Due to a last-minute Coastal Commission list of recommendations that the City has to consider, the long-scheduled City Council hearing on the OB Community Plan was postponed to July 29th.
This all came down on Monday, June 30th. Word had spread among OB planners, OB Town Council members, and other organizers that Mayor Faulconer was asking the Council to continue the long-awaited hearing on the OB Plan due to time needed by city staff to review the Coastal Commission’s modifications.
So, the major mobilization of OBceans planned for a month, was called off – but only partially – as 40 people from OB were in Council Chambers on Monday, and thirty of them wore the blue ‘support OB’ T-shirts.
It has to be noted, that it was because of the presence of so many OBceans and because of the insistence by the OBceans who publicly spoke to have the Council review the OB Plan at the earliest possible date, that the July date was selectd. The Council had been considering September 19th to allow City staff, including city planners and city attorneys, an opportunity to review and evaluate and respond to the 43 recommendations that the staff of the California watchdog agency had made.
But they were persuaded to go with “OB Time” – in this case, earlier than “normal” – the timing requested by the audience. And basically, it was only OBceans and city staff in the audience by time the 2pm hearing was gaveled to order by Council President Todd Gloria.
OB planners were ready to submit the petition in support of the OB Community Plan that has been circulating for at least a month. As of Sunday night, they had 2,740 signatures on the petition.
Councilman Ed Harris made the motion to continue the hearing. As the Council is dark and not in session during the entire month of August, Harris was proposing the staff recommended date of September 19th. Also the Council only meets on Monday and Tuesdays, so dates and times are limited.
There was some discussion by city staff. Planning manager stated to Council that their department did not need to work on it till September but cited the August recess as a reason that they would have to wait. Gloria warned the OBceans that it was “highly likely to have a continuance again” on July 29. Gloria opened the floor for public comment.
A stream of OBceans, many wearing the blue shirt, went up to the podium – and to a person – pushed for the earlier date, the July 29th date. Gio Ingolia, one of the co-chairs of the committee that had worked with city staff over the OB Plan Update spoke vehemently in favor of July.
Craig Klein, a long-time former Planning Board member, told the Council, that he has –
“no problem with Coastal Commission recommendations. None appear to be controversial.”
Jane Gawronski, a current OB planner, said:
“I like what the Coastal Commission wants us to do.”
Her hubby Tom was next.
“The Coastal Commission recommendations are things we wanted in the past.”
Gretchen Newsom submitted the OB Town Council’s resolution of endorsement of the Plan to the Council.
Next up was Mindy Pellissier, owner of Dog Beach Dog Wash, and veteran OB planner, the other co-chair of the committee. As she spoke, her words and tenor grew in intensity. She spoke of OB’s anger and frustration at the developments.
“We were fully ready to be here, today,” she told the Council, in a Chambers that had grown quiet.
“We already had everybody organized,” but for Friday’s late notice of the Coastal Commission recommendations. “We have to accept [the delay] because we need Coastal Commission approval.”
Mindy got a little animated. “We must be the top priority,” she told the politicos and city staffs.
“I’m tired of keep being the ones pushed back. The OB Plan must be made a priority. If you have to work over-time, do it. If you have to postpone your vacation, do it.”
She turned to sit down to loud applause.
Rio Metza walked up to the podium. Metza alone has gathered several hundred signatures.
“I’m proud of the town, the community,” she said, “so, please give us the July time.”
Kathy Blavatt was next, representing the OB Historical Society.
“We strongly supported the Plan, we support the Coastal Commission’s recommendations.”
She made the point,
“This is one of the rare times when every OB group is behind [the Plan].”
Other organizers lent their words for the July date, including Keith Fink, Bill Posey, and Donna Bergman of the OB Woman’s Club. Colleen Dietzel of the Green Store and Center said,
“We love OB and desire to be heard as soon as possible.”
Other OB supporters indicated their support as well, but didn’t come up to the podium. Finally Councilman Harris took back control of the discussion, and stated that as long as there were no problems with city planning and the city attorney ‘s office, the Council should proceed with the July date. He mentioned that there was a possibility of having to reword some land use language in the Plan.
In response, Prescilla Dugard of the City Attorney’s Office raised the possibility that if any changes “were deemed material” that under the law, those changes would potentially have to go back to the Planning Commission.
Gloria allowed Councilwoman Lorie Zapf a chance to second Harris’ motion, which she did. (Zapf was elected in the Primary to take over the Harris seat in December.)
There was more Council discussion on possible material changes. Councilwoman Lightner suggested that the Council simply “request that the City Attorney just not find any material changes.”
Finally, the motion came to a vote, and it was unanimous to proceed to the July 29th date, at 2pm. Gloria again reiterated that come July 29, the Council may have to postpone the hearing once again. If that were to happen, he commented that staff would certainly give as much warning to OB as possible.
With mixed emotions, the OBceans left the Chambers, some off to a celebratory beer at a local downtown pub.
So, what’s next in the campaign?
Petitions and signatures will continue to be gathered and circulated. Volunteers will continue to be out at the Wednesday Farmers Markets with clipboards. The goal now with another month of organizing is to push that 2700 number of gathered signatures much higher.
More will be discussed at this upcoming OB Planning Board meeting, Wednesday, July 2nd at the OB Rec Center at 6pm. The Board needs to make plans to address the Coastal Commission modifications.
The committee will continue to meet and mobilize the community. Their next meeting is on Monday, July 7th, at 6pm at Dog Beach Dog Wash, 4933 Voltaire.
The battle to keep the OB Community Plan continues.