Peninsula Planners Learn City Missed Crucial Coastal Commission Deadline to Approve Roseville 30-Ft Height Ordinance

by on June 20, 2017 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach

Missed deadline could allow for more projects in Roseville over the 30 ft height limit. Photo credit: Barbita-Souza

By Geoff Page

The Peninsula Community Planning Board held its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, June 15 at the Pt. Loma Hervey Library.  The two items that generated the most interest had to do with the 30-foot height limit and the proposed soccer stadium development, or Soccer City, where the Qualcomm stadium now sits.

The PCPB had two action items dealing with the 30-foot height limit, the first being a letter to the California Coastal Commission.

Missed Coastal Commission Deadline Could Allow for Roseville Projects Over 30 Foot Height Limit

Last year, the city council passed an ordinance to place a footnote in the Municipal Code supposedly “fixing” a loophole in the RM-3-7 zone, specifically in the Roseville area.  The ordinance was approved on October 24, 2016, and read a second time by council on November 15, 2015.  But, the ordinance only covers part of the affected RM-3-7 zone, some of the area falls within the jurisdiction of the Coastal Commission.

The ordinance the city council passed put a date to when the “fix” was final and would apply to all future projects in the city’s area.  The timeline to get Coastal Commission approval was to be longer because it simply took longer.  Meanwhile, the city could approve any building over the 30-foot height limit in the Coastal Commission area until Coastal put a final date on the ordinance.

It was learned only recently that there was an item before the Coastal Commission in June for the meeting at Humboldt State in northern California. The item on the agenda was not to approve the ordinance, it was the local Coastal Commission office asking for a one year extension on the decision.  This concerned a lot of people.  This process will be the subject of a separate article because something did not go right in how the city handled this.  There was a Coastal Commission meeting in May of this year, in San Diego.  For some reason, the city did not submit the item to Coastal until mid-April, five months after city council approval.  This was too late to get it on the May agenda.

The PCPB letter was to urge the Coastal Commission to hear the item at the soonest possible meeting – they meet monthly in different parts of the state.  When it is approved, there will be a date it goes into effect. The PCPB approved sending the letter.

Amendments to Peninsula Community Plan

The second 30-foot height related item on the agenda had to do with proposed amendments to the Peninsula Community Plan.  It was explained that it will be some years before the Peninsula Community Plan is revised.  The current plan is 30 years old and in need of work, according to board members.  The PCPB has a standing subcommittee called Long Range Planning that has decided to propose a series of amendments to the existing community plan over time as a way to improve the plan until it is redone in the future.

The proposed amendment contains language about the 30-foot height limit and it attempts to solve a problem of projects that the community and the planning board do not get to see.  The process to approve an apartment project can be ministerial, meaning it needs no public review.  What happens is that the buildings are under construction when the developer requests a map waiver and converts the apartments to condominiums.  If the project is begun as condominiums, it requires public review.

The proposed amendment would require projects that go 90 percent of the 30-foot height limit, or 27 feet, or projects that exceed 80 percent of the allowable floor area be required to come before the planning board for review.  This would require a change to the Municipal Code, as the community plan is not an enforceable document.  To view the amendment and the report from the Long Range Planning subcommittee, go here and look at the June 15 meeting attachments.

Board Balks on Soccer City Issue – No Action for “Action  Item”

There were two presenters at the meeting for Soccer City.  One was from the developers and the other was from a non profit named Public Land Public Vote Coalition.  The Soccer City presentation by the developers was an information item on the agenda, there was no request for any action.  The man who presented the project was smooth and well spoken and he gave a well rehearsed talk explaining briefly the main points in favor of the project, then a good deal of detail, and summed up by returning to the original points.  He answered questions and had an answer for every one.

The issue, for anyone who has not followed it, is that the Soccer City people want a special election this fall to vote on the project. They claim that Major League Soccer plans to award two new franchises at the end of this year and two more next year and without a commitment to build a stadium before those awards are made, San Diego will lose out.  The $5 million cost of the special election has been in the news for the past several weeks as the city council and the mayor have been battling.

