OB Planning Board Agenda for Wed., Sept. 6th: Saratoga and Voltaire Projects

by on September 5, 2017 · 19 comments

in Ocean Beach

On Wednesday, September 6th, the Ocean Beach Planning Board has two projects to review on its agenda. One at 4950 Saratoga and other at 4921 Voltaire. The Board is also to review the proposed draft policy on short-term vacation rentals proposed by Councilwoman Barbara Bry, who represents La Jolla and District 1.

The Board meets at 6pm in the Community Room of  the OB Rec Center, 4726 Santa Monica Avenue.

4950-4956 Saratoga Avenue

Google 3D image of former buildings at 4950 Saratoga.

The first project on the planners’ agenda is located at 4950-4956 Saratoga Avenue between Bacon and Cable, and is a proposed map waiver for 4 units already under construction to become condominiums.

The buildings include 2 and 3 story single-family residences. The project was on the Project Review Committee’s agenda in August but we do not know what the decision was at that meeting whether to recommend or not to the full Board.

4921 Voltaire Street

The second project is the new proposal for 4921 Voltaire Street. The developer – owner appeared with his proposed project at the July 19th meet of the Project Review Committee – the sub-committee of the OB Planning Board, and got an ear full from Board members.

Originally the project was a permit to demolish the existing structure of 756 square feet – now boarded up – and construct a mixed-use building with 2 dwelling units on the .08 acre lot. The proposal had the ground floor commercial retail space (800 square feet), and 2 second story residences on top, each 1260 square feet, with a 2000 square foot roof deck.

A number of issues were raised by Board members with the then-proposed design – basically a box. The historical nature of the building, parking, and the possibility that the new units would be turned into short-term vacation units.

During the July meeting, Board member Jane Gawronski brought up that she believed the original house was one of the very first Sears and Roebuck craftsman houses in OB. “Why not save just the facade?,” she asked the developer. We reported:

[Board member] Tom Gawronski pressed the developer on the history of the building and criticized them for allowing it to become so dilapidated. “I don’t agree with the Historical Board about the historical significance of the building.”

He added: “I don’t want to reward behavior that led to the deterioration of the building,” and told the developer, “I walked through it,” after the planner stated it was “uninhabitable.”

Chair John Ambert also had pressed the owner on the historical angle; Ambert said:

“Taking down the historical facade … and not using the facade is not complementary to the community.” 

We reported:

[Ambert] advised the owner and planner to review the Ocean Beach Community Plan and see how their proposal fits with the plan. “Give a nod to the existing building,” he said. Ambert finally urged them “to preserve the Craftsman components at the street.”

Also, on the issue of parking – the owner proposed “stacking”, Craig Klein, another Board member –

… questioned “the longevity of anything mechanical” referring to the lift machinery being proposed for parking and how it would survive the at-times brutal salt air of OB. In response, the owner himself spoke up and stated he will lease the units and continue the responsibility for their maintenance.

The owner stated : “I’m a big proponent of stacking” and commented he’s “commonly used stackers” in his units in San Francisco – where parking is a huge problem.

On the vacation rental issue, Board member Dan Dennison explained the Board’s concerns about new residential units being turned into short-term vacation rentals.  We reported:

“We’ve heard denials before,” he said, wherein the owner talked about finding wonderful OB years ago and he and his spouse plan to retire here, implying they’re part of the community and share its concerns.

Finally, during the Review panel meeting, the Board voted 6 – 1-1 to recommend approval of the project to the full Board if the facade is included.

Board Review of Councilwoman Bry’s Proposal on STVRs

Also of significance will be the Board’s review of Councilwoman Bry’s proposal on short-term vacation rentals and any action they take. Go here for Bry’s proposed ordinance.

Here’s the official agenda (note: this is the “draft” agenda):

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

kh September 6, 2017 at 9:51 am

The owners of 4950 Saratoga are the same ones bringing us the monstrosity at 2257 Froude. This is the one the Peninsula planning board rejected, but it later appealed with the planning commission. They live in Orange county. Let’s see if they claