California Coastal Commission Is Ready to Approve “New” Ocean Park Villas Condos Without Adequate Review

by on September 22, 2011 · 25 comments

in California, Environment, Ocean Beach, Popular, San Diego

New design for Ocean Park Villas, a design that has not gone through a public review process. Coastal Commission staff recommend its approval. A third story was added but underground garage eliminated. (Excuse the appearance of these plans as photo was taken of plans stretched out on a table.)

Ocean Beach’s ocean front looks like it will experience a major new development at Saratoga Park without an adequate public review of the development.

It appears that the California Coastal Commission is about to approve changes to the condo complex planned for the corner of Abbott Street and Saratoga Avenue, called Ocean Park Villas, near the Saratoga Park at the beach, located at 1984-92 Abbott St. and 5113-19 Saratoga Ave.  This will likely occur at the Commission’s next meeting, scheduled for October 6, 2011. It will likely occur because the Commission’s staff says so.  They have given their recommendation of approval to an amendment to the original plans.

These are the "old" designs by local OB architect Steven Lombardi, that did go through at least a partial public review process. The new owner has drastically changed this design above. Lombardi has complained to the OB Planning Board and the Coastal Commission.

The big problem with this, is that the new owners of the planned development of about a dozen condo units have drastically changed and altered the original plans, plans that the Commission had originally approved, but without an adequate review of those significant changes.  Even the original architect is upset and concerned that OB will get something that its own planning body, the OB Planning Board, never approved.

Another view of the new design. (Again, the photo was taken of the plans at a slant.)

What is going on?  Here is a timeline:

  • August 65, 2008:  OB Planning Board by a vote of 4 to 3 agreed to allow the city to vacate the alleys behind the land at end of Saratoga and Abbott so that the developer of the project could put 2 additional units into his project. In return, the Parks and Rec department will be compensated for the 2700 square feet of land in question.
  • January 30, 2009: Coastal Commission issues its Coastal Development Permit to build the new structures. Interestingly enough, the Permit includes this language:  “Expiration: If development has not commenced, the permit will expire two years from the date on which the Commission voted on the application.” (Our emphasis.)
  • November 2009: the Coastal Commission approves the original plans for demolishing the current 15 units of the four detached buildings, including the former location of Hodad’s, and the construction of a two- story, 30 foot high 12-unit condo building, that would sit over a 27-space subterranean parking garage. 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 July 2010, the property sold for $3.8 million, cash, to buyer entitled 1984 Abbott LLC, c/o Clark Realty Capital LLC, 3655 Nobel Drive, Suite 500, San Diego. Clark Realty is an Arlington, Va., headquartered real estate company.  The new owners plans on developing 12 new townhomes with an average projected unit floor plan of 1,200 square feet.
  • Summer 2010: Local OB architect Steven Lombardi presented his drawings to the OB Planning Board.  There are a number of outstanding issues about this site, including the underground garage being built in a flood zone, the city giving up property adjacent to park land allowing the developers to intensify the project.  Importantly, the OB Planning Board requested the new owners to consult with local architects, and bring a preliminary design to the planning board before they finalized their plans. The public right of way “give-away” concerns revolve around the fact 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.  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.
  • Sometime between the Summer of 2010 and the Fall of 2011, the proposed project switched hands.  It was taken over by Marengo Morton Architects, Inc., with Claude Anthony Marengo leading the re-newed efforts to throw the project up.   Because of changes, Marengo applies to the Coastal Commission for their approval of his amendment, bypassing the OB Planning Board.
  • September 7, 2011:  the project’s original architect, Steve Lombardi, returns to the Planning Board to inform them that the entity who had purchased the plans and permits for the Ocean Park Villas project has proceeded to make significant changes to the design (his design) and is attempting to proceed with the amendments to the Permit with the Coastal Commission under the concept of “substantial conformance”.
  • September 21, 2011: Coastal Commission staff issues report, and recommends approval of amendment for development to proceed under the old Coastal Permit, despite many changes to the original design. Staff opines that new designs are in “substantial conformance” of earlier, approved design. (Details below.)

In an August 11, 2011, letter to the Coastal Commission, Lombardi laid out his objections to the “new” design.  The new design, he said, “pushes the bulk of the units west or closer to the park/ ocean, thus blocking public view to the  north and up the coast.” He believes that his design increased the public view. Further, the vacated alley on the south of the property, next to the lifeguard beach parking, “is reduced to public access.”

