OB Planners Frustrated With Lack of City Response on Ebers Project

by on November 4, 2016 · 2 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Environment, History, Ocean Beach, Organizing, Politics

obpb-meet-11-2-16-bdTis a sad state of affairs when citizens have to resort to legal options to force their government to enforce its own laws.

But that is what the frustrated leadership of the Ocean Beach Planning Board is advising the community to do in light of the roadblocks that are being thrown up regarding the controversial project at Ebers and Greene Streets.

At one point near the end of the Wednesday night meeting of the Board during the discussion about the project, Board member and veteran planner Craig Klein – himself a lawyer – asked:

“What is the process for citizens to compel the city to enforce its own laws?”

This came minutes after Board chair John Ambert had declared:

“The community needs to take legal action at this point. Our words seem to fall on deaf ears …”

Ambert was referring to his and the Board’s efforts to get answers from the city officials about the project, or even get a meeting with the appropriate city reps.

The frustration of Board members was palpable. The construction project sticks in the claw of the Board like the lion in the proverb.

The basic problem – expressed numerous times by Board members and those in the audience – is that the project clearly is not being built as an “addition” which is what the owner/developer Curtis Nelson of Nelco Properties told the city. And because of the city’s approval, the project did not have to go through the normal procedures construction projects of its magnitude are required to.

On top of that is the refusal of city people to meet with Board members over the project, the lack of response from either the Mayor’s office or the office of Councilwoman Zapf about the project; the normal representation to Board meetings by both offices has collapsed over the last several months. Neither Conrad Wear of Zapf’s office nor Anthony George of Faulconer’s officer have been present at the monthly planning board meetings for at least the last two months.

Their absence Wednesday night was particularly galling to the Board – and to members of the community in the audience – and was commented upon several times by Ambert and others.

Ambert had received a call from the Mayor’s office about two hours before the meeting started. The caller, Jack Straw, acknowledged to Ambert that the Mayor’s office is looking at the project. And from Ambert’s perspective, the city doesn’t want to place itself in a legal liability position.

“The city,” Ambert said, “still considers it an ‘addition’. Is there a legal remedy?” he asked.

The Ebers project was high on the Board’s agenda that night, the 2nd of November. When the item came up, Board member Jane Gawronski thanked Ambert for “keeping the issue before the city and DSD,” (Development Services Department) as he has fired off numerous emails with requests for meeting and responses to city staff replies over the last several weeks.

Ambert began the discussion with an update on the project and what the community’s response has been. The Board is calling for a stop work order from the mayor/ city; the Board had sponsored a large meeting 2 weeks ago with the unanimous feeling about the stop work order, and that OB needs to get the Mayor to follow through with it. That meeting grew out of a rally held at the site back in mid-October.

“The result,” Ambert said, “is that we don’t have a lot of feedback [from the city]. We don’t know what it is – what with the plan changes …. I don’t believe this is an addition – it’s 2 separate units.”

Jane Gawronski proposed:

“We need to request a meeting with the mayor along with the PLA [Pt Loma Association] and the Peninsula planners, and other groups.” She added, “DSD is out of control.”

More discussion ensured. Allison and Mick Rush, the neighbors who have led the fight against the project gave an update. Construction is still going on, they said, and they have watched as workers worked 13 days straight on the project. Building materials fall into their yard; workers shoot nails into their property. And there continues to be no contractor on site.

Geoff Page, a local who has immersed himself into the controversies about the project at the urging of the OB Rag, commented that Nelson has a contractor’s license. The city, he said, is concerned that the second unit will be rented out, and want the builder to sign a ‘habitability structure’ pledge, which he added, he didn’t think the city could force a developer to do.  Page also said that the project’s structural plans didn’t match up with its architectural plans.

There is also no doubt that originally Nelson tried to sell the units as 2 separate houses – despite his more recent efforts to make them one structure. Board members saw signs advertising the units as two, Nelco Properties’ website had them as two; one Board member, a realtor, recalled showing the property to prospective buyers as 2 different units. Many in the audience also did the same.

Finally, a motion was made and seconded, for the Board to work with other groups around the Peninsula to set up a meeting with the Mayor himself about the project. It easily passed 10 to zip.

This is when Klein asked out loud what the process is for the citizenry to get the city to enforce its own laws and codes.

“OB,” Klein said, “needs to put together a warchest and talk to a land use attorney.”

A few seconds later, Mick Rush warned the crowd that Nelson owns four other properties in Point Loma and wants to develop all of them.

The Board will be setting up this meeting with the Mayor (not just with someone in his office) once discussions are held with the OB Town Council, OBMA, the PLA, and the Peninsula Area Community Planning Board.

It’s curious this obvious lack of presence of the usual reps from Zapf’s and the Mayor’s office. To be fair, Ambert had noted at one point, probably Zapf’s staff were all involved in the short-term vacation rental public meetings and issues. But what about the Mayor’s staff?

OB is and has been a very liberal, blue-voting neighborhood. And both Kevin Faulconer and Lori Zapf know that most OBcean voters voted for their opponents in recent elections. So, perhaps there’s not much motivation to come down to OB and keep the villagers calm.

Here’s the channel8News report.

obpb-meet-11-2-16-catamapOther News – Catalina Emergency Pipeline Installation Project

Three staff members of a city team assembled from the City’s Public Works department to deal with an emergency installation project along Catalina Blvd gave a short presentation. As background, earlier this year, there was a watermain break on Catalina, and a 24 incher transmission line now needs to be installed next to the existing line. There will be impacts on the local neighborhood, including water outages – which will not occur until 5 days of notification.

Construction was expected to begin in August, and it is anticipated to be completed by March 2017, according to the staff. From their nifty, shiny, expensive hand-out, we find:

“This project will install about 1260 linear feet of 24″ polyvinyl chloride (PVC) transmission pipeline to replace the old main. The construction will take place on Catalina Blvd. between Nimitz Blvd. and Tennyson Street. The full length and width of the excavated street will be resurfaced once the main installation is complete.”

Questions? Call 619-533-4207 or engineering@sandiego.gov

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

SaneVoice November 4, 2016 at 1:24 pm

Public Enemy # 1:

See this, this, and this


OBKing November 9, 2016 at 3:23 pm

What is the city’s definition of “addition”?? That would clear up some confusion here and most likely why the city will not respond or appear. The structure is connected to the house. Also, I do remember when the lot went for sale it was advertised as 2 for 1.

Can’t believe the resources and energy OB community is wasting on this – we need housing, PERIOD… and most of us are not lucky enough to have moved here 30 years ago and purchased a house for $60k. UNREAL, considering the issues our community really faces.


Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: