Reader Rant: “The community is being snookered about City’s lack of enforcement of 30-foot height violations.”

by on July 22, 2016 · 46 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, Ocean Beach, Organizing, Politics, Reader Rant, Satire

PL Emerson proj Barbita Souza

The controversial Emerson project. Photo by Babita Souza.

By Local One

I attended the Peninsula Community Planning Board meeting last night (Thursday, July 21) and listened intently to the presentations made by Mayor Faulconer’s representative and the head of the Developmental Services Department.

Boy oh boy, what a bunch of packaged lies we were fed last night. The people can see with their own eyes that the community is being snookered with regard to the lack of enforcement, and continuing DSD approval, of numerous violations of the existing MC defined 30 foot coastal height limit.

Speaker after speaker last night quoted directly from the Municipal Code in which the law is absolutely clear with regard to measuring the 30? height, but City representatives from the Mayor’s office and DSD kept insisting that the City Attorney’s office interprets the voter approved Proposition D very differently than any common sense reading of the law.

Further, the Mayor and DSD shut down the Emerson Street project based on a violation of the FAR standards, NOT the obvious violation of the 30 foot coastal height limit.

This just proves again that the Mayor and DSD are trying to pull the wool over our eyes again and falsely assume the community is dumb enough to believe in their delay tactics.

The Mayor and Lorie Zapf promised to address the violations of the 30? coastal height limit within a matter of weeks, following the recent protests, but last night reaffirmed they aren’t doing jack for our benefit.

They asked for our patience in allowing them more time to find a solution (i.e. help developers like the Jacobs family squeeze in some more violations at the community’s expense). Be vigilant people.

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie July 22, 2016 at 1:36 pm

“but last night reaffirmed they aren’t doing jack for our benefit”

Only a lawsuit will get the attention of these two public servants.


Byron Wear July 22, 2016 at 2:47 pm

Local One and Debbie,

With all due respect, you are entirely wrong on this issue.

San Diego Mayor Faulconer and Councilmember Lorie Zapf are committed to a lasting solution of the 30 foot Prop issue. The Mayor wants to make sure that the a permanent solution works and this issue NEVER comes up again.

Mayor Faulconer acted decisively and issued a stop work order within a few days of learning of the issue. That is a strong Mayor form of government in action. We applaud it!

No other building permits will be issued until this matter is resolved. PERIOD.

I would rather have our leaders take the extra month and get in right that rush into a solution that will not pass legal muster.

As a 52 year resident of Point Loma, past Peninsula Planning Board member (1981-86) and District 2 Councilmember, I am confident that Mayor Faulconer is on the right track.

So cut the whining and let our elected representatives do their job!

Lets talk after Labor Day.


Debbie July 22, 2016 at 5:31 pm

When the mayor wants action he gets it. I don’t see him as treating this as a fire that needs to be put out. A month is not acceptable.

The Whiner


Byron Wear July 22, 2016 at 5:54 pm


The fire was put out when the Mayor issued the stop work order. Drive by Emerson and Evergreen. No activity at all in the past three weeks.

The final resolution may take a month, two weeks or a week. I really don’t know. That’s up to the Mayor.

Legal issues surrounding land use must be addressed in a thoughtful manner with careful consultation with the City Attorney.

Knowing that no building permits will be granted until this matter is resolved is comfort for me.

Let’s get it right and not rush to a solution which may not pass legal muster and be challenged or overturned in a court of law a few years from now.

I know that Mayor Faulconer and his team is working a solution. All of his actions demonstrated his firm commitment for the protection of Prop D and the 30 foot limit.


Debbie July 22, 2016 at 8:42 pm

The fire is suppressed not put out.


Geoff Page July 22, 2016 at 3:28 pm

Mr. Wear,

Local One and Debbie may be partially wrong but they surely are not entirely wrong, you are entirely wrong on that comment.

Issuing the stop work order was the quickest way to throw water on the fire that was raging in the community, it was the only logical move for the mayor. Applauding the mayor’s action is not in order yet. Who knows what kind of deal they cut with the developer so he would cooperate. If the developer actually sues the city, then we will know for sure that no deal was made. If the new, convoluted interpretation of the 30-foot height limit is corrected by the mayor, then we can applaud.

