Point Loma Reader Rant: The Developer Stereotype Exists for a Reason

by on June 24, 2014 · 72 comments

in Culture, Environment, History, Ocean Beach, San Diego

Pt Loma Pt loma village REVBy Geoff Page

Many of us have probably complained about stereotypes at one time or another because they are often too broadly and unfairly applied. But, as most of us also know, stereotypes are like that snowball that is started by rolling a small stone through the wet snow, buried in there somewhere is a bit of truth.

The stereotype I want to talk about here was what I witnessed at the Peninsula Community Planning Board’s (PCPB) monthly meeting on Thursday, June 19. This was a perfect example of the developer stereotype. And, hopefully, this little piece will help inform more people about this project, the so-called “Point Loma Village,” some of whom may not know about it and may want to. Let me give some project details first before telling my story.

An owner and a developer came to the Thursday, June 19 at the Pt. Loma library with a project at the intersection of Rosecrans and Byron where the old Blockbuster sits. Their plan is to build 17 condominiums and 5,000 square feet of commercial space called Pt. Loma Village. Mixed-use again.

The PCPB voted to postpone a decision on the project until July as there was a question about parking that needed further research. There was a conflict between what the architect said was required for parking and information from members of the public. So, if you are interested, there is time to look at the project. Check out pcpb.net and the Project Review subcommittee page.

So, now let me tell you how I was transported back to the fifth grade that Thursday night, or at least it felt that way.

The project owner is a man named Rudy Medina and the architect was Tony Cutri. Their presentation was a stereotype all by itself. They began by telling us about themselves, that they grew up here, that they went to school here, that their families have lived here for years, so you see folks, we’re just like you. I already felt like someone was trying to sell me a car. Mr. Medina explained that his family has been here for 100 years, an old San Diego Portuguese family. Mr. Cutri’s history didn’t go that far back but there was some.

Then, they moved on to one subject that is very dear to the people of Pt. Loma, a hot button issue they made sure they hit more than a few times. Of course, sellers use repetition to make sure the buyers remember the good points. Their building will not exceed the 30 foot height limit. There has been some controversy in the area over a building allowed to exceed 30 feet because of another one of City of San Diego Development Services’s twisted interpretations, this time of the height ordinance. Now that we knew we were all friends and neighbors and were assured about the height, they moved on to the project. It is nautically themed and some found it very nice, although themes tend to look outdated eventually.

The biggest issue for the community that attended in opposition to the project, and there were many, was the traffic it will bring and the parking problems.

For 5,000/SF of commercial space, there are 11 parking spots, which, Mr. Cutri made sure to point out, was all the City required. This space could be used for a café, for example, which would bring traffic that needs a place to park, not to mention the people who work at the café. But the workers will probably be told not to park in the lot so customers can, leaving them only the street that is already overcrowded according to the neighbors.

The project’s residential parking area is physically separated from the commercial parking. The dispute rose over the residential parking spaces that, once again, Cutri said were exactly the number of parking spaces required by the City. Exactly. And not one spot more, for say, visitors someone asked? No, Cutri said the City does not require visitor spaces.

At this point it was becoming clear that their project was designed in strict accordance with Municipal Code, with no un-required concessions for the surrounding neighborhood such as some visitor parking.

Someone addressed both men and asked why they were doing this to their own community. Why were they putting in a project like this, the scale of which was clearly not welcomed by the neighborhood?

That’s when the real truth began to come out. When you question a person’s moral judgment, you get one of two reactions. If the person truly believes they are morally in the right, the response is measured and calm. But, if the person thinks, even a little bit, that they may not be, the response is anger and defensiveness. We saw the latter from both of these men.

Cutri spoke first and what we got was what I have seen many times when dealing with architects; we saw an indignant, angry man who could not believe common people would actually question his motives. Architects tend to have a god complex, they believe they can see things the rest of us cannot and are often highly irritated that they have to explain their actions to commoners.

Cutri first ran through his bona fides illustrating that point. In his little speech, we heard about Ivy league schools, prestigious university teaching positions, creation of a school somewhere. Before he answered the moral question, he wanted to make sure we all understood we weren’t only dealing only with an architect, we were dealing with an architect of unusually impressive credentials. He then went on to give the speech about how San Diego needs to become more dense, how development is needed along transportation corridors, and that we will need housing for our children. Remember that last one. In other words, you pedestrian fools, I see the future you can’t imagine and my project is the future.

Then, Medina spoke and he was equally outraged that anyone would question his motives. He repeated that his family had been in Pt. Loma for over 100 years and he would not do anything to harm the community.He said he believed this project would improve, not take away from, the Pt. Loma Village, it would bring energy and vibrancy. Can’t we see? He was just doing this for the community.

The Medina family he is part of does have an admirable 100 year history in the area. The Portuguese that settled into what was once Tunaville worked very hard in the fishing industry that was also very lucrative. They bought homes and property in an area that was not worth much at the time. There are third and fourth generation families like the Daley’s and the Fentons in San Diego that have cashed in developing property their forefathers bought many years ago for pennies that later became a gold mine for the heirs.

I can’t say for sure that this property has been in Medina’s family for years but it is possible. It is also possible that he recently bought it because Mr. Medina is a professional developer, this is not his first county fair as they say. Either way, it is difficult to believe he has the interests of Pt. Loma at heart. He is in this to make as much money as possible. When asked how much these condominiums will cost, Medina said just under one million dollars. And there it was, finally, the truth.

