OB Planning Board fumbles on way to approving World Oil’s Sunset Plaza

by on July 31, 2009 · 15 comments

in Environment, Ocean Beach

Rendering of Sunset Plaza slated for corner of Sunset Cliffs Blvd and Voltaire Street.

OCEAN BEACH, CA.   Sunset Plaza, the World Oil project slated for the corner of Voltaire and Sunset Cliffs is coming back before the Ocean Beach Planning Board at its general meeting Wednesday, August 5th. But you wouldn’t know it by checking out the Planning Board’s website.

In fact, the Planning Board’s website is out of date and has no records of meeting minutes or agendas for either the month of July or August. Typically, the Board meets twice a month – so this would be up to 3 or 4 meetings to account for.  Plus, the Project Tracker spread sheet of all projects, their status, etc is woefully outdated. The World Oil project only had dates from 2008, for instance.

I have to call it for what it is – the OB Planning Board is fumbling in its duty and responsibilities to the community.  Of course, being on the Board is a thank-less job, worth a lot of headaches and heartburn, and people who take on the task are trying to do their part in keeping OB the way it is. But … ! and that’s a big “but!”  Once this important community board sets up a website as its main form of communication with the community that it represents, it has to maintain it.

The Planning Board will probably approve it, anyhow.

World Oil’s project, the 6755 square foot, two-story medical office building developed for that all-important community intersection, had been earlier approved by the Board last December. There were some design changes mandated by the City – dropping the building back one foot each way from the property’s southeast corner – so the project had to come back for another approval.

When I spoke earlier this month to the current – and brand new – Planning Board Chair Brittany Taylor, she confirmed that Sunset Plaza was on the Board’s agenda for August 5. She was apologetic about the state of the website.  She mentioned something about a conflict between her and the past chair Landry Watson over the Board’s website. She had to develop a new site, and can only work on it in her spare time.  This must be why everything’s out of date or not updated.

The community needs to know what is going on with the World Oil project. The corporation’s ill-fated attempts in the past to construct a gas station at the corner had been met with widespread protest and community opposition, an opposition that thwarted World Oil three times. The City also opposed at least one of these attempts.

The Planning Board approved the concept of Sunset Plaza at its December 3, 2008 meeting.  Even that process was fraught with procedural pot-holes (the agenda for the meeting was not posted on the website until the last minute, and the supposedly time-certain agenda item for the World Oil project was taken out of order).

Now, being on the Planning Board is a totally thank-less job. I know, I’ve been on it twice for a total of three years since the early Ninties.  As a member representing a District, there’s a whole pile of responsibilities that comes with the seat at the table when the Board meets at the OB Rec Center.  And there’s no one thanking you or appreciating your work in the service of the neighborhood.

But, gosh darn it! We have to know what’s going on. Especially when it comes to World Oil.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Gilbert July 31, 2009 at 5:52 pm

You know it’s already impossible to find any parking on that strip of Voltaire (the 4800 block) and this is only going to make it way worse.

What possible good can this building bring to Ocean Beach?



PSD July 31, 2009 at 7:13 pm

I’m thinking there are already three medical/professional buildings along Cable between Santa Monica and Del Monte, plus another on Sunset Cliffs past Naragansett (which has been advertising open space for rent for at least the last six months). Are these buildings all at or near full occupancy, and is there really demand for more of this kind of space, or will the building just try to lure tenants from some of the older existing facilities?

As long as there’s empty professional space or commercial space that could be converted to professional use (and I know we’ve got plenty, at least of the latter), I have a hard time justifying a need for another 6700+ sf when we’ve probably got twice that much space around town sitting vacant.


Dave Gilbert July 31, 2009 at 7:40 pm

Frank, do you know what time the meeting starts on the 5th?


Frank Gormlie August 1, 2009 at 10:26 am

6:00PM at the Ocean Beach Recreation Center at 4726 Santa Monica Ave.