I also attended the PCPB meeting last night, but I didn’t see you there Byron. And, much of what the Ranter is complaining about is correct, and more. The head of the DSD stated that Proposition D allows a developer to build up the grade and then measure height, which is ludicrous. The city people there were the mayor’s people and the answers they gave were ridiculous. They said they shut down the developer because of the FAR and blamed him but the fact is he was operating on a permit approved by DSD that showed huge retaining walls and the dirt build up. The developer may not be an admirable person but the city is guilty first and that is their conundrum. If they admit culpability, they could be liable for all development and construction costs that result from reversing course.

Talk after Labor Day? Are you serious? This needs attention now. Have you even familiarized yourself with the specifics of this issue? Instead of predictably defending the powers that be, why don’t you opine on the specifics of what everyone is talking about.


Gina July 22, 2016 at 4:31 pm

Geoff -This same commenter seems to feel that beer tasting rooms up and down Newport Avenue are great for our community, and probably is also gung ho on the police cameras which have just been installed all along the O.B. waterfront.
An apologist for our elected officials, it seems.
What we really need are elected officials who care about the people who actually live here and who want to have a liveable community.


Frank Gormlie July 22, 2016 at 8:51 pm

Gina, just a FYI, the commenter Byron Wear is the former councilman for District 2.


Byron Wear July 22, 2016 at 4:14 pm


The Mayor has been all over this issue taking decisive action. Mayor Faulconer issued the stop work order within a few days of being notified.

NOTHING will be approved by the City of San Diego until the final solution is determined and implemented. NADA. O. ZIP!

Yes, you are correct about the FAR and the shut down. The Mayor’s team did their homework and performed. There are also, in fact, complex issues involving Prop D. No need to go there now.

The City prevailed on the appeal filed in the Emerson and Evergreen Project. The developer will be forced to redesign the project, removing the top floor or sue the city.

Again, let’s let the Mayor resolve the issue. He is accountable to us. And if the Mayor doesn’t resolve it, you can call battle stations.

And yes, I was not at the meeting last night. Because I have confidence in Mayor Faulconer along with a majority of San Diego citizens who elected him outright in the Primary.

For the record, I spoke out early on this issue, sent emails, made calls and attended a few meetings.

There were 300 in attendance at the SES Hall Community Meeting last month. There were 30 last night. So I was one of the remaining 270 that stayed home. As yes, I did my six years on the Peninsula Planning Board in the 80’s and now I can enjoy a nice dinner at home once in awhile

I remain very confident.


Geoff Page July 24, 2016 at 5:33 pm

Looks like I touched a nerve, Byron. I have a few comments.

The mayor is not all over this issue, he is all over this one project because of the uproar. We tried to get him interested a year ago over the Ave. De Portugal project at 36 feet measured from the inside of new planters and all we got were crickets. If he was all over this issue, he would have reacted then and did not.

Nothing will be approved? Do you really think the DSD will shut down while this gets ironed out? I don’t.

“complex issues involving Prop D. No need to go there now?” What does that mean, that is precisely where we are going now, that is THE issue.

“The City prevailed on the appeal filed in the Emerson and Evergreen Project. The developer will be forced to redesign the project, removing the top floor or sue the city.” Appeal? What appeal? How much attention are you paying Byron? There was no appeal and if the developer has to reduce the size of the building it is because of the FAR issue NOT the height.

“Because I have confidence in Mayor Faulconer along with a majority of San Diego citizens who elected him outright in the Primary.” About half of the registered voters in the City voted; the mayor got 29% of all the eligible voters. Of that total, three percent of all registered voters, less than 20,000 voters, put the mayor over 51%. I would not say that a “majority of San Diego citizens” elected the mayour outright at all.

So, finally Byron, you attended the Town Hall some weeks ago but did not attend the PCPB meeting about which this rant was written. I attended both and I can say That Local One had every reason to write what he or she wrote here. It seems you are coming to the defense of city officials when you did not witness that performance. Why would you do that Mr. Wear?


Byron Wear July 24, 2016 at 6:56 pm


I was honored to have served two terms as the San Diego City Councilmember for District 2 where I grew up for the past 52 years. As a result, I have a different perspective having represented 175,000 constituents.

I also chaired the City Council Land Use and Housing Committee for 4 of my seven years in office and led the effort to begin the update of the framework of the City of San Diego General Plan at the suggestion of Mike Stepner

The Mayor and his staff are working on a solution for the Prop D issue. I believe they need to do complete their work. Then let’s judge the Mayor and his team after they report back to the community with a solid solution. In the meantime, NO building permits will be issued. PERIOD. For now, the “fire” is out.

