The future of Ocean Beach

by on August 5, 2010 · 48 comments

in Culture, Economy, Environment, Ocean Beach, Popular

Saratoga Park condos designimage

Architect's renderings of the 12 townhouse condos to be built. (Click on image for a larger version.)

This is the future of Ocean Beach.  These are the architect’s drawings of what Saratoga and Abbott will look like, once the twelve, 3-story condos are developed.

With the news that the corner site at Abbott Street and Saratoga has been sold (1984-92 Abbott St. and 5113-19 Saratoga Ave.), residents of the community will be confronting the reality that a significant corner of the beachfront will be forever transformed.

Some consider this site, next to Saratoga Park and right on the beach, to be one of the most “important” within OB. Whatever does or does not happen there will help to define this community’s identity.

The new ownership – 1984 Abbott LLC, c/o Clark Realty Capital LLC – plans on developing 12 new townhome condos with an average projected unit floor plan of 1,200 square feet.  The new development includes plans for a 27-space subterranean parking garage.

OB and Southern California beach towns in general have been experiencing a rise in new construction – despite the housing market – as there is money apparently to develop choice beachfront properties.  Our community has been undergoing a slow process of gentrification for years, where individual new homes – large in scale – have been built that outclass their neighbors. This has been particularly true along the cliffs and the more western lots near the sand.

Currently there are 15 apartments and four detached buildings slated to be demolished, (including the first location of Hodad’s restaurant at the beach). The two alleys that border the west and south sides of the property will be eliminated, and half of the alleys will become the property of the new development. The entire alley area will be turfed for pedestrian use and open space.

In the recent past, residents and planning observers have raised a number of issues about this site and its future development:

  • the underground garage being built in a flood zone, for as recently as this past Winter, the area flooded badly;
  • the city giving up property adjacent to park land allowing the developers to intensify the project.
  • new owners of the condos – who paid big bucks for these units – may be a source of future complaints about people hanging out in the park, fire rings, marshmallow fights, and other goings-on at Saratoga Park;
  • the Saratoga Park Project will NOT be funky, green and “filled with good energy”;
  • the new owners are requested to consult with some of our local architects, and bring a preliminary design to by our planning board (before they finalize their plans)

Saratoga Park condos designimage 02One issue that apparently was not explained well by the City is the transference of some property – if  the 20-foot wide public right-of-way that is on two sides of the property (it is now blocked off, but the ocean-facing side is where the residents have their tiki bar and horseshoe court) was originally used as a fire lane.

The property line actually runs right down the middle of that right-of-way, and if vacated, half reverts to City property (park space) and half reverts to the owner’s use (which definitely gave them more buildable area to squeeze in a few more units). But some believe that the City did not own all of that land, but had a right to use it that was based upon an obsolete public purpose.

The new owner who purchased the site for nearly $4 Million (1984 Abbott LLC, c/o Clark Realty Capital LLC) is located at 3655 Nobel Drive, Suite 500, San Diego. Clark Realty is an Arlington, Va., headquartered real estate company.

As of this writing, we are not certain when this project will come before the OB Planning Board – if at all.

In any event, here’s some renderings of the proposed design, from the architect’s website:

(Tip o’hat to Seth, Sunshine, and Dan.)

{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Peyton Farquhar August 5, 2010 at 12:34 pm

It’s a bad idea for everyone except those who stand to make $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ from the development.


K. Blavatt August 5, 2010 at 1:31 pm

So, didn’t the new builder see the 3 ft. high water that filled that area a couple times this this winter?
They might want to ask some of the neighbors about the the underground parking on the adjacent property the had problem and pumping going on for months.
They should read the OB’s history about wonderland and realize we are due for our 100 year flood.
As far as the city giving away part of that PUBLIC land for this project, how about some more handicapped parking instead? I am sure locals can can come up with some good PUBLIC uses that don’t include private condos!


kenloc August 5, 2010 at 1:43 pm

Public uses do not generate tax revenue. They cost money to maintain.The city of San Diego is in a budget crisis. Don’t be suprised if you see these types of projects springing up in O.B. with increased frequency. They are coming for that valuable land and potential tax revenue. O.B has an abundance of land desired by developers. Wait until they see how much money these folks make from this.


kenloc August 5, 2010 at 1:34 pm

I live close to this site and we have underground parking as well. It is not considered a flood zone and we didn’t need to purchase flood insurance,even though the garage did indeed flood this past winter.(about 2 feet of water).


kenloc August 5, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Does the blonde come free with condo purchase?


Chris Moore August 6, 2010 at 11:09 am

I hate to admit it, but I had the same exact thought.


Shane Finneran August 7, 2010 at 10:36 am

The rendering with the blond really says it all, doesn’t it?


Random OB'r August 5, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Well, one positive thing to come out of it will be that those people living out of their vans that always park right there will probably finally have to move on, but otherwise I see nothing but a mess of negative results from expensive condos being built there. Of course the building that sits there isn’t exactly pristine either.

Sadly change is inevitable, I noticed whoever is building that butt ugly beach house over on spray must have finally lined up the financing to stucco it this week. I suspect we’re going to see more and more of these buildings popping up, sooner than later.


Seth August 5, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Still the toughest vote I have been a part of on the OBPB, who I do not speak for here. I live a couple of hundred feet away with my family, and the fact that there are a community of people living there is not lost on me. To this day, I am still 51/49 on it.

Other thoughts:

* Gentrification? Yes, definitely. Though perhaps not as much as what would happen if this project got killed and eventually replaced by another one — and that is definitely a question that needs to be asked at some point. We can argue forever about whether the previous owner should have maintained the property, but it is what it is, and it is almost certain that something was going to be built there in there next 5-10 years.

* Who are the decision-makers on it? The OBPB voted to grant a tentative map waiver and vacation of the public-right-ways, but the design/project review are under the purview of the Coastal Commission. I will say that should this design be constructed, it is better than at least four other recently constructed buildings in the immediate vicinity that were also not under the purview of the OBPB (the rather large blue one across the street, the tall brown stucco rental property at the end of Saratoga and the modern bamboo ones at the end of the Cape May/Saratoga alley. Could arguably do better, but could definitely do worse.

* Green and funky? Mixed bag. Certainly has many sustainable elements to it. Worth mentioning that the architect is local and community-oriented, and even offered to design the new beach bathroom pro bono, as far as I know.

* City gave away park space? Definitely not. They didn’t own the land, and the project actually adds MORE public space to Saratoga Park (an L-shaped piece of the alley that is 10′ x 190′ or so). I believe that the previous owner offered to donate some funds for the privilege of getting his own land back, but I do not know the final status of that.

* Good luck with the flooding.

* No idea about the blonde, kenloc. She looks a little too LA for OB, though. Tastes may vary, of course.


Frank Gormlie August 5, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Seth, really, thank you very much for putting that response together. I know people – including yourself – have had these questions over the last few months about this project. We must look to the OB Planning Board as our guardian on the development front, and thanks for your years on the Board.


Seth August 5, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Appreciated, Frank, and likewise. I’m cool with the Black and all, but during that whole hubbub, I couldn’t help but be struck by the irony of the idea that there probably wouldn’t even be a Black if not for community activists like yourself who fought so hard to preserve the community character of this place. Not all of us are going to see every project or issue in the same way, but people should make no mistake that OB is the way it is today in large part because of the work of so many community activists over a period of decades. I only hope that we can continue to meet current challenges and manage change anywhere near as well as people here have over the last 40+ years. Might sound cheesy, but I mean every word.


annagrace August 5, 2010 at 4:05 pm

Many condos are bought as an investment and used as a rental. What are the chances that these condos become vacation rentals with 12 different owners? What impact would that have on the area?

A 16 unit apartment to condo conversion on my street has had a tremendous although seldom discussed ripple effect. As an apartment, there was one owner who clearly did not make upgrading and maintaining the property a priority, although I would never call it a slum. The occupants were low income with large families living in one and two bedroom apartments, which resulted in a great deal of wear and tear. I had no problem with my neighbors there. Those families in turn supported small entrepreneurs- the green grocer who came by in a truck during the week to sell eggs and fruit and vegetables. The man with the paleta cart. The woman who makes tamales and champurrado. I appreciated the vibrancy of my street, the hard work of its occupants and the good times.

The conversion occurred as part of the mindless condo-mania of the mid 2000’s. Any criticism implied an elitist attitude that would deny affordable home ownership to people. But these condo’s were anything but affordable to the low income apartment dwellers, which goes to show how developers punk the people over and over again.

My neighbors were dispersed. The small micro-economy disappeared. The condo’s went unsold for over a year, and then investors started buying a few and turned them into rentals. So much for affordable home ownership. The property has more curb appeal than before, some of the tenants have been real problems, but they leave eventually. And a quality that I appreciated about my street is gone forever.


sunshine August 5, 2010 at 5:37 pm

why cant they consult the ob historical society & the community on what obceans would like to see built there? just askin….it cant always be about the almighty dollar.


