At last night’s meeting of the Ocean Beach Planning Board, the Board approved a Petition to be circulated throughout OB that supports the OB Community Plan- as a show-down with the San Diego Planning Commission approaches.
One week ago, OB’s Community Plan Update was before the Commission for its review before it headed to the full City Council later this month. Even though they voted to approve the Plan, the Commissioners did so after they made two modifications – one of which took the teeth out of the OB Plan, so OB planners feel.
At last night’s meeting, after a presentation by Plan Update sub-committee Co-Chair Gio Ingolia, the Board voted unanimously to support a petition to preserve the language in the Plan that keeps the teeth – or the tool of floor-area ration restrictions.
The Petition – which will be available here – will be circulated around the community with the hope of gathering hundreds of OBcean signatures in support of the Community Plan. Other ideas for the campaign to mobilize the community for the City Council hearing on June 30th include circulating the Petition at Farmers Markets and at the OB Street Fair later this month, as well as having all the OB groups that endorsed the Plan circulate them among their respective members.
Meeting with Councilman Ed Harris, Mayor Faulconer, other Council members, placing signs in OB storefront windows about supporting the Plan, letter-writing, a facebook page, and a press conference are all also being planned as part of the campaign to convince the City Council members to support OB’s unique Plan. Also, another mobilizing meeting is planned for Monday, June 16th at Dog Beach Dog Wash at 6pm.
Last night in the Rec Center, ten members of the OB Board sat before nearly a full house. Gio and Teresa Millette of the City stood up and gave an update to the Board of the last months news, including a rendition of what came down at the Planning Commission meeting last Thursday, May 29th.
In his summary, Ingolia explained that some Commissioners are completely against the FAR of 0.70, whereas some have no problem with how the Plan refers to variances. “It concerns me,” Ingolia said, “that the Planning Commission is getting set to get rid of it [the FAR of .7] all together.”
He went on and said that the language that the Commission objected to had been given to OB by the City Attorney’s Office. Their office felt that the original language that the Plan contained “created a conflict with the Municipal Code,” he said, so the City Attorney gave OB new language that was inserted would have no conflict. The current draft of the Plan has that language – this is the language that the Planning Commission wants struck.
Here’s the actual crux of the text. Within the Plan, the current Draft has under Urban Design Element:
“Goal 4.2.9 Urban Design Element
Maintain the community’s small-scale character and avoid exceptions to established floor area ratios to the greatest extent possible under the law.”
An asterisk on the last word “law” simply explained: “Existing regulations specify FAR’s of 0.7 ….for the RM-2-4 … zone….”
The Planning Commission’s recommended change states:
Maintain the community’s small-scale character and evaluate exceptions on a case by case basis to achieve the goals of the residential guidelines.
If the Commission has their way, Gio went on, “then no where in the Plan is the FAR discussed – if the language [of FAR] is taken out.”
The language is in the current Plan, he said, to avoid a repeat of the exceptions – all the variances granted by the City in earlier cases, “a de factor rezone,” he said. “If they want to change the zoning, then go through the entire process.”
Ingolia continued, there’s over 200 properties in OB that could qualify for variances under the same reasons that the Planning Commission used to approve the variances on the 5100 block of West Pt Loma Avenue; “no alley access, under 6000 square feet, ….”
“The goal of the language was to prevent skirting the process.” Gio then asked the Board to support the Petition that his sub-committee had written up and presented. Coming over to the meeting, Gio recounted how he ran into friends and businesspeople – all who would sign a Petition. “People are ready to sign,” he said emphatically. He made a final plea of asking everyone to come down to the City Council meeting on June 30th at 2pm.
Planning Board Chair Pete Ruscitti also commented that the Planning Commission does not want any mention of FAR in the Plan. It’s difficult, he said, to explain the issues to people. “It’s not about any individual property; it’s about homes getting around what the Board approves.” There’s only “four to five people [in OB] who want it struck.”
Other OB Board members made comments. Seth Connolly said that “they are always testing OB to see if there are still activists here, to see if the younger people care or not.”
Member Scott Therkalsen cautioned the Board to not place all their eggs in one basket, not just to focus on the Petition, but to focus on strengths, like meetings with the Council members, and a possible law suit.
And in fact, Councilman Ed Harris had just met with David Stebbins, the property owner on the 5100 block of West Pt Loma who has been leading the opposition to the Plan. His aide at the meeting, Chet Barfeld stated that:
“Ed Harris is aware of the Planning Commission decision. He’s very concerned about changes made by the Planning Commission to language worked out between this group and city staff.”
Finally, it came to a vote, and everyone on the Board shot their hands up. The Petition to Support the Ocean Beach Community Plan will be circulated, endorsed by the OB Planning Board.
In other news: there were no appointments made as no applicant was ready. Board member Bill Bushe is unable to continue serving for health reasons, so his seat in District 5 will be available – probably in July. There’s also a vacancy in District 1.