OB + City Attorney’s Office vs San Diego Planning Commission

by on June 4, 2014 · 20 comments

in Culture, Environment, Ocean Beach, Organizing, Politics, San Diego

Local OB planners are steamed and they have a right to be.

Last week the San Diego Planning Commission objected to key language in the OB Community Plan that many see as a key tool that OB uses to prevent over-development in the village – especially right at the beach and coast. The Commissioners also made recommendations to change the text.

Thing was, the language that was objected to by the Commission, was insisted upon by the City Attorney’s Office that it be inserted into the Plan in the first place.

The language objected to by the Commissioners had already been a compromise between what the OB planners had originally written and what City staff and City Attorneys said had to be there.

Now the Commissioners want to force another compromise on OB and its Plan with its recommendations, which accompany the Plan when it goes before the full City Council for review and approval on June 30th.

In order to prepare for the City Council hearing, local OB planners and their supporters are gearing up a campaign to let the Council know that they oppose the recommendations and insist on the language that speaks to problems that OB has had over the last few years in terms of variances being improperly granted by the City.

The campaign – led by the Co-chairs of the Update sub-committee, Mindy Pellessier and Gio Ingolia and by the current Chair of the OB Planning Board, Peter Ruscitti – will have a hearing tonight at the Planning Board meeting.  The sub-committee is a sub-committee of the Planning Board.

The Board meets at 6pm sharp in the OB Rec Center, 4726 Santa Monica Ave. This is Wednesday, June 4th.

The campaign became a reality at Monday night’s public meeting of the Update Sub-committee, when a half-dozen OBceans met with City staff to plot how to respond to the Planning Commission.

It was decided to call on OBceans and their supporters to sign a Petition asking the City Council to respect the language backed by the community. Also calling a press conference, letter-writing, and having businesses display a placard reminding residents to sign the Petition, were other elements of the campaign. (Once the language of the Petition is finalized, it will be made available through OB groups and will be also available here at the OB Rag.)

The Plan Update has been endorsed by just about every Ocean Beach group in existence: the OB Town Council, the Mainstreet Association, the OB Historical Society, the OB CDC, the OB Community Foundation, Friends of the OB Library, and of course, the OB Planning Board.

Also on deck, the Update Sub-committee is calling a community meeting for Monday, June 16th, at the Dog Beach Dog Wash at 6pm to further work on the campaign.  Planners agree that part of the campaign must be an educational one – for their fellow OBceans.

This is what we stated earlier about the need for a campaign:

OB planners also now believe that the Planning Commission is preparing the ground to attempt to get rid of OB’s very low FAR in certain coastal areas.  FAR stands for  “floor area ratio” and it has been a tool by OB planners to restrict those neighborhoods of the community near the beach from acquiring large, 3 story houses out of character with the immediate blocks.

Yet, recently, City staff have been granting variances to  property owners to allow them to get around 0.7 FAR and build larger single-family houses than allowed by the OB Community Plan (formally called the OB Precise Plan).

It appears the Commission is signalling to City staff and property owners at OB’s beach zones that they’ll be granting even more variances for houses out of bulk and scale with the Plan.

 So, OB  has found itself in a squabble with the San Diego Planning Commission, all political-appointees. The Commission’s recommendations are just that – recommendations.  The City Council has finally say.

OB planners will be meeting with District 2 rep Ed Harris as well as with Mayor Faulconer, who used to represent the District – and who in the past has sided with the OB Planning Board on the issue of variances.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Bill Smith June 4, 2014 at 11:32 am

Frank,
The Planning Commission is just attempting to act like adults. It is difficult when dealing with the childlike inhabitants of Ocean Beach, who only play ball when the deck is stacked in their favor. OB doesn’t have a problem with variances; they have a problem of their leaders telling lies about variances. It humors me when I read your paper complaining about McMansions near the waterfront. Get a clue – a 1,750 square foot home is not a McMansion. I was delighted to read that Ms. Boot and those like her lost yesterday. OB and your rag had a chance with the election of Filner, but turned on him at the first sign of weakness. Had Filner been a Republican he would still be in office. You all deserve what you will be getting in the years to come. Ten years of Faulconer and a Republican majority city council. Stop whining and begin acting like adults.
Bill

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avatar Aging Hippie June 4, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Move to Santee.

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avatar Frank Gormlie June 4, 2014 at 1:04 pm

There is this attitude out there – and always has been as far as I can remember – an anti-OB attitude. I don’t know what it stems from – dislike of the “other”, maybe, from biker days to surfer and hippie days, OB has been dissed by some out there who resent its individuality, perhaps. Is it simply a retrograde “anti-hippie” bias? Resentment of the symbols and signs of “freedom” … what is it?

Yet everyone “loves” OB, its “unique character”, the beaches, the Farmer’s Market, Dog Beach, etc. Even the Planning Commission said it loves OB’s unique character – yet, it’s unwilling to allow OB to keep some tools which enable the village to maintain its uniqueness, and small-town character.

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avatar Aging Hippie June 4, 2014 at 1:21 pm

It’s an anti-hippie bias. Right wing types like Bill are often mean-spirited, short-sighted, and small-minded. He’s probably the owner of one of the 3 blights on WPL.

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avatar Daniel Bille June 4, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Frank,

I second your observation. Being active military I can say that I was immersed in the most anti-hippie culture you can imagine. Some looked down on OB residents, yet there were plenty of duty members who did “love” visiting OB. My commanding officer of a US Navy Destroyer who is now an Admiral was a home owner in OB, so was a Commodore of the entire Pacific Helicopter Wing whom I worked for.
The jokes are made. There are people who live in OB who I have nothing in common with, whose political views I do not agree. I can say the same thing about people who live in the military. In both OB and the military, you can (and must) peacefully coexist. So many people want to live here than there is accommodation for. Does that require us to make room and change the very nature that attracts them?
So jokes, reputations, assumptions aside. Ocean Beach is not a monochrome slice of society because of the active involvement of those who came before us. I cannot fault in the actions of the OB planners, City staff and City Attorneys who have all acted to preserve the individuality of this community.