Patty Jones August 5, 2010 at 7:04 pm

The only things that looks good to me is all that available “on street” parking… did they forget to paint the curb red in the rendering?


Debbie August 5, 2010 at 7:33 pm

I do believe there would be alot more community support for older buildings (to keep OB, OBish) if only the property owner, property manager and tenants would maintain their buildings and landscape (pride of ownership). So many of the OB landlords (many of which do not reside in OB) are very happy just to collect their monthly check on pieces of property they own free and clear.

I am not crazy about the proposed Saratoga design (or the chick on “display”) The design illustrations do not appear to reflect residents of OB ….but maybe it’s the owners’ intent to change OB. In my opinion, it looks like something you would find in Little Italy. Since I didn’t put up the big bucks to buy the property, I guess it’s not for me to say how the owner must design it. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Annagrace, I understand how it feels to loose your street. As rents continue to escalate since 2000, renters on my street moved out. In order to pay the higher rents, more tenants move into a unit or home (there might have been 2 and now their are 4). More people, more cars, more noise, more barking dogs and then the homeowners that live on my street get tired of the environment and then they sell their home or rent it out and the cycle continues. I miss my neighbors also.

I don’t have a solution …but I do know that OB is changing with or without new buildings.


dave rice August 5, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Short of a collective of philanthropic owners willing to accept below-market rents in order to preserve the community, or some kind of vicious rent control law that would make absentee ownership unattractive, I don’t see it happening…


Seth August 5, 2010 at 11:35 pm

Good thoughts, debbie and annagrace. These concerns are very valid, so please allow me to riff off of them to get at something that has kinda been bugging me lately. I so often feel this prevailing sense of nostalgic melancholy in OB that we are somehow fighting this hopeless battle against gentrification that cannot be won. That we have kinda been frozen in time since the 70s, but are now taking on water as market forces and the City prepare to stack the deck on us and turn us into La Jolla South.

Not sure I can really articulate this well, but I think I just choose to think of this differently somehow. For starters, while I cannot speak to previous eras on this, I have really been impressed with the level of civic engagement here. Be it the people who serve on your community groups, or the ones who show up at their meetings, or who participate on this forum or who just *care* about the place on some fundamental level (and even many public servants who work for the City), I have found that there are just a lot of knowledgeable and committed people here who serve and participate in this community. I really think we are in good hands in that respect. And as part of that, I have met more than a few property owners (both commercial and residential) who are more than willing to sacrifice their profit margin in favor of acting in favor of the community — with many who do this to the tune of millions of dollars.

Whether or not this extends to all of our elected leaders is something for each of us to decide each November, but there are a lot of great things happening in OB all the time, and I applaud the Rag for bringing attention to a lot of them. I think at some point it is just a problem with the medium of the internet that we sometimes get drawn to the conflict and drama rather than the happy stuff.

I mean, I have loved Brenda McFarlane’s articles about the new businesses in OB, but notice how those aren’t the ones that drive discussion in the comments section of this blog. Meanwhile, an article about a condo development or a sticker or a homeless guy taking a leak somewhere is sure to get all sorts of discussion started.

At the end of the day, in terms of OB’s future, I just think that neighborhoods (and buildings) are living, breathing entities. There is a constant process of regeneration that can be for better or worse. While I am a big historical preservation guy, I feel that many parts of OB have forestalled that for a time, and that if and when the economy picks up again, we may be looking at a lot of change here in OB. The battles of 2015 might also be very different than those of 1975 in some respects, even if many of the most useful tactics remain the same. But the key is how we help to manage that change in a way that will retain this community’s character, and fortunately we really do have a lot of participation there.

/end rant


Sunshine August 6, 2010 at 2:46 pm

nice rant, seth. you brought up many of the same thoughts I’ve had about OB’s future. While I do not want to see OB become some gentrified-beyond-recognition-vacation spot, and hopefully the Precise Plan will carry weight with potential developers, I do believe that any new development that must take place here can be done within the community collective peacefully and as a win-win for both developers and residents alike. This would require future developers being open to hear what the community wants and for the community to speak up. I’m all for that discussion taking place in an open forum type situation BEFORE new buildings are designed and built. Proactive dialog could reduce the amount of ongoing friction in this happy little town.


Seth August 7, 2010 at 7:38 pm

Thank you, Sunshine. You describe this very well. I get troubled when people conflate OB’s civic engagement and occasional activism purely with obstructionism. That’s really not the case at all. I find that many people have exactly the attitude you embody here, which is basically just being a reasonable, informed person that cares about where they live and what happens to their community in the long-term. All most people want from developers and local governments is an honest discussion about what is going to happen in the places they live in, and I feel that the trend is certainly moving towards that kind of collaborative effort — especially as places like California run out of blank canvas and towards more redevelopment. The idea that you wouldn’t involve the community early and often is a somewhat absurd notion by this point in many places of the country. As far as I can tell, San Diego seems to have something of an on-again, off-again relationship with community planning, but I think the main point is that there are many here who take a more collaborative approach to land use and development issues, and that all are welcomed to participate.


Danny Morales August 8, 2010 at 9:47 am

Sunshine, Seth- In light of the recent (Aug. 4) meeting of the OB P-Board it would be in the interest of the whole if we took a collective (Community, Government, developer) approach to the future of O.B.- Currently, we have this adversarial relationship that places a financial burden on the developer before it comes to the community. Having gone through this question with Councilmember Faulconer’s office (shout out to Thyme Curtis here) it remains to the developers how they want to approach the community. In regards to the development of Saratoga Park, we (City/Community) we have an opening to effect a positive solution for all parties if we get engaged beyond the blogosphere and can come up with concrete alternative$$$ to the current trajectory of this proposal…but that’s just my musing. – Good Day, Danny


Debbie August 6, 2010 at 8:04 am

I believe one of our battles is to continue the feeling of community. But we need people to stay in our community, become engaged and be a voice for the future.

Take for example, a new MLS listing 100046659 at 5050 Brighton ….Prudential Realty states, “This property is located in close proximity to the beach and within walking distance of all the local restaurants and shops. The property is made up of two 2-story buildings which are duplexes and one free standing detached cottage. There are three tandem parking spots with alley access. The two story units have wrap around decks in the front of the property. There are rear yards in the back of the property which are utilized by the tenants who occupy the duplex’s The subject property contains 5 units, two of which are currently being used as vacation rentals that rent at $700/week, all units could be utilized as vacation rentals to push revenue. all of the units are one bedroom one bath with total property square footage of 2,132.”

The asking price is $999,000. There is no way this property can be sold and not turned into vacation rentals to receive a return on investment. Is this the way OB is headed, vacation city? I don’t know, I just throw that out there.


Debbie August 6, 2010 at 8:13 am

correction to my last posting… the listing agent appears to be Windermere Pacific Coast Properties


Ian Rammelkamp August 6, 2010 at 10:01 am

Do any of you find it ironic that you welcome transient panhandlers in our community, but do not welcome development that could be used as high end vacation homes?

The implication being that it is OK to come to OB if you are going to beg for money, but not if you are going to spend it.


Chris Moore August 6, 2010 at 11:13 am

The concern is the cost of living around here getting so out of hand that noone but the extremely wealthy will be able to live here. It can happen.

I have a much easier time telling rude panhandlers to piss off than I would paying 50% more in rent.


Ian Rammelkamp August 6, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Cost of living is out of hand because we are just coming down from one of the biggest real estate bubbles in the history of the world. Real estate values are coming down, and will continue to for quite some time.


Seth August 6, 2010 at 11:30 pm

Yeah, but we might not exist in quite the bubble that we think we do. Even with a down economy, the trend globally is towards more rich people and more people in general, and there is really only a finite amount of highly desirable land for them to live or vacation in.

I don’t have a boogeyman here, but it would not at all be unheard of for Chinese/South Asian/Middle Eastern buyers to scoop up a bunch of SoCal beach property and rent them out to rich European tourists or whoever.

I’m not really say that is what is happening in OB, but it is certainly a long-term possibility.


Paulie from Oakland August 6, 2010 at 5:06 pm

I like your point of view.


Seth August 6, 2010 at 11:13 pm

Not really, Ian. You don’t need to travel any further than Mission Beach to see a community that sold its soul to vacation rentals. What gets added to the city’s economic base by these high-end vacation rentals is often more than offset by the loss of community and diminished quality of life. We are obviously a tourist area and are dependent on them in many respects, both economically and in terms of what I would call local flavor, but IMO there is a balance there that ideally would be maintained. Many would say that our transient/RV community help to serve as a buffer against widespread gentrification.


