Stop Work Order on Emerson Project in Point Loma Issued by City

by on June 29, 2016 · 9 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Environment, History, Life Events, Media, Ocean Beach, Organizing, Politics, San Diego

PL Emerson Project Redcrossed gp 05Temporary Victory for Roseville – But Hurdles Remain

On Tuesday, June 28th, the City of San Diego issued a Stop Work Order on the controversial 40 foot structure at 3144 Emerson Street, near Evergreen.

Both Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Councilmember Lorie Zapf issued a joint statement that stated:

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

This is definitely a victory for Roseville, Point Loma and all the neighbors who rose up and demanded action from the City to deal with an obvious violation of the spirit of Proposition D, the 30-foot height limit that passed overwhelming in the 1970’s. Although, it is a temporary victory.

The stop work order comes after a community protest by nearly a hundred residents on Saturday, June 25th and after a widely-attended town hall meeting about the huge duplex on Monday, the 27th. This is after a facebook page was set up and after an online petition to stop the project was begun – and last we looked, it had close to 550 signatures. It came after the OB Rag (‘The Emerson Project Is Where We Have to Draw the Battle Line for the 30 Foot Height Limit’) and other media shown spotlights on the project.

People were clearly angry at Monday night’s meeting, and money began being collected to begin the legal process of filing suit against the developer and the City. So, the Mayor and City have responded and halted work on the project that has drawn so much ire.

Yet, this is but a temporary victory.

There are clearly two more huge hurdles to clear before this issue is resolved.

One, the fourth floor needs to be removed from the Emerson project. The structures need to “return” to 30 feet.

Two, city staff must stop issuing permits for these obvious violations – until the propensity of City of San Diego planners within the Development Services Department to allow these types of structures, to allow obvious violations of the 30 foot height limit, to allow these extremely questionable practices by developers is halted also – the problem will persist.

Who was the city’s project manager on this project? Their supervisor? Why was the Peninsula Community Planning Board prevented from reviewing the project? Why was it the community had no say in this project?

The problems stem from decisions made by bureaucrats and planners on the payroll of our city.  And this is not the first time – not on your life – that questionable and so-called exemptions are employed by developers and sanctioned by city decision-makers to get around the meaning of the citizen-initiative that produced the limit on the heights of buildings within the coastal zones of San Diego.

The 30 foot limit, Prop D, came from the people of San Diego, from the grass-roots; citizens led the initiative, gathering the needed signatures, fought uphill against developers and their political friends downtown. And it was passed, overwhelmingly – by all parts of the City. (Read some of its history here.)

So, residents and supporters of the Point Loma neighborhood of Roseville that stood up to the Emerson project have won a temporary reprieve. But more needs to happen and the residents need to ensure it happens.

Citizens need to be vigilante. If you see a project that violates the code or the height limit, let someone know – contact the OB Rag, contact other media, the OB Planning Board, the Peninsula Community Planning Board.

Here is the statement from City Hall:

“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.”

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Old Hippie June 29, 2016 at 12:03 pm

Congrats to all those people who stepped out of their daily lives and gave a damn. Even those who are losing views to this project are part of the moral force behind pressuring government to deal with its sh*t.


Ronald Kitt June 29, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Power to the people!


Cholly June 29, 2016 at 1:51 pm

We owe the builders, “planners, (Ha!) and their ilk a word of thanks for giving Roseville the opportunity of providing them with a bit of reality. And Thanks to John Linney [?] Chair of the Peninsula Community Planning Board, Robert Jackson, of the PLA et. for being so on the ball. And Frank Gormlie too.


