Faulconer Comes Out Strongly in Support of the 30 Foot Height Limit

by on January 30, 2013 · 12 comments

in Civil Rights

kevin faulconerIn a recent interview with online media, Councilmember Kevin Faulconer – who represents Ocean Beach and the Peninsula – reconfirmed his strong support for the 30 foot height limit.  The recent debate about the height restrictions in San Diego’s coastal zone must have caught his eye, and he wanted to make  his positions clear.

He said:

I’ve been a very strong supporter of the 30-foot height limit. I think it’s one of the most important tools that we have to protect the coastline.

That statement pretty much summed up Faulconer’s views on the height limit for San Diego’s coast – a coast that he has helped represent for years, as the Council rep for OB, Point Loma, the Harbor, parts of downtown.  Faulconer added that the height limit is ” one of the things that makes San Diego unique.”

Faulconer neither anticipates any efforts to change it, nor would he support them, if there were. It doesn’t need any tweaks, either. He said:

My sense is it’s working, and it’s working well. It doesn’t need any tweaks. It’s serving the protections that we want.

While denying that he had heard of any concerted effort to change it, as “that would not make any sense at all,” to the question of how often his office ends up enforcing the limit against those looking for a new interpretation of how the height limit is measured, he responded:

We do get questions in our office from time to time about a particular project, whether it be a house or something else, to make sure it’s under the requirements of the 30-foot height limit, and I think that just goes to show you how keyed in the neighborhoods are, and how supportive they are, of the 30-foot height limit. People support it and they want to be sure it’s constantly being enforced.

Faulconer, a Republican, assured the reporter that support for the height restriction “is not a partisan issue at all.” He said:

It’s about neighborhoods. And San Diegans support protecting our view corridors, particularly our public view corridors. And that’s one of the hallmarks of the height limit. Other cities … wish they would have installed that years ago. We had the foresight to do that here.

He was very specific about protecting public views. He said:

We’ve made a definitive statement that says we are going to protect our public views, and every time someone visits either Mission Bay Park or the coastline, they see the reason why we made that decision. It is something that has protected our city for the last 40 years. I would never support changing it.

More on public views:

Yeah, it’s all about public views, and view corridors. And I would say, particularly that the public view corridors are where you’re in public places, like public parks, and that’s potentially the rationale behind Prop. D, … And that’s important. Those public views are what we want protected for generations to come, obviously.

 Faulconer kept being pressured by the reporter to comment on what the reporter called a “persistent fear” that the height restriction is “under attack” – a fear among its supporters, he said, making it seem like some kind of irrational paranoia, implying that it was weird to believe, “that you always need to guard against the possibility” of any attack. But Faulconer dodged the brunt of the point, by answering:

I think, … it’s very secure and strong with public support here in San Diego. But I think people have seen in other municipalities that don’t have this protection, how things can turn out, and they don’t want to go down that path.

 The Councilman explained that San Diegans – by voting for Prop D – wanted to protect those views, “and not be subject to the whims of change from year to year.” He said:

That was the point of the citizens’ initiative. And I think if you look at how it’s worked, and the fact that we do have vistas, we do have views, San Diegans no matter where you live have a connection to the water.

On a hot summer day, we’re going to have over 100,000 people that come down to Mission Bay Park. … They love the park that you can look out, it’s expansive, you can see, breathe the fresh air, that’s part of the experience. And you’d never want that blocked off, or walled off by other types of development. That’s just not who we are as San Diegans.

As the reporter pressed Faulconer on the reporter’s view that the height limit has restricted development unnecessarily, and causing congestion inland, the councilman rejoined: “San Diegans made a conscious decision to limit heights and protect our public view corridors of beaches and the bay.”

Faulconer offered:

There are numerous other areas where density is encouraged, and planned for, particularly in downtown, which I’ve represented for the last seven years.  … Higher and taller buildings are part of the downtown community plan, and that was a conscious decision.

And finally, Faulconer said:

I believe the beaches and the bays belong to every San Diegan, and no matter where you live, if you want that protected, and that’s what the height limit ensures, and that’s why I’m such a strong supporter.

(Thanks to VOSD reporter Andrew Keatts for the interview of Faulconer.)

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

judi Curry January 30, 2013 at 11:50 am

Finally – something I agree with him on!


Scott Lewis January 30, 2013 at 4:50 pm

A recent interview in “online media” ha! You aren’t so shy about citing the source when you are bashing us, Frank. Maybe leave something for them to come to our site to read next time, eh?


Frank Gormlie January 31, 2013 at 8:28 am

Hi Scott – you’re always welcome in these pages. I have to take some exception however – to your point here about being shy about citing the source; at least I named Andrew and cited the name of the source; this is more than the VOSD has done in relation to my several articles on the issue, as I have not been named once nor has our website been titled.

I think that allowing the reader to have much of what Faulconer said only whetted their appetite for more, and they went roaring over to your linked source.