Once I heard how much these units were going to cost, it all fell in place.The little speeches about them being long time friends and neighbors and Medina’s desire to improve the village and us needing housing for our children all began to stink like rotten meat.

I asked why these were so expensive and Cutri got defensive and said the owner had the right to make money on his property, which, although true, did not answer my question so I asked if these were going to be luxury condominiums. I knew the price tag was too high for the size of the units and the market in the area to be regular condos. I had to ask twice but Cutri finally admitted, yes, they were luxury condos, something that had not been mentioned in any part of his presentation. I commented that I did not see how one million dollar luxury condos solved the problem of my kids needing housing in the future.

Medina’s comment about adding to the energy and vibrancy of the community rang hollow after hearing the cost.

First, any Pt. Lomans who could afford one of these units probably already have nice homes here and would not need a luxury condo here too. Most regular Pt. Lomans couldn’t afford them either so who will buy them? People from outside the community, outside the state, probably outside the country will buy them as second homes, vacation homes, or boating homes. These people won’t be contributing to the community, they won’t be raising families, many of them probably won’t be here on a full time basis.

These are being built for wealthy people in order to absolutely maximize every cent of profit possible with nary a concern for the neighborhood. This was not project being built by our friends and neighbors, Medina and Cutri, it wasn’t being built to improve anything other than their wallets. While this is perfectly legal, just as the minimum amount of parking was perfectly legal, it lacks any sense of morality.

So, what could Medina have done? For starters, he could have built affordable condominiums instead of luxury condos, something maybe the community might welcome. Or, he could have even built luxury condos but perhaps one or two fewer units leaving more room for commercial parking and for visitor parking as a concession to the parking problems in the community.

He could have listened to the community and built something that was more acceptable instead of building to the exact limit of what he was legally allowed to build. In other words, he could actually have had some moral confidence if he had done something for the community. But, he didn’t. And to make matters worse, he and Cutri tried to sell it as if they were selling swampland in Florida, assuming the audience was full of idiots.

That’s the developer stereotype. It is unfairly applied to some developers, I will admit, but it exists because of men like these two. These types men try to sell their projects as positive additions to neighborhoods they themselves will never live in. Then, when they are challenged by people who do not fall for their act, you see how thin the pleasant veneer is and you get defensiveness, anger, and sometimes threats. Once again, this is a stereotype, but in this case, we all saw the stone in the middle very clearly.

{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Aging Hippie June 24, 2014 at 10:43 am

Excellent article, Geoff.

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avatar Geoff Page June 24, 2014 at 11:08 am

Aging Hippie, Thank you very much for that.

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avatar john June 24, 2014 at 11:51 am

Yes good job on this, a great meme that needs to swim out there.

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avatar Bill Smith June 25, 2014 at 8:17 am

Mr. Editor,
It just struck me, in all my years of reading your rag; I have never read an actual news story. It is always an editorial piece, do you even know the difference.
Bill

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avatar Geoff Page June 25, 2014 at 8:32 am

Mr. Smith, if you look at the section heading this was under, it is designed for opinion, its called the Reader’s Rant, it was intended to be an opinion piece. As for news stories, the OB Rag has provided a boatload of good news stories. I can’t imagine how you would even make such a comment if you really have been reading the Rag for years but obviously you like something because you have been reading it, as you said “in all my years.”

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avatar Bill Smith June 25, 2014 at 8:40 am

Geoff,
The Rag has taken place of the funnies for me. A great piece of humor!
Bill

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avatar Geoff Page June 25, 2014 at 9:16 am

Well as long as you are enjoying yourself, that’s all that matters.

But you better be careful, you might read something that gets through your obviously biased attitude and then where would you be?

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avatar Aging Hippie June 25, 2014 at 8:54 am

Geoff, best to ignore this troll, he’s not worth your time and effort. We all know that the rag is an excellent source of true and complete local information, and if that causes some conservative to have cognitive dissonance, that’s just proof of its worth.

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avatar Geoff Page June 25, 2014 at 9:19 am

Aging Hippie, I’m not good at ignoring people like this but I appreciate the advice and the good opinion you have of the OB Rag. You never know, if he keeps reading, maybe he’ll become one of us, assuming he is a he and not a her.

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avatar Aging Hippie June 25, 2014 at 9:25 am

Difficult for one of them to become one of us because of their overgrown amygdalas and shrunken anterior cingulate cortexes. Those brain abnormalities are what made them conservatives to begin with.

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avatar Geoff Page June 25, 2014 at 9:43 am

I love it. I had to look all that up, I’m impressed. I believe you’re on to something there.

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avatar Geoff Page June 24, 2014 at 1:39 pm

John, thank you as well.

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avatar Liveinob June 24, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Great article Geoff, same thing is happening in OB, at the corner of Abbott & Saratoga!
The signs all say Luxory Condos, Vacation Rentals, complete opposite of what was presented to the Ocean Beach Planning Board.
The almighty dollar rears its ugly head again!

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avatar Geoff Page June 25, 2014 at 9:42 am

That project is another example of the City not doing its job. The community lost on that one too.

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avatar Roseville Resident June 24, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Thank you for publishing your thoughts. It made me think of a quote I read earlier this week. As a society we need to refocus our values.