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avatar Bill Smith June 4, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Frank,
I am far from right wing and consider myself a liberal (never voted Republican except Abbe Wolfshiemer). But it sickens me to see the good people of OB waste all their time on nonsense. There are real fights out there worth fighting! Give up fighting Sea World, I think anyone keeping fish in an aquarium should go to prison, but it is not going to happen, so I don’t waste my time. OB is all hung up on the process and has lost sight of the results – result matter.
Bill

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avatar Marc Snelling June 7, 2014 at 10:07 am

The process that came up with this plan took twelve years and input from a wide swath of the community. This process matters as well as the result. This is clearly something Bill Smith has not been involved with. If there is a fight worth fighting Bill than go fight it. Calling OBceans “childlike” and telling them to “give up”, not to “waste all the time on nonsense” is a cop-out.

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avatar John June 4, 2014 at 7:55 pm

C’mon, people, plenty of room in the zip code for all of us, nobody is moving to Santee in a hurry.
Frank has some pretty salient points, hippy bashing has been a national pastime for the right since the 60′s, what they don’t realize is each side needs the grounding of having the other to oppose it. Obama needs the right as a watchdog just as Bush Jr. needed the left.
I might add though that on that individuality thing we can go back to a SD Reader article from back when this whole thing started:
http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2007/apr/05/down-levee/
While it does paint Stebbins in an unfavorable light it is easy to argue expressing his individuality was exactly what he was doing.

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avatar Aging Hippie June 5, 2014 at 7:39 am

Obama is a conservative, he’s just not quite as much of a wingnut as Dumbya was. There was no effective opposition to the reign of King George, one reason our country is so screwed up now.

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avatar Robert Burns June 7, 2014 at 9:39 am

Please minimize the vitriol. Not informative.

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avatar RB June 4, 2014 at 4:13 pm

I am amazed at the number of people stuck in the 60s.
Couple this with those who don’t even live here wanting to maintain their childhood memories through run down properties …….it is hard to look to the future or make changes for the better.

And there are no hippies…….only wriggled old geezers in tied dyed t shirts living in the past.

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avatar Robert Burns June 7, 2014 at 9:44 am

Need Midol?

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avatar bob June 4, 2014 at 6:37 pm

We unfortunately live in an era where money and developers rule. Developers could not care less about the people of Ocean Beach. They just want to buy cheap, build cheap, sell high and move on. Zoning laws are the only tool that we have to slow them down. As a former resident of New Jersey you can’t give them an inch. There is probably less than 1% of New Jersey beach that is not privately owned. What beach is public you have to pay to go on, if you can find a parking space all metered of course. When you drive along the “beach” all you get to see are houses, hotels, resort, walls.

Please don’t let the developers win.

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avatar Tyler June 5, 2014 at 7:00 am

Um, money and development has always ruled the roost. This isn’t new. And our beach isn’t going to become private, take off the tinfoil hat.

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avatar Aging Hippie June 5, 2014 at 7:38 am

Just like La Jolla, you’ll have to park half a mile from the beach and pay $10 for the privilege, then search for the tiny unmarked alley, as much as half a mile north or south in either direction, that you must walk down sideways to reach the so-called public beach.

This is no tin foil hat theory, I watched it happen in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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avatar obracer June 5, 2014 at 8:15 am

It takes much more to change the character of O.B. than building modest homes on WPL Blvd.
Those homes have improved the neighborhood & raised property values
We can have a little of everything in Ocean Beach, it does not have to be only what the ” old guard ” at the planning board wants.
Serve your terms and move on , get a life, you had your time , the majority of Ocean Beach, residents of San Diego AND the planning commission do not agree with the O.B. Planning Board. Find other ways to occupy your time.

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avatar Aging Hippie June 5, 2014 at 8:29 am

The “old guard” is the only reason OB *is* OB, and not just a string of beachside hotel and condominium towers with a generica mall behind it. I don’t think you speak for the majority.

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avatar Holly June 5, 2014 at 11:06 am

Please don’t let OB turn into La Jolla. This is not just a opinion that “old guard” planning board holds. I agree with them, I know almost all of my friends do, and we’re all born in the 80′s. I don’t want to adapt to some “market reality” that will undermine the unique charm of OB. Thank you for fighting for OB. Also, I really hate the whole realist “it’s not going to happen” argument. If things don’t happen it’s because of people who like Bill who claim that things are impossible and a waist of time. We need to demand and fight for high standards, not passively adapt to a shitty reality and “status quo.” What is left of democracy if you claim that we have no agency to change things? Do we passively have to sit back and accept the torture of orcas?

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avatar Robert Burns June 7, 2014 at 9:43 am

I didn’t see this in time and thus will await the follow up coverage before delving into it. But, I got as far as the following passage which I find unclear and confusing:

“Thing was, the language that was objected to by the Commission, was insisted upon by the City Attorney’s Office that it be inserted into the Plan in the first place. The language objected to by the Commissioners had already been a compromise between what the OB planners had originally written and what City staff and City Attorneys said had to be there.”

If the City Attorney says that language was legally necessary, yet the language was watered down once and is looking to be watered down again, it would seem that the language is either doomed or not really legally necessary.

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avatar Aging Hippie June 7, 2014 at 1:59 pm

The “language” is at the core of the plan to prevent the area from becoming a wall of 300 foot condominium and hotel towers and giant generic shopping malls.

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