James August 7, 2010 at 11:27 am

I tell people that all the time. Thank god for the dirty homeless peeing everywhere and the smell of cat urine garnished by jet fuel or I couldn’t afford my little piece of OB heaven! I’m nervous about this development. I lived on muir with ocean views from my bed shower and kitchen untell that old man with the mercedes built that big ugly house on spray and abbott blockng up the entire view. I understand he owns the land but who did he by that air space from? I moved funny now I live in a house on Saratoga. The worlds going to hell hang on OB. Shame on us for not particpating more in our elected officials.


bcsy August 7, 2010 at 10:22 pm

I agree, though some of the old tenants of that building helped to keep that whole beach area safe at night. One night in particular, I awoke to a woman screaming, I went out, saw a woman in distress and brought her to my wife, the male companions didn’t like this and jumped me, if not for my neighbors in that building coming to check out the same screams, I would have woken up in the hospital. Hate to trade neighbors for tourists but not for me to decide. If mor eObeciens put their money where their mouth is, things might be a little different.


john August 8, 2010 at 7:11 am

Amen! I came to OB in ’84 and have mostly lived here since except for a couple of years I lived near UTC at Nobel and Lebon (<figure the names!) for my job and I swear the whole time I did not know either neighbor right next door. Such disinfected, detached from humanity living. It didn't escape me to know the highest car theft and break in rates in the city were in our area either, as nice as it looked if someone were attacked on the sidewalk in front of our building nobody would ever notice.
Everyone went to their 9-5 hell, then angrily drove their box to their home-in-a-box to eat a box of food and sit in front of a box with 300 channels.
Oh and the building was a big box as if it matters.


Danny Morales August 8, 2010 at 10:27 am

I find it eminently pitiful that someone would see the national defense as the only legitimate role of government but would denigrate thier fellow citizens on the ba$is of their $pending power. Although you would deny it, it sounds like class rule to me…so I going to be kind here and bid you Good Day-Danny


Danny Morales August 8, 2010 at 10:30 am



Debbie August 6, 2010 at 10:43 am

I have never supported transient panhandlers. Help someone in need, definitely!

My feeling is that when rental units change into weekly vacation units, the community dissolves. I can see that that the merchants and bars would be in favor of an increase in tourism in OB since more dollars would support or increase their businesses. More tourists are good for main street.

On the other hand, do these weekly units pay TOT taxes? Increased visitors require increased services. In addition, they should be in fair competition with out local hotels. If hotels need to pay TOT so should weekly rentals. More than likely once an area turns into vacation rentals, I wouldn’t be surprised if other property owners join in on the game. These changes would displace more residents and possibly make people want to move just because of the environment weekly vacationers bring. PB is a great example of what OB could be.


Dan Gilliland August 6, 2010 at 2:04 pm

I’ve been in OB since 2000. I think it’s a good idea. Right now you have a bunch of run down buildings in that same spot. What’s the harm in upgrading, unless you are one of those people who are going to have to move. Right now it’s real fugly. Look what happened to Hodad’s when it upgraded. And the complex is only 2 stories instead of the max 3 stories that the Coastal Commission allows.

Expensive condos = 1st you have to find people to buy or rent them. There’s “For Rent” signs littering all of OB @ a rate I’ve never seen before. San Diego has always been in the top 10 most expensive places to live in America. There are places with higher rent but those places also have more jobs that pay more than bartender. San Diego has always = no real jobs + high rent = be a beach bum until you settle down and move away. Because of the housing crunch you still can get a studio for $750/2 blocks from the beach. There’s a 2nd floor 3 bedroom w/ hardwood floors w/ 3 car parking + 180 degree view of ocean beachfront for $3,000/mo.

@ Debbie OB = vacation city? No. The only thing Tourists know about OB is Hodad’s. If Hodad’s wasn’t in OB, no tourists would ever know about OB. When LJ, PB,MB and Downtown are packed with tourists OB is still the sleepy kick back village it has always been. Once you are off Newport some nights you can lay in the middle of the street without any worries. OB is the place where you retire when you are too old to live in PB.


bcsy August 7, 2010 at 10:15 pm

your “beach bum till u leave” attitude is weak. that combined with “been here since 2000” says it all. you think you’ve established cred and your ill informed take carries weight?


john August 9, 2010 at 2:08 pm

I agree the way he expressed it was lacking but I think the underlying point that our lame local economy with pretend industries (ex: biotech? rife with venture capital hucksters) rarely supports the high real estate costs in the area, is valid.
Pretty much have to be a white collar crook, Mexican drug cartel family member, or fall into money somewhere else to purchase a home here.
However elsewhere the economy is screwed in other ways, in Detroit $13k will buy a home, but there are no jobs period.