“These days, in our materialistic culture, many people are led to believe that money is the ultimate source of happiness. Consequently, when they don’t have enough of it they feel let down. Therefore, it is important to let people know that they have the source of contentment and happiness within themselves, and that it is related to nurturing our natural inner values.”
Dalai Lama

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avatar Geoff Page June 25, 2014 at 9:46 am

Thank you and thanks for the excellent quote. That was on my mind writing this, it seems some people can never have enough money. Rather than be satisfied with making a good profit on more affordable condos or still a good profit by building one less unit for parking, the goal is to make as much as humanly possible. It still won’t be enough because some other developer is out there making more, the finish line keeps moving.

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avatar objamie June 24, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Yeah that is what happens when you shine the light…the cockroaches run. Or turn and fight a bit.

Rats are always the last ones to jump off the sinking ship, too. Good read.

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avatar Rick D. June 24, 2014 at 10:33 pm

Goodness, I think we can all certainly agree, what Point Loma truly needs is more luxury million-dollar condos. Doesn’t every community?? Because, you can never have too many luxury condos. . .
But Geoff: Don’t blame just the developers. They do what developers do: Sell a story, follow (usually) the bare minimum of the law, make lots of money, leave the rest of us stuck with their ugly creations, blocked views, worsened traffic, greater density, ridiculous prices. At least we know where they’re coming from.
It’s our own elected officials and their designated minions we should be angry with, the people who actually approve this junk the rest of us have to live with. Let’s save the main force of our wrath for them. They’re supposed to know better. They’re supposed to have the community’s best interests at stake.
If only.

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avatar Geoff Page June 25, 2014 at 8:21 am

Rick D, I agree that the public officials share much of the blame for what gets approved but the people who approve these projects are not elected officials. I’m sure elected officials put pressure on the DSD to “stretch” the interpretations of the Municipal Code. This project apparently did conform to the Municipal Code with the possible exception of the parking requirement. The public problem, including the DSD is not enforcing the requirements. The Developer problem is people who build projects with no concern for the neighborhood around their projects.

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avatar Mcfeather June 25, 2014 at 9:51 am

Geoff,
I enjoyed your article very much. I live behind this property and I share your frustration and disgust. From the traffic and parking problem to the people coming here and feeling they can take over and run the whole town because their family has been here forever. The parking really is a problem and if this development does go through, it’s going to be a nightmare. With the little bar across the street doing so well, parking has become a challenge at times, but not to the point you have to drive 5 blocks to find a space. This will most likely be the case if these luxury condos are approved. I appreciate your genuine concern for the “commoners.” The tone of your words echoes the tone around the neighborhood and I wanted to say thank you. By the way, the property was recently sold to a commercial development company from a family not called Medina.

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avatar Geoff Page June 25, 2014 at 1:26 pm

McFeather, I hope my term “commoners” did not offend, I count myself as one in this context. Thank you for your comments.

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avatar Mcfeather June 25, 2014 at 4:52 pm

No, not at all. I understood that you were counting yourself too. I used your term to show we are on the same page, that is why I was thanking you. :)

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avatar Wireless Mike June 25, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Geoff, I appreciate your thoughtful attention to details and your willingness to call it as you see it.

When I saw the artist’s rendering of this monstrosity, I could hardly believe it. This project, in my opinion, is not within the character of the Roseville community.

The hotel adjacent to this property sits on a lot once occupied by Jack McCarthy’s Richfield gas station. At the time the hotel was built, I was amazed at how big a building they could squeeze onto the site of a gas station.

Nowadays I am disgusted by the giant wooden box being built on the site of the former Chevron station at Voltaire and Catalina. Now here comes this big ugly thing on Rosecrans. What can we expect for the former House of Hui, Domino’s and U-Can-Do on Voltaire? The list goes on and on.

I am a lifelong peninsula resident. PCPB appears to be the only avenue for local residents to have an input into how their community evolves. But, my impression of PCPB is that they are more interested in accomodating the whims of greedy developers than representing the community. Many local residents don’t even know that PCPB exists, and I suspect that developers would like to keep it that way. That seems to be the San Diego way.

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avatar Geoff Page June 25, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Wireless Mike, I’m with you on this. I can also tell you that there were, and maybe still are, plans to put a mixed use development where the House of Hui and the vacant lot are now, 20 some residential units and about 5 commercial spaces. Across the street where Coconut Pete’s has sprung is another, about 28 residential units and I think 7 commercial spaces. Across the Voltaire Nimitz Bridge where the Sunshine Liquor store is, another, slightly smaller mixed use development is planned. Can you imagine the impact?

As for the PCPB, I will say that it swings back and forth over the years depending on who feels the most passion at the time. Some years ago, it was controlled by developers and real estate people but it was taken over by people on the other side for five or six years. Back in 2008, the developer/real estate group retook control – Byron Wear was instrumental in this – and for three years, it was as you described. But, today, the PCPB is a good mixture of people that I think review projects fairly. They did the right thing for this project, postponing a decision until the correct information could be had.

You are right in saying not enough people know about the PCPB but more people should know; it is the one officially sanctioned organization that is part of the development review process. This is where to come to voice an opinion about developments in Pt. Loma. They are not always listened to by the City but this is the best local forum we have and I encourage everyone to go to pcpb.net and find out about them. The board consists of 15 people with a wide variety of expertise, all elected volunteers. It is only as strong as the support it gets from the community.

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avatar Wireless Mike June 25, 2014 at 2:41 pm

I am glad to hear that PCPB has changed. I walked away in disgust during the Charles Mellor/Suhail Khalil “spectacle” days.

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avatar Geoff Page June 26, 2014 at 8:19 am

I don’t blame you Wireless Mike, those were the worst days of the PCPB; it has improved a great deal.

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avatar Baroo June 25, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Let me start by saying, I totally agree with your article. But, I find it difficult to understand how people are not coming to terms with the extention of “urban living” into the neighboring communities. I’m not saying that this luxury condo complex is a very good example of this, in fact it’s a very poor example. But, it seems to be a reoccuring theme lately.
I see Point Loma as being very similar to Bay Park, where I live. There seems to be this overriding sentiment of “leave us alone, we like our community the way it is”, or “we don’t want a trolley stop”, in the specific case of Bay Park. I totally understand this. But, San Diego is going to grow. There’s no denying that. And, we can’t keep spreading out. Just out of our proximity to downtown, Bay Park and Point Loma are going be the first to feel this “transition”. At a certain point, we need to allow people to live closer to where they work and give them better options on how to get there. Something better than idling along the freeways at 5 mph every day. Busses are not the solution.
Change is coming. I think this luxury condo complex is not the answer, obviously. But, we really need to sit down and figure out a way to allow more people to live in these communities… because, if we don’t, these developers will find one for us. I’d love to hear a suggestion on how to fix this, other than “leave us alone”. Now that could be a great new article for you? The Best Way To Build And Still Keep Our Communties. I’ll read that.
Also, a quick Zillow.com search shows that you can barely find a condo/home worth living in for under half a million in Bay Park, or Point Loma. So, the million dollar luxury condos don’t surprise me much. ;)

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avatar Aging Hippie June 25, 2014 at 2:19 pm

I think the project might have gone ahead if they had provided as much parking as was really needed, instead of the minimum they could get away with. Of course, to do that they would have had to give up some amount of profit on the project.

Development or redevelopment should improve living conditions in the surrounding area, or at least not make them worse.

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avatar Geoff Page June 26, 2014 at 8:30 am

Well said, especially that last sentence.

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avatar Bill Smith June 26, 2014 at 1:16 am

Baroo,
My apologies for agreeing with you, I’m sure the locals will be out with pitchforks looking to discipline you. The parking numbers are within code and this is one area the City Council is willing to compromise on to keep unit costs down and get people to use mass transit. With the average cost of a 700 square foot bungalow in OB; including a bad roof, termites, etc. being 858 grand; I’m not sure what the people of OB are planning to do to accommodate new residents, beyond moving to Lemon Grove as our illustrious Editor has done.
By the way every developer calls their new development luxury, especially if is not.
Bill

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avatar Geoff Page June 27, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Mr. Smith, There are several things wrong with what you have posted. First, this project is not in OB. it is in Pt. Loma although the issues are pertinent to what OB is facing. Second, you said the city is compromising on parking to keep the unit costs down and to encourage people to use mass transit. I’m sorry but that doesn’t make sense. The City’s reviews do not consider cost and, if they were compromising on the number of parking spaces, how would that affect the cost of the units? Development Services reviews do not consider ways to make people to use mass transit either.

Third, your facts about the average cost of a 700 square foot bungalow in really bad shape in OB being $858,000 cannot be supported and besides that, the value of a home in OB or Pt. Loma is far outstretched by the value of the land it sits on. Fourth, these are luxury condominiums. A 1500 square foot condo is not worth just under a million dollars based on size and location. This developer avoided calling them luxury condominiums, if you read what I wrote you would see that information had to be pulled out of him.

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avatar Bill Smith June 27, 2014 at 7:51 pm

Geoff,
Thanks for your response. Regarding our points of contention: 1) I’m well aware where the project is located. I was trying to keep things simple by applying my arguments to OB where your readers reside. 2) Many respectable sources state that the average cost of a home in OB (taking recent sales into account) is 858,000 grand (check Zillow etc). My described house (bungalow) is the average home in OB, many requiring cosmetic enhancements. 3) I don’t know what turnip truck you just arrived on, but the number of parking spaces has a direct relationship to the cost of the project; i.e. unit cost, having two parking spaces allotted to a unit increases its cost by a minimum 100,000 grand. 4) If you can find a newly constructed condo in the Point Loma/OB area for under a million, please let me know (especially if it is luxury); I would like to pick up a couple of low price units for my extended family.
Bill

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avatar Geoff Page June 28, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Well, I seem to have irritated you Mr. Bill Smith. I guess the tenor of my response to your post was affected by the tenor of your post. Let me address your points.

“1) I’m well aware where the project is located. I was trying to keep things simple by applying my arguments to OB where your readers reside.” I must plead ignorance of this journalistic device; I was taught in journalism school to be sure that the facts were correct, above all else.

2) Many respectable sources state that the average cost of a home in OB (taking recent sales into account) is 858,000 grand (check Zillow etc). My described house (bungalow) is the average home in OB, many requiring cosmetic enhancements.” You have crossed wires here, Mr. Smith, comparing an average price with an incorrect idea of what an average home in OB is. While I believe the average price of a home in OB is probably less than $858,000, it’s possible. But, what you believe the average home in OB is, a small run down bungalow, is very much inaccurate. You need to take a drive around town. I own one of those small bungalows and it is not worth anything approaching $858,000. The average price of a home in OB is that high only because there are a lot of homes that do not come close to fitting your idea of an average OB home. What can you cite to substantiate your contention that the average home in OB fits your description?

“3) I don’t know what turnip truck you just arrived on, but the number of parking spaces has a direct relationship to the cost of the project; i.e. unit cost, having two parking spaces allotted to a unit increases its cost by a minimum 100,000 grand.” Actually, I arrived in San Diego in a red 1966 Volkswagon Beetle, I’ve never even seen a turnip truck in San Diego. And, if you are going to make statements as facts, you need to substantiate the facts. What can you cite that another person can go look at and see this $100,000 cost figure. I’ve worked in the construction industry my whole career so I think I would understand whatever source of the information you have to offer for that.

