-term rent paying tweakers.

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