You are incorrect about the appeal. When a City of San Diego “stop work order” is issued, there is an appeal process for the applicant. The City of San Diego issuance of the stop work order for the Emerson/Evergreen Project was upheld. The applicant will need to take a floor off the building or sue the City of San Diego. Yes, the stop work order was done on the FAR issue but the effect is the same.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer has done a great job for our city and knows the community well. When the Mayor became aware of this issue, he personally drove by and acted decisively within 24 hours. I applaud his swift action and follow up meetings with the Chair of the Peninsula Community Planning Board and other Point Loma/Roseville community activists. I know Mayor Faulconer is a strong defender of the integrity of the voter mandated 30 foot height limit.

Again, I am confident that a solution is around the corner.

So I am enjoying my Summer, planing to jump off the OB Pier with the Junior Lifeguards, hanging out on the sand at OB Tower 2 and stopped by Helms for a brew this afternoon.

All the best,

Byron Wear

PS. Please no sour grapes over the election. The Mayor won reelection in the June Primary. In fact, the Mayor actually won a plurality in the area of “Ocean Beach” and earned over 50% in the 92107 zip code and the greater Peninsula community.


Geoff Page July 24, 2016 at 8:21 pm

I noticed that you ignored my comment about the lack of action on the mayor’s part over the same violation on Ave. De Portugal a year ago. Many of us are indeed judging the mayor on his actions, a year ago, which were non-existent.

Interesting information about the project appeal. Yes, there is an appeal process after the Stop Work Order is issued but I have not heard anything about one already filed and decided on in this case. I can’t find anything on line about it. I did not hear about this at the PCPB meeting either. Seems like you have some information some of us don’t. When was the appeal heard? What record of it is there for the public to see? Minutes? A formal decision? What do you have Byron?

As for the “sour grapes” comment, you got that wrong. You had stated in your comment that “a majority of San Diego citizens who elected him outright in the Primary.” I was correcting that statement, a majority of San Diego citizens” did not vote for him. And, according to the OB Rag’s story,, OB went overwhelmingly for Ed Harris, the mayor did not win a plurality in OB. Much of the rest of the Peninsula is conservative so it was no surprise that the did better there. If you have a source of information that refutes what The Rag published, let us all know.


Byron Wear July 24, 2016 at 10:22 pm


To follow up…

1. The area defined as “Ocean Beach” according to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters supported Kevin Faulconer in trhe June Primary election by a pluraility vs. Ed Harris. The Rag may have been referring to the Ocean Beach Planning Board area but not the portions of Ocean Beach highlands. The map contained in The Rag was either red or blue for each precinct depending on the candidate. But when you actually add up the cumulative number of votes contained within ALL “Ocean Beach” precincts, Faulconer actually beat Harris. I will be glad to post of the actual total votes from the final Registrar certified results.

2. From my conversation with Jon Linney, Chair of the Peninsula Community Planning Board, the City staff present at the Planning Board meeting last Thursday publicly announced the results of the “Appeal of the Stop Work Order” AGAINST the applicant and in FAVOR of the decision. From what I heard, neighbors adjacent to the Emerson Project noticed the owner and architect making a visible inspection of the property to determine how they might comply. You may wish to contact DSD directly for information and details of the appeal on Monday. I will also follow up and provide any backup or materials I can locate.

3. As far as Avenida de Portugal project built when Ed Harris served on the City Council, I was not involved at that time. I imagine that due to the slight slope of the site and the fact that the garages were partially below “grade” on the west end, it wasn’t as clear at the time and as blatant manner in which Emerson project was attempted.

Byron Wear


Geoff Page July 25, 2016 at 10:51 am

1. Defining what is Ocean Beach is always an exercise in technicality but people who live there recognize what is OB and what isn’t. The Registrar shows 13 OB districts. Of these, only eight fall into what most people define as OB. Of these eight, Harris won big. Five of the precincts are east of Froude, which is also the OBPB boundary and all five of these precincts went heavily in favor of Faulconer. That is Point Loma to me and most folks.

2. I’ll wait for the minutes but it is possible they mentioned the appeal at the PCPB meeting and I missed it. I will check on that.