One of Lombardi’s biggest contentions with the new design is the “open parking garage/ carport”.  The old design included a 27-car underground garage, whereas the new design eliminates the undergrounding, but places the parking spaces for 20 vehicles on Abbott Street, or right off Abbott, which “increases the automobile appearance and increases the visual width of Abbott Street into the proposed design … as if it is an extension of the street creating a ‘sea of cars’. ”

In addition, Lombardi says, “the entry for cars is off Abbott Street which creates ‘entering and exiting’ of cars is [sic] a ‘traffic nightmare’.”

Lombardi also complains that the new design for the building – in having no articulation for each unit – “could be mistaken for a drive up ‘Motel Six’ ….”  While his design promoted native plantings, photovoltaic panels, and other cooling devices, “the proposed design does not address any ‘green features’ ….”

Not only that, the new design uses glass railings on the east side along Abbott, and includes a wall around the property – which his design did not include.

Lombardi summarized:

“So, from a planning point of view this project falls short, opportunities are lost on a highly visible site like this has to offer.  The ‘Architecture’ or lack of, suffers from heat stroke, existing trees are missing along both Saratoga and Abbott streets. And, the landscape does not exist, while the environmental issues are not even addressed. “

Finally, Lombardi urged that the “new design needs to go in front of the Ocean Beach Planning Board and the downtown Planning Commission like the original design did, because this project is total [sic] different than the original. This proposed design by the new owner and architect is not what the OB Planning Board and the Planning Commission approved.” (Our emphasis.)  Here is Lombardi’s letter to the Commission (page 1, page 2).

Coastal Commission Staff Recommends Approval

Despite Lombardi’s pleading, apparently the Coastal Commission staff has moved on the amendment before the body. (An amendment supposedly covers all the changes, no matter their significance or how drastically they altered the original design.)

In their September 21, 2011, report, staff at the Commission “is recommending approval of the proposed amendment ….”  It seems that since the underground parking aspect has been removed, and the new design calls for ten units, and not the original 12, staff must have been persuaded that everything else is just frosting on an otherwise perfectly good coastal development.

The main issue that staff addresses is whether the development “will be safe from wave run up and flooding, and protection of public views and public access.”  And their concerns are laid to rest, based on information provided by the applicant.

Nevermind that the proposed new design calls for three stories – not two, rearranges the building by moving the entire structure to the west – closer to the beach and ocean, removes any semblance of what the original plans looked like, eliminates most of the landscaping, throws up a wall around the property, and makes Abbott Street look like a parking lot, the staff went ahead and recommended approval.

Here is the full Coastal Commission staff report  (pdf) and recommendations.

Ocean Beach is facing a travesty of major proportions. Not only is the design of the proposed huge project way out of line from the original, approved plan, the new design never was shown to or approved by the OB Planning Board nor has it been approved by the San Diego Planning Commission.

The Coastal Commission staff, in the end, did not believe the new changes were significant enough to warrant a new public review process.  The City of San Diego has signed off on it (without an actual Planning Department – this could be dicey), and the project is ready to rock and roll. Again, it goes before the Coastal Commission on October 6th.

Look at the drawings.  Then call your Councilman Kevin Faulconer at 236-6622, and contact Eric Stevens, staff to the Coastal Commission at 619-767-2370. Write them as well.

At bare minimum, the Coastal Commission must not approve the amendment, and it needs to send it back to our local planning committee, the OB Planning Board for a public review, and allow the people of OB a look at it.  The people of Ocean Beach deserve this much.


{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Kenloc September 22, 2011 at 4:14 pm

It looks like your typical OB boxy apartment with carports and a fence around it. Lots of people complained the old design(which I actually prefer) was out of character for OB.This should be right up everyones alley then,no?


OB law(yer) September 22, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Hard to really see from the sketches/plans but I’m assuming we are working on getting some additional info like drawings in order to really appropriately discuss this…

I’ll leave out my comments on the “why” Lombardi is interested, but will thank him anyway for bringing this to the community’s attention. I presume that this would have flown right past the “asleep at the wheel” Planning Board folks had he not brought this to their attention…tsk tsk OBPB. I guess I shouldn’t be casting the first stone since I wasn’t aware it it either…props to you OBPB for continuing to serve your whatever capacity you can offer.

