Ocean Beach Planning Area – District 1 : the Frontline vs. Gentrification

by on January 17, 2014 · 1 comment

in Economy, Environment, History, Ocean Beach

OB District 1 Map off'lThe annual election to the Ocean Beach Planning Board is coming up in March.  The 14-member board approves and monitors development in OB and adheres to the OB Precise Plan as the blueprint.

In looking to heighten interest within the Village of OB for the election and the Planning Board itself, the OB Rag will be examining each of the seven planning districts over the upcoming weeks.

OB District 1 Bechprklot Jan2014District 1 – Northwest OB

OB Dist 1 DogBeach signWe begin with District 1 – the northwest sector of OB – a very important section of the community.

It’s bordered on the north by Dog Beach, the San Diego River and Robb Field – which makes the district the gateway to two of OB’s parks.

It’s the site of the most famous dog-friendly beach park in the city and due to the district’s proximity to the beach, it has a heavy impact from tourists and visitors.

OB District 1 Volt 01 Jan2014

Looking west down Voltaire – the second busiest commercial area in OB.

District 1 includes most of the Voltaire Street commercial zone, which is the second busiest business area in OB.

OB Dist 1 OBNoodlIt has numerous bars and definitely some of the more high-end restaurants in the village.  Lucy’s, Mother’s, the Tilted Stick. The OB Noodle House is one of OB’s most famous places, but there’s also Bo-Beau’s, Third Corner, and O’Bistro’s.

OB District 1 Lucy+ Jan2014

There is a night life in District 1.

Of course, most of the district is residential – and contains a real mixture of small beach cottages, single-family homes, condos, and two to three story houses and apartments. Muir is its longest street.

OB Dist 1 Muir

Looking west down Muir.

Lotus is one of OB’s more peculiar streets as it seems to wander through north OB.

OB Dist 1 Hotel

Hotel sits along the western edge of the district.

And those with any memory know the district as OB’s “War Zone” – a reputation gained over the decades by this area of northwest OB which District 1 shares with some of the other districts.

OB Dist 1 AbbottFor years, it held a good number of modest rentals, enabling young people, students, seniors and other low-income folks to reside at the beach.  It also is one of the most dense neighborhoods and has always been known where “sex, drugs and rock n roll” is alive and vibrant.

OB Dist 1 Wonderld

Part of OB’ s history; the remnants of the famous OB Wonderland Park is right here at Lotus and Abbott.

Part of the pressure on this district is that from the process of gentrification.  District 1 is definitely on the frontline of OB’s fight with gentrification.  And the 5100 block of West Point Loma Avenue is where that battle is occurring.

OB West Pt Loma beachparklot Jan 2014For the last several years, the City’s planning department has granted variances to property owners who have torn down their duplexes and in stead built three story behemoths – large structures out of character in terms of bulk and size with the rest of the immediate neighborhood.

OB Dist 1 WPtLoma 2

West Pt Loma Blvd.

OB Plan Bd John Ambert

District 1 rep John Ambert.

The OB Planning Board has resisted these variances, which appear improper and even illegal, and it has made its appeals.  New language in the recently-adopted draft community plan update prohibits those type of variances.

OB Plan Bd Andrew Waltz

District 1 Andrew Waltz.

All this makes District 1 extremely important and hence, its representation on the Planning Board is very important.  Currently, the district is represented by two relative newcomers, Andrew Waltz and John Ambert.

Waltz was just appointed to the Board in early June 2013 and Ambert hasn’t been on the board much longer.  Ambert was noticeably vocal during the CVS Pharmacy debates on the side of holding the corporation to live up to requests from the community.

OB Dist 1 Volt biz

Voltaire Street appears to be on the verge of blossoming out.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

nostalgic January 18, 2014 at 9:21 am

Which of the two appointed board members will now run for the position? Do they plan to file for the March election? It is my understanding that planning board members for a district run in alternate years. So one of them, but not the other, will have to stand for election if they meet the qualifications for residency or business ownership.


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