Unfortunately, this is a probably done-deal. The Planning Board already approved the “concept” of Sunset Plaza at its Dec 3, 2008 general meeting. Unless a lot of OBceans show up and express reservations – it’s probably going to go through and be constructed the way it is.

There was no grassroots organization in OB that mobilized residents and property owners to the Dec 3rd meeting (OBGO is gone, where’s the OB Town Council? where’s “Save OB Coalition”?) to oppose the project. There’s liberal slow-growth and progressive members on the Board but they are no longer a majority.

The OB Rag blog is willing to help get the word out, but people with boots on the ground will have to do it.


bodysurferbob August 1, 2009 at 11:10 am

a lot of days the surf is just getting good at 6pm but i’ll come out of the water if i knew others would be at this meeting – i’m not going to ever be the lone voice of wisdom, sanity and common sense.


Seth Connolly August 1, 2009 at 2:18 pm


As you know, I serve on the Board and am currently the Board Secretary. I do not speak here in on their behalf or in that capacity, merely as a private citizen. The agendas themselves must be posted 72 hours in advance both online and at the OB Rec Center, and my understanding is that much more advance notice than that has been given in recent months.

They are also listed on the City’s website here:

As to the meeting minutes, it is the Secretary’s job to get them to the Chairperson once they have been approved, and for a number of reasons, I have not been very on top of that. I will work on that, as I think it is very important for the community to be informed.

With that said, the minutes are probably not the best way to stay informed in a timely manner. The minutes for a General Meeting cannot be approved until the next month at the earliest, and they will also not include very detailed descriptions so much as they document actions taken. The best way to stay informed is to attend the meetings or speak to someone who has.

During the last two General Meetings, the possibility of this project — which has already been approved by the Board in one previous form — coming back before the Board has been stated publicly by our Chairperson. Once it was reviewed in the Project Review Committee, which again, is an open public meeting, I notified you via email that it would therefore likely be on the August General Meeting agenda. This was public information by that point, and it was provided to you nearly three weeks prior to this month’s meeting.

Given that this project has, in one form or another, been either reviewed or discussed at three prior General Meetings and two prior Project Review Committee Meetings, and the fact that the Agenda for this month was posted several weeks and not the required 72 hours in advance, I don’t think that it would be completely accurate to imply that the public is not being informed about this project.

Point is still taken about the delay on agenda minutes and the state of the website.

Lastly, community members are fully encouraged to attend these meeting to listen, speak and be heard.

Take care,
Seth Connolly


Frank Gormlie August 1, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Seth, many thanks to you for pointing out that the OBPB agendas are on the City’s website, not on the Board’s.

This still does not explain the conflict over the websites. I think the community still needs an explanation.


Danny Morales August 1, 2009 at 11:18 pm

The community is supposed to get an explanation in the published report of the Project Review Committee. From what I’ve seen in Pt. Loma as well as in OB the project reviews hardly even give lip service to a community plan let alone develop a rationale for their decisions based upon the strategic elements of that plan. It’s a by the numbers rubber stamp of developer interests with an feeble adherence to the letter but not the spirit of the law.
So dry your eyes children. Between Heaven and Earth the swells come and go, the tides ebb and flow, but the spirit of the People is eternal-GYHOOYA!
I hope to be there with Bellson-(???)


Frank Gormlie August 2, 2009 at 8:59 am

Even relying on the City’s website for OB Planning Board agendas can be testy. Check out item #002 on the July 15th Project Review Committee’s agenda.

Seth – just because the Chair states “publicly” during a meeting that the item will be on the agenda does not mean that the community has notice. You sent me a notice re Sunset Plaza because you knew I was interested.

But the fact that the Board is doing nothing to get the word out other than relying on the City’s website is troubling. It is also troubling that the community did not attend that Dec 3, 08 meeting where the concept of Sunset Plaza was approved. Again, no agenda posted until the last minute. But while the community slumbers, projects that it doesn’t care for are designed, approved and built. I’m not saying it’s you, Seth, of course not. You remain true, despite your isolation.

