Writing the California Coastal Commission regarding the Ocean Park Villas project

by on October 2, 2011 · 1 comment

in Ocean Beach, Organizing, San Diego

As was discussed at the “Tour” yesterday,  we thought it would be useful if we could clarify and streamline the process for people who want to help with the Ocean Park Villas project by writing to the California Coastal Commission.  Scott Therkalsen agreed to write a sample letter, outline relevant points we can argue to the commission, detail the necessary format of the letters, and to whom we should address our concerns. Thanks, Scott!

First, the “format and delivery” aspects of the letters
(from the CCC website)

  1. Written materials should be submitted to Commission staff no later than three working days before the hearing (which, in this case, would be Monday, October 3rd).
  2. In the upper right hand corner of the first page of your submittal please identify the agenda item number & your name [Permit No. 6-08-100-A (1984 Abbott LLC, San Diego)], see sample letter.
  3. No written materials should be sent to Coastal Commissioners unless the Commission staff receives copies of all of the same materials at the same time.” The staffer to copy the material to is Eric Stevens: estevenscoastal@gmail.com. All materials transmitted to Commissioners should clearly indicate (e.g., on the cover page or envelope) that they have also been forwarded to the staff. Materials that do not show that copies have been provided to staff might not be accepted, opened or read by Commissioners. In these cases, no ex parte communication has occurred.

People to write/email:

Next, the relevant things the CCC considers

They do not look at “design issues,” they only consider view issues, parking, public access, ocean flooding, etc. – also the  lack of public review should be a concern. Addressing the following issues is our best chance of being heard:

  1. The curb cut/parking issues: moving the curb cut to Abbott creates increased congestion and creates a danger along an important pedestrian corridor.
  2. The “View” analysis may be incomplete and there should be major view issues considered (north/south and toward the northwest) with the project being moved 30 feet towards the beach)
  3. Lack of adequate public input the project: people can express their opinion that this project is not in “substantial conformance” for any number of reasons but should stress that this project is different enough and important enough to deserve a full process four evaluation like any project of this scale.
Scott feels those are the best points to raise with the CCC specifically. People can also address other FAR or design issues but those don’t really fall into the purview of the CCC. Also, if we can pressure Faulconer enough to write a letter along these lines that would really help.

Below is the text of the letter written by Scott to the CCC, or you may download the letter in a Word document. Feel free to plug your name into it, or alter it. Individually written letters may be most influential.

Also, a Facebook group has formed for this issue.

Permit No. 6-08-100-A

Your name here

*A copy of this letter has been sent to CCC staff member Eric Stevens


To whom it may concern,

I would like this letter included in the CCC Staff report and read aloud during the public comment portion at the CCC hearing in Huntington Beach on October 6th since I cannot attend in person.

This letter is in regards to the project located at 1984 Abbot Street in Ocean Beach, scheduled to go before the California Coastal Commission October 6th as:

“a. Permit No. 6-08-100-A (1984 Abbott LLC, San Diego) Request by 1984 Abbott LLC to modify project for 12 residential condominiums to reduce the number of units to 10 and replace underground parking with at-grade parking, at 5113 Saratoga Avenue & 1984 Abbott Avenue, Ocean Beach, San Diego, San Diego County. (ES-SD)”

It is my understanding that the CCC staff report has recommended approval of this project on the grounds of “substantial conformance.” Before approval I ask that the commission consider a number of concerns I have about this project, and the staff report accompanying it, they are as follows:

1.       I believe the view analysis for the project is incorrect or at the least incomplete

2.       I believe a major pedestrian walkway and beach access corridor has been interrupted

3.       I believe this project does not substantially conform with the original project and has bypassed the necessary legal channels which demand a period of public notification and community review.

First, the view analysis for the project is incomplete. As presented in the staff report a simple analysis from a southwest facing position seems to have been done and shown no negative view implications. However, at the least further analysis is needed. The new plans call for the property to be moved west, towards the beach, 30 feet. With this amendment although the view towards the southwest may not change there will be significant change along the north-south beach view corridor, there will also be views impacted in a northwestly direction as well as major changes in views from along Saratoga and Abbott Streets. Moving the project closer to the beach (while accounting for the “staggered positioning of the units) will certainly have coastal view implications that have not been thoroughly studied and documented. I feel the changes within this project are, at the least, significant enough to warrant further investigation and community input.

Next, the amended project proposes changing the entire parking scheme of the original project. While the new project may or may not be in compliance with local zoning codes in regards to parking the altered location of the curb cut and entry into the parking lot has a number of problems. The original project had underground parking with cars entering from Saratoga Avenue, the new project calls for the parking entry along Abbott Street. Within Ocean Beach Saratoga Avenue is a much less frequently traveled secondary street while Abbott running parallel to the ocean is a primary beach access thoroughfare. As is Abbott Street suffers from daily congestion and overcrowding as visitors flock to the beach. The new design calls for the sole parking entry to be located within yards of the sole public parking lot serving the main lifeguard tower portion of the beach. The increase traffic in and out of these units will exacerbate an already dangerous public walkway as cars must “creep out” to see around the vehicles parked along the street and then race into the street in between the heavy traffic that is Abbott Street. Placing the curb cut at this location increases congestion along Abbott, hinders pedestrian mobility, and greatly increases the risk along the most important public walkway parallel to the beach (as there is no boardwalk south of Santa Monica Street, Abbott Street essentially serves as the “boardwalk”).

Last and most importantly, I believe this project does not “substantially conform” with the previously reviewed design and the approval of the project by the CCC circumvents important citywide and local channels for public participation in the planning process in the most important of zones adjacent to the beach. Although I understand that the amended project is within the “envelope” of the original and the staff reports indicate substantial conformance I believe the changes are significant enough to warrant the standard process 4 review that allows for crucial public input (especially for a project of this scale in this location in this community). The most important changes I note are as follows:

1.       The entire parking scheme has been changed: parking and public beach access is one of the most important issues facing beach communities and necessarily demands public input (see above regarding the proposed parking entryway).

2.       The site wall around the entire project creates an “anti-community” feel that is contrary to the OB Precise Plan; while the old project called for open landscaping inviting community activity and increasing the open space feel of the area the new wall creates a compound which cuts down on the perceived public access and community orientation of the area.

3.       The new plan has changed the number of units from 12 to 10

4.        The new plan calls for a 3rd story to be added

5.       The new plan shifts the project 30 feet west towards the beach and Saratoga Park. Combined with the site wall this limits views (as explained above) and the open feel of one of the few remaining public park spaces within OB.

Unfortunately within this limited coastal zone the CCC has the authority to approve these plans on the grounds of substantial conformance, however, the commission has the obligation (as it’s charge is to protect the coast and provide increased public oversight) to see that the community members of Ocean Beach have the opportunity to view the new plans and provide public input. Even more so within this coastal zone, in order to protect the coast the commission must rely upon local residents who best know their own communities to help them determine what is appropriate.

I also have major concerns about the legality of floor area ratio and parking issues surrounding the project and would be disappointed if the project was approved only to then have the entire process begin all over again wasting important government worker resources and tax payer money.

In summation, for the reasons mentioned above I strongly ask the coastal commission to refrain from approving this project and instead ask that the commission demand that this project be subjected to a process 4 evaluation as any ordinary project of this scale requires.


Thank You,

Your name here

Ocean Beach Resident



{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

DBB October 2, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Great letter, Scott! I certainly plan one submitting a version of this to the CCC by October 3rd. I would like to suggest one correction: the letter states that there is no boardwalk south of Santa Monica Street. I recommend changing that to say *north* of Santa Monica Street.


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