Scott Lewis January 31, 2013 at 11:34 am

Glad to hear. I missed the roar and “Voice of San Diego” in your piece. Just seemed odd you would say “online media.” Also, we linked to your first post on this in the Morning Report the other day.


Frances O'Neill Zimmerman January 30, 2013 at 9:46 pm

When is the VoiceofSanDiego going to stop beating this dead horse — raising a non-issue about retaining the 30-foot coastal height limit that was passed by a popular vote 40 years ago and, when challenged by development interests, was upheld at the Supreme Court?

VOSD has spent a month on it now and should drop this strange campaign.
Could the Voice be setting up an issue to be used in the next set of City Council races — a reason to interview Councilman Kevin Faulconer who will be termed out in two years? Faulconer unreservedly supports the height limit law. I have no answers, only questions.


Scott Lewis January 31, 2013 at 11:36 am

Sorry Fran. I think it’s interesting. Not really fair to say we’ve “spent a month” on it. Andy’s done a few pieces among other things and I wrote a follow up.


Scott Lewis January 31, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Also, one quick thing: There’s no way any candidate for City Council of this district would ever dare say that the height limit was anything but, as Faulconer said, the most important tool we have to protect the coast.

Talking about restrictions on density is an important point in the discussion of housing availability and affordability. There’s no more interesting motivation than that.


Dorothy Lee January 31, 2013 at 7:44 am

Lewis, glad to see you’re reading more than twitter and your own blog. Welcome!

Lewis’ latest defense of vosd’s earlier report on the height limit was trumpeted in twitter in the past few days, before it was posted in his blog today.
In tweets between Keatts, Laing, Dotinga, and Lewis, the local “supposed progressive” negative response to the vosd blog on the height limit boiled down to this, according to Lewis:
“The first rule of the coastal height limit, apparently, is you don’t talk about the coastal height limit. DO YOU UNDERSTAND [keatts]?”

And the headline of today’s misguided piece in vosd? Right out of twitter: “Don’t Talk About the Height Limit, Punk”

That is exactly the narrow, snarky approach that so removes the vosd from the world of journalism. No one complained that vosd “talked about” the height limit. It’s HOW vosd talked about it that was the problem: it was an unsubstantive piece, the most obvious attribute being that it exceeded 140 characters.

It’s not working.


Scott Lewis January 31, 2013 at 11:48 am

Thanks for the feedback, Dorothy. I don’t see what’s so unsubstantive about this piece and the follow-up about the discussion it provoked. It was interesting. The height limit has had a profound effect on San Diego over the last few decades.

There was substantial complaint that we even talked about the height limit. Many, like Fran above, thought that just bringing it up was a sign of something very nefarious.

As for my “Don’t talk about this, punk” piece, it was a column in my own voice. I often write with passion and I’m sorry it didn’t sit well.

Here’s a follow-up to that with more substance.

Finally, Dorothy, this comment from you on an earlier piece was a bit harsh on me I thought:

If Scott Lewis spent as much time doing research (and learning HOW to write and edit) as he did snarking and talking to Rachel Laing and Gerry Braun and all of the Sanders staffers and the UT reporters, there might have been something worth reading in his blogs

I like twitter and use it to communicate with people all across the country. I have a lot of fun with it. I know that it risks making me look snarky. I do try to research, as I did with this new explainer of why the port commission matters and my recent examination of a botched school property sale in Tierrasanta.

But to be clear, my writing is a side hobby of sorts. I have to manage the operation and do all kinds of other stuff so my columns are conversational for a reason. I’d hope you’d judge VOSD on all our work, not just my tweets.

Again, though, I’ll reflect on your point. You’re an engaged person in our civic culture and I don’t want you to think that poorly of our work.


Frances O'Neill Zimmerman January 31, 2013 at 11:01 pm

Scott Lewis, it HAS been a month of beating this dead horse — or living law, which is the way I see it.Your first “story” ran on January 3 and since then there’s been a raft of additional commentary — your out-of-town- speaker Iglesias, more reporter Andrew Keatts, then a couple of rounds from Randy Dotinga and his sub at the Morning Report, now you, plus “explainers” on KNBC 7/39 and KOGO radio. All tacitly pushing abolition of the coastal height limit.
And by the way, what you call that “botched school property sale in Tierrasanta” is in fact a brilliant save, we hope, by School Board member Kevin Beiser, who has arranged a land swap with the County, ceding school district land adjacent to Mission Trails Regional Park for a County-owned parcel somewhere else.


Scott Lewis January 31, 2013 at 11:17 pm

All of our story lines go through the same process: explainers, TV, radio, events. We’ll have a homeless event in coming weeks (I’m really moved by the plans for that). We do school budget, marijuana, pensions, sidewalks, port, school bonds, a whole bunch of narratives. They’ll all go through the same thing. Affordable housing/home supply and home prices will always be part of our narrative set. Just like narratives in education and politics.

I’ll give Beiser kudos when he pulls his land-swap-sale off. I’ve been trying to follow that narrative.


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