“4) If you can find a newly constructed condo in the Point Loma/OB area for under a million, please let me know (especially if it is luxury); I would like to pick up a couple of low price units for my extended family.” There you go again with the wire crossing thing, Mr. Smith. First, you challenge me to find a newly constructed luxury condo for under a million dollars. Well, I guess I can’t do that because it appears the market rate of a luxury condo is a million dollars if this developer knows his business. But, then you say you would like to pick a couple of low price units. Well, if a million dollars is a low price unit to you, then I can suggest several.

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avatar Tyler June 29, 2014 at 2:02 pm

There are two brand new large single family luxury homes with 2 car garages at the corner of Santa Monica and Ebers. They’ve been on sale for ~$900k for over 5 months. How have you not seen this?

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avatar Aging Hippie June 29, 2014 at 2:21 pm

If they have been on the market for 5 months, then obviously the price is too high.

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avatar Tyler June 29, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Obviously. My point is that it is quite possible to find nice new luxury builds for under a million.

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avatar Debbie June 29, 2014 at 8:03 pm

Anyone could have go to the open house for these properties.

Luxury can mean different things to different people. Some are calling the new homes on West Point Loma mansions. So I guess these could be considered luxury. The old saying, “beauty in the eye of the beholder”.

Photos are available at http://www.trulia.com/property/1032042382-4689-Santa-Monica-Ave-San-Diego-CA-92107

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avatar Debbie June 29, 2014 at 2:39 pm

According to data on the internet, they both are sold:

4693 Santa Monica Ave
Sold on 3/28/14 for $825,000

4697 Santa Monica Ave
Sold on 6/2 for $820,000

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avatar Geoff Page June 29, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Tyler, I think that the way these homes are characterized as “luxury homes” is an example of what Mr. Smith said earlier about every developer calling their decelopment luxury. These two homes are built on 25 foot wide lots, making the buildings around 18 to 20 feet wide. I think anyone calling a place that skinny “luxury” is a stretch. But, the outside can be deceiving, you need to look inside to see if there is luxury such as very expensive fixtures, exotic sinks ans showers, saunas, state of the art kitchens, hardwood floors, and such. My guess is you won’t find those things. But, I wonder if anyone has looked at the inside?

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avatar Tyler June 30, 2014 at 6:58 am

I agree those lot sizes are far from luxurious, and they aren’t exactly pretty on the outside. But I nerd out on Zillow all the time and I’ve seen the interior of those homes. They are quite nice and have most of things you listed. You can check it out for yourself, if they don’t still show up as for sale just add the “recently sold” to your search.

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avatar Geoff Page June 26, 2014 at 8:29 am

Baroo, I agree fully with your comments. Yes, increased density is inevitable but I don’t think that is the main problem for the folks who opposed this project. I think it was the cost and the parking problems. If the developer had presented a more affordable project and made any concessions at all about parking, I think the project would have been much better received.

I think Pt. Loma is a bit unique in that it is a peninsula and access is limited. Getting into or out of the area in the morning and the evening is a challenge because there are only a few ways to do it. From where I live, I can go to Nimitz on West Pt. Loma or from Catalina or I can go out Sunset Cliffs, that’s it, three choices and all three are choked already. There are better places for increased density in San Diego, starting with downtown.

We have a new Planning Department director who seems to have come with some good credentials and reviews. I would suggest everyone pay attention to that group and if anyone has any ideas, send them there. Developing transportation corridors and developing businesses and housing along those is a good idea. Rosecrans could accommodate some of this but not as far west as this project because there is literally only one way in and out.

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avatar Korla Eaquinta June 26, 2014 at 10:19 am

The Point Loma Village property is not owned by Medina nor Cutri and is for sale for 3.25 million.
Cutri’s anger at the meeting was distressing and unprofessional.
Both the Voltaire and Rosecrans corridors are slated for these types of high density multi-use projects. And it seems without regard for current residents, traffic, or adequate parking.
I attended “meet the mayor” and brought up not only these projects but Midway area proposed 5000 units, Morena height to 60′, maintaining the 30′ height limit and Water point. The answer I got was to work on the master plan.
HELP!! We need action now.

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avatar Geoff Page June 26, 2014 at 11:05 am

It seems we have some conflicting information about who owns the property. A previous comment from McFeather was “the property was recently sold to a commercial development company from a family not called Medina.” That would mean my second supposition is correct, that Medina acquired the property because he is a developer. It sounded like Medina owned it the way it was presented at the meeting, so this should be sorted out. The LLC was formed in February and has an address in Carmel Valley but unfortunately that is all we can find out. And you are saying it is up for sale now?

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avatar Lou June 27, 2014 at 10:11 am

Yes beware the developers and politicians, but we can look within as well. Do we own too many cars? Do we keep our garages stuffed with the detritus rather than our cars? Tidy up, simplify, walk or bike.

