The Top 15 Stories from Ocean Beach and Point Loma for 2016

by on December 29, 2016 · 6 comments

in Culture, Economy, Environment, Health, History, Homelessness, Media, Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach with a flooded Abbott Street, storms of Jan. 2016

It’s that time of the year when media and press outfits turn reflective and ponder the “best” or “most important” stories they’ve published over the last 12 months. We’ve done something similar here after reviewing our archives from 2016, and have come up what we think are the “top stories” from OB and Point Loma for the year.

The “stories” are really news, photos, analysis and opinions about real issues within the communities of the Peninsula, a number of which have continued from last year.

So, here they are, the top 15 stories – not in any precise order, but in some kind of semblance of importance, with the mostest at the beginning

1. Short Term Vacation Rentals

Definitely a hold-over issue from 2015, short term vacation rentals continue to spark an invigorated opposition from coastal communities – including OB.

The loss of community that vacation rentals pose for Ocean Beach and other beach communities was explored here in The Loss of Community .

In June the OB Town Council held a discussion and presentation on the issue, and in August the OBTC wrote an open letter to the Mayor and City Council expressing their opposition to the status quo and joined those seeking clarifications to and enforcement of the Municipal Code. See Open Letter . Later in the year, the City Council nixed that effort. Also see:

2. Encroachment into Public Space

Encroachment into public space – especially on Newport Avenue – by restaurants and bars became an issue in the early part of 2016. The well-known restaurant, The Joint, and another bar-restaurant still then being constructed (OB Brewery), both installed structures that appeared to encroach into the public right-of-way and space.

In February, we posted, Is This Encroachment Into Our Public Space? Then in March we published A Photo Essay  of Encroachments Into Public Space in Ocean Beach. We ran a poll in April where a plurality at least opposed the metal railings at The Joint. Poll on Encroachment

Restaurants and bars were taking advantage of the City of San Diego’s Program for Outdoor Cafes . In April, the Owner of “The Joint”  was given a Correction Notice by the City. By October, The Joint Moves Its Fence .

These examples of encroachment also drew this, Ocean Beach Growing Wary Over Private Encroachments into Public Space , and a Reader Rant: ‘Now It’s Encroachment into Public Space by the Lifeguards.’

3. Brewery Explosion on Newport Ave.

Another top story that has ignited an on-going debate in OB is the absolute explosion of beer pubs and breweries on or around Newport Avenue. In March, we raised the question, Just How Many Breweries can Ocean Beach handle?

One source of the debate pondered whether the multitude of alcohol establishments contributed to a tragedy. (Is Tragedy Linked to Multitude of Alcohol Establishments?) As the OB Rag continued through the year in giving updates and reports of the status of the pubs (Status of New Breweries and see Another New Brewery , the debate continues to rage (see The Debate Over the Ocean Beach Breweries)

4. The Emerson and Evergreen Project

In the Roseville neighborhood of Point Loma, a storm was brewing over the development of a pair of duplexes that locals claimed violated the area’s 30-foot building limit. The building in question, at the corner of Emerson and Evergreen streets, measured upwards of 41 feet.

On June 25th, nearly 100 Point Lomans gathered to protest the development (Point Loma Residents Protest ) and held an emotionally-charged  Town Hall Meeting . The City finally issued a Stop Work Order on the project – although for the wrong reasons say the project’s opponents – and eventually the Developer forced to remove 4th floor

The battle over the project opened up the whole issue of deep concern for San Diegans in the coastal zones. Of note, see ‘The Emerson and Evergreen Project in Point Loma Is Where We Have to Draw the Battle Line for the 30 Foot Height Limit’. Also see Mayor Meets with Opponents of Emerson Project.

5. Torrey Pines on Saratoga – Heritage Tree Designations

The unsuccessful campaign to save a Torrey Pine on Saratoga Avenue – a towering and historic Torrey which was chopped down by the City has led to a crusade to save or at least protect the surviving Torrey Pines in Ocean Beach. A group formed to do just that and has succeeded in having 8 other Torreys designated as Heritage Trees. See the following:

6. The Ebers and Greene Project

Another questionable construction project rose its ugly head in the northeast corner of OB, at Ebers and Greene Streets. In early July, the OB Rag posted, Questions Raised About Ocean Beach Project at Ebers Street and Greene, and by early September, Group of Residents to Petition the OB Planning Board about the project. And in early October, we reported that the OB Planning Board Takes on the controversial wood-framed project.