3. This comment was very telling. What did Ed Harris being on the City Council have to do with the issue? What difference did it make at all that you were not involved? As for your imaginings about Ave. De Portugal, you are all wrong. They measured the height from what they called finished grade inside of new planters. It had nothing to do with a garage or slope and neither does the Emerson project. The floor area ratio – FAR – has nothing to do with height. Just because the FAR might allow a certain square footage, that does not mean a developer can exceed the 30-foot height limit. This is the same nonsense the city is giving the public now about this project. The issue is the artificially created grade from which the height is being measured.


Byron Wear July 24, 2016 at 11:12 pm


I checked on the Registrar of Voters website

Official Election Results June 7, 2016 Primary Mayor of San Diego
Certified on July 7, 2016

Summary of the 13 “Ocean Beach” Precincts
Precinct Numbers: 23500, 235300, 235500, 235520, 236000, 236300, 236600, 237100, 237200, 237610, 237700, 238300, 238800
Kevin Faulconer 2,600 votes
Ed Harris 2,286 votes
Lori Saldana 1,376 votes
Total 6,362 votes
San Diego County Registrar of Voters CANVASS
Pages 74/75 and 125/126 of 153 pages
Information is on line at San Diego County Registrar of Voters website

You can view all races and additional percentages can be found.

Byron Wear


Geoff Page July 25, 2016 at 10:54 am

The five precincts I do not include as OB are 237200, 237610, 237700, 238,300, and 238800. Anyone can go to this link and double click on each precinct to see the number. These five are not what I consider OB but I’ll let others chime in after viewing the map. Faulconer did not carry OB.


Byron Wear July 25, 2016 at 5:51 pm

Ocean Beach “official” boundaries have always been a debate.
I mentioned earlier that the OB Planning Board area of Ocean Beach went for Ed Harris. The SD County Registrar of Voters has 13 precincts identified as “Ocean Beach” which basically includes everything west of Catalina and north of Point Loma Avenue. That area went for Kevin Faulconer. The Ocean Beach Town Council eligibility for membership includes all within the 92107 which would include Sunset Cliffs. That area went for Kevin Faulconer. I believe many of the folks living east of Ebers to Venice identify more with Ocean Beach. The area is known as Ocean Beach Highlands. Point Loma precincts are divided between La Playa and Loma Portal.


Geoff Page July 26, 2016 at 9:29 am

I think I already covered this Byron. Most people that I know would say the OBPB boundaries most accurately identify the OB area. The 92107 zip code may cover all of Ocean Beach but Ocean Beach is not all of that zip code area. As for “Ocean Beach Highlands,” the area you described is called Point Loma Heights, I know because I live in that area. There is no neighborhood designation Ocean Beach Heights. I live just outside of the OB boundary even though I identify with OB and not Point Loma. I’m actually within the Peninsula Community Planning Board area by a few blocks. The areas you keep wanting to include in the 13 precincts include 5 that are not in the OB area and most of the Peninsula is conservative except for OB. So, no, I completely disagree, OB did not go for Faulconer.


kh July 25, 2016 at 11:54 am

According to the registrar of voters list, Point Loma doesn’t even exist. So you can argue about the semantics of what they call each district, but the boundaries of OB are quite clear.


Geoff Page July 25, 2016 at 12:48 pm

Kh, can you tell us what the boundaries are in your opinion?


La Playa Heritage July 25, 2016 at 1:44 pm

2010 Census Track Boundary Map for portions of coastal City of San Diego.

Also thank you for the correction.


Geoff Page July 25, 2016 at 2:12 pm

Can you tell us what you wanted to show with this map? I looked at it but maybe I’m missing something.


La Playa Heritage July 25, 2016 at 3:48 pm

Please disregard above link for Federal HUD Census Tracts.
Thanks again for the corrections.

kh July 26, 2016 at 1:10 am

San Diego parcel map. SD defines the neighborhood boundaries and planning/council districts. These boundaries are codified in San Diego municipal code. OB ends at Froude st. There’s a chunk by the tennis club also included. I’ve seen no legitimate claim
otherwise. Maybe just some citizens that like to claim they are in OB. Like those people trying to claim they’re in La Jolla. And before you say it, I don’t think the zip codes carry weight in the local laws. Those were established for benefit of the postal service.


Geoff Page July 26, 2016 at 9:33 am

kh, I agree with your comments. One minor correction, the OB Planning Board area includes the Famosa Slough area, otherwise it ends at Froude as you said.


kh July 26, 2016 at 10:40 am

Yes, Barnes Tennis center and Mariners cove.

Betsy July 22, 2016 at 9:12 pm

I was interested to learn that this issue is, in fact, an issue. I’m fairly new to OB (4 years or so) and my husband and I often comment on the very tall homes in OB (specifically, how they got permits approved since we’ve heard about the 30′ rule). We do think it’s unfortunate as the homes are not appealing to us and block out the beauty you expect of a beach town. At the same time, we never thought anything would be done about it. Just out of curiosity, is it possible that the builders who disregarded the 30′ rule would have to remove entire floors of already completed homes?? Or is this a new rule that was not around when these older homes were built? It would be great if there was more accountability from the get-go!


Debra July 25, 2016 at 4:55 pm

I SO agree. Especially, if you live in a small bungalow and someone obnoxiously builds a large house next door with balconies, that overlook your backyard, destroying any semblance of privacy and quality of life.


Local One July 22, 2016 at 10:42 pm

Let’s take a vote.

Who thinks the City’s leaders honored the voter’s intent in approving a building permit for an under-ground garage to be built above-ground and thereby allowing 40′ structures in the 30′ coastal zone?
Yes _
No _

If you really believe Byron in that our Mayor is “all over this issue and taking decisive action”, you might want to read these two articles from 2010 and 2013 where the exact same tactics were being used against other local communities in San Diego by the same City leaders and developers.

Yeah right, Kevin and Lorie are jumping right on this community’s problem within the next few weeks…………..NOT.


Kathy Blavatt July 23, 2016 at 5:36 am

been asked “What is one of the most important issues in this district?”. I wrote on my notepad in large letters 30 ft. Height Limit. Sitting next to me was Kevin Faulconer. Amazingly he said, “30 ft. Height Limit”! and that was it. After that, I then gave the my answer “30 ft. Height Limit”, but I backed it up with why it was so important, and provided background information about the law.
Kevin and the City need to be held accountable and stop playing games with this law the people voted for!


Kathy Blavatt July 23, 2016 at 5:39 am

During the 2005 District 2 Election at a PB forum, when I ran for office, candidates were asked been asked “What is one of the most important issues in this district?”. I wrote on my notepad in large letters 30 ft. Height Limit. Sitting next to me was Kevin Faulconer. Amazingly he said, “30 ft. Height Limit”! and that was it. After that, I then gave the my answer “30 ft. Height Limit”, but I backed it up with why it was so important, and provided background information about the law.
Kevin and the City need to be held accountable and stop playing games with this law the people voted for!


La Playa Heritage July 23, 2016 at 7:35 am

“Further, the Mayor and DSD shut down the Emerson Street project based on a violation of the FAR standards, NOT the obvious violation of the 30 foot coastal height limit.”

The reason for not calling out Violations of the 30 foot Coastal Height Limit on the issued Building Permit, is that for unknown reasons the City of San Diego Development Services Department (DSD) does not document height of structures on the Building Permits or plans, only Number of Stories and Gross Floor Area. According to Municipal Code Section 113.0261 the project is 4 Stories, not the 3 Stories on the approved Building Permit. The at-grade Garage is consider the First Story, therefore the Gross Floor Area of the Garage Story should have been counted.

Division 2: Rules for Calculation and Measurement.

§113.0261 Determining a Story

A story is that portion of a building between finish-floor elevations, between finish floor
and roof elevations, and between grade and finish-floor elevations.

(a) First Story.
The first story is the lowest story or ground story of any building, the floor of which is not more than 2 feet, 6 inches above existing grade or proposed grade, whichever is lower, measured to the finish-floor elevation.

(d) Underground Parking Structures and Basements.
Underground parking structures and basements are stories if there is a vertical distance, at any point, of 6 feet or more between existing grade or proposed grade, whichever is lower, and the finish-floor elevation immediately above.

Similarly the too high Sunroad building in Kearny Mesa near Montgomery – Gibbs Executive Airport was issued a Stop Work Order, and the City won the $40 million lawsuit, not due to the violations of the Height limit above FAA Part 77 Objects Affecting Navigable Airport, but Violations of the Approved Building Permit regarding Number of Stories, and Gross Floor Area. Based upon miscalculations by both the Developer Sunroad and City DSD staff of the Municipal Code for Number of Stories (14 instead of the 12 shown on the Building Permit), and Gross Floor Area (actually 334,737 square feet, instead of the allowed 306,000 square feet).