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avatar Rick D. June 28, 2014 at 11:39 am

With all due respect to Mr. Bill Smith, $858,000 is FAR above the average price for a small house or condo in either Point Loma or OB. That’s just a fact. You can get a pretty wide choice of either for in the range of $550-600K, so that’s just a straw argument. Nice condos in Sea Colony, if you don’t mind the jet noise, are well under that range. OB is even cheaper. And I sincerely doubt that adding 2 parking places would add $100K to the price of a condo (seriously, 20% of the total cost for parking? C’mon). This is just an ill-informed sideshow to the real event at discussion, namely: construction of yet more pricey digs for speculators at the cost to the community of worse traffic, less parking, less housing affordability. If you favor all that, fine, but don’t let’s get bogged down in specious arguments, hmmmm?

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avatar Aging Hippie June 28, 2014 at 11:44 am

^ This.

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avatar Elyse June 30, 2014 at 6:36 am

I disagree that the community would prefer affordable housing, vs. luxury condos. If affordable units were proposed, you probably would have seen 2x as many people come out against the project. An affordable project would be much more dense, and require even less parking because the city recently updated the affordable housing parking requirements in areas served by transit.

Mixed use is the right thing to do, to take a parcel that is completely inefficiently used, and densify it not only with housing, but with ground floor retail. Creating fun active places for people to gather improve a community’s vibrancy. ALL new growth will add more trips, but mixed use in the heart of the village will actually grow more walk/bike trips than a development further away from the village center.

The big misconception is that more parking is better. More parking= more cars. This project should be built with ample bike parking for residents and visitors, and use the appropriate parking ratios, and not provide more car spaces than what’s required. Remember car parking is expensive, and will drive up the costs of the units even more.

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avatar Aging Hippie June 30, 2014 at 9:02 am

OK that contention about parking is just ridiculous, it’s like saying more restaurants will make people eat more. No, people are going to have the number of cars they need to have, no more, no less. Every new construction should provide sufficient parking for its own needs, so that it doesn’t add stress and competition to street parking in the surrounding area. And the cost of the units won’t go up, because the developer is already asking as much as he thinks he can get. What will happen is his bloated profits will go down, and that makes him mad. Too bad. This is why we have boards, so greedy unscrupulous developers can’t make all the neighbors’ lives worse in order to squeeze an extra million in tax-sheltered profit out of a property.

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avatar Geoff Page June 30, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Elyse, I did not mean low-income housing when I said affordable, I meant in a price range at least middle class folks could buy. The low-income housing effort has sort of co-opted the word “affordable” probably because they feel there is a negative connotation to “low-income” even though that is the most accurate description.

You are a mixed-use proponent I see. And it sounds like you have either fallen for the propaganda for mixed-use or your are selling it. What you said in your second paragraph is the story that is always used when justifying mixed-use. It does not fit everywhere.

In your third paragraph, you mention, as did another poster, that car parking drives up the cost of the units, perhaps you can share some authority for that statement. Just remember, in this case, as in many, insufficient parking just causes problems for the surrounding neighborhood. It’s kind of like Walmart touting its low prices that it can offer because it uses low paid employees part time letting the federal government food stamp program and other welfare programs pick up the slack.

Finally, bikes are great but are not practical for a lot of people.

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avatar Korla Eaquinta June 30, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Right you are Geoff. Remember these luxury condos are also being promoted as being built for retired people. How long can seniors continue using bikes and continue to walk?

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avatar Aging Hippie June 30, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Wait, a bunch of second floor condos with no elevator are supposed to be for retired people?

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avatar Korla Eaquinta June 30, 2014 at 3:41 pm

The plans show an elevator.

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avatar OB Dude June 30, 2014 at 8:52 am

Good points Elyse. Hopefully, mixed use will encourage people to shop locally with less need to get in the car and go elsewhere.

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avatar Jennifer June 30, 2014 at 11:39 am

I am an anti-car radical. More parking absolutely leads to more car ownership. Less density in central areas like point loma leads to more suburban development. For these reasons I support this project, as well as extra dense trolley stop developments.

Having trouble finding parking? You have several solutions: 1. Take the bus 2. Get a smaller car that is easier to park. 3. Use car-2-go 4. Use Uber 5. carpool.

Are you too good for any of these options? Is your time to valuable to wait at a bus stop or walk 3 minutes to the nearest Car2Go? Well there are tons of people in San Diego who do these every day. Private car ownership and daily alone commuting is destroying the Earth. If you continue to want to do this, sorry, I am not going to feel sympathy if a perfectly legal development is going to make your car addiction a little less convenient.

For good reason much of OB/PL is zoned for multifamily and mixed use development. You knew that when you moved here. The other solution for those who want to only live near single family houses is to move somewhere zoned for single family houses. Plenty of San Diego, indeed plenty of OB/PL, is zoned just that way.

An even better solution is San Francisco’s, which uses Smart Meters for street parking, with the price calculated to leave an average of one free spot per block length throughout the day.

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avatar Aging Hippie June 30, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Being some kind of radical doesn’t entitle you to state fiction as fact. More parking absolutely DOES NOT lead to more car ownership.

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avatar Geoff Page June 30, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Jennifer, I have to agree with Aging Hippie, the number of parking spaces has no relationship whatsoever to how many cars people own. Conversely, having fewer spaces will not encourage people to have fewer cars, it will just cause them to park in the surrounding neighborhood, which, in this case, is already over taxed.

I have to say that I find some of this rhetoric a little tiring. There is a big difference between a “car addiction” and a need to have a car. You want to fix the car problem, attack that, but this is not the way. The only way to get people out of cars is to provide a workable alternative. San Diego’s bus system needs a great deal of expansion to be useful. A smaller car is still a car and still needs a space. I ride a motorcycle to avoid these problems and save gas but I would not suggest it for everyone. Car-2-Go and Uber for a daily commute would be too expensive for many people. A good bus system would make a big difference, I rode buses all over Mexico and Central America and it worked well but these are extensive systems, we don’t have that.

