OB Planners Narrowly Approve Ford Project on Del Mar, Okay Crosswalk, Bike Corral and Round-About

by on November 6, 2014 · 0 comments

in Civil Rights


OB Planning Board, Nov. 5, 2014.

At last night’s OB Planning Board meeting, Wed., Nov. 5th, the Board – by a close vote – approved the demolition on Del Mar Avenue of an older house and garage and its replacement with a 5 bedroom single family house.

In a series of other actions involving transportation, the Board called upon the City to begin considerations for a cross-walk/ mural at Newport and Abbott, for a bike corral at Bacon and Santa Monica, and for a round-about at West Pt Loma and Bacon.

Ford Project at 4741 Del Mar

With 12 members present, the Board met at the OB Rec Center before over a dozen people in the audience.  The first action item was an application to demolish an existing house and garage at 4741 Del Mar Avenue and replace them with a 2-story single-family residence with 5 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms, and a detached garage.

Artist rendering of the 2-story house at 4941 Del Mar, approved by the Board.

John Ambert, chair of the Project Review Committee, explained that when his sub-committee met in October with the applicant and his architect, they felt it “wasn’t quite in step with the Community Plan in terms of bulk and scale, and asked them to make improvements.”  The “them” was Jason Ford – the owner-builder – and Cavanaugh, the architect.


Applicant Jason Ford – behind diagrams – showing the difference in “before” and “after” designs.

Wednesday night, Ford and Cavanugh presented new drawings that they said displayed the improvements, a change from the boxy roof design and a sloping back of the second story.  The house still has its original footprint at 3137 square feet. The garage and storage is another 600 square feet of space. Most of the back will be decking.

When the Board discussed the project, it was clear there were differences. Tom Gawronski, former chair, stated:

“We’ve consistently asked people to use setbacks for building second stories. This building is in great conflict with the Community Plan.”

Ambert responded by saying originally the design of the building went straight up 30 feet, and the new design is at 20 feet and sloping.  He added that the new design changed the way the building meets the street for the good.

There was a discussion whether that block and area of OB had similar houses in terms of bulk and scale.  Pete Ruscitti, chair, summarized:

“There’s a varied architectural style on that block. The builder has come a long way. … This [building] is really borderline – but you’ve met the code and worked with us a lot,” speaking to the applicant.

Finally a motion was made by Seth Connolly to approve the project “as presented”, and seconded by newcomer Dan Dennison. The motion passed, but it was a close vote, with 7 voting to approve and 5 voting not to approve.

As the Board moved on to other business, most of the audience – who had apparently attended for this issue – also moved on. Which was too bad, because the Board then looked at some very interesting topics.

How Pedestrian! Cross-Walk and Mural at Newport and Abbott

Next on the Board’s agenda was a presentation and discussion about a possible cross-walk and street mural where Newport and Abbott meet.  Ruscitti, Ambert and Nicole Burgess of the Bicycle Coalition had met with City staffers at the site.  Apparently, the City has some money to do a crosswalk with a mural, much like what was accomplished in Pacific Beach. Money for the mural would have to be raised by the community.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere was a long discussion about this issue. Pete explained that the Board and City are only looking at basic concepts and there is no final design. Curb ramps and pedestrian signage would accompany the crosswalk, but due to utility and curb limits, a crosswalk on the south side cannot be done. This means that the crosswalk has to be on the north side of Newport – but could include a combo of crosswalk and mural in the middle of the street – making a broad “pedestrian crossing area”.  The crosswalk could also go in without a mural.

John Ambert presented a number of options for crosswalk and signage designs. There were 4 basic walking options: the single “ladder” design (remember the Beatles album cover), two ladders, a third I can’t recall, with the fourth with the mural. One interesting design of a crosswalk was done with “3D paint”.

Some Board members were concerned with how chaotic the intersection is, especially with small children. One prohibition of having stop signs is that drivers must be able to see each other – and from that distance – one member asserted, they cannot. Scott Therkalsen raised the question:

“Just how dangerous is it? Don’t want to over-analyze it – a simple crosswalk would do.”

Jane Gawronski finally made a motion to direct the City to proceed with the design of the crosswalk and traffic control, with considerations for the mural (this is not the precise language of the motion). And it passed with flying colors – all voted for it.

“Ride ’em!” Bike Corral on Bicycle Corridor

The Board got into a discussion – short – about having the City allow the installation of a “bike corral” where bicycles can be parked on the street.  Due to recent accidents, Pizza Port is volunteering to have such a corral placed in front of their eatery – losing a valuable parking space in the process.  It’s all – as pointed out by Board members – to make bicycle awareness a priority. As one member said, “lose one space, gain ten [bicycle] spaces.”

Bacon Street has been designated as OB’s “Bicycle Corridor” – Pizza Port is on Bacon, so this would be perfect, others pointed out. This could be the first bike corral in OB, encouraging others more visible even.  There are maintenance issues (as always) someone else mentioned.  Another unanimous vote occurred with the Board supporting the installation of bicycle corrals in OB along the Bacon Street corridor.

Round-About and Traffic Circle

Last on the action agenda was a discussion of a possible round-about or traffic circle at the intersection of West Pt Loma and Bacon. City engineers have made the determination that a round-about would work geometrically and are okay in the concept for that site.  Most of the discussion centered on the problems with that particular intersection; no sidewalks, busy commuter traffic in the morning and when Robb Field lets out, plus as Rae Hartigan mentioned, there are plenty of nuances of designing a traffic circle – no cement please!

A motion to direct the City to look into the feasibility of installing a traffic circle at the intersection was passed by a vote of 12 to 0.

Other News of, from, announced at or with the Board

  • In other news of or from the Board, both Rae Hartigan and Seth Connolly announced they were leaving the Board. Rae is about 7 months pregnant and Seth got a new job up new Yosemite.  This means there will be vacancies in Districts 4 and 7. They both will be sorely missed. BTW, this leaves the Board with only two women.  Pete Ruscitti observed that the Board had a full membership of 14 for about two meetings.
  • Ruscitti also announced that the current city budget includes funds to pay the operating costs of planning boards. This came up as the treasurer stated that the Board currently has $510, down from last month due to paying costs.
  • District 2 Council member-elect Lori Zapf will be sworn in on December 10th.
  • The LEED lights mainly for the OB Pier parking lot will be transferred this week.
  • People were encouraged to attend a meeting on Monday, Nov. 10th, to plan the “float” for the OB Community Plan at the annual Holiday Parade in early December.  It will be at 6pm at the DogBeach Dog Wash, 4933 Voltaire.

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