So….I’ll make my commentary short. For now…for it appears that we are looking at a HUGE bait and switch.

Here is the INTENDED result of the variances on West Pt. Loma. Allow Bigger homes with larger FARs in OB so that builder/developer types can sell them at better profit margins. Call yourself a “job creator” and get your re-elected by all of your “constituents”.

It is a well known fact that scraping a home and rebuilding in OB is NOT profitable due to the 0.7 FAR limit. Most people just won’t pay the cost per sf required for residential construction. Most builders don’t want the jobs b/c they don’t offer a good payout (whatever THAT is in this economy).

Should we hail Faulconer as a “job creator” for facilitating the removal of the beurocratic red tape that was preventing these homes from being built in the first place? Rah rah Faulconer….our savior and job creator in the Beach Ghetto.

Was the original Ocean Park Villas /Saratoga project delaying specifically to get both the Cox and Stebbins variances approved and built before they “struck while the iron was hot”? Hmmmmmm….. Now that I look at the timeline….it isn’t such a far fetched concept. They probably all came up with the idea wilst sipping tea from the upper deck of Qwiggs (arr…Nicks) and surveying the apple of their eye. I digress…

The bait and switch is simple. Get folks to agree (I guess 4-3 is agreeing) to a project that is using the old “underground parking isn’t FAR rule” and then go to Cal Coastal where the City can’t comment on projects and change the project to ALL above ground parking.

Ahhhhh….. but here is the switch. Don’t change the overall size of the FAR space.

Too bad that City of San Diego requires that in the RM 2-4 zone that 25% of the livable/usable space be dedicated to parking only…. Sorry folks. This project is ILLEGAL and isn’t in compliance with the same variance they are abusing down on West Pt Loma!

Don’t get distracted by the change from 12 units to 10….this area wasn’t big enough for the twelve units until the City sold them the rites to the alley/easement for pennies on the dollar….what a farce.

Love the quote though…..”looks like a Motel 6″….. that is great. Sums it up nicely.

Thanks to the Rag for putting all of this together where even the amateur land use planner like myself can easily see how the City intends to hose us over.

Let’s ALL call Mr. Stevens over at the Coastal Commission and let him know that he may have missed a portion of the review process….the part where the community reminds him of their own LAWs.

I’m already looking for the follow up to this article “Ocean Park Villas Back on the OBPB Agenda”….. Nice going RAG!


Frank Gormlie September 22, 2011 at 5:22 pm

OB Law(yer) – Wow! That was great! Hey, we need help. If anyone has any info on this project or its process, please chime in. We are drastically understaffed, (we’re unpaid of course) have meager resources, but you know what? we have lots of friends who care about OB. And we have to rely on them. Become a citizen journalist and/ or researcher.


Seth September 22, 2011 at 7:09 pm

You have definitely hit on the important part here, which is the FAR relative to parking that is no longer underground. We will have to see what happens there.

Two quick points of clarification, though… with due credit to Mr. Lombardi bringing this to people’s attention, I suspect you wouldn’t be reading this article if people were that asleep at the wheel. Second, the OBPB never visited the project, its design or its parking, and in fact lacks the ability to do so, then or now. The vote to recommend approval was for the vacation of the public right-of-ways and the tentative map waiver. I know it keeps getting presented differently, but a better question for people might be why the community doesn’t really have that avenue for input on projects within the Coastal Zone Overlay. Any number of recent projects in that immediate vicinity were also not required to come between the board. Is that really for the best?


The Bearded Obecian September 22, 2011 at 4:36 pm

So, is there opposition to the development as it was originally approved, to the new as-not-yet-publicly-approved, or to the development of the site in general?


danny morales September 22, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Dear Bearded One, Yes Yes and YES! With a deficit of community park land this site begs for something other than a brick and mortar real estate development. Maybe they’re just testing us to see how stupid and vain we’ve become!-TO THE BARRICADES-oops To the telephones! 8-P


danny morales September 22, 2011 at 4:41 pm

No wonder Lombardi is ticked. Talk about a back door approach to gentrification! Substantial conformance to what? These folks are as slimy as a garden snail and lower in stature. Kevin should stand up and be counted…and phone I will! 8-p


OB Dude September 22, 2011 at 5:10 pm

About as attractive as the entry way project. It’s not my land or investment but it sure would be nice to have new construction be a WOW so that this town can have some uniqueness. Obviously it’s all about the money with this developer. Just another big box!


john September 22, 2011 at 7:42 pm

LOL, this is kind of amusing and is remeniscent of what happened in the Stebbins residence case…

The attitude going in is “let’s block this using all possible avenues” because all you want to do is block it- but that’s unrealistic as it’s going to get developed.

