Long Approval Process for New Muni Code “Correction” on Point Loma Construction Will Allow Projects that Exceed Height Limits

by on November 14, 2016 · 3 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Environment, History, Ocean Beach, Politics, San Diego

pl-emerson-proj-barbita-souza

The Emerson-Evergreen project. Photo by Barbita Souza

By Geoff Page

Well, it appears what I suspected about the City’s eagerness to add language to the Municipal Code (MC), after the debacle on Emerson and Evergreen Streets in Roseville, is true.

I objected to the new MC language that the City told everyone would “correct” the deficiency in the MC that allowed a 40-foot tall building.

My objection was that this was just a maneuver on the City’s part to avoid further litigation from other projects, that the language was redundant of what the MC already says.  By adding this language, the City was able to set a future date, before which any affected projects would be exempt and that is exactly what the City has done.

When this new language was discussed, the public asked the City about other projects. The public was assured that the City, specifically the fox in the hen house, the Development Services Department (DSD), was reviewing all other projects.  That was bullshit.

The process of changing the MC involves a two steps. The vote that took place on October 24, 2016, was just to “introduce” the ordinance, according to Deputy City Attorney Shannon Thomas.  The vote to “approve” the ordinance takes place tomorrow on November 15.

What I’m drawing attention to now is the original language that was at the very bottom of the ordinance on October 24. I wonder if anyone in the throes of delight over this “solution” to the Roseville problem even read this.  It stated:

“Section 4.  That no permits shall be issued for development that is inconsistent with the provisions of this Ordinance unless complete applications for such permits are submitted to the City prior to the date on which the applicable provisions of this ordinance become effective, which date is determined in accordance with Section 3, above.”

On October 24, the date of the City Council meeting to “introduce” the new language, not approve it as most people probably thought, the DSD submitted an edited version of this it wanted to use.  Shannon Thomas’s Memorandum dated October 24, 2016 stated:

“Subsequent to the submittal of O-2017-41 to the Clerk’s Office for docketing, the Originating Department requested that the following language be revised:”

“No permits shall be issued for development that is inconsistent with the provisions of this Ordinance unless complete applications for such permits have been granted are submitted to by the City prior to the date on which the applicable provisions of this Ordinance become effective.”

Notice the euphemism for the DSD as “the Originating Department?” The underlined words were added.  Shown without the strikeouts and underlines, it reads:

“No permits shall be issued for development that is inconsistent with the provisions of this Ordinance unless such permits have been granted by the City prior to the date on which the applicable provisions of this Ordinance become effective.”

So, what does Section 3 of the Ordinance say?  It said San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (SDCRAA) had to approve it and, if it did, the Ordinance would take effect 30 days after that, whenever that is.

Except, there is an exception.  The Ordinance would not take effect for areas within the Coastal Overlay Zone until the Coastal Commission certifies the Ordinance, which can take six months or more.  But, if the SDCRAA has a problem with the Ordinance, it comes back to the City further delaying the start date.  There’s more.

If the City doesn’t like the SDCRAA’s opinion of the Ordinance, it can overrule whatever the SDCRAA said with a two thirds vote.  But, then the proposal to do that has to go back to the SDCRAA, Caltrans, the Divisions of Aeronautics, and the airport operators for the Airports and then the City will hold a second hearing 45 days from the date the proposed decision and findings were provided.  The finish line keeps moving and projects are getting approved.

What that means, folks, is that projects can be submitted and approved that exceed the height limit until the long process to approve the Ordinance is completed.  This is ignoring the fact that the DSD did not follow the MC when it granted the permit for the Roseville project in the first place. The DSD has actually colluded with developers by allowing what has happened.

The DSD probably had so many projects they did this on; they needed an out and this “change” to the MC was the ticket and everyone supported it.  And, because everyone is now convinced that the MC was deficient, the DSD can absolve itself of what it has done and can continue doing it until this long process is over.

Finally, the City also edited the footnote it planned to add to the MC.  It originally read:

“Within the Coastal Height Limit Overlay Zone of the Peninsula Community Plan area, the base zone maximum structure height shall be 30 feet. Proposed structures shall demonstrate compliance with the rules for calculation and measurement of structure height in Section 113.0270(a)(4)(D).”

It now reads:

“Within the Coastal Height Limit Overlay Zone in the Peninsula Community Plan area, the base zone maximum structure height shall be 30 feet, which shall be determined in accordance with Section 113.0270(a)(4)(D).”

The part of the sentence they removed “Proposed structures shall demonstrate compliance with the rules for calculation and measurement of structure height in” 113.0270(a)(4)(D) states exactly what the MC always required, all structures, all of them, had to show compliance with this section already.  The new wording makes it look like a new requirement and it is not.

Oh, and did I mention that the language is unnecessary and redundant of what the MC already said and that this whole exercise is a sham?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

triggerfinger November 14, 2016 at 11:21 am

This sounds like a rerun of their ridiculous action on vacation rental enforcement. Just enforce the code as written. Stop trying to justify your previous lack of enforcement. Doing so, and saying a code change is now required, only legitimizes the previous violations and enforcement failure, and could even make the process of starting enforcement even more of a hurdle.

Reply

Geoff Page Geoff Page November 14, 2016 at 3:08 pm

That is it in a nutshell and most everyone bought into it.

Reply

OB Dude November 28, 2016 at 2:40 pm

recent Reader article
http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2016/nov/28/stringers-development-services-dept-developers/

Maybe a recall of the Mayor is in order?

Reply

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