The crux of the issue is that the voters passed Measure L last year that requires citizen initiatives, which the Soccer City issue is, only appear in the November General Elections, the next one being in 2018.  The reasoning behind this voting initiative is that voting is strongest during general elections. An important initiative should get as much attention as possible and be voted on by as many people as possible to be fair, according to proponents of Measure L.  The Soccer City developers say that next November will be too late.

The other side, the Public Land Public Vote Coalition, was represented by Joe Lacava.  This group wanted an action from the PCPB so it appeared as an action item.  Lacava explained that city council had two options it could follow, adopt the initiative and grant development rights or put the item on the ballot.  The first option leaves it all up to the city council while the second involves the whole city.  Lacava asked the PCPB to support putting the initiative to a public vote, which would mean in November 2018.

At this point, things got a little strange.  There appeared to be a consensus of reluctance to get involved.  Board member Fred Kosmo spoke up and said he did not understand why the PCPB should concern itself with this issue as it was not within the Peninsula area.  Others agreed.  Board member Bruce Coons, who is also the Executive Director of Save Our Heritage Organization or SOHO, commented correctly that the PCPB had taken positions on city-wide issues before.  Coons mentioned the Balboa Park proposal for the new access road and the parking garage that came up a few years ago but was eventually defeated.  Coons correctly pointed out the PCPB took a position on that.

But, when it came time to take an action, a request for a motion fell on silence and nothing was done.  After more than 10 years of involvement with this planning board, this reporter has never seen such a thing.  An action item on the agenda requires an action.  There was no motion to approve the request from the Public Land Public Vote Coalition nor was there a motion to deny the request.  A person from the Ocean Beach Planning Board was at the meeting and related that OB voted for having the Soccer City initiative on the ballot.

There was so much consensus in this lack of an action by the PCPB, it appeared as if the decision not to do anything was preordained.  Many of the people on the PCPB are supporters of the mayor and are all politically close here in Pt. Loma.  The mayor wanted the special election. One has to wonder what would have happened had the Soccer City developers asked for a vote.  Yesterday, the city council voted to place it on the November 2018 ballot, against the mayor’s wishes.

Affordable Workforce Housing

There was an action item having to do with affordable workforce housing in the Peninsula community.  It was explained that many people who work within the Peninsula are priced out of housing and cannot live near their work.  The action item was to send a letter to city council “in support of development of rental apartments in the Peninsula Community that would target low income and moderate income work force families.”  This letter can be viewed at the previously cited website address.  While no one could argue with the need for affordable housing, it was not clear how a letter of this nature would accomplish anything as it appeared to express only a desire.

Draft Midway-Pacific Highway Community Plan

In another information item, Vicki White from the City Planning Department made a presentation on the draft Midway-Pacific Highway Community Plan that came out in April.  More on this plan can be seen in the OB Rag’s April 19, 2017 story.

I-8 Corridor Study

SANDAG sent a representative to talk about something called the I-8 Corridor Study.  Unfortunately, the presenter’s PowerPoint was not functional and the oral presentation of the study was difficult to follow partly because the presenter’s voice did not carry.  Usually, the PCPB has a microphone for this problem but there was none for this meeting.  For details on possible plans that SANDAG is considering for I-8 from Sunset Cliffs Blvd. to a about 10 miles east, go here

Can Sub-Committees Decide Without a Quorum?

There was another action item for a home remodel in the south Sunset Cliffs area at 829 Cornish Drive.  The project was notable only for how it was handled.  The PCPB has a Project Review standing subcommittee that reviews projects before they come to the full board.  Apparently, at the last Project Review subcommittee meeting, only two members were present and they both voted to approve the project.  A board discussion followed about the lack of a subcommittee quorum.

Subcommittees in fact do not require a quorum because they only provide recommendations to the full board, not action decisions.  It appears there is a great deal of confusion on the PCPB about this.  The board wanted to vote on the project so it took the curious tack of deciding to ignore anything they heard about the subcommittee review as if they had heard nothing.  They then voted to approve the project.  It will be interesting to see if this discussion and decision are reflected in the June meeting minutes.


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