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.