Landry Watson, OBPB District 1 August 7, 2010 at 10:16 am

Interesting news indeed that there is finally a consumer for this conceptual project that has been re-configured several times in order to make it more lucrative or facilitate its implementation (depending on your view of the project).

Some facts should be reiterated here below…and there are also some assumptions that caveat any commentary that I provide that depend entirely on the fact that the OBPB has presumably reviewed this project in its current configuration and that the permits obtained with the sale of this property will be executed as approved previously. If the new owner of property and permits substantially alters the project, it is assumed that a new permit will be obtained and the OBPB would likely review such an alteration. I welcome the opportunity to comment publicly if that is indeed the case in the future…

Some notes…
1. The Ocean Beach Planning Board did not review this project in its current configuration. The applicant opted to apply directly to the California Coastal Commission for the necessary Coastal Development Permit and was successful in obtaining an approval. The applicant then returned to the City of SD for the necessary permits for the combination of the lots and other administrative development permits. Opinion of the OBPB was not sought by the applicant for the project. As disappointing as this might seem, it isn’t illegal. There is zone near the immediate coast that remains primarily in the purview of the CCC, that zone was developed presumably to ensure that the CCC has better oversight on all development in close proximity to our beaches.
2. The City of SD asked the OBPB to form a position ONLY on the right of way vacation of the adjacent alley to the west and south of the combined properties. The applicant had already obtained the necessary Coastal Development Permit at the time and only needed the Right of Way vacation and Tenative Map in order to complete the permit for the entitlements.
3. In exchange for the alley property, the applicant agreed to pay $50,000 to the City of SD for the upgrade of said land. Additionally, the applicant agreed to not improve any of said property nor to object to any adjacent improvements to Saratoga Park.
4. Although this area continues to flood during rain events, it is not a flood plain recognized by FEMA. Note: The boundary of the flood plain “A” FEMA flood area in OB runs near the SD River and basically ends near the “high ground” of Brighton Ave.

Why the fuss over this unused alley? The addition of the square foot area of the alley was the critical addition to the overall project to presumably make this project “pencil out” in construction cost and real estate sales. By the addition of the alley area, the project was able to squeeze two additional units into the original and allowable 10 units to make this a 12 unit building.

I voted against the right of way vacation and the concept that the City of San Diego essentially sold beach front property at pennies on the dollar in order to facilitate the increased density of a single project adjacent to open space. Whether or not the City IS or ever has been financially competent enough to increase open space by purchasing privately owned property isn’t enough of an argument for me to just throw up my hands and allow the City to resolve themselves of providing the people of OB with park and open space. OB is currently 40 acres short of providing the community with open and park space by their own basic general plan guidelines for population based parks. A shortfall that in its entirety is possibly unachievable, but is absolutely impossible if the City continues to behave in a manner such as they did in this case.

Although I clearly disagreed with my fellow OBPB member Seth in this case and on this particular vote, I certainly respect his opinion and the importance of the Democratic process. I’ll offer my reasoning for voting against the project here and it should be clear that I speak only for myself and the people that elected me…not for the OBPB. The arguments for this project were cobbled together and a well crafted yarn that actually violated several other components of the Community Plan and I spoke of them at the Planning Commission appeal of the project…you can find that in the archive of the City Council video coverage (23 Sep 2008, Item 334). I’ll simply highlight my biggest objection below.

IMO – The City of SD and our elected officials should be making every effort to protect our open spaces and to actively and aggressively pursuing the acquisition of land adjacent to parks and open space in order to reach unmet population based park requirements — per their OWN policy documents (SD Gen Plan – RE-A.6). This was an opportunity for the City to stand by their own policy and make a statement that the good of the community would outweigh the benefit exchanged to the interest who stands to make a profit by the added density of the project immediately adjacent to our open space. The community will not be able to accomplish much of anything with the paltry $50K and our open space will not significantly be improved by the project.

One question…If this was such a great idea…why didn’t the City just BUY the land for $50K and give it to the community? Does anyone believe that the project applicant would have offered the land to the City at that rate? Doubtful.

The questions are irrelevant now because the City gave up on the idea a long time ago that one day they might actually be solvent enough to have acquired the entire property and converted it back to the community as open space.

I hazard to opine to the overall future of OB as it relates to development because that is not entirely defined by policy or even the will of the people as much as it is driven by the unyielding desire of capitalism. And capitalism never sleeps…

@Seth…I welcome further discussion on this!


Sunshine August 9, 2010 at 11:07 pm

thanx landry. good to see your factual points here. maybe we could suggest sleeping pills to capitalism…a good long rest on its part would do the entire nation some good.


