San Diego Media Discovering the Battle Over OB’s Community Plan

by on July 8, 2014 · 9 comments

in Environment, Media, Ocean Beach, Organizing, San Diego

Local Press Playing Catch-Up

Finally, some of San Diego’s mainstream media have discovered the battle over the Ocean Beach Community Plan. The U-T San Diego ran two versions basically of the same article by reported David Garrick on June 28 and 29, quoting Pete Ruscitti, the OB planning chair, and Gretchen Newsom, the head of the OB Town Council. Here is the lede:


OCEAN BEACH — Worried that a new community plan for Ocean Beach could destroy the area’s small-scale charm, more than 2,000 residents have signed petitions this month asking the city to maintain building restrictions that date back four decades.

The residents say loosening the rules would transform their community into Mission Beach or Pacific Beach, where three-story vacation rentals have replaced small cottages and other less intense housing in many areas.

The controversy began in late May when the San Diego Planning Commission sided with a group of property owners over Ocean Beach residents by unanimously voting to soften anti-development language in the area’s proposed community plan update. …

Ocean Beach residents and merchants overwhelmingly supported that language, with every community and business group endorsing the proposed community plan update until the amendments suggested May 29 by the Planning Commission.[For more.]

 For local TV, Channel 10 had the best coverage with Michael Chen’s June 13th report: ABC Channel 10 . Mainstream online newcomer, Times of San Diego ran this by Jennifer Vigil on June 30:

 Coastal Commission Curveball: Ocean Beach’s Community Plan Update Stalled

The San Diego City Council postponed action for at least a month on an updated Ocean Beach community plan – already a dozen years in the making – after the California Coastal Commission recommended 43 changes.

The revised plan, which covers zoning, design and community character issues specifically for Ocean Beach, is one of many for San Diego neighborhoods that have been bogged down over the years and are just heading toward adoption.

One recent update, by Barrio Logan, was set aside following an organized campaign by waterfront businesses that led voters to strike it down in June. [For more.]

All well and good, until the Times weakened their analysis:

“The Planning Commission proposed alternate language that some community activists fear will weaken the intention to reduce the number of variances.”

“Some community activists”? How about 3,000 – that’s the number of OBceans and San Diegans who have signed the Petition in Support of the OB Community Plan.

And just recently, OB’s own Ed Decker of San Diego CityBeat weighed in with his wit:

Ocean Beach would prefer not to be cornholed – Funky community’s residents don’t live in Pacific Beach for a reason

On June 14, I received an email from Frank Gormlie, publisher of the OB Rag, asking Ocean Beach residents to sign a petition because the city of San Diego has been allowing certain beachfront property owners to build larger houses than Ocean Beach permits.

I saw that email and thought, Bollocks on that! As a longtime Ocean Beach resident and property owner, I’m in love with the Ocean Beach mystique. And these large houses are blocking views of the beach and inconsistent with the OB aesthetic. Why on Earth would we want to turn this neighborhood into another Denny’s- and Dominoes-dominated, Fartburger-franchising, one-hundred-and-eleven-7-Eleven-having, no-beach-seeing, mom-and-pop-shop massacre that is Pacific Beach?

About a week later, I received more bad news in a letter from Attorney David Stebbins.

“Recently during a community plan update a small group of individuals attempted to restrict your ability to rehab or rebuild your property by restricting or eliminating the variance process.” [For more.]

Decker’s great parting shot:

Part of the charm of OB—the thing that makes us different—is our commitment, nay, ferocious devotion to our retro aura and attitude, historical buildings, mom-and-pop shops and all the funky, whacked-out residents and small-time property owners who may not own property at the ocean but sure have as much right as anyone else to see it.


{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

jupiter jones July 8, 2014 at 8:05 pm

Great article Frank! Very clear and convincing.
I wouldn’t mind gathering signatures but am away this Wed. Is there a time limit for them? I could help collect after I’m back. OB coop, Rite Aid, Olive Tree, Sundara are great places to talk to people and collect signatures in addition to the street fair.


Aging Hippie July 9, 2014 at 6:41 am

I’ll be campaigning on the side of more variances and redevelopment, because it will increase the value of my property, allowing me to sell sooner. Thanks to Frank Gormlie, Tyler, SaneVoice and Mike James for helping to change my mind on this issue.


South Park July 9, 2014 at 9:11 am

It’s Jennifer Vigil (not Virgil) at Times of San Diego. She and the other main staff writers were all working for the UT, for many years. Make of that what you will, but Vigil has never been a reporter I would call objective and unbiased.


editordude July 9, 2014 at 9:16 am

South Park – Thanks – made the correction – and very good point. Who funds them, do you know?


SaneVoice July 9, 2014 at 9:48 am

Just because they used to work at the UT doesn’t make them bad. The UT actually was a decent newspaper until Papa Doug came along and made it his personal propaganda tool.


Gail Powell July 9, 2014 at 10:25 am

SaneVoice is correct. Just because someone used to work for the U/T–in it’s various incarnations–does not make them a bad person at all. In fact, we should look up to them for having to suffer for their craft by slaving away in Mission Valley. Another good thing about having the newspaper on your resume? It is a great stepping stone to a better job. My friend, Tanya Mannes Castaneda–Steve’s wife of Chula Vista City Council infamy, was once a signonsandiego reporter and now has a great job in PR for the Port of San Diego. There is life after the U/T for some of the lucky ones.


Frank Gormlie July 9, 2014 at 11:14 am

SaneVoice – You’re being way too kind to the Copley-run brand. “Decent newspaper” in the same breathe as the UT creates an oxymoron.


SaneVoice July 9, 2014 at 11:39 am

Maybe so, Frank. But at least it did have a slightly (ever so slightly) less conservative leaning that the current version. They actually reported the news once in awhile.


Frank Gormlie July 9, 2014 at 11:57 am

Have to chuckle here, you’re right but splitting hairs. But it was true, you could rely on the SDUT for news, and it did allow a few op-ed pieces to their left.


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