OB Planners Juggle Condo Conversion, Bike Boulevard, Capital Improvements and Input for New Lifeguard Station

by on June 9, 2017 · 5 comments

in Ocean Beach

At the Ocean Beach Planning Board meeting held Wednesday night, June 7th, the Board quickly approved the only project before it, held a discussion about Bacon Street being turned into a bicycle boulevard, prioritized a list of capital improvements for Ocean Beach, and engaged in a preliminary discussion to formulate input to the city about the new OB lifeguard station.

4628 – 4630 Point Loma Ave

The project up for review at 4628-30 Point Loma Avenue was a condo-conversion of two existing residences. Ryan, representing the owners, said his clients have owned the property since 1979. Because the back house was remodeled in 79 and the front in 2013, there was no actual construction planned, just the conversion of the two into condos. The owners plan to live in one and sell the other.

Photos of houses to be converted to condos on Point Loma Ave.

The most interesting aspect of the project, was the pledge by the owners to add a section into the condos’ CC&R that would prohibit short-term vacation rentals. This won a round of applause from Board members and folks in the audience of about 25.  The vote was unanimous to recommend approval of the project. John Ambert, Chair, commented that is was “the fastest review” by the Board probably on record.

Bacon Bicycle Boulevard and Round-Abouts

For a few years now, there’s been talk among locals about turning Bacon Street into a bicycle heaven, and in that spirit a presentation was made about turning the street into a “bike boulevard”. Benjamin addressed the Board with the idea that since the City will soon be repaving Bacon and improvement the sidewalk intersections along Bacon, ripping up corners and putting in ADA ramps, that it would be a great opportunity to move forward with making bicycling improvements.  Up to then, he said, there has been no community input into what will be happening and the city doesn’t seem concerned with any community feed-back.

“Bacon and Brighton,” Benjamin said, “could be the poster child of a bike boulevard.” His idea is to install a round-about at that intersection, reduce the volume of traffic by redirecting it. He – a local – is with the San Diego Bicycle Coalition –  but was not representing them. A few supporters sat with him in the audience. A “bike boulevard” is defined as a street with slow speeds, low volume of cars, and traffic forced to be redirected by design.

The presentation launched a wide-ranging discussion among Board and audience members about round-abouts – one is planned for the intersection of Bacon and West Point Loma, which may have a temporary one installed as early as September or October this year. The temporary round-about would be a test whether the community and that intersection are ready.

Another bicyclist suggested that when the City redoes the curbs for ADA ramps, perhaps the curbs could be extended out into the street – which slows traffic. Someone stated that each curb replacement costs $40,000. Other comments and suggestions made by audience members:

  • making Bacon Street one-way and having a protected bike path,
  • the Bacon-Brighton intersection wasn’t wide enough for a round-about,
  • that one-way streets are actually more dangerous because they allow cars to speed up,
  • that perhaps with new designs, one-way traffic could be slowed.

There was so much interest in the issue that Chair Ambert declared that members of the Planning Board need to have a meeting with the OB Town Council on it asap – and maybe have a presentation during the public June OBTC meeting.

Capital Improvement Priority List

The Board re-ordered their capital improvement project priority list, after some discussion. It was all about the OB public facility financing plan and identifying all the projects and assigning them a priority number. This process have been going on and each year, supposedly, the Board revisits their list.

Here is the new OBPB list (well, at least the top 6):

  1. OB Lifeguard station – this was no. 2 but since $200,000 has been budgeted to do an assessment for a new lifeguard station, it was felt that it should be moved up to the number one spot to assist the politicos in finding the potential $6 million needed to build a new one.
  2. OB Library – the library continues to be at the top of the list; the city pledged to build OB a new one back in 2002-02, but the recession hit and it fell off the table.
  3. Salt Water Pool – there has been a last-minute push by some Board members to bring back OB’s famous salt water pool of yesteryear that used to sit just south of the OB Pier. Right now, one member said, the sand in the space has nothing but old, discarded needles.
  4. Saratoga Park  improvements
  5. Dog Beach improvements
  6. OB Pier

Brain-Storming for OB’s New Lifeguard Station

Board members spent part of the meeting dreaming – or, rather brain-storming about what they’d like to see in any new lifeguard station. The goal is to give city engineers ideas for the facility, now that $200,000 has been budgeted to perform an assessment. The current lifeguard station contains 1200 square feet with the new one doubling that.