Scott August 7, 2010 at 5:56 pm

The project appears to be a good change that is due, and hopefully with landscaping that very well represents the SoCaL coastal region, as well as being fitting for the human habitat.
And hot blondes are people too, – nice addition.


Seth August 7, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Great thoughts as always, Landry. Your track record as a truly informed and truly committed advocate for this community speaks for itself, and I hope anyone reading along understands by now exactly how much effort you put in to serving OB.

In any event, 49% of me is with you right down the line on that. Speaking only for myself, there were a lot of considerations there on what was a very tough vote, but in this particular case, the property rights aspect ultimately tipped the scales for me. When it came to vacating the right-of-way access or not, I just see the burden of proof being on the government rather than the homeowner. Might not be the most popular stance in our part of the world, but it is how I honestly see it.

As to the project design, while it was likely not in accordance with many parts of the Precise Plan, we weren’t (necessarily) being asked to visit it in those terms. I tried to leave the design element out of the decision to a large extent, feeling that for better or worse, they would essentially be able to throw their plans away the second they walked out the door and present something else entirely to the CCC.

Two other thoughts on the design. My personal recollection of that meeting was that there was probably something close to 75/25 public support for the project out of the 30 or so people who were in attendance. Whether or not those roughly 75% in favor were all OBecians, I cannot say, but I get the sense that people are probably pretty split on it overall.

I also agree that these computer-generated drawings depicted here do not really match my recollection of what was represented on the sketch drawings and site plan. I can’t speak to whether this is because the design was modified or because these digital images are just not entirely accurate with what is/was being proposed. I remember a more non-traditional and less “boxy” version being presented, that was further setback from property lines in some areas.


john August 7, 2010 at 7:35 pm

PROBLEM making an issue of the underground parking garage:
If you are doing so hoping to block the project entirely, so be it, good for you.
IF you fail to block the project with that and they resubmit the project without the garage, the result will be above ground parking which will: impact the size of the building, making it larger, yet having less parking than the underground parking situation did, thus causing more parking on the street in the area.
THINK THROUGH your activism from every angle.
David Stebbins, the builder of the home at 5172 W. Pt. Loma, told me that when activists tried to block the building of his home on the grounds of underground parking, they only made it more likely and quicker the whole block would be torn down and similarly developed. Why?
The new design he resubmitted without the underground garage was hundreds of thousands of dollars cheaper to build. Anyone seeking to build also has a much easier time if they follow his design. Had he gotten his underground parking house built they would have a harder time getting a different design passed, cheaper or not.
So the liability of failure is a little bit different in this case but keep it in mind and if you’re trying to block the build hen focus on that because the garage is something else.
As is the flooding issue. So what? There was a residential building there before, telling them it will flood won’t stop another from going up in its place- they’ll just be sure to raise the height of the structure by putting it on a 3 ft thick slab.
The fact is I don’t think anything will block the project, the time to do that was before the property was sold. The developer invested in the porperty, they aren’t just walking away because you want them to any more than Stebbins didn’t forget building his house just because I thought how nice it would be to have that lot next door stay empty the day his old place came down.
(for the record I have no problem with Stebbins personally, he’s always been a nice enough guy as a neighbor apart from that wrecking the neighborhood thingy)


john August 7, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Correction: Stebbins’ home is at 5166, not 5172. It is a minor squabble, but one someone will surely raise. Anyone who wants to egg me (at my rental) for any views I post here now gets to figure what side I live on.

Until it gets torn down, try 5168 1/2, and I like ’em over easy with bacon, if you don’t mind.


Danny Morales August 8, 2010 at 10:46 am

John-“OVER EASY WITH BACON”, correctly describes the foundation of your opinions. What no toast?


john August 19, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Burnt, naturally.

I only appear less than left because of the company. Oh okay maybe 4 years in “Raygun’s” yacht club convinced me bombing people back to the stone age, or at least the willingness to when challenged, can be part of a good diplomacy package. I cared little about politics at that age, most young guys in the military don’t other than keeping up on events that could see you deployed and possibly killed- but you’re not thinking about death, you are looking forward to seeing action. I know you don’t like Reagan, right? I can remember being less than fond of him at the time, even more hated his wife. Towards the end it was “just say no, Nancy? is it really that easy? then tell ronnie, just say yes when they ask are you starting wars in south america and sending missiles to mullahs??” Yet after he died, I watched the replay of his farewell speech and it brought a tear to my eye. Partly because it really was a beautifully penned piece, but he did seem to pull us out of a hole there. Maybe just to fall into another, or maybe he really was a great motivator.
Then again, I now consider the end of the cold war to be our greatest mistake.