In the recent past, OB has been very interested and concerned about what World Oil wants. Hundreds of people – not just a handful as attended the Dec 3rd meeting – have been at the World Oil project hearings. Why? Because somebody either in the community or on the Board mobilized the neighborhood with fliers and calls. For awhile it was the Greens doing the mobilizing, then it was the Save OB Coalition, then it was the OB Preservation League and then it was OB Grassroots Organization. Well, all of them are gone. Burn-out, frustration, fatigue, jobs have taken their toll.

When OBGO had a majority on the Board, we would flier the community, placing notices on windshields, etc. to get the word out.

No one is now doing this and we will all suffer. It’s too late to complain once a project is already designed and approved, my sisters and brothers of Ocean Beach. You have to be aware when it gets on the drawing board. And stay with it, despite the surf.


Dave Gilbert August 2, 2009 at 3:21 pm

I realize that I’m probably too late to make a difference but, if I wanted to speak out against the World Oil Corp’s building at the meeting this Wednesday, am I to understand that I need to submit my questions, concerns and/or statements 72 hours in advance?


Seth Connolly August 2, 2009 at 6:58 pm


Not at all. To speak on a project, all you have to do is fill out a speaker slip at the start of a meeting. People who have been unable to attend have also made their views known by signing petitions or sending in emails to the Board. People can also sign up to receive agendas via email from the City.

According to their website, you can do this by sending in a request for OBPB agendas to the following email:


Dave Gilbert August 2, 2009 at 7:30 pm

Thank You Seth,

I’m very interested as to what the planning board heard from the World Oil Corp. as to how they plan to deal with the lack of parking that already exists on the 4800 block of Voltaire even before their monstrosity goes in, as well as the absolutely “No Parking” on Sunset Cliffs Blvd.

I have to wonder if less people have been attending the meetings lately because it’s also during the same time as the Farmers Market?

What happened to all of the “Boycott Starbucks” folks too?


Seana McGinley August 5, 2009 at 12:14 am

I’m opposed to this project and will make every effort to attend the meeting- it falls right in the middle of my work shift.

I fully support your position and your concern about apathy in OB. I just need to ask- where have all of you been? You imply that the people who devoted endless hours to keeping $tarbuck$ out are eternally responsible for the preservation of Ocean Beach. I came to every protest against $tarbuck$ that I was in the US for…. I spent many early mornings standing outside the open business alone, being berated by corporate coffee freaks… with SO little support from the community. Where were you when I was being called everything from a trust fund baby to a terrorist? I sure could have used a friend. I put out fliers and posters endlessly- at all hours of the night- for all sorts of issues that came before the community/planning board/town council.

The ‘Save Ocean Beach Coalition’ was 5-7 solid members… we worked our asses off- others far more than I…. What happened to us? We became tired of being lonely voices in the wilderness- who were too often classified as insane. Where were you while we were howling???

I’m sorry, this just drives me crazy…. I take full responsibility for my lack of recent public participation in OB… but we are EACH responsible… don’t expect the same people to continuously take the lead…. it is YOUR role as much as it is any of ours.

I hope to see you all at the meeting. Put your ego where your mouth is.



Robert Burns August 7, 2009 at 9:24 pm

I served as a boardmember for many years in the previous 2 decades and as chairperson during the previous decade when there was no website and far fewer computers. Yes, it’s an often thankless, volunteer gig, but those at the Shitty of San Diego pay well. I’d like to know how much money taxpayers shell out for this belligerently chronic nuisance site. I’d like to know why there isn’t cooperation between OBPB & the so-called OB Mainstreet Assn. to advertise & report on OBPB meetings and other activities. I’d like to know why this community-wide serving project is deemed compatible with this “neighborhood commercial” zone. I’d like to know why I could never get return calls from the OBPB point person for the Santa Monica Ave. pet hospital project. And, I’d like to know the extent of the incompetence/corruption in approving the several illegal North OB restaurant expansions without an hint of parking?


Robert Burns August 7, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Sorry, that should have ended with a period.


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