At last night’s meeting of the group of organizers spearheading the campaign to rally the village in support the OB Community Plan, it was clear that organizers and volunteers were moving into high gear.
The goal is to show up at the June 30th City Council hearing on the Community Plan with thousands of signatures on petitions and to have hundreds of OBceans in the audience. All in support of the Plan and against the drastic recommendation of the Planning Commission.
Gio Ingolia, co-chair of the Sub-committee that has been working on the Community Plan Update, gaveled the gathering together, nearly twenty people meeting in the open room at the Dog Beach Dog Wash on Voltaire.
Mindy Pellissier – the other co-chair – gave an introduction to the issue and status of where things stood, explaining that the San Diego Planning Commission “chose to wordsmith our document” deleting key language that OB planners have used since the mid-Seventies to limit certain types of over-development.
“It has to do with the character of OB and our desire to keep its small scale,” she said. Mindy went on to comment that “it’s not true that there are even numbers of those who support and those who oppose the Plan,” that all OB groups have endorsed the Plan – and that they together represent thousands of OBceans.
The meeting then counted up the numbers of signatures that had been collected on the Petitions to date. 541 people had signed at the Dog Wash place itself; others at the meeting brought in another 300 or so; People’s Food – which has a wonderful display about the Plan and the need to prevent OB from becoming another Mission Beach – had collected at least 150; and dozens of petitions were still in circulation. Organizes are shooting for thousands.
And they’re confident they can be achieved.
Petition tables will be up at the Farmers Markets on Wednesdays next to the OBMA table, and members of the audience volunteered to take different shifts during the 4 to 8 pm events on Newport Ave. The OB Street Fair will also be a time for the Petition drive in its final push, with petitions at the OB Historical Society booth and over at the OBTC booth at the Chili Cook-off. Volunteers are welcome to join those working for signatures at the Markets and Fair.
Mindy also commented that “outreach to OB businesses [about the Petition] has been tricky.” It’s not just the Petition, she said, but “you have to explain what they’re signing. Businesses don’t have the counter space or the time to talk about it.”
Gio broke in – “the trigger,” he said, “is ‘we don’t want to be Mission Beach’.”
The Petition will also be circulated at Thursday, June 19th OB Historical Society event on the Collier Parks of San Diego. Plus the OB Town Council is having its next public meeting – June 25th – on the Petition drive and Community Plan. It was mentioned that the cafe Tower 2 will also have the Petition.
Gio then ticked off all the meetings of OB groups that he’s been to – presenting the Community Plan; the OBMA, the OB Historical Society, the OBCDC, the Friends of the OB Library.
All petitions have to be back at Dog Beach Dog Wash no later than 9pm on June 29th. And there’s different ways to get them to her, electronically, snailmail or dropping them by physically at 4933 Voltaire.
Organizers want the City Council to look out over the audience on June 30th and see a ‘sea of blue’ as everyone is urged to wear blue to the hearing. In fact, organizers will be printing up several hundred blue T-shirts to sell for $10 but with a refund of $5 if the wearer shows up at the Council meeting. The shirt will have in white letters “OBcean Attitude”.
Not everyone at this meeting was in favor of the Petition. David Stebbins – the nominal leader of the “opposition” had attended the gathering at Dog Beach Dog Wash with a couple of allies. Stebbins, a property speculator and owner of one of the large mansions on the 5100 block of West Pt Loma, has an office just across the street from the meeting. In fact, at one point, the co-chairs gave him the floor, and he asserted:
“I’m disturbed that your petition is misleading.”
This comment broke some guffaws from the audience. And then Stebbins – once he had soaked up all the plans of those he opposed – accused the Sub-committee of becoming a PAC, a political action committee, and blurted out, “You’re in violation of the Brown Act,” receiving negative audience reactions. After the meeting, some of the planning leaders rushed up to him to ensure that his feelings hadn’t been hurt by any adversity exhibited by others in the room.
Yet, Pellissier had set the record straight, when she said, looking right at Stebbins, “you have not participated in any of the community meetings. You had an opportunity over the 12 years to participate and you didn’t.”
The meeting refocused on the progress in OB planners meeting with “the politicos”. Pete Ruscitti – a member of the sub-committee (and chair of the Planning Board) will be joining Ingolia in meetings with Councilman Ed Harris, Mayor Faulconer, Councilwoman Lorie Zapf (who had a rep at the meeting), Council President Todd Gloria and explaining OB’s position.
The group has hope for Mayor Faulconer, because when he was representing OB on the Council, he had a history of opposing variances for new projects.
And more, as Teresa Millette – the city planner – presented something that had occurred in her office. She and her boss had been trying to come up with new language in the section of the OB Plan where the Planning Commission had objected to the current text. But they received word just recently from the Mayor’s policy analyst to simply leave in for Council consideration the original language that the OB planners had come up with.
Pete Ruscitti took the floor; the main concern of the Planning Board is and has been the “repeated granting of variances”, making the strong point that variances are for unique and exceptional circumstances – yet the City has been granting variances to a string of property owners along West Pt Loma. The implication being that if everyone has variances, then there’s no “exceptions” and the circumstances are not “unique”.
“It’s too easy to get a variance here,” he said, “we think it should be more difficult.”
Another meeting was set for Monday, June 23rd, at 6pm at the same room. And then the meeting broke up with small groups discussing petitions and others T-shirts.
The campaign continues.