There was movement on different levels surrounding the project, as City Issues Inspection Correction Notice to Owner Nelco Properties, and on October 15th, we posted OBceans Mobilize Against Project  .

On October 19th, an OB Town Hall meeting was held on the project, and the OB Town Hall Demands “Stop Work” Order by Mayor Faulconer, and the OB Planning Board sponsored a discussion on it Nov. 2nd. The City did issue a Correction Notice (see A Closer Look at the Ebers and Greene Project and the Correction Notice Issued by the City).  Plus check this, Looking Deeper Into the Plans of the Ebers and Greene Project.

7. Homeless Serial Killer

Not all the stories from the year are easy to recall. During the summer months, a serial killer of homeless men was on the loose. Three of his victims died – including a man in Ocean Beach, and a fourth was seriously injured. While fear swept San Diego’s homeless community, the killer was apprehended by diligent police officers, but was ruled too mentally incompetent to stand trial. See these:

8. CVS vs Point Loma and Jensen’s Market

When the former Fresh & Easy market on Catalina closed, the giant CVS began making noises about moving into the empty building. But this didn’t sit well with locals who wanted a fresh-food store, so Point Lomans Mobilize Against CVS Coming in to Old Fresh & Easy Site

The successful effort – which included thousands of signatures on petitions – resulted in a San Bernardino County local chain, Jensen’s, taking strong interest in moving into the county. We then reported Jensen’s Moving into Former Fresh & Easy – which was a welcomed relief to Point Lomans who mobilized to support the new store. (See Jensen’s in Point Loma: Hiring Fair and Block Party)

On December 9th, Jensen’s opened. (Jensen’s Foods in Point Loma Opened Today )

9. The 30 Foot Height Limit and City Development Services Department

When local Peninsula residents figured out the shenanigans that the City’s Development Services Department was pulling over allowing developers to build over the 30 foot height limit, they rallied. The Peninsula Community Planning Board sent an Open Letter to the Mayor and City Council on Determining Building Heights. In response, the City Proposes Height Limit Solution for Point Loma. This didn’t sit well with locals – see More on Peninsula Debate on 30-Foot Height Limit – “Square footage has noting to do with height.”

10.  The 50th Anniversary of OB Pier

Our local OB Pier reaching the half-century mark was celebrated throughout 2016. Various OB groups did their part, see OB Mainstreet Association Looking for Pier Reviews, and OB Pier 50th Anniversary Art Show Reception in late June, plus the OB Historical Society presentation on The OB Pier Turns 50! in late July. To top it all off, the OB Pier celebration was chosen as the theme for the annual OB Holiday Parade.


11. Parrots vs Pellets

During the early months of 2016, wild parrots began being shot by pellets. We posted Someone Is Killing Parrots With Pellet Guns , and a  Reward Offered for Parrot Killer. By February 19th, Latest Parrot Deaths brought the total to 9. And an OB Community Forum was held in April on Wild Parrots to educate the neighborhoods.


12. Surveillance Cameras

The on-going debate – or lack of – about the City installing police surveillance cameras along OB’s waterfront continued into 2016. See OB Police Cameras Update – January, and Opponents of Ocean Beach Police Cameras Get Some Local Press.

The cameras were installed in July (Police Cameras Being Installed ), but not before Councilwoman Zapf and Her Cameras at issue at OB Town Council Meeting . Plus Zapf Introduces Surveillance Cameras to OB at Press Conference But No Questions Were Allowed.


13. The FAA and Airplane Departures

Residents of Point Loma have been complaining about the routes and times of airplane departures from Lindbergh for years. But the hold-over issue ratchet up several notches when it was reported FAA Replaces San Diego Airport’s Primary Departure Route South of Point Loma and Point Loma Residents Still Upset Over FAA Changes in Airplane Departures

14. OB Library – Anniversary and Expansion

One of the nicest stories from the year has been the celebrations of the Ocean Beach Library Centennial – which was celebrated with a huge party at the library on Sunday, Oct. 16th, and plans by the Friends of the Ocean Beach Library – who have high Hopes for its Expansion -. See The Amazing Story of the Ocean Beach Library Centennial .


15. Storms of Early 2016

How could a recounting of the top stories from 2016 be complete without bringing up the huge El Nino storms that hit in January? Well, it can’t, so see these telltale photos in Photo Gallery of El Nino Deluge in Ocean Beach and Point Loma and Flood Waters . We all remember this – Saratoga Million-Dollar Condos Flood for Second Time in 4 Months, with amazing video footage in ‘We told you so‘ video of floods.