Geoff Page July 25, 2016 at 10:55 am

One minor correction, the project plans do document building height within the Prop D area.


kh July 25, 2016 at 12:02 pm

Unlike Prop D, FAR is calculated based on existing grade. So assuming the architect tried to max out FAR and exclude the 1st floor garage by saying it’s below grade, that entire 1st floor area would be in excess of FAR.

So pretty easy, remove the top floor to comply with FAR, and to get the city off your back regarding the poorly written coastal height limit. And redesign the interior plan.


Geoff Page July 25, 2016 at 5:00 pm

Not sure I get what you are saying here KH. The grade has very little to do with the FAR except in deciding if a garage is subterranean or not. You are correct that the garage would be included in the FAR if it is above grade but by burying it to the degree that they did, it would be considered subterranean and not included. The garage doesn’t have to be completely underground to be left out of the FAR. But, all of this was on the approved plans, neither the developer nor the architect are to be blamed for this, they did what they did knowing the DSD would approve it.

The city has focused too much on the developer and this FAR issue but the fact is, he had an approved permit based on exactly what he was building. The issue is not the FAR, it is allowing an artificial build up of grade to achieve more height AND more FAR by excluding the garage. If this was just the developer and the architect, then the DSD is admitting its plan reviewers have no idea what they are doing. And, for Ave De Portugal, the extra height was gained by measuring from dirt inside tall planters around the building. DSD knew exactly what was happening, they argued with me that ti was perfectly correct. This was no mistake.


kh July 26, 2016 at 12:55 am

The language used to calculate FAR relies on existing grade, or proposed grade, whichever is lower. (As opposed to the 1970 ubc.) You cannot just pile dirt on an otherwise above ground structure. DSD requires the applicant to submit photos of the existing site, so they should have known better than to approve whatever grading gimmicks. But those guys can never see the forest for the trees. They probably were more concerned about the storm water BMP notes being in the wrong font.


Geoff Page July 26, 2016 at 9:31 am

kh, your first sentence describes how to measure height, not the FAR. Except that the 1970 UBC did not mention the word “existing” or the word “proposed.” As for the DSD, they knew exactly what they were approving.


kh July 26, 2016 at 10:34 am

FAR uses those 2 terms to determine if a crawlspace or garage below is counted in the area. Attics too. Basically it has to be less than 5 feet high to be excluded. The idea is you can’t add a huge “crawlspace” under a house then come back later and make it a room. The non-coastal height restrictions use the same terms as well. It’s much more restrictive than UBC 1970 which only refers to finished grade. I’m kinda tired of trying to explain this. Read it, it’s in the code.


Geoff Page July 26, 2016 at 10:41 am

kh, The 1970 UBC does not use the term “finished” grade. The terms “finished” and “proposed” have been added through the MC and these terms have caused the problem. Here is the exact wording from the 1970 UBC:

“The height shall be measured from the highest adjoining sidewalk or ground surface within 5 feet of the structure, provided the height measured from the lowest adjoining surface shall not exceed such maximum height by more than 10 feet.”

You have been discussing the FAR, which is a different issue, however the build up of earth on Emerson allowed both an illegal height, because they measured from the newly created grade, and an illegal FAR because they buried the garage keeping it out of the FAR calculation.


Local One July 25, 2016 at 10:10 pm

Thirty feet is thirty feet.
Your eyes do not lie.

The voters know in their gut that the politicians and developers have manipulated the rules to allow forty foot (40′) structures to be built within the 30′ coastal zone beginning back about 2010. Is it ironic that Kevin Faulconer has held elected office during the same period of time that the new interpretation by DSD of how to measure a building came into play and is now running roughshod over Roseville?

City leaders, including the Mayor, are the source of this manufactured problem and are not likely to be a party to any solution within our lifetimes. If Kevin Faulconer proves me wrong, and finds the means to permanently protect the voters’s intent when they approved Prop D in 1972, I’ll write an appropriately humble apology to Byron Wear smack tab on the front page of the OBRag.

Thirty feet is thirty feet.


Byron Wear July 26, 2016 at 12:28 pm

Hello Local One…

Once the Mayor became aware of the Emerson/Evergreen issue, he acted decisively within 24 hours and issued the stop work order. He followed up with meetings in his office with key community leaders a day later. He protected Roseville.