PL Lifer June 29, 2016 at 9:36 pm

It was a good day for democracy. But Geoff is right the real problem is with Development Services and its historical inability to enforce the municipal building code. Mayors and City Council members come & go, but Development Services rule breaking remains consistent across the decades, which make me wonder what the heck goes on down there. My memories of their game playing starts with the Laurel Street parking garage, and the Emerson St. project isn’t the only new development in the Pt. Loam area that was rubbered stamped, a another particularly egregious example is 634 Rosecrans.
Development Services kowtowing to developers is not just a coastal community problem it is a city wide problem. In the Uptown/University Heights/Hillcrest area the issue is “density bonus” which is a variance that allows a developer to build more units then the zoning allows. I’m sure if we polled the different community planning boards about the trouble they have had with Development Services over the years the stories would all be the same. Because while each community maybe faced with a specific problem such as height limit violations, connecting the dots would show the root cause which is Development Services.
Now that we have the Mayor and Councilwomen Zapf’s attention maybe we should propose that some house cleaning done at Development Services. Maybe we should unite with the other community planning boards to collectively standup to and publicly shame the City Council and Development Services over the crimes they have committed. Maybe the Peninsula Planning Board should have a standing committee that goes around that community and checks up on development to ensure that the all the building codes are being enforced.


Byron Wear June 29, 2016 at 10:20 pm

Thanks to the citizens of Point Loma, community activists, planning board members, and the Point Loma Association along with actions taken by Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Councilmember Lorie Zapf and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. This was a united effort over the actions of an irresponsible developer.


Local One June 30, 2016 at 6:44 am

No… was irresponsible political insiders and City employees within the Developmental Services Department that issued the unlawful building permit. The developer only took advantage of what he was offered, but it was City officials that took the first step in this scandal by approving the project without any public review and/or lawful compliance with the building code. Could DSD have been intentionally hiding this raspberry of a project by circumventing the routine public review?

Let’s lay blame where blame lies which is with the Mayor’s office and the political insiders working out back room deals over at the Developmental Servuces Department and Planning Commission. Both are dens of inequity unless you’re a developer.

Doubt me? See this recent article as just one more example of how City development works with insider help from the Mayor….

Hence, you can’t convince the residents of Roseville that the Mayor is serious about fixing the 30′ coastal height limit loophole. Enough press releases, just enforce existing law Mayor!


Byron Wear June 30, 2016 at 9:49 am

Local One,

I know that Mayor Kevin Faulconer is serious about maintaining the integrity of the 30 foot Prop D passed by the voters. He first became aware of the matter over the weekend and drove by personally and was outraged at the abuse of this developer. He gathered his staff on Monday and action was taken by Tuesday. Today is Thursday.

With all due respect, ACTIONS speak louder than words. With help from the community that rallied, we got action with long term solutions around the corner.

Let’s admit that in this case, the system worked, our democracy shined and our 4th of July will be brighter.


Jon Linney June 30, 2016 at 10:00 am

Good evening Point Loma community, I first want to say thank you for everyone and all their support on the Emerson project to maintain the 30 foot height and quality of life in Point Loma. Today we had an honor to be invited by Mayor Kevin Faulconer to meet in his office with other with city officials including Councilmember Lorie Zapf, who was extremely supportive of our efforts along with representatives of the City Attorney and staff of Councilmember Zapf and the Mayor.Joining me at the meeting was long time Peninsula residents Brad Herrin, Robert Tripp Jackson and Babita Souza. As you are aware, Mayor Faulconer issued at Stop Work Order on Tuesday after learning of the project and listening to the community. The Mayor and his staff provided a briefing to us on possible short term and long term solutions which public input will be sought. Additionally, the Mayor and Councilmember Lorie Zapf pledged to work closely with the community to permanently resolve the 30 foot height limitation issue. All of us share collective vision of taking the needed steps to protect the integrity of Prop D 30 foot height limit passed by the voters in 1972.Following the meeting, the Mayor held a Press Conference to restate his position and take questions.Once again, we appreciated the quick and decisive action of our elected officials working closely our community and community leaders.

Jon Linney


Jarvis Ross July 21, 2016 at 3:25 pm

Why does it take citizen outrage to get city departments to obey the intent of Prop D?


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