Point Loma Residents Protest Structure in Violation of 30-Foot Height Limit

by on June 26, 2016 · 11 comments

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

PL emerson protest 6-25-16 mw 01

Jon Linney, head of PCPB, speaks to a TV crew about the protest of a building that many feel violates zoning rules at Evergreen and Emerson in the Roseville neighborhood in Point Loma. (All photos by Matthew Wood)

Point Lomans Rally in front of Eyesore Building at Emerson and Evergreen

Nearly 100 Point Lomans gathered Saturday morning, June 25th,  to protest the development of a pair of duplexes they say violates the area’s 30-foot building limit.

The building in question, at the corner of Emerson and Evergreen streets in the Roseville neighborhood, measure upwards of 41 feet.

PL emerson protest 6-25-16 mw 05

Developers apparently got around height restrictions by filling in an area between the garage and property line with dirt, then measuring height from that spot. A sign for the developing company hangs in front of the building at Emerson and Evergreen. Perhaps some calls to the company from local residents are in order?

Opponents of the structure say the developer, Pacific Enterprise General Contractor, is skirting the zoning rules by filling in space between the garage and the end of the property with dirt, then measuring height from that spot.

“The goal is to get a stop order, which can be done,” said Jon Linney, chair of the Point Loma Planning Board and an outspoken opponent of the building.

“Kevin can stop this,” he said, referring to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. “The City Council can go to Kevin and tell him to stop this.”

Linney said the frustrating part of the situation is that nobody really knew this was coming until it was already mostly built.

“As much as I want to act, I still haven’t seen the plans,” he said. “Nobody has seen the plans.”

PL emerson protest 6-25-16 mw 07

Neighbor Tony Souza holds up a sign to protest the construction of duplexes at the corner of Emerson and Evergreen streets in Point Loma.

“Kevin can stop this,” he said, referring to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. “The City Council can go to Kevin and tell him to stop this.”

The group brought signs and chanted “Stop work now!” as television cameras rolled. They then marched to Rosecrans Street to get bigger visibility for their cause.

PL emerson protest 6-25-16 mw 02

Neighbor Madison Bartz stands on her patio with the new building looming in the background. Bartz says construction workers broke a number of items on her patio and splashed concrete all over her windows.

The structure can be seen from blocks around, sticking out in a neighborhood of mostly single-story structures like a sore thumb. Neighbors worry it will be the start of a trend they don’t want to see in the quiet community.

“This is blatant,” said Dwayne Little, a member of the Point Loma Association.

“Look around. If this is allowed to proceed, it could significantly change the neighborhood. Once the precedent is set, it makes it more difficult to oppose such projects.”

Indeed, there are a number of nearby empty lots with recently demolished homes, including one just a block away at Garrison and Evergreen streets, and another a block down on Locust.

Bill Bartz is listed as the executive director of Pacific Enterprise. Calls to his office have yet to be returned. He reportedly was also behind a project down the street at Locust and Avenida de Portugal that was able to skirt zoning regulations by putting in planters on the property, then measuring the grade from that point.

“He’s definitely manipulating the system,” said Brad Herrin, a member of the Peninsula Community Planning Board.

“What we really want is the mayor – because he can – to put a moratorium on this and others.”

PL emerson protest 6-25-16 mw 04

Protesters marched from the site to Rosecrans Street to get better visibility for their cause.

It seemed like a normal building project, sitting dormant for many months before construction started. It also looked like it would be well within the height restrictions before an upper level was put up seemingly in one day.

Construction crews have been out at the crack of dawn nearly every morning, six days a week, sometimes starting work before 7 a.m. Perhaps not coincidentally, no workers were present all morning on Saturday.

Perhaps they got word about the protest through social media as well as local news outlets, which ran stories all week. News of Saturday’s protest spread thanks in part to the Point Loma Connections Facebook page, which was started by neighbor Anne Herrin. She said she’s just hoping to be able to make a difference through her page, which has about 3,500 members.

“It’s an avenue people to get involved and relay community sentiment,” she said. “And hopefully create some change.”

Social media was also a catalyst for community outrage when Pacific Enterprise Builders posted a story from the reader about the building with the caption, “Want to build higher? Ask us how.” That post has apparently since been deleted.

To see the effect on the community, just look at the neighbors next door. Madison Bartz, a lifelong Point Loman, lives just to the east of the structure. She said the structure has completely engulfed her first-floor apartment.

“We were like, ‘What is happening?’ It’s a nightmare,” Bartz said. “No more sun is coming into our house.”