So that’s it, folks, our top 15 stories from OB and Point Loma. Sure, there were others, like Deaths and Injuries at Sunset Cliffs, the OB Food and Toy Drive, the Graffiti Wars and SeaWorld Changes, but we’ll save them for another time.


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

ob joe December 30, 2016 at 6:23 pm

This is a lot to chew … may take me all weekend.


old ob hippie December 30, 2016 at 6:26 pm



bodysurferbob December 30, 2016 at 6:27 pm

was out of town, this helps catching me up. don’t forget to not go in the ocean or bays for 3 days after it rains.


Geoff Page January 3, 2017 at 11:36 am

Great recap, Frank, some real effort went into this.


Don Sevrens January 12, 2017 at 8:24 pm

What a fine round-up and what major victories for the community — Jensen’s, the FAA capitulation and the strengthened 30-foot language that will prevent any projects after Dec. 16 exceeding 30 feet.
I’d like to clear up one point, however. The Peninsula Community Planning Board did NOT write an open letter to the City protesting the height settlement. The board voted in favor 12-1. The San Diego Planning Commission and the City Council overwhelmingly voted to approve the settlement.
One planning board member wrote the letter, never consulting anyone on the board. The individual’s letter contradicted his own vote in favor of the settlement. Further, the individual attended the City Council meeting when the settlement was approved and declined to speak on the issue. The matter will be on the planning board’s agenda (6:30 p.m. Thursday Jan. 19, Point Loma branch library). Robert Vacchi, director of development services, has agreed to present on the issue and field questions.
The settlement agreed to removed the fourth floor at Emerson and Evergreen, changed the Municipal Code to ban any multifamily buildings after Dec. 16, and will strengthen safeguards for Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach and La Jolla. Six or seven projects in the pipeline before Dec. 17 fall into a gray area. Community leaders who brokered the settlement felt that any prolonged negotiations would allow even more projects to get in the pipeline and seek waivers.
— Don Sevrens


Geoff Page January 13, 2017 at 9:36 am

And I’m going to have to clear up several of Mr. Sevrens points. The fourth floor on the Emerson project came off because the DSD walked back its approval of a subterranean garage that it permitted on a flat lot. If a garage is subterranean, it is not counted in the Floor Area Ratio (FAR). On that project, the builder put 8-foot tall retaining walls on the property line – itself a violation – and filled between the walls and the poured walls of the garage making it “subterranean.” The DSD permitted all of this but the public outcry on the height of this building forced them to change that approval. With the garage now counted in the FAR, the building was too large. The top floor came off because of the FAR calculation, it had nothing to do with height, but that is how Mr. Sevrens represented it here.

This also did not keep the building under 30 feet as there is now a rooftop deck with at least four foot walls. The “settlement” was a sham. The language did nothing at all other than to get the DSD off the hook for other illegally permitted over height structures. Because the language added to the Municipal Code (MC) is considered to be a “new” requirement, which it most certainly is not, the DSD got off the hook for any projects designed before the language goes into effect. They needed this to avoid litigation from various builders and the community fell for it.

The settlement “brokered” by community “leaders” was a rouge operation. Four members of the Peninsula Community Planning Board (PCPB) appointed themselves to handle secret and closed meetings with the City with NO authorization by the PCPB. They also blocked anyone else from participating in the meetings. I volunteered as did Elisha Brent and others but no one else was allowed. They were lead by the 23-year-old chair with big political aspirations and and no life experience dealing with crafty politicians like the mayor and attorneys like Goldsmith and Vacchi at the DSD. Lambs among wolves and they got taken.

So there will be “6 or 7” projects in the gray area? Let’s put that in English. There are a number of projects, and 6 or 7 is a low number, that will be built over height because the wool got pulled over the eyes of the people who are now crowing about a false achievement. Or worse, there was collusion. Unfortunately, because everyone bought into this, those projects will be built, one example is on Evergreen and Garrison that will also have a rooftop deck.

The bigger problem is the DSD telling the community that Proposition D allows a builder to raise the grade on a lot and then measure the 3o-foot height, which is incorrect and goes against past practice for many, many years. They allowed a builder on Avenida de Portugal to measure from the dirt inside new 4-foot tall planters in order to get a taller building. The PCPB “leaders” have heard this and have not done anything about it. Mr. Sevrens is the mouthpiece for this group and anything he writes should be taken with a large helping of salt.


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