Marti Emerald Asks Peninsula Taxpayers to Support Firehouse Bond

by on September 24, 2015 · 4 comments

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

Pt Loma Plan Bd Marti Emerald

Assistant Fire Chief Ken Barnes and Councilwoman Marti Emerald. Photo by Tony de Garate

Councilwoman Poses Question at Meeting of Peninsula Planners

By Tony de Garate / Special to the OB Rag

Are Peninsula voters willing to tax themselves to improve fire and rescue services? That’s the question Marti Emerald, who represents District 9 on the San Diego City Council, had September 17 at the monthly meeting of the Peninsula Community Planning Board.

Emerald, who chairs the City Council’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee, is in the midst of an information offensive in support of a firehouse bond for the November 2016 ballot that would raise nearly $230 million for 19 new stations — including one in the Peninsula.

The measure, which would require a two-thirds vote for passage, would raise property taxes by $30 per year for 30 years for a $500,000 homeowner.

Flanked by Assistant Fire Chief Ken Barnes and Chris Olsen from the city’s Office of the Independent Budget Analyst, Emerald told the board and an audience of about five dozen that now was a good time to try for a general obligation bond because of the improving economy and the city’s stature among bond rating agencies.

Emerald said the city has been slow to carry out the recommendations of a 2011 study conducted by Citygate Associates, a Sacramento-based consulting firm. The report noted, among other things, the city was failing to meet its goal of responding to a call in under six minutes more than half the time and was woefully deficient in firehouses.

Though the board voted 13-0 to “conceptually” support the bond, some skepticism was expressed.
Board Vice Chair David Dick referred to a handout of a June 18 IBA report estimating a $1.7 billion funding gap through the year 2020 in 17 types of infrastructure needs, including: police stations, lifeguard stations, libraries, parks, streetlights, roads and stormwater. Dick asked:

“Aren’t you jumping the line a little?”

Emerald replied:

“There’s been a lot of talk about bond measures, but we haven’t seen anything come forward.”

“This is such a priority for our city. The longer we wait, the longer we jeopardize the health and safety of the public.”

Of the 19 proposed new stations, just one — in the general area of Rosecrans Street & Nimitz Boulevard — is envisioned for the Peninsula and the rest of City Council District 2, according to a summary Emerald handed out. It ranks No. 9 on the list.

The geographic distribution of the other 18 stations are: District 1, 4 stations; District 5, 3 stations; District 7, 3 stations; District 4, 2 stations; and 1 station each in districts 2, 6 and 8. No stations in the bond measure are planned for District 3. An additional station would straddle the border of districts 4 and 9. The handout noted three stations currently under development — two in District 3 and one in District 8 — don’t require bond funding.

The bond also would not affect the scheduled replacement of Station 22 at 1022 Catalina Blvd., which is already funded and about to go out to bid, Barnes confirmed via email.

City pledges full support, funds to develop Cañon Street Pocket Park

The Cañon Street Pocket Park is no longer a pie-in-the-sky, wish-upon-a-star dream for Roseville. It’s full speed ahead for the .67-acre, undeveloped plot of land that abuts the cul-de-sac of Avenida de Portugal.

Why? Money. Up to $830,000 is available in developer impact fees, board members were told, prior to voting 13-0 in support of the idea.

It’s a remarkable development for advocates of the park who, for the last year, have been brainstorming for ways to get funds. Earlier this year, they secured the support of the United Portuguese SES as a nonprofit sponsor to account for private contributions.

Second Vice Chair Jon Linney said:

“There’s money available. Let’s go for it. This is something we’ll be proud of at the end.”

Linney, along with Secretary Don Sevrens, have spearheaded the effort.

Craig Hooker of the city’s Park and Recreation Department, stated:

“We’ve been working on this park for 10 years. We really excited we have the opportunity to develop it.”

Conrad Wear, aide to District 2 City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, said the park has ascended to the No. 1 capital improvement priority in the district. Asked after the meeting to clarify how often-scarce DIF funds wound up being abundant for the park, Wear said it was the right request at the right time.

Every year around this time, directors from the various city departments evaluate the funding levels for all communities in terms of their DIF accounts, Wear said via email. Park and Recreation requests didn’t have much competition in the Peninsula community because projects on the books for Fire & Rescue and library needs are largely completed. Traffic didn’t make any requests because just one of their projects would have exceeded the total amount available in the DIF fund, Wear said.

It typically costs about $1 million per acre to develop a park that includes stock amenities such as walkways, security lighting, fencing, benches, irrigation and the like, Hooker said.

With funding for basic features in place, private funds can now be raised for features the community wants, Sevrens said via email. These might include monuments or statues to honor Portuguese community history and culture and placards to note historic Roseville events and characteristics. Since it’s a “passive park,” no play equipment is envisioned — but ideas for drawing in children will be sought, he said.

“This has been just a stump of land since I was a kid,” said Julieanna Piatek, president of United Portuguese SES. “It’s a great opportunity for the Portuguese community.”

The next step will be to hold a series of public workshops to find out what people want the park to look like, Linney said. He added:

“I know there are a lot of members of the community that want their input. We encourage that.”

In an email statement after the meeting, Zapf said:

“As we know, parks are a cornerstone of our neighborhoods. This is why I am thrilled to partner with the Point Loma community as we implement the Peninsula community plan and make a pocket park for Roseville a reality for all residents young and old.”