PL emerson protest 6-25-16 mw 06She said construction workers broke a number of items on her patio and covered her window with splotches of concrete.

“I’ve tried talking to the construction workers and they act like they don’t know who’s in charge,” she said. “I can’t get away from it!”

Bartz has been posting videos and photos of the construction work on the Point Loma Connections page to get the word out. She’s hopeful the problem can be solved with a little community activism.

“If enough people stand up, with enough money, we can do it,” she said. “If enough people have a voice, we can do it. We’re just standing up for the future Point Loma babies.”

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Local One June 26, 2016 at 8:58 pm


So, was Kevin Faulconer lying back then? Fact is, since becoming Mayor, Kevin has shown he is entirely beholden to developer’s interests. Kevin Faulconer’s lack of ANY meaningful action to date on protecting the 30′ height limit indicates he is a hypocrite. His words mattered then, and the lack of any word from him today on this topic matters too.


Susie June 26, 2016 at 10:47 pm

The Height fight should have been Enforced way back when
McMillin raised his buildings at Liberty Station more than 30 feet due to some ??? Questionable water problems.
Where was all the concerned neighbors back then ?

They are already getting away w it in our neighborhood, ie Locust and Ave De Portugal.
We All need to carry a great big measuring Tape.

The builder will not answer the phone & no one there knows anything.


Susan Peinado June 27, 2016 at 10:29 am

There is a community meeting, today, 6:30pm Monday evening June 27th at UPSES Portuguese Hall to address community concerns. Information from Nextdoor post.


Geoff Page June 27, 2016 at 2:18 pm

Keep in mind folks, while the developer is complicit in this, the focus needs to be on Development Services that came up with this convoluted interpretation of the 30-foot limit.


Frank Gormlie June 27, 2016 at 9:02 pm

So, Geoff, perhaps the next protest rally needs to be downtown at DSD.


Jonathan Chapin June 27, 2016 at 9:38 pm

Here is the Petition!


Byron Wear June 27, 2016 at 10:25 pm

UPDATE: Tonight a Town Hall Meeting was held in Point Loma with 300 in attendance demanding action on the structure at Emerson and Evergreen exceeding the 30 foot voter mandate of Prop D passed in 1972.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Councilmember Lorie Zapf issued the following statement earlier this afternoon.

“We are strong supporters of the coastal height limit and protecting coastal views. It is abundantly clear to us that this project does not conform to the spirit of the coastal height limit approved by voters under Proposition D. It is out of scope with the character of the community and we do not support it. We are working to explore every possible solution within the confines of the law to uphold the intent of the people. Going forward, we are also working on a long-term zoning solution to ensure all development in this multi-family residential zone adheres to the 30-foot height limit.”

Planning Board Chair Jon Linney, Pt Loma Assn. Chair Robert Tripp Jackson and several of our community planning board members have been invited by the Mayor and Councilmember Lorie Zapf to a meeting at City Hall on Wednesday to discuss solutions.


Local One June 27, 2016 at 11:26 pm

Mayor Faulconer and Councilmember Lorie Zapf say “We are working to explore every possible solution…”. Pure Balderdash!
Given those two allowed these circumstances to arise during their respective turns as Councilmembers “representing” our community, and then couldn’t be bothered to attend tonight’s Town Hall Meeting or even send a representative, the solution Kevin and Lorie are working to explore most likely involves the words:
– Pay to play
– Mordida
– Kickback
– Graft
– Extortion
– Payola
– Favors
– Campaign contributions

Lastly, actions speak louder than their words, and so far, virtually no action on their parts other than more meetings and endless delays in exploring their own (non) solution. Thanks, but the citizens will need to rely on themselves in finding the solution to the City’s approval of a 40′ project that is already prohibited by the municipal code.


Jonathan Chapin June 27, 2016 at 11:39 pm

Kevin and Lorie probably were busy with prior engagements tonight and could not make the town hall meeting. What else was going tonight, just a champagne party for mega developers Kilroy getting their enormous development approved after 60,000 signatures were gathered to shut it down.


Byron Wear June 28, 2016 at 4:05 pm


Statement just in…

“Mayor Faulconer and Councilmember Lorie Zapf strongly support the coastal height limit and protecting coastal views.

Further review of the Municipal Code has determined that this project does not conform to the City’s development regulations.

Today the City issued a stop work order on the project to ensure it follows all codes and regulations.”



Frank Gormlie July 5, 2016 at 11:31 am

Here is proof that Pacific Enterprise was involved in the Ave. de Portugal project – another very controversial challenge to the 30 foot height limit. http://watchmebuild.com/project/6637-la-jolla-blvd/


Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: