The California Coastal Commission Approves the Ocean Beach Community Plan – Finally!

by on August 14, 2015 · 5 comments

in California, Culture, Environment, History, Media, Ocean Beach, Organizing, Politics, San Diego

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Ocean Beach outside the Coastal Commission hearing.

Some Coastal Commission Modifications Accepted by  City Staff in Final Compromise

In an unanimous vote, the California Coastal Commission approved the OB Community Plan Update yesterday, August 13, in the City Hall chambers of Chula Vista.

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About to get on the bus.

The vote was a ringing endorsement for compromise and civil give-and-take between the respective staffs of the Commission and of the City of San Diego – a civility and willingness to compromise brought on no doubt by the crowd of OBceans present in the Chambers.

San Diego city staff who participated in the presentations and discussion, stated that the vote was a “major victory for Ocean Beach”.

It had been a long process – since last summer when the City Council approved the OB Plan.

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Pass those donuts.

After several hours of discussion about the three major points of contention, after public discussion which included presentations by many OB leaders and representatives of community organizations, and after each of the staffs had given and taken, the Commission voted on San Diego area representative, Greg Cox’s motion to approve the updated plan with most of the City of San Diego’s language. Commissioner Martha McClure had given the second to the motion, after Cox had to maneuver through some procedural details.

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Ray Blavatt’s doodles the night before at the pre-hearing prep meeting.

Many of the OBceans present had arrived by a bus leased by the OB Town Council and most wearing their blue shirts. Donuts and coffee has also been provided by coordinators of the day’s action.

Before the Commission, as Brian Schoenfisch from San Diego’s Development Services Department explained, after nearly 30 initial issues in contention, the staffs had brought that number down to only three.

The three issues included differences in language and emphasis on:

1) hotels, motels and hostels as low-income visitor accommodations;

2) environmentally sensitive habitat areas – Formosa Slough;

and 3) beach, coastal bluff and shoreline protections.

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Commissioner Dayna Bochco leads the staffs in finding compromise.

Again, most of the differences were in language and policies the City felt already applied to the Community Plan and its Update.

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It was Commissioner Cox who made motion to approve the OB Plan with city language.

Coastal staff pressed on the issues as major policies of the state-wide Commission mandated to protect the state’s coast and public access to it.

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Inside Chula Vista City Chambers – OBceans in blue listen to the debate.

But by the end of the day – at least for the OB audience, the vote that finally came down was a solid victory for a community and its plan – that had its origins in 1976, which had undergone over 12 years of an update process, whose key language had been endorsed by 4,000 people who signed petitions last summer, and which had been approved by the San Diego City Council last summer on July 29.

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The Chambers

Some anxiety from the vote was the fear that the City Council – which has to now approve the modifications that their staff compromised upon – would balk at the new language and its impact.

But city staff – in particular – Schoenfisch, who had made the main city presentation, assured OBceans after the vote who stood outside on the hot steps of the Chula Vista City Hall, that the City Council would go ahead and give their blessings to the new language of the OB Plan. He said he expected the Council to take it up in October.

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While we waited outside City Hall in the hot sun for the Commission to take on the OB Plan, I had a chance to ask the OBceans that were mingling why they had come.

Bill Posey – a volunteer at the Green Store – spoke what was repeated by many of the others:

“I’m here to support the OB Precise Plan.” (The Precise Plan was the old name of OB’s development blueprint.)

The head of OB’s Woman’s Club, Mel Roark, told me,

“I’m here to support the integrity of our community.”

 Drew Conley said:

“I’m here to support Ocean Beach. It’s the town I came of age in.”

Jennifer Baker thought OB was being singled-out over the issue of low-cost accommodations. Kathy Blavatt stated:

“Because the Plan has been long in coming. I’m here to help protect the historical, to keep OB the community it is.”

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Waiting for OB’s turn.

And Laura Tolsie said simply, ”

“To support OB.”

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When it came time later inside the Chambers for public presentations, the folks from OB were ready, having prepped the night before to making certain all the bases were covered. Before the OB reps got up before the Commissioners, a representative from State Assembly Speaker Toni Atkin’s office stated that the former San Diego City Councilwoman endorsed the OB Plan Update – as did Conrad Wear, the rep from OB’s District 2 Councilperson Lori Zapf.

Then the OB speakers began. The over-all general tone of the village voices was that the ideas that the Coastal Commission have are good and worthy, but they should be applied city-wide or at least across the entire San Diego coast and not be used to single OB out and possibly delay its plan even more.

Mindy Pellissier was first up – as the volunteer OBcean who had stuck with the long update process over the years- and complained that OB “feels like we’re held hostage” by the holdup and apparent intransigence of the respective bodies of government.

Other speakers included current OB Planning Board chair, John Ambert, this writer, Kathy Blavatt of the OB Historical Society, Jane Gawronski on both the boards of the OB planners and the OB Community Development Corp., Gretchen Newsom, head of the OB Town Council, and Craig Klein – who is also a member of the Mainstreet Association and the OB Planning Board.

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OBceans respond to Commission vote approving OB Plan.

 

 

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar gristmiller August 14, 2015 at 9:59 am

Thank you!

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Avatar Debbie August 14, 2015 at 10:41 am

Thank you to all for working on this plan for so many years, keeping up the fight and for taking time out of your busy lives to attend the meeting. Of course, thank you to the rag for reporting the ongoing events.

Now, city council get this approved once an for all! Zapf and Wear makes things happen fast!

PS Curious, did Zapf show up to support the plan?

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Avatar south OB girl August 14, 2015 at 1:18 pm

Looking good in your blue shirts y’all!!

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Avatar The Green Store August 14, 2015 at 9:19 pm

Once again I am so proud of our community. You could tell Commissioner Greg Cox (who use to be our Supervisor) and the Commissioner Chair Steve Kinsey were very impressed with OB and our great community spirit. Those of you that couldn’t make it to the Coastal Commission hearing here is the link to watch it on line: http://www.cal-span.org/media.php?folder%5B%5D=CCC . It’s August 13th and we were agenda item 22c. You can scroll to 2:59 for the beginning of the presentation on OB. The motions can be quite confusing and I recommend that we remain vigilant as it goes to council in October. Keep in touch with the Plan Update Committee , the OB Planning Board and the OB Town Council.
Colleen Dietzel
The Green Store/Ocean Beach Green Center

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Avatar Gerald Sweeney August 23, 2015 at 4:42 pm

You have, one more time, kept OB alive and well.
Keep up the tradition of making OB the only community of its kind.

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