Could new flight patterns bring more noise? Community concerned

By far, most members of the audience attended to express concerns about a proposed new flight pattern by planes taking off from the San Diego International Airport, or Lindbergh Field. Board members voted 13-0 to express those concerns in a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration.

In the interest of time — and because no one wanted to speak in favor of the new flight pattern — the board curtailed public comment.

The FAA is considering numerous arrival and departure changes at 22 southern California airports in a proposal they’re calling the SoCal Metroplex Project. It’s designed to use airspace more efficiently, said Paul Webb, principal author of the letter who chairs the board’s Airport Committee.

At Lindbergh Field, eastbound planes typically depart west over the ocean and U-turn back to land. The new pattern would allow departing planes to make a tighter U-turn because of a change in the second “waypoint” the planes use after takeoff, Webb said.

“The concern is the planes would be making a turn earlier and coming across Point Loma,” Webb said.
New waypoints identified in the project are based on satellite technology and replace ground-based systems, improving safety and fuel consumption, the FAA says. In an Environmental Assessment now under public review, the FAA says there are no significant impacts.

Webb, a former planner with the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, disputes this. Webb asserts, in a draft copy of the letter, the new flights “will result in additional flights that do not comply with the current noise abatement procedures in place” at Lindbergh.

Furthermore, it will “introduce households not currently experiencing significant aircraft noise to new sources of noise,” the letter says.

Concerns about fuel residue will be added to the letter, Webb said.

The FAA is collecting public comment on the environmental assessment until Oct. 8. More information is available .

In other news:

Board members are skeptical of the city’s much-ballyhooed Climate Action Plan, the goal of which is to eventually reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent of 1990 levels. They voted 10-0-1 to send a letter written by Chairwoman Julia Quinn expressing four concerns. The PCPB becomes the last of the three Peninsula-area boards to look at the plan. Earlier this year, the Ocean Beach Planning Board voted in support; the Midway Community Planning Group declined to make a comment.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page Geoff Page September 24, 2015 at 11:52 am

No to the bond idea. The basic functions of City government include providing for health and safety. This City has a big budget but politicians refuse to focus on the mundane necessities and instead go after big ticket things like a giant liabrary downtown, a bsaeball stadium, convention center expansion that is not needed, and they are trying to get a football stadium. If they want to sell Qualcom land for $200 million, that would about pay for what this bond plea is for.

As a former PCPB member, I am disappointed to see that the board voted unanimously to spend all that money on this little park that will be of no use to most of the Peninsula. What the PCPB should have done, once they discovered these funds were available, is set up a series of community workshops to ask the community how it would like to spend this windfall. Spending it all on one little project just because it was in the right place at the right time makes no sense to me. This park will not have restrooms or a children’s play area and is located in a canyon along one of hte busiest streets in Pt. Loma. It will have to be completely fenced in to make it safe for children anyway. While I admire the motivation of those involved, I don’t agree with this action at all.

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Cliff September 25, 2015 at 11:35 am

Geoff – you want condos there instead? Because that’s what we get if we don’t put a park in there. Based on city analysis, we don’t have enough parks in the area. That’s one reason why it became the number one capital improvement priority. We don’t really have any more vacant property to build new parks. To me, this is a no brainer and a legacy item that future generations will be able to enjoy.

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Geoff Page Geoff Page September 25, 2015 at 2:45 pm

Cliff, If you reread what I wrote, you will see that my point was the whole community should ahve a say in how that money is used. If the community wants the park, then so be it.

I personally think this little piece of land at the bottom of this canyon is not a great candidate for a park and any park that does not have restroom facilities is a problem. There is a park nea my house that is much bigger and heavily used and it doesn’t have any restroom facilities so people use the bushes or go behind trees. And I mean regular folks. The homeless have taken up residence there and regularly use the foliage for restrooms. The little park in question, like the one near me, is not even close to any restroom facilities.

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Susie September 25, 2015 at 2:18 pm

Well…..well….. Lets just pave over Paradise just because there windfall of money & A small piece of vacant land ? Surely people’s minds ate not that small.
Money Talks & BS Walks.
Spend the money on the homeless not a park
The Portugese don’t need a park they have the end of the block with their building and a chapel … I mean : Really. You have to include a certain group to justify your pocket park that does not need to be built.
Use that money to fund something to help everyone in the area who are in need.
Have you forgotten about the homeless man who has a lonely bench named after him? I forget his name as I am sure most have too. Use the funds to help the less fortunate. If you want a park, just go to the beach or Shelter Island. This entire thing just Reeks of
Behind the scenes Good Ole Boys Club. It Stinks. That little plot of land, who cares ?
Not every piece of land needs to have something on it. How about keep it wild ?
Oh What a concept. The whole PLA is sickening to me. Do Gooders: Go do some good with Homeless Cats at the Jetty or various other helpless creatures that need help. The plot of land doesn’t need any help. Leave it be. Get a Life. Use the money to benefit the less fortunate. A sm. pocket park doesn’t help anyone. This whole thing has been a sorry sad joke. It’s a wanna be Legacy of a certain councilman who is pushing it thru & it’s not a benefit but for a chosen few. The numbers are jacked around & statistically speaking more than half the people in the area that were asked in a door to for opinion either did not know about a park going in there or just plain stated they did not want it. PlA numbers are Scewed. So since their numbers are Scewed , we all get screwed.

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