You said “much of OB/PL is zoned for multifamily and mixed use development,” but you need to check your facts. Mixed-use zoning is not widespread. Yet. You also said “you knew that when you moved here.” I have no idea what you meant by that, but I will say I’ve lived on the peninsula for 34 years so what I knew when I moved here would hardly be what we are talking about today.

Perhaps you would like to explain why you are so anti car? Cars aren’t killing the Earth. Check out what the United States military consumes and emits along with the other world military machines. After that, look at the power generating industries and manufacturing. Cars are a part of the problem, I agree, but I think you over stated that one.

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avatar Jennifer June 30, 2014 at 7:51 pm

1. Thank you for riding a motorcycle. None of my suggestions is for everyone of course.

When you grant special privileges to private car owners, like mandating private property owners use their land for parking, you will get more cars. You make nice condos with no parking, you are creating a space for people who don’t want or need it. Sure, some of those people will just park on the street, but some won’t, and over time they will think about ways to reduce their car ownership and usage. Some might not give up their car entirely, but they’ll give up their big SUV and downgrade to something more practical and easy to park on the street. If you go to San Francisco, where most parking is on the street, you’ll notice mini coopers are just about the most popular car, contrast to the rest of America where the most popular vehicle is the F-150.

2. Car to Go is cheaper than private car ownership if your commute is in the 3-10 mile range, and the advantage grows for people who don’t drive every day. I am a strong supporter because the people who own cars now to use once or twice a week now have an option that saves money and is good for the environment.

3. “Perhaps you would like to explain why you are so anti car?”

The big realization to me was living and traveling in Europe and realizing, yes, it is possible to have big cities without the noise, pollution, bad smell and ugliness of cars everywhere, and urban areas designed at a human rather than auto scale.

4. You mention all the pollution from the military. I know what you mean, a giant APCs get one or two miles a gallon for example. But part of the reason for the war was to protect the oil supplies needed for our national car addiction.

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avatar Geoff Page July 4, 2014 at 11:15 am

“When you grant special privileges to private car owners, like mandating private property owners use their land for parking, you will get more cars.”

In this case, the “private property owners” and the “private car owners” are the same people, the condominium owners.

“You make nice condos with no parking, you are creating a space for people who don’t want or need it.”

What did that mean?

“Sure, some of those people will just park on the street, but some won’t, and over time they will think about ways to reduce their car ownership and usage. Some might not give up their car entirely, but they’ll give up their big SUV and downgrade to something more practical and easy to park on the street. If you go to San Francisco, where most parking is on the street, you’ll notice mini coopers are just about the most popular car, contrast to the rest of America where the most popular vehicle is the F-150.”

You said some will park on the street and some won’t, so where do the people who “won’t” put their cars? And, San Francisco and San Diego do not make a good comparison. History, area, demographic, all very different. A Mini Cooper is a great car for commuting and errands for two people but a family of four would find it very difficult. My solution to this same problem is what I said before, I ride a motorcycle and can park it almost anywhere, but I will repeat, it is not the solution for many people.

“2. Car to Go is cheaper than private car ownership if your commute is in the 3-10 mile range, and the advantage grows for people who don’t drive every day.”

What can you offer to substantiate this claim?

“I am a strong supporter because the people who own cars now to use once or twice a week now have an option that saves money and is good for the environment.”

Other than some very, very old friends I’ve had who have a 30 year old Buick in mint condition because they seldom drive, I’ve never encountered anyone who has a car and only drives it once or twice a week. But, assuming there are such people, how much effect will it have on the environment if people who only drive once or twice a week anyway switch to a Car to Go?

“The big realization to me was living and traveling in Europe and realizing, yes, it is possible to have big cities without the noise, pollution, bad smell and ugliness of cars everywhere, and urban areas designed at a human rather than auto scale.”

The term “Europe” is a very broad term, you would need to be more specific in order to see if your comparison is a viable one.

“ 4. You mention all the pollution from the military. I know what you mean, a giant APCs get one or two miles a gallon for example. But part of the reason for the war was to protect the oil supplies needed for our national car addiction.”

This I agree with 100%

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avatar John July 4, 2014 at 5:18 pm

I don’t think that smart meters solution is so smart, doesn’t that leave car owners having to start their car and spend time driving in circles looking for another spot? How is this good for the planet?

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avatar Aging Hippie July 5, 2014 at 12:51 am

I think her idea is to make it miserable for the person who owns a car, thus forcing them to choose no longer to own one. That’s a fantasy, people have cars because they need them, not because they want them, but I think that’s what she’s suggesting.

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avatar Korla Eaquinta June 30, 2014 at 11:49 am

I must agree with Aging Hippie. Developers need to provide adequate parking for their projects, PERIOD.
We all have a voice and many of us are attending meetings, getting involved, and making those voices heard; so please don’t speak for me or my community about what we would or would not prefer.

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avatar Jennifer June 30, 2014 at 11:59 am

Even more options if you have a problem with traffic and parking:

6. Change your schedule so you aren’t driving and parking at peak times 7. ride a bike 8. walk 9. move closer to work 10. work from home 11. combine errands into a single trip 12. rent an unused off-street parking spot from a neighbor.

The “luxury condo” issue is such a red herring. People would oppose a project with the same size/units even if it were bare boned. And it wouldn’t be much cheaper either, since most of the cost is land/planning, not fancy fixtures.

