The Election Platform and Brochure of O.B.’s First Planning Group

by on February 13, 2015 · 4 comments

in California, Culture, Environment, History, Ocean Beach, Organizing, Popular

OB CPG Broc CovrIn May 1976 the OB Community Planning Group Won a Majority on the First OB Planning Board

In early May of 1976, OB’s very first election was held for the very first planning board. The forerunner of today’s Board, the OB Community Planning Group, ran a slate of candidates, hammered out an election platform and published and distributed its 8 page campaign brochure. The group won 8 of the 14 seats in the election.

We decided to republish their campaign literature, beginning here with the text of the election brochure. The platform and candidate statements of this election that occurred 39 years ago will follow.

And by the way, the current Ocean Beach Planning Board is holding their annual election on March 10th. Half of the seats are up for election.  The Peninsula Community Planning Board is also having their election on March 20th.

Here is the text – (written by the CPG brochure committee and approved by CPG’s membership):

On May 4 a long sought after goal of the people in Ocean Beach will become a reality as a democratic election takes place to select a local Planning Board. It is the first of its kind in the history of the city of San Diego.

This vote, authorized by the city and demanded by the community, 1s the culmination of one more battle in a long, arduous planning struggle that has continued in Ocean Beach for over half a decade.

It was three years ago that Ocean Beach faced the Crisis. The community was confronted with a monstrous urban renewal plan. If implemented I it wau Id have caused the” Miami Beachization” of this small seacoast section of San Diego.

But what about the election? How does it fit into everything that has come before? Seventy years ago Ocean Beach consisted of a handful of beach shacks dotting the sand dunes, weeds and brush. By the late 1960′ s it had grown into a neighborhood of mostly tenants, young and old, living in an even mixture of summer cottages, small single story wooden and adobe houses, and bulky 2 and 3 floor apartments.

OB CPG Broc Graf01In 1970 a new trend established itself. The older and less expensive houses started to come down. They were replaced with more fashionable and expensive apartments and condominiums- new places that those who were’ evicted for their development could then not afford to rent.

Reflecting San Diego’s new emphasis on tourism in the late ’60’s, Ocean Beach was picked by city and regional planners as a site for intensive redevelopment. They had a dream of turning the community into a West Coast version of Miami Beach. It was to be a highrise playground resort for the tourists and a highly dense bedroom community for the city’s elite.

Some people’s dreams are other people’s nightmares.

From July 1970 to early 1973 this urban renewal plan was held up to the community as its model of the future. Called the Precise Plan, it had been written and drawn up by city recognized planning organization called Peninsulans,Inc., a creation of the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. This stolid body represented real estate, insurance, developer interests and land speculators. Twelve of the 15 members of the committee who did the actual planning owned substantial property in Ocean Beach. Between them, they owned millions of dollars in land and improvements.

The Precise Plan called for entire sections of Ocean Beach to be developed Into a highrise hotel and motel mecca for tourists – complete with luxury restaurants and night clubs. The beach was to be rimmed with huge complexes that would dwarf any building s there now.

Abbott Street was to be turned into the Strip. Everything west of it was designed to meet the needs of wealthy visitors. The area between Abbott, Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, Saratoga and West Point Lorna Avenues– most of north O. B. –was planned to be covered with 3 and 4 story apartments.

The plan called for 2 and 4 story parking structures and a major shopping center in the heart of the business district. Under these ””improvements” the plan foresaw a population rise of 35%.

The effects of the urban renewal scheme would have been disastrous to Ocean Beach. It clearly would have destroyed the character of the-community. More importantly it would have forced out most or all the people of O. B – both the young and the old. over an extended period of time. It would have allowed only those on substantial incomes to live in Ocean Beach.

OB CPG Broc Graf2Nothing but hostility met the plan when it was introduced to the community. The vast majority of tenants, homeowners and businesspeople had never been consulted in its formation. There were those who could see that the Precise Plan was a scheme to remove the poor and working people so a small number of developers and speculators could become millionaires.

Finally In 1973. as the city made rumblings that it would renew its efforts to have the plan approved, community people met and decided to halt the Precise Plan once and for all–the Community Planning Group was born.

After a year of lobbying downtown and organizing support in Ocean Beach, CPG put enough pressure on the city that a new plan was written. The new design, made public In early 1974. had no mention of highrises or intensive development. Although a compromise between the old plan and CPG’s demands for community preservation and balance, the new plan definitely took the edge off the Crisis. It had been a year of rallies, meetings, negotiations, benefits, petition  drives and door to door campaigns. The atrocities had been blocked and people breathed easier.

Flushed with this major victory, the activists of CPG continued their work. Over the last several years, CPG has played a major role in successfully blocking the construction of at least eight 5 story highrises –most of them designed to sit atop the Cliffs. In addition, 7-11, a franchise of a giant corporation, has been stopped from coming into the neighborhood several times.

This reflects CPG’s support for locally owned and run businesses. Through these efforts, through presentations at the Regional and State Coastal Commissions, through boycotts of buildings and through the work of many Ocean Beach tenants and homeowners, the community has been saved – at least for the time being.

Ocean Beach has had a long history of struggle against developers. It began its recent era In July 1970 with the battle over the Jetty.

OB CPG Broc CandFoto

Maryann Zounes, Jerry Hildwine, Dolores Frank, Frank Gormlie, Lars Tollefson, Chris Bystrom, Ed Riel, Tom Kozden, Judy Czujko, Rich Cornish, Jill Mitchell, Doug Card, and Pete Elsbree (Norma Fragoza not pictured). Layla the dog is in front.