No, really. Got any Jelly?


ClubStyle_DJ August 7, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Gentrification and his blonde girlfriend yuppiefication are banging on the gates of OB with a caramel macchiato in hand…

“they’re going to prefab paradise and put in a underground parking lot”

Our compliments to Abbott & Saratoga, and regards to Captain Dunsel;
CSDJ out.


Shawn R McGillivray October 12, 2012 at 5:53 pm

I used to live there with my mother who was the manager from late 1974 to about 1976 when we left that summer for Reno, NV where I reside now with my sister. In those days, I think a Dr. owned the place and my mother, my grandmother and myself lived in the corner apartment where they have a sliding glass door now . We were on food stamps and my mother besides managing the place sold Avon. Her name was Glorianne J McGillivray, and she helped alot of people who were homeless on the beach with food we had which was alot like the old Hodads in those days where it was possible to get some food if the couple who owned it felt sorry for you. Well we had an account at Hodad’s believe it or not, and I just loved their home-made curly fries they made with real potatoes. Makes me hungry thinking about it. Anyway, I was only 13 and then 14 when I lived there. We had moved from Mission beach to the Saratoga apartments in the front but wound up at the Spindthrift apartments when the old manager quit.
The wife of the doctor who owned the place was the general manager for Sea World and I got free tickets to get in Sea World whenever I wanted to go as a I recall. I had a variance to go to PB Jr. High where I had started school when I lived in Mission Beach, and I had a straight 4.0 average which was much nicer then when we were in Minneapolis, Minnesota before we moved to San Diego, Ca when Richard M Nixon was President. My mother was friends with Kenneth H Dahlberg of Dahlberg electronics, and we moved basically from Plymoth, MN where he had owned his company. We had to flee Minnesota during Watergate era because of the pressure they put on us right before Watergate. My uncle A.J. Dahl was in the US Navy and served aboard an LST as a Radio man during the vietnam era which is why we came to San Diego, CA. My brother had been stationed in long beach on the USCG Burton Island which was an icebreaker and had just been discharged, and his name was Barry Beveridge. I think he was selling pot in OB to get by. Well, I have to be telling you the truth, I was a little blonde 13 year old kid named Shawn, and I think I knew all the Hell’s Angels in OB and in San Diego cuz they used to hang out at our apartment when my mother ran that particular corner.

One time the Eagles did a benefit concert cuz some judge ordered they had to after they were busted for drugs as a community service deal they had to agree to. Well, they gave a benefit concert right there in the park which was a very impromptu event and they used our power to pluge their stage in, and I got to meet all of them for that big “Eagles OB Free Concert at the Park.” I think that was 1975 as I recall. I will never forget that corner of Ocean Beach and all the people I used to hang out with down on Newport at the pinball arcade, or how my friends there were all hippies and smoked pot even though I did not. Matt, Brian his girlfriend Jill, their mother and their aunt Evelyn who was a real witch I heard but a very nice one to me. The truth is I think my heart will always be somewhere in that place, and I always remember when my mom was still alive (b.t.w.; she passed away at 79 in 2009 from complications from a burst appendix operation some years earlier) she would say, “The Eagles are in town Shawn, I am sure they remember you. Do you want to see them?” I always said, “No.” But, I in my heart believe that place is the real “Hotel, California!” I wonder if I am right? Need’s an upgrade, “will there be mirrors on the ceiling and pink champaign on ICE, I heard they haven’t had that spirit here since 1969.”

Yours Truly,

-shawn ray mcgillivray
P.S.: I live with my sister in Reno, NV and I am now 50 years old. I graduted from Reed College, in Portland, OR with a B.A. in Chemistry ’85 “Barrier to Internal Rotation in Biphenyl” and joined the US Navy in 1985 and received an honorable discharge in Penscaola, FLA. and got the NAMI WHAMI. I am an inventor and invented a product called Amphomag which is sold for HAZMAT and is used by fire departments and police for unidentified spills. I am currently working on some new inventions including “seed preservation using non-hazardous gasses.” I also developed nuclear waste treatment technologies for the Hanford Waste dump in Richland, WA including vitrification. They’re still following me but at least Nixon’s gone! Can you still see San Clemente on a clear day? lol ;-) Goodbye Spindthrift apts! I will miss you and all the hippies who had nothing but themselves and the soles of their feet!


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