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avatar Geoff Page June 30, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Jennifer, how does changing your schedule affect how many parking places a project has? Riding a bike is not practical for most people for most of what they need to do, such as arrive at work not sweated out, take kids to the doctor, bring home groceries. Walking is great if your work is nearby but that is not always the case. Move closer to work? This is much easier said than done for a homeowner. And, people change jobs regularly, are they to move each time? Working from home is only possible or allowed for a small number of people but it still would not eliminate the need for a car that would need a parking space. I won’t even comment on the last suggestion.

I disagree that people would oppose anything, I’ve seen people accept projects that made an effort to accommodate the community. And, with my experience in the construction industry, I have to say your last sentence is just incorrect.

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avatar Jennifer June 30, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Not every option works for every person, but the number of people going car free, or working couples who share just one car, is going up every year.

And there are always excuses for behavior that is bad for the environment like driving.

While some people dump their cars for moral/political reasons, real change away from America’s uniquely bad car-centric neighborhoods and lifestyle will require making car ownership more expensive and less pleasant. That means greater density and not forcing developers to include off-street parking.

Off street parking requirements are really bizarre and discriminatory against people who don’t own cars. We all have to pay for the increased cost, but get no benefit unless we buy into car culture. We don’t require houses to have swimming pools, AC, or storage sheds, but they MUST have parking because, god forbid, there might be more competition for what people consider to be their God-Given right to free parking on public streets.

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avatar Aging Hippie June 30, 2014 at 10:46 pm

If it’s cultural, don’t blame the individual. We have to live in society as it is, not as it ought to be.

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avatar Geoff Page July 4, 2014 at 11:16 am

“Not every option works for every person, but the number of people going car free, or working couples who share just one car, is going up every year.”

I agree and the main reason is the cost of the car. The market is driving that. The cost of buying a new car is amazing and, while buying a used car is better, it exposes people to what are now very costly repairs.

“And there are always excuses for behavior that is bad for the environment like driving.”

That’s pretty harsh, the reality is that most people need a car to survive, I’d hardly call that bad behavior.

“That means greater density and not forcing developers to include off-street parking.”

How about we do this instead? Put in the required parking. Then reduce the number of cars on the road. Then, when a certain threshold is reached, allow developers to infill the parking. That way we have land set aside for future development and the problem doesn’t get dumped on the surrounding streets during the many years it takes to reduce the number of cars on the road.

“Off street parking requirements are really bizarre and discriminatory against people who don’t own cars. We all have to pay for the increased cost, but get no benefit unless we buy into car culture. We don’t require houses to have swimming pools, AC, or storage sheds, but they MUST have parking because, god forbid, there might be more competition for what people consider to be their God-Given right to free parking on public streets.”

This was a little confusing because you’ve mixed up two things, off-street parking and free parking on the street. But, I see what it comes down to is a feeling of discrimination because you don’t own a car, and it appears that you believe your idea of how to live should trump everyone else’s. There is no “car culture” for most people, a car is a necessity. Let me ask you this, do you ever ride in a car at all?

I actually agree with you that there are too many cars. We need better mass transit. I guarantee you that people stuck in bumper to bumper traffic having to drive to north county to a job and back would jump at a mass transit solution, if there were one like a good bus system and a dedicated freeway lane. But, as Aging Hippie put it, we have to live in the society we have not the one we want. We can work toward the one we want but tossing a monkey wrench into the gears – letting developers build with no parking requirements” – and leaving the mess for other people to live with is not a solution.

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avatar Aging Hippie July 4, 2014 at 11:23 am

I used mass transit when it was available. But the train station was still too far away to walk, and I still had to go to the grocery store, so I still needed a car and a place to park it.

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avatar Jennifer June 30, 2014 at 12:06 pm

I doubt people’s real issue is even parking or traffic, but real estate values. Every OB/PL property owner (including me!) saw their property increase in value 50% since 2010, and long-term owners from before 2000 doubled or tripled. On average I’ve made about $50,000 in paper wealth each year since I bought my house, which I did nothing to actually earn.

It is nice to make so much money without actually working, and it is looking like we’ll make even more the next few years as supply is very tight. So let’s oppose anything that will help meet the huge demand to live here if it means that in 2014 my house will only go up $40,000 instead of $50,000.

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avatar Aging Hippie June 30, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Now *there* is your red herring. Other people are not constantly thinking about how much their house will sell for, because in the meantime we have to live in them.

If you provide inadequate parking, that won’t result in fewer cars, it’ll result in people having to park farther away, and new units failing to sell unless they provide one parking spot per occupant. Most of us cannot afford the 3 hours each way that it would take to use public transit to work, nor do your other measures solve it; we can’t arrive at the office drenched and stinking from a 90 minute bicycle ride, and car-2-go’s have to be parked just like any other car.

What you have told us is your real agenda here, your own property value.

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avatar Geoff Page June 30, 2014 at 3:19 pm

You’re talking money. We’re talking quality of life.

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avatar Jennifer June 30, 2014 at 6:49 pm

Very relevant:

The High Cost of Free Parking

http://www.uctc.net/papers/351.pdf

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avatar Geoff Page July 4, 2014 at 11:20 am

Very interesting study, thanks for providing it for the discussion. I’m not in agreement with it all, I don’t think parking affects the decision of most people on whether or not to buy a car. I think it affects a decision about where to live. As I said in another reply, the cost of the car and the cost to maintain it will be the ultimate solution.

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