That month the Army Corps of Engineers began to build a 1000 foot Jetty at the south end of the flood control channel. They said it was necessary because the beach area was losing too much sand. In reality, as diligent researchers from the community found out, the jetty was intended as a first step to prepare that area for a marina. The O. B. Ecology Action, formed earlier that year, mobilized to meet this threat head on. It organized mass meetings and demonstrations, filed lawsuits and finally took direct action.

A “Stop the Jetty” rally was held at the construction site itself. As the crane building the jetty dropped jagged rocks into the ocean, hundreds of people swarmed over it and the mounds of dirt and boulders, physically halting the work. Not one more rock was ever dumped as the Ecology Action pressed the City Council to abandon the project. An OBEA investigation showed that the real reason for the rapid flow of sand from the beach was its removal with trucks by a highway builder.

The Jetty was topped off and left to sit at the edge of the Pacific–a symbol of a key victory for Ocean Beach. Another major focus of the planning struggle during the early’ 70′ s was developer Dick Blair and his IRL condo development corporation. Blair, who was responsible for the condominium at the foot of Pescadero, also planned to build five story cliff top complexes at the ends of Del Mar, Coronado and Bermuda Avenues.

The project on Pescadero was chosen by OB activists as a front line against highrise. The huge building became the scene of demonstrations and an ongoing picket line. The picketing lasted for months and ultimately resulted in the building going bankrupt. Potential buyers were warned of the sloppy construction and hidden defects of the condo units as well as the proximity of the rapidly eroding cliffs.

Dick Blair’s other cliff top projects were never built. They were stopped through the legal processes of the San Diego Regional and the State Coastal Commissions.

There’s a story to the evolution of the idea for the election.

It was 1974, the original Precise Plan had been defeated and number two plan was just off the press.  Peninsulans, Inc., feeling the bite of the threat to their economic interests, forged a comeback. It mobilized its support  downtown and asked for a process to make revisions to #2 plan. The City Planning Department agreed to mediate and formed the Committee of 12.

Each group sent three representatives to work on revisions and work out compromises. Responding to business pressures, the city allowed a newly formed fourth group, the Merchants and Property Owners, to be part of the committee.

The Committee of 16 made its revisions and a new plan, number three, was written. The new plan however reflected that the Community Planning Group was a minority on the committee. Feeling that it represented the majority of Ocean Beach residents, CPG believed that key elements of the plan should be submitted to the community for 0 vote. Surveys and petitions showed that the community’s majority supported CPG’s position. However the other groups ‘were opposed to an election and the Committee of 16 finally disbanded.

The new plan submitted in the Spring of 1975 was bette1′ than the earlier models, but CPG felt it was not good enough. Specifically it had four major problems.

  • It did not call for the democratic selection of a representative group to implement the plan.
  • It allowed a 33% increase in population density in west OB (R3 zoning).
  • It suggested using Bacon as a one way street, causing an extensive of the freeway through  Robb Field.
  • It did not hlloV8 strong plans for the development of new low or moderate income housing.

New amendments to strengthen the petition were put on a petition by CPG and taken around the community for support, As a result, over 3500 signatures of OB folk were collected and submitted to the City Council. On July 3, 1975 the City Council passed the Ocean Beach Precise Plan with CPG’s amendments, including the provision for a community election of a planning board.

The struggle was in no way over however. In attempts to stop the plan, the opposition spent thousands of dollars In lawyers’ fees and advertising. In December of ’75, they mailed out a letter to2,700 property owners which said that Peninsulans ,Inc, should be the only group to Implement the pll1on, as they were opposed to the election. It also called for doubling the density of most of Ocean Beach, including the quiet neighborhood east of Sunset Cliffs Blvd.

The election is still on for May 4th. And the story of the fight to save Ocean Beach has another chapter to fulfill.

Here are the Community Planning Group candidates and their districts:

OB CPG Broc 7

OB CPG Broc back

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Old Hermit Dave February 13, 2015 at 1:10 pm

A Poem By
Cowboy Wordsmith
June, 20, 2013

Old Cowboys, Old Hippies, love Ocean Beach
Because it helps keep memories within reach

Neighborhoods of old houses, family businesses downtown
Only just a few Multinational Corporations hanging around

No Multistory Multinational building where Winston’s is now
Let me help if your curious an might wonder just why an how

July Fourth 2013 marks One Hundred Years
Since WONDERLAND opened in OB to cheers

Had Big Money Guys not liked Balboa Park better
A FLOOD in 1916 make WONDERLAND wetter

Who is to say OB might not today be
San Diego’s little Anaheim by the sea

So all of us Old Cowboys, Old Hippies just have to thank
That 1916 Rainmaker, who helped WONDERLAND tank

I read this @ the OB Street Fair on June 22, 2013
It was on the 9201 Stage on Bacon @ 4pm
The Cactus Jacks strummed a Cowboy Tune
as I read


frankie lee berner za February 14, 2015 at 11:41 pm

viva the free peoples republic of ocean beach
long may you wave remember when the going gets wierd
the wierd turn pro hst 76


George Barnes February 16, 2015 at 3:10 pm

I am proud to have been a member of the OB Ecology Action group that took a stand against the dog beach jetty.
I am also proud to have a played a role in the formation of the OB planning board.
The article brought back a flood of memories.


Marissa February 15, 2016 at 8:19 am

OB Planning Board General Election is on Wednesday, March 2 from 4-7pm at the OB Rec Center. Come vote!


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