OB Planners: Pipeline from Pacific Beach and Candidate Forum

by on March 5, 2015 · 5 comments

in Culture, Election, Environment, Ocean Beach, Organizing

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.com

El Nino waves sweep over the OB Pier (date unk)

At last night’s Ocean Beach Planning Board meeting, Wed., March 4th, the planners got an earful about a new pipeline project coming from Pacific Beach. Plus candidates running in the upcoming election on March 10th got to give a mouthful about why they’re running.

The monthly meeting got off to a slow start, with Board chair Pete Ruscitti wondering out loud whether there would even be a quorum.  But the members dribbled in, the meeting began, and more slipped in during the course of the meeting until there was only one absence.

Before the Board took up the sparse agenda in front of a sparse crowd, Board member Tom Gawronski made a short speech criticizing the recent passage of the One Paseo Project by a majority of the City Council – including OB’s rep on the Council. The Council voted for the huge project in North City over the objections of 4 planning groups, Tom said. It was a very bad precedence, he reiterated. The Board considered sending letters to Councilwoman Zapf as well as to the Committee of Community Planners.

Next, Julie Quinn, head of the Peninsula Community Planning Board, made a plea for the OB Board to look at a dangerous crosswalk in south OB. Her concern were that the crosswalk at the intersection of Pt Loma Avenue and Sunset Cliffs was too dangerous especially for the kids at a nearby elementary school.

Pacific Beach Pipeline – 10 Miles and $22 Million

The City-sponsored pipeline project that will replace aging pipes that carry drinking water will miss OB geographically but will certainly have an impact on OBceans. It will cross through Mission Bay from 2 directions and will travel over the new bridge that will replace the current one that crosses the San Diego River at West Mission Bay Drive.

In a detailed presentation, city staff and the engineering consultant, Kevin, from the ubiquitous Rick Engineering firm, explained that this could be one of the largest projects the City has ever taken on (?). It will be phased in over a 3 year period, with crews working mainly at night – and always leaving at least one lane open – as they work on the 4 bridges that the pipes must cross. It will cost $22 Million, and cover nearly 10 miles.

The start date is not known yet, but the project has a number of constraints. There’s the “summer moratorium” – which is an accommodation to the tourist industry – no construction can occur at the beach during the summer months. At the trolley and rail lines in Old Town, the project will necessitate tunneling in order to pass through.

The new bridge at West Mission Bay has already been funded, $100 Million, Ruscitti explained, will have bike lanes and other amenities, and will take 2-3 years to construct. The new pipe line will be coordinated in with the building of the bridge.

During the question and answer time on the pipeline, the question was raised whether that project is being coordinated with the Navy’s gasline pipe project coming down the length of Point Loma. Neither staff nor the consultant knew enough about the Navy thing to answer intelligently. So, Ruscitti made it a point that this is something that the different Point Loma planning groups need to raise concerning these two projects whose joint construction – if not coordinated – could have a devastating impact on residents in the Peninsula.

(Ed.:We had problems with the OB Rag camera, otherwise we would have included photos of the pipeline.)

Candidate Forum

The Board moved on and held a brief forum for the candidates running in next weeks election of members to the Board.

Blake Herrschaft – District 3

Blake said he’s an 8 year resident of OB, a renter and has lived on numerous streets around the town. By profession, he’s a design engineer (and either works for or owns the company). He feels “the community plan is good,” he wants to “keep the cottages”, and “property owners have rights”, he said, but wishes to find a balance. He likes the post-modern architecture and wishes that OB had more bright-colored houses.

Andrew Waltz – District 4

Andrew is currently representing District 1 – as that’s where he was appointed to – but now he’s running in District 4, where he lives. “I like the historic beach cottages,” he said, and would like to see bringing in and the promotion of more art in the projects and around the community. He works in communication and for the Old Globe.

Tom Gawronski – District 6

Tom has been on the Board for 12 years, thus he’s a veteran; now he’s running again. “I’m strongly in support of the community plan, both the old one and the new one,” he said, referring to the Plan that was approved by the City Council last summer. He likes the “mixed-building ambiance” of OB and feels it’s “important to preserve the cottages,” which he and his spouse Jane certainly do in their actual efforts to buy old decrepit OB cottages and rehab them into affordable places. He’s also a firm believer in the strong enforcement of parking requirements for new, incoming development projects.

 Mike Nieto – District 4

Mike is one of the  more recently-appointed Board members, and is now running as a “write-in” candidate for District 4. He’s a write-in candidate because he just decided to file recently. There’s 3 things about OB that are important he told the gathering, “quirky”, “affordable”, and “keep it safe”.  He’s also a renter, he said. As a biologist, he works for the San Diego Park Foundation, doing water quality. He’s in favor of “smart growth” he said, but has “seen it done the wrong way.”

7 Seats Open

Pete Ruscitti reminded the crowd that there are 7 seats on the Board open to be filled by the election but as there’s only 3 or 4 candidates, it’s very possible that there will be 4 to 5 open seats after the election. Interested individuals can be appointed to the empty seats – if they complete the requirements (signatures of 35 residents of the district, etc).

March 10 Election at OB Rec Center, 4 to 7 pm

The Board election is on Tuesday, March 10, and polling takes place from 4 pm to 7pm at the OB Rec Center.  Preliminary results of the election will be announced that night.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Blake March 5, 2015 at 12:29 pm

Hey Frank, Blake here. Don’t own my own company. I’m an architectural engineer that works in the Sustainable Buildings and Communities division of a company called DNV GL. As you could guess, sustainable design and energy efficiency are also top priorities for me.

Thanks for the Rag! Great local news source.


Frank Gormlie March 5, 2015 at 3:00 pm

Blake – thanks for clarifying.


nostalgic March 5, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Not sure where Julia Quinn is coming from, as there IS no cross-walk at Pt. Loma Ave. and Sunset Cliffs to protest against. Maybe she is thinking of Canon and Catalina. Or maybe she wants one there instead. With straight, left turn, and right turn lanes at that location, it is not the best place to cross.


Frank Gormlie March 5, 2015 at 3:01 pm

nostalgic – maybe I got it wrong. Perhaps Julia wanted a crosswalk.


Korla Eaquinta March 5, 2015 at 8:23 pm

A few months ago community members came before the PCPB requesting that crosswalk. The PCPB researched the issue and realized it was in the OBPB boundary. Julia Quinn was passing along that request and information.


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