New Projects in Ocean Beach: a Seawall and a Mysterious Project at an Empty Lot

by on June 2, 2015 · 7 comments

in Civil Rights

There’s two projects coming to Ocean Beach in the near future of some interest.


Bluff needing repair.

Seawall or Bluff Repair for Ocean Front Street

One is a permit “to stabilize the coastal bluff adjacent to the residences located at 1759-1765 Ocean Front Street“, in other words, some kind of seawall or bluff repair. It’s an application for a Coastal Development Permit and Site Development Permit for the 0.134 acre site, filed May 7th.

The community was notified May 21, and the project will probably come before the OB Planning Board in the coming weeks.  The city project manager is William Zounes (619-687-5942).

Seawalls can be very problematic.  Take a walk along the cliffs and take a look at all the various types of “bluff repair” property owners and the city have used over the decades. Seawalls can hold back Mother Nature for a while, but Sunset Cliffs are a naturally-eroding element of our land and seascape here on the edge of the Western World. Plus eroding cliffs contribute to the sand at our beaches.


5040 Santa Monica Ave off the alley.

Empty Lot or What at 5040 Santa Monica?

The second project that the community was given notice about is a “Notice of Future Decision” regarding a review and permits “to remove an underground parking garage” and other proposals for 5040 Santa Monica Avenue. The application, filed May 6, requests a “substantial conformance review” – or Process 2 – which does not require a public hearing.  So, the notice is that Development Services staff will make the decision. Anyone wishing to be informed of the decision has to submit a written request to the project manager.

The application refers to 4 residential units and 1 commercial unit for a total of 8,671 square feet on a 7,000 square foot lot.

Right now, the lot is entirely empty except for 2 parking spaces off the alley. How could a project that consists of 4 residential and 1 commercial units NOT go before a public hearing?

Something doesn’t make sense here.  Are we reading the Notice incorrectly?  Is there a typo? We called and emailed the project manager, Francisco Mendoza (619-446-5433) and only received an email in response referring us to the department’s Public Information Officer. Our call to her has not been answered.

We checked the lot in question – and sure enough – the notice is up on the fence facing the alley. Somebody please let us know what we’re missing here ….

Here’s the Notice of Future Decision:

OB Notice 5040 Sta Monica

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

da john June 2, 2015 at 12:23 pm

It looks like they are proposing to revise an already entitled project on that property. I’m not quite sure what triggers requirement for review by our local planning board, but a small mixed use development like that might not require any CUP or anything.

Honestly It will be pretty good to see something go in that space, its been empty for far too long.


Frank Gormlie June 2, 2015 at 12:58 pm

True, true. You may have a point here. Maybe somebody can get an answer and let us know. We were referred to the brand new communications dept and they have only been up for about a month and didn’t know what I was talking about when I made my inquiries regarding this property and this notice.


dajohn June 2, 2015 at 4:56 pm

So the city has a new thing called open DSD which lets you check on permits by address or permit #,

The PDP # for this project gives the following info:

Status Issued
Issued 08/17/2006
Issued by Wilkinson, Cory
Permit Holder James R. St John

OCEAN BEACH JO#42-5698 (PROCESS 4) Coastal Development Permit, Planned Development Permit, and Tentative Map to demo garage & storage unit, to construct 4 residential units and 1 commercial with below grade prkg on a 7,000 sf site at 5040 Santa Monica Ave in the CC-4-2 Zone in OB Plan, Airport Environs, Pkg Impct, Airport Approach, Coastal Hgt, Residential Tandem Pkg, Cstl (non-app). CD 2. Notice Cards=1.

From what I know you can keep a permit active by paying a small fee each year.

The owner may have pulled permit on this in 06 and just kept it alive until a developer bit.


John O. June 2, 2015 at 2:48 pm

Uh oh. For the people not from San Diego or Southern California or any gentrified place of origin… here is a pertinent article from the LA area from 1999.
Zillow reports the average price of the area now as close to 2 million. Average income $140k.
It is probably a good thing that there are (4) units and a commercial space going in, rather than a mcmansion… though I think it will be a while (or never) before OB changes that much to where the streets are lined with mcmansions.
Maybe OB will go more the way of Venice, with an average price of 1.3 million.
Anyone without skin in the real estate game (including me), may never want to change their rental leases with their landlords.


Kathleen Blavatt June 2, 2015 at 4:09 pm

Historically I am sad to see this lot go because it is the last lot left of the original “Ocean Beach Sand Dune Hills” that played an important part in our history. The 1887 Subdivision map showed an outline stating “being removed for ship ballast and building purposes”. Maybe there should be a historical plaque put there.


La Playa Heritage June 3, 2015 at 5:58 am

MAY 21, 2007.

ITEM-250: Notice of Pending Final Map Approval – 5040 Santa Monica Avenue.
Notice is hereby given that the City Engineer has reviewed and will approve on this day the subdivision of land shown on that certain final map entitled “5040 Santa Monica Avenue” (T.M. No. 353533/PTS No. 107650), located on the north side of Santa Monica Avenue between Abbott Street and Bacon Street in the Ocean Beach Community Plan Area in Council District 2, a copy of which is available for public viewing at the Office of the San Diego City Clerk. Specifically, the City Engineer has caused the map to be examined and has made the following findings:


Frank Gormlie June 3, 2015 at 9:57 am

A friend commented:

“Just venturing a guess, but it sounds like there was a previous plan approved (maybe one of those document numbers referenced has it) for a larger-scale building with underground parking. Instead, they’re scaling it down by removing the garage component (too expensive?) and ground-floor residential, while keeping 4 residential units and some commercial space. Maybe they’re moving all the residential units to the second floor when one was planned for ground level in order to accommodate some ground-level tandem carport parking or something.”

Another friend told me:

“Looks like it was already entitled and has an approved Tentative Map and Coastal Permit. Substantial conformance review by City only…..”

Continuing my guess, if there’s already a more-dense project approved for the site, maybe that’s why they figure they can get away with making changes without public review?


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