All possible avenues includes making a big stink about it being in a flood zone.

Which won’t keep it from being developed and is not rational because like Stebbins’ house there was a similarly used structure there before while it was still a flood zone.

Because everyone made a big stink about the flood zone issue, officials took a look at Stebbins’ scheme to keep water out of his garage, decided against that so he modified the design losing the underground parking, and the structure now has a larger above ground profile than before the ill conceived attrempt to block his project on the flood issue.

And is safer in a potential flood than the old structure anyway as his slab is 2 feet higher.

Ironically Stebbins will point out that making him lose the underground parking, which would have increased his build cost by hundreds of thousands had he included that, only served to facilitate the development of surrounding properties because their owners may have balked at following with similar plans at that expense, now with his as a precedent theirs should breeze through the permit process- which I lament somewhat as I’ll have to move.

So now we tried to block Saratoga with scares about flood zones, and the developers and officials listened to you and have a revised plan to deal with that.

Watch the surrounding properties now, you know how these things go…


Seth September 23, 2011 at 2:43 pm

All good points, John, but on the other hand, it may be something of a false choice for it to be framed as a decision between requiring underground parking in areas that flood and granting FAR variances to accommodate above-ground parking.


Seth September 23, 2011 at 2:49 pm

All good points, John. On the other hand, I am not sure that the choice has to be between building underground parking in areas that flood, and granting FAR variances.


john September 26, 2011 at 8:53 pm

I think the point I was trying to get across is that it was misguided to pound home the flood plain issue- what was the point with that? In the Saratoga project I recall people sending in images of the site after a storm, and the rag published some.

It seems to me there could be no purpose to raising the issue other than trying to throw a monkey wrench in the works, hoping it was enough to discourage someone or derail the thing somehow.

In the end all it caused in Stebbins build and apparantly in this one too, is undesirable consequences in the form of what was ultimately built being less desirable than if the flood plain issue had never been raised.


OB law(yer) September 23, 2011 at 3:27 pm

john – make no mistake…Stebbins was after the holy grail of FAR loopholes which was to underground the parking even to the last hearing. You can watch it on CityTV and judge for yourself…I’ll dig out the link somewhere if you are interested. If he purports it a victory to have a carport instead of the undergrounding…you should talk to Hiram and find the details.

I’m not playing the NIMBY role here…We (the public) have never been presented a project at the Saratoga location that doesn’t use a loophole to add density or FAR. We know (heard rumours of) that there was a 10 unit version of the Lombardi project out there somewhere that never saw the light of day because the owner negotiated the vacation of the alley during the development of the project. The only thing the community got to review was whether or not to allow the project to “buy” the paper entitlements of the alley from the city. Which they did and Mr. Seth is correct on that point allthough we disagree on the City giving up this area at pennies on the dollar to facilitate an otherwise non-compliant sized (density) building.

If we were to see the 10 unit version of the Lombardi plan (regardless of whether or not I think it is going to flood there), I’m sure it would comply with the guidelines of the community and also the LAW.

People who circumvent the law are not acting in a considerate or neighborly way and need to be OUTED as the Rag has done in this article.

The community and the planning board approve projects every month that are in compliance with the law and with the planning guidelines of the community plan. We only debate here the exceptions to those rules. And this project clearly presents itself as attempting to circumvent the rules.