Frequently lower level staff make a policy call that is not in step with the policy direction of the Mayor and Council.

So..Perhaps we table this issue for few weeks until the Mayor and Council take further action. If the Mayor and his staff do their job, let’s celebrate and taste a few craft beers on Newport. I’ll buy and Geoff can come too! Cheers.



Geoff Page July 26, 2016 at 1:43 pm

You mean once the mayor became aware that there was a sizable number of people who were intensely angry and that the news media was involved he acted. A year before, when he was made aware of the first violation on Avenida De Portugal , the mayor did nothing.

This wasn’t done to just protect Roseville, the whole area defined by Prop D is in jeopardy.

Policy had nothing to do with this. The mayor and city council had nothing to do with this, unless it was behind closed doors. The Development Services Department created this new interpretation.

I see no need to take weeks or months to resolve this. The DSD’s completely flawed interpretation simply needs to be corrected for this project and all others that the DSD used this interpretation on. So far, it does not appear that the mayor and the DSD are focusing on the height issue, they are talking about the FAR as a way around making a decision. I won’t be satisfied until I read a correct version of how to measure height based on the 1970 UBC.


Stan July 29, 2016 at 6:31 pm

Kevin Faulconer wasn’t actually proactive or “leading” on this issue. Rather, he really wasn’t even aware of the situation until his employers (yep, the taxpayers) told him to put his helmet on and get in the game.

Maybe we should make sure our staff has better training and/or experience or simply hire more competent staff to begin with.


Susie July 26, 2016 at 4:43 pm

Parts of Liberty Station were also built above 30 feet too.
Nothing was done back then w McMillin.
Go measure. It’s more than thirty.


Geoff Page July 26, 2016 at 5:07 pm

Liberty Station is a unique situation. The following is from The OB Rag in 2013:

The Liberty Station / NTC Exemption

Liberty station hotels Hilton
Hilton hotel at Liberty Station.
Another important exception – and another legal battle lost – was the court decision to allow exceptions to the 30 foot height limit on the former Naval Training Center base – former federal land handed over to the City of San Diego for free. In a stunning ruling, Brown-appointee Judge Mac Amos allowed that the voters never “intended” the 30 foot height limit to apply to federal land within the coastal zone, even federal land given to the City for city land.

Judge Amos ruled the City of San Diego had to apply only those portions of local zoning regulations that were consistent with the federally approved base reuse plan, the plan by which NTC was being transferred. The court found that the approved reuse plan for surplus land at a naval training center in San Diego allowed for structures up to 100 feet tall.

The group that brought the suit, Save Our NTC, believed Judge Amos ignored a city Environmental Impact Report that stated that the 30 foot height limit applied, as well as ignoring federal law that states:

“After Federal property (NTC) has been conveyed to non-Federal entities, the property is subject to local land use regulations, including zoning and subdivision regulations, and building codes.”

At the time, activist John McNab in Alternate News commented:

Voter initiative is supposed to take precedence over government action. In this case, too, Judge Mac Amos found reason to put city interest ahead of voter intent.

On appeal, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled in early 2003 that the voter-approved height limitation initiative does not apply to redeveloped land that was part of a military base. (See CP&DR .)

This NTC exception has, of course, allowed large hotels to be built in Liberty Station, right on the waterfront. In the end, Judge Amos’ ruling was just frosting on the cake in one of the largest public-land giveaways in modern San Diego history – the handing over of NTC to Corky McMillan.


Kathy Blavatt July 27, 2016 at 6:14 am

In my opinion the NTC judgement smelled, and very fowl at that. I sat in the audience next to one of the founders of the 30 ft. Height Limit law during the NTC Lawsuits. The Chair and members of the the original VOTE group (30 ft. Height Limit) filed an Abacus Brief included in the NTC lawsuits. Astonishingly, during Judge Amos’ ruling, he made the statement saying, “I don’t know if the originators of the 30 ft. Height Limit meant to include NTC”. The originator 30 ft. Height Limit sitting next to me was furious and heartbroken. So, there are only two answers to why Judge Amos could make such a statement? Did he not read the Abacus Brief?… Making him stupid, or the other explanation is he corrupt?
Having had the history of the 30 ft. Height given to the OB Historical Society by the VOTE Chair, I am sadden that this City and others continue to break/bend the law. The VOTE originators put 6 years into passing this law and having the courts uphold it. San Diegans voted in this law and it needs to be upheld!


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