Here are some of the ideas for the new lifeguard station:

  • Include police sub-station or support-facility,
  • double the size, taller and wider,
  • make it a “dream center” of 21st century first-responder center,
  • have it be of a green design with LEED certification,
  • public restrooms and showers,
  • gender restrooms and showers for lifeguard personnel,
  • include staff kitchen,
  • space for cliff rescuers,
  • community meeting space,
  • training area for junior lifeguards,
  • an amphitheater,
  • design that fits the community.

Other News

Historical Review. The Board may be getting more involved in providing input to the city on projects up for historical review. Up to now, Ambert said, the Board is not given any notice of projects, but that is now changing. The unit at 4736 Pescadero is up for historical review, but the building is not significant, he said. But what about 4771 and 4771 1/2 Newport? Ambert urged the Board to give input to the city. “It’s now our job,” he said, “to provide comments on historical reviews.”

Lifeguard Station. Councilwoman Lorie Zapf’s rep, Conrad Wear, spoke of the projected budgetary success of getting $200,000 for a feasibility study for a new OB lifeguard station.  OB is definitely in a need for one, as currently 18 lifeguards operate out of the facility, with only 1 shower and 1 toilet. The average station costs $6 million, Wear said.

OB Pier – Zapf’s office has received complaints that the 50-year-old pier has structural faults. The city needs to look at it and determine what it needs.

Cliff Stairs – there’s money in the budget to repair the stairs at the end of Bermuda, as well as Orchard and at the old Salt Water pool. They should be repaired by January 2018.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

triggerfinger June 9, 2017 at 3:16 pm

Not sure why the Orchard stairs keep being brought up… there’s nothing wrong with them. There is however a concrete pedestrian bridge near santa cruz ave that looks ready to collapse, and damage to the walkway north of Orchard.


Lifeguard station June 9, 2017 at 8:14 pm

Something that is not needed at the new lifeguard station: A big wall surrounding the entire thing –> In a design put forward in the past architects had walled off the entire station because of the dangerous nature of OB; the precise plan specifically speaks against this sort of thing but lifeguards seemed to like it…


Daniel Smiechowski June 11, 2017 at 1:08 am

Dear friends, I am a 50 year resident of Western hills and Bay Ho having spent almost my entire life in OB!! I began surfing Sunset Cliffs in 1971. I am a candidate for City Council and will work tirelessly on your behalf for the OB we all so desire. Just give me a chance to prove myself!!! God bless all of you including all my OB friends, Danny


Tyler June 11, 2017 at 7:08 am

As a resident that lives at Bacon and Brighton, I have NO idea how they think they can fit a round-a-bout there. Also, all four corners have drains. I grew up in DC right off Westmoreland Circle and I know this will likely bring lots of increased traffic right to my doorstep. You can also bet every one of us who live on this block will fight the removal of parking spots. I’ll reserve total judgment until I see the project.


kh June 12, 2017 at 1:23 pm

Bacon is ideal for bikes because it connects to the bike path. But I agree with you on the roundabout and the storm drains.

I don’t understand the obsession with roundabouts, especially small ones. Essentially you are now yielding to cars on your left entering the intersection. And you basically have to wait until the other car leaves the intersection to enter it, because you don’t know where they’ll turn out. Seems like an accident waiting to happen especially if there’s only one of them thrown in with a bunch of standard intersections. And they want to put one on WPL/Bacon, but what happens when WPL traffic is backed up? A round about will block all directions.

Here are the two handouts from the bike group:




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