When it does rain….and it will. We can all go down and laugh at the BMWs and Mercedes floating in the garage like german automobile soup. :)


john September 26, 2011 at 10:05 pm

I wouldn’t portray Stebbins’ attitude as thinking it was a victory, not at all. He seems content at what he’s built and probably isn’t looking back at what could have been. If there is any satisfaction that seemed obvious relevant to the points I expressed, it’s that people tried to throw roadblocks up to block his build, costing him time, money and frustration, on specious and frivolous grounds and he thinks it’s ironic that in the end all the misguided strategies served to do was make some people’s worst nightmare- development of more of the properties- faster and easier than if you’d have stayed out of it.
His project being done makes it easy for other owners to follow suit if their plans are similar to his. Had he been allowed his original build with the garage, they would have to have similar plans to get through the process easily- but at much higher build cost, wouldn’t be so eager to do so.
Does that make sense?
Maybe I’ve already done enough “speaking on behalf of Dave” here and it’s presumptuous to do so at all- however I think I’m portraying his sentiments accurately.
You know the man’s lived next to me for some years now, has it been a decade? Despite what some portray him as, he’s not a monster, in fact he’s been very personable and I’ve never had a problem with him.
I have as much or more to lose as anyone in this “gentrification” deal and it’s certainly a shame these blocks are changing, but change is inevitable and all I’m trying to get across is the common sense perceptions about the result of your entanglements with him during his permit process. Dave and I, despite being on opposite ends of the financial spectrum, converse on the same level because we’re both sensible people. Just because I didn’t want him to build there in the first place doesn’t mean we couldn’t remain on friendly terms, and now what’s done is done.
It’s not that Dave won, because it was inevitable he was going to build there.
It’s that you lost because the fruit of your efforts was a worse situation, due to them.
You do know more about the inside machinations of these things than I, but seem eager to offer speculation about nefarious intentions of these people I can’t comment on. What I was commenting on was the appearance that similarities exist now in the Saratoga project. Some were happy with the plans of a local architect, at the same time there were people raising the flood plain issue. Some time passes, we now have an unacceptable proposal which appears to be so because of changes due to loss of the parking garage.
Why did the proposal change? Is it because these people are evil? Or is it because you gave them lemons, taking away the underground parking option, and they made lemonade?
You repeatedly cite “laws” but in the post earlier you seemed smug about OB zoning laws preventing anyone from building.
Would you tell the owners of the Saratoga property, if they sat down with you in the near future, that you intend to use the law to do what you’d really like, prevent them from building anything at all? As in “jump through these hoops we’re going to raise, many just to see you fall on your face”.
Laws are not to be confused with right or wrong, though I won’t get into lawyer bashing. We all need them from time to time. Laws keep us from the whims of public morals that turn into witch hunts.
Just ask yourself what it is you’re trying to do here, if it’s prevent development you’re going to have a long uphill battle. The economy is never, ever “coming back” and it would be irresponsible for officials in public office to be an obstruction to any money flowing in.
The 70’s, 80’s, etc, had the luxury of standing on principles, “let’s keep these evil corporations out of OB, we can live without THEIR kind of filthy lucre.”
Those days are gone.


OB law(yer) September 27, 2011 at 12:21 pm

John (Dave/David/whoever) — Not sure that either myself or the Rag took a position against the previous Saratoga project. I personally take exception to the City’s process of selling potential park space on paper to a development interest in order to raise density at the project level. That seems counter to other documents that indicate the City will “aggressively” acquire open and park space while staunchly defending what little recreational space the City currently holds (which is deficient for OB by all reasonable planning standards).

Your point is received….”be careful fighting against something because you might end up with something you dislike even more”. — Agreed. That is always a risk.

So many points (good ones) in your comments that I’ll let most of them stand without further discussion as I don’t believe that you and I will agree because at some point the discussion will digress to our personal interpretations of “why we have law” in the first place. As you’ve indicated above in your post.

I’ll just offer this simple analogy/metaphor/homilee…..whatever.

Does the cheetah on the African plain wake up every day and think to itself…I’m going to chase down the FASTEST most ORNERY wildebeast of the herd today (each day) because that will suit my needs best. No…. The cheetah chases the sickliest, easiest and slowest animal it can each time it goes to hunt. The animal that offers the least risk of damage and the highest likelihood of a kill.

Cheetahs that make this decision waste less energy chasing their hunt and incur fewer career (life) ending injuries and therefore procreate and the cycle continues for the cheetah/wildebeast daily decision making process in nature.

You are telling me in your statements that this gentleman (a declared business interest looking for a profit) presented the MOST difficult and COSTLIEST proposed construction with the LEAST PROFIT MARGIN first and that because of opposition….he changed to an easier and more profitable solution out of fortuituous consequence to the community’s opposition. I chuckle at that statement as witness to the hearing (which you might ought to watch) where he had plenty of knowledge of his intent and more than enough lawyers and engineers hired at those hearings to NOT still be fighting for the underground parking if it didn’t offer him the best profit for his motives.

