Questions and Some Answers about Ocean Beach Re-Model Project on 4600 Block of Orchard

by on July 13, 2017 · 1 comment

in Ocean Beach

Neighbors to the remodel project going on in the middle of the 4600 block of Orchard have been asking questions about the construction work.

Ever since Melissa and Richard Chester began talking to and asking for help from their neighbors and the OB community at large about the project at 4651 and 4653 Orchard, interest in it has increased significantly. For instance, since the OB Rag included the project as one of 3 developments that tell the story of gentrification in OB, hundreds of our readers picked up the story. The same article on the OB Rag facebook page reached nearly 1300 people.

The Chesters are very concerned that short-term vacation rentals might be coming in, and they plan on taking this issue to the next OB Planning Board meeting. They contact Councilwoman Lori Zapf’s office with their questions.

Meanwhile, we posted this on Monday, July 10:

A lot is going on at 4651 and 4653 Orchard. The permit was pulled by Expedited Permits of San Diego, for the property owner, Farrow Trust 11-24-15. There’s been a scope change to this project. Now, it states that the project includes permits for remodel and additions to 2 existing single dwelling units on two different lots.

Work on 4651 includes a partial demolition with a complete remodel and an addition of a new second floor and detached guest quarter. And work on 4653 includes a partial demolition also with a complete remodel and detached guest quarters. Retaining walls of 5 feet by 3 feet are included.

Then the Chesters received answers to their questions, via District 2 rep Conrad Wear – and with their permission, we re-post the questions and the answers from the San Diego Planning Department:

Question: Why did a project of this nature not require additional review and public notification? 

Answer: A building permit is a ministerial action and does not require notification.

Q: When you add additional square footage, with guest quarters and a second story, shouldn’t this have to be reviewed by the OB Planning Board at a minimum?

A: The proposed addition and guest quarters requires a building permit, not a discretionary permit, and does not go before a Community Planning Group.

Q: The description states the work is on 2 different lots – was there a condo conversion done on this property (requiring Coastal Commission review)?

A: There is only one APN number, ending in 00, for the two property addresses, indicating one lot. The plans have been revised to reflect the two legal lots with separate APN numbers. There was not and is no need for a condominium conversion.

Q: With the additional square footage and detached guest quarters, have they exceeded the zoning or FAR limit?

A: The project complies with the FAR requirements.

Q: Was the parking addressed? With the addition of “detached guest quarters” for each unit and a second story, how much off street parking is required and has it been provided?

A: Parking is required for the single dwelling units only.  Guest quarters does not require parking. Four parking spaces are shown on the plans.

Q: What is the definition of “guest quarters”? Was the term used to bypass additional bedroom requirements? Guest quarters sounds like a guest house.

A: Guest quarters are attached or detached accessory living quarters developed of habitable construction, and located on a lot with a single dwelling unit that do not provide complete, independent living facilities and do not have direct access to the primary dwelling unit. Guest quarters are solely for the use of the occupants of the primary dwelling unit or their guests or employees. The owner is required to sign an Agreement and record it with the County Recorder that the guest quarters cannot not be rented, leased, or sold as a separate dwelling unit.

After they received these answers, the Chesters have more thoughts that might further clarify this remodel. And here is what they wrote us:

The double wide lot in this project is described as two lots. In fact it is one double sized lot. The plot plan shows a faint line down the center of the plot indicating double wide as one lot. All the plots on our block are double wide lots. You can have two separate houses as is the case with the Orchard remodel on one plot. Our property is two houses on one plot.

However should you want to sell one of the two houses on the plot plan, you have to do a condo conversion on the plot. We know this as we went through this process to separate the titles on our plot here on Orchard. The permit for the property in question says two lots, when in fact it is one double wide lot. With one APN #

So this is a point of curiosity. The permit is factually wrong. As indicated in  Conrad Wear’s forwarded email another APN# was created to answer that concern. You can’t do that. One plot, one APN# without condo conversion. So we wonder how did this permit come to be? Hope this explanation helps some, in case you had lingering questions.

So if we were asked what do we think is going on?

We would say that a condo plan is the end game. With a Real Estate broker involved with the build out of this property and the process one permit in effect they can build now, then apply later for a condo conversion on the plot plan. When going through coastal commission etc. it would be approved relatively fast, at much less expense as they can, say no new structures are being added and it’s just two existing houses. No additional square footage. No changes. Just a line on a plot plan. Factually true. Just like the recent condo conversion on Point Loma Ave last month. However they did volunteer to put no STVR in their CC&R.

As for the guest quarters on this project, all amenities except kitchens can’t help but trigger STVR concerns. The law is unclear with STVR and what it means lawfully, so until that definition is clarified, it’s all suspect even with the agreement not to rent lease or sale these separate structures.

At the urging of some in the neighborhood we are still going to show up collectively August 2nd at the meeting of the OB Planning Board and if given the opportunity voice our concerns with the board. We all agree that a property owner should be able to make improvements to their property without to much expense and delay with the proper review and notifications made. This was not the case in our opinion. We want no more STVRs and it’s still suspect in our minds with the scope of this remodel.

Regardless of the permit process the neighbors on this block of Orchard are going to show Aug 2nd at the Planning Board to show solidarity on our block for no more STVRs in OB.  We have two houses ( taken out of stock) on our block solely for STVRs and its a disturbance with parties and weddings. Imagine sitting  in your house having to endure endless wedding nuptials and noise from parties. It’s a neighborhood not a entertainment or mini hotel district. We will remain vigilant. Please do not make our email addresses public.

Richard & Melissa Chester

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Geoff Page July 17, 2017 at 12:52 pm

I have to take issue with the statement that guest quarters do not require parking. Guest quarters are counted as part of the premises FAR or Floor Area Ratio. Any parking regulations that apply to the primary dwelling also apply to the guest quarters.

As for the vacation rental concern, it has been repeated many times that this activity is not legal under the existing Municipal Code in single family zoned areas. The City is not enforcing the code, plain and simple. Someone needs to sue the City for not doing its job.


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