OB Planning Board: 2 Projects Approved, Concerns on Community Plan Update, Crosswalks and Stop Signs Cometh to OB

by on July 3, 2015 · 2 comments

in Culture, Economy, Environment, History, Ocean Beach


Coming to 5040 Santa Monica Ave.

The Ocean Beach planners were certainly busy at their last meeting, held on Wednesday, July 1st. They approved 2 projects, one on Santa Monica and the other on Cape May, they heralded an update on crosswalks and stop signs coming to OB, and they hosted an impromptu debate on the status of OB’s Community Plan Update.

Concerns Raised Over Status of OB Community Plan

Several veterans of OB’s Community Plan update process expressed their concerns over the status of the plan – as it is currently heading to the August meeting of the California Coastal Commission, to be held locally in Chula Vista. Both Mindy Pellissier and Gio Ingolia, co-chairs of the committee that led the update process, were concerned about the timing and any changes to the Plan that city staff were making.

Part of their concern was that there may not be sufficient calendar space between staff changes, approval by the OB Planning Board and the update committee, and when it had to go before the City Council for final approval in order to meet the mid-August Coastal hearings.  The Commission meets over a several day period, August 12 – 14, but it’s not known yet exactly when OB’s Plan appears before them.  (There may be buses rented to transport OBceans to the meeting.)

Karen Bucey, a senior planner with the city’s Development Services Department, assured the OB planners that at this point, she has not made any changes, and the only changes that will be made are “clean-up” edits, and that there is adequate time for all the rounds of approval.

Bucey reported that she had finally met with Coastal staff last week, and they had submitted a letter to the city with a number of  “new issues”. And they were:

  1. protection of visitor accommodations;
  2. waiver of shoreline protective devices;
  3. definition of “redevelopment”.

She said that she planned to have all changes ready for the Coastal Commission staff by July 10th. None of these issues, Bucey stated, will have a substantive impact on OB on a day-to-day level. Once her “clean-up revisions” are approved by the OB Board, they’re resubmitted to Council. And she said she still anticipates approval by the Coastal Commission in August.

It was a month ago that Pellissier and Ingolia had raised similar concerns over a rumored delay of the Plan going before the Coastal Commission. A month ago, Bucey told the meeting that she hoped that all the outstanding issues would be resolved during June.

Pellissier expressed her frustration with the time constraints, given that it was a year ago that the City Council approved OB’s Plan, and that the sub-committee she co-chaired had not seen any new updates.  She stated emphatically:

We have not been involved in [the OB Plan update} for a year now!”

“It makes me nervous” she continued, “at city’s delays. We’re now on our fourth planner and each one has their own interpretation [of the OB Plan].”

OB City Council 7-29-14 mh 05

OBceans packed City Hall council chambers on July 29, 2014.

The Coastal Commission hearing is only 6 weeks away, she said, and then proposed a special meeting of the update sub-committee to review any new revisions and changes city staff had made. Bucey repeated that she expects her changes to be finalized by July 10th. John Ambert, chair of the Planning Board suggested that the next Project Review Committee, scheduled for Wednesday, July 15th, be turned into the sub-committee review meeting. Everyone else agreed and the Board moved on to other issues.

5040 Santa Monica Project

On deck for an up or down vote was a mixed, commercial-residential project for 5040 Santa Monica Avenue. The proposed project is in a commercial zone with a floor-area-ration of 2.0. In 2006, the Board had approved a very similar project for the site but it was never developed.  Now, the developer and owenor were back with a few revisions: the underground garage was deleted from the plans, and the buildings were pushed forward some, allowing for the parking – including a couple of commercial spaces – to be accessed off the alley.


artist renderings of 5040 Santa Monica

The Board then engaged in a cordial and spirited debate about the project. Those opposed to it stated that it was not congruent with the OB Community Plan, that it would set a negative precedent for the rest of the Newport Avenue area, and could adversely affect Santa Monica Avenue. It was criticized for being compliant with the code but not congruent with OB’s Plan, too linear, with too much glass, overly bulky, and from street level to the very top of the building was over 30 feet (but still compliant with the code). One planner said the residential units would be condo-ized and turned into vacation rentals.

Those who supported the project praised it for using less of a FAR than it was entitled to, that any precedent it sets would be positive, that it complies with the codes – and is congruent with the commercial district that it sits in and with the large condo complex built recently next to the Lifeguard station, and that it met the criteria that the Board and community wants.

The Board took a vote and approved the project by 7 to 2. (Ambert and Valerie Paz were opposed.)


4965 Cape May

4965 Cape May

OB Cape May 4965A less controversial project was approved for an empty lot at 4965 Cape May Avenue. It will hold 2 houses, the front one having 2 stories and 1100 square feet and the rear being 3 stories – with parking on the first, and only 1 bedroom. It was approved by a vote of 8 to 1.

Crosswalks and Stop Signs

Ambert gave a report that outlined what’s coming down the pike for OB.  The following intersections will have “improvements”:

  • Point Loma Ave and Sunset Cliffs: a flashing beacon crosswalk will be installed;
  • Newport Ave and Abbott: stop signs and crosswalks, with flashing beacons;
  • Newport and Bacon: across Bacon on south leg, crosswalk;
  • Santa Monica and Abbott: all way stop with crosswalk – requested by life guards.
  • Voltaire and Cable: crosswalks on all legs, no beacons.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

PL Local July 3, 2015 at 12:31 pm

Point Loma Ave and Sunset Cliffs: a flashing beacon crosswalk will be installed

About Time!

I have thought about a 4 way stop there. But, it is not really necessary. Will enjoy the flashing lights though.


busy corner July 5, 2015 at 6:55 pm

Maybe the planners could push for some stops signs at Niagara and Bacon while they are doing these other good things. That corner is one of the busiest now and very dangerous.


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