I don’t believe that all people are evil John, but capitalism is driven by unbridled desire for more profit…not less. And if rules get in the way of that profit, they will be circumvented. It is in our animal nature as the cheetah presents above to be after the best solution for our personal needs.


john September 29, 2011 at 11:07 pm

I’ll try to keep these in order of relevance.

First on the matter of city land: 100% in agreement.

Second, you’ve slightly misinterpreted the point, it’s not to say you shouldn’t risk fighting something, but when your strategy backfires don’t put it all on the opposition when they adjusted to meet your obstacles. The flood plain issue was clearly a matter of trying to block the project altogether in the unrealistic belief that could stop Stebbins from building. It appears the same issue was raised here and while we’re complaining they changed the project (meaning above ground garages, not the 10 vs 12 units) why did that happen? You’re saying they were waiting on the Stebbins and Cox variances, did they (builders OR permit officials) ALSO see the issue of the flood plain and this is what motivated that?

Third, our “Cheetah”. What I know about Stebbins is he practices law and (I believe) in the field of real estate and he owns other properties. You say he has a business interest and probably know more than I about that, but the above that I DO know alone probably qualifies your claim.
There is some ambiguity about whether he was a part of a larger development scheme, I am pretty good friends with 2 homeowners on this block and they say they were never approached to sell or join such a scheme.
Saying his interest was merely for profit is at this time speculatory- he said in his permit argument, he works and lives in OB and wants to live in his house, and if he’s to be portrayed as a “let them eat cake” land baron well I can’t say that fits the reality of it.
I’d love to join in with the bashing of corporate greed and excess, but having lived next to the guy for some years this just doesn’t portray him accurately. Yeah he drives a Mercedes, but he’s had the same one for quite a few years. He grew up in East San Diego, not exactly old La Jolla money.
He sat there living in that dilapidated (by his own neglect, admittedly) property for about 8 years, effectively living in squalor- before they demolished it. Seems like an awful lot of trouble to go through just to develop one small lot.
(all along I’d hoped his permit would never get approved, but was realistic and knew someday these shacks that have termites and flood damage would be razed)
So you interpret his desire for maximum FAR and holding out for underground parking as him only seeking to capitalize on it, can’t it also be interpreted as him wanting to build himself a bigger house to live in?
I’m sure as you say he held onto his desire for underground parking till the end, can you blame him? The architect has to be paid again to come up with another design, and the fact he didn’t get it and the plans changed of course had little to do with his conceding to the desires of the community- wasn’t it because it finally came to the attention of someone that FEMA deemed it unadvisable? Whatever it was the underground parking was lost due to regulatory cause, not Stebbins’ desire.
So applying this to your statement I believe he originally sought this MORE difficult and costly build because he was looking to build the biggest house (castle?) he could on his lot. To live in it, not merely seeking the most return (time will tell on that). He changed because he had to, not because he wanted to.

Finally let me say your Cheetah story probably is much more fitting to the interests involved in the Saratoga Park development, they do fit the mold of corporate developers/land barons. There are people in this country who do earn their livings this way, and maybe this even includes Stebbins if he’s accumulating properties over his lifetime and living on the rents gained from them. That’s not a crime, however in the case of 5166 W. Pt. Loma I see a guy who built his dream home and until we see otherwise it’s bad faith to assume anything else.
(I’m sure Dave will eventually see this, let me know if I’ve got any presumptions wrong here.)


danny morales September 29, 2011 at 8:08 pm

…and now we have the luxury of living without principles. Good luck w/dat!


john September 29, 2011 at 10:15 pm

I don’t know who is included with the “we” but nobody, no matter how high they regard their “principles”, can eat them for dinner.
We can opine on the idealism of alternate worlds where socialism actually did work and was not even more oppressive and rife with corruption than the one we have, (meaning the USSR) but what I was getting at was the economy was roaring in those years, we could turn down dollars if we didn’t like where they came from as there were others we could look forward to.
There’s going to be development of some sorts going on and trying to lock it out is not really being realistic-and in the Stebbins project looks to me like the effort backfired, as OB Lawyer does concede. (though I’ll follow up with a clarification)
It would be political suicide for Faulconer to discourage development in this economic climate, and if the OBPB is really getting locked out of the process, maybe it’s time to self reflect why.
(don’t mistake this for condoning “breaking laws”)


Frank Gormlie September 29, 2011 at 10:31 pm

John, when just a part of the original project came before the OBPB, they essentially endorsed the Lombardi design and voted 4 to 3 to vacate the two alleys, giving the developer more land in order to design two additional units. The problem now is that the new developer is circumventing the Board with an end run that is actually more than improper, but probably illegal.

The new design is not the old design, and the new design has not been approved by the OBPB, the SD Planning Commission nor neither by the San Diego Planning Department – wait – there is no Planning Department. The new design has not even been shown the OB Planners. Doesn’t this sound strange, out of character, a violation of urban planning, common sense, the spirit of the OB Precise Plan? The OB Planners are more complaining about the process than the actual design. But the point of the new design is that it is substantially different from the old design, ie, itt adds a floor, took out the underground garage, re-configured parking so that the appearance would be a stain on OB, throws up a 6 foot wall around the property, moved the structure westward – closer to the beach and closer to the public park at Saratoga.


john September 29, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Oh I agree the changes suck and there’s no doubt it appears they are trying to breeze this through outside the sphere of influence of the OBPB. I liked the old design, it was attractive and in fact was pretty close in scale and size to the old building, wasn’t it?
Maybe this just reiterates the point though if what made them go back to the drawing board was being told they couldn’t have a underground parking. Isn’t that why it’s 3 not 2 stories?
I don’t know if anyone even raised the flood plain issue with the Saratoga people or officials like it was in the Stebbins project- I do recall an article in the rag with a reader submitting a timely photo after a particularly hard rain, one that flooded W Pt Loma knee deep BTW.


Seth September 30, 2011 at 12:08 am

Might have been me who submitted those photos. It’s all good. The original design and its underground parking was signed, sealed and delivered by all parties until — apparently — the previous owner’s financing fell through. Once the property was sold, the new owners opted for a new design by a new architect. The underground parking has not prevented anything to date, possibly because it is not in an official floodplain.


write them September 23, 2011 at 12:30 pm

As well as calling be sure to leave a paper trail by mailing letters or emailing Faulconer and Stevens:

Eric Stevens (California Coastal Commission):

Kevin Faulconer (District 2 Rep):


ClubStyle_DJ September 23, 2011 at 6:53 pm

My DJ service is available for the inevitable McDonalds/Taco Bell/ Motel 6 complex ribbon cutting.
Call Faulconer? Yeah he’ll help… If you need flip flops or a nice refreshing chardonnay for your romantic walk/sunset sit on the beach…
…wait what..?
(long south park blank stare into the camera)


OB Dude September 23, 2011 at 9:03 pm

FYI, On the note of real estate in OB here are a few things “for sale or lease”:

1. Ocean Beach Shell
4794 Voltaire St, Ocean Beach, CA 92107 Price: $1,395,000 Building Size: 1,458 SF
Listing ID 17208995 Business included (not inventory)

2. OB Car Wash + 5 One BR Units 5002 5012-20 Voltaire, San Diego, CA 92107 · Price: $2,392,000 Building Size: 3,690 SF Listing ID 16580629

3. Sunset Plaza AKA Voltaire Park…..looks like a tenant is needed for build to suit??
Sunset Cliffs Boulevard & Voltaire Street, San Diego, CA 92107 Total Space Available:
7,013 SF Rental Rate: Negotiable Status: Under Construction Listing ID 17226356
prime commercial space that can accomodate retail/ restaurant/medical and conventional office with 24 parking stalls available.

4. Portugalia Restaurant 4839 Newport Avenue, San Diego, CA 92107 Price: $200,000


john September 26, 2011 at 9:01 pm

RE: OB Car Wash:

Next time you’re in the area, stop by and look at that structure, particularly the side towards the beach. It’s an accident waiting to happen, most of the steel in the beams of the structure is missing from corrosion, I would not want to be in the apts to the west in a good blustery storm. They’ve really let that place go, not that they ever really kept it up.
The vacuums are awful, the timers on the washers seem timed so that it’s impossible to soap and rinse an entire small car (not even brushing) on one load, even if you hustle you get about 85% rinsed and poof! When they removed the wringer years ago I found no reason to go there.
The lot however is a good location, or was, until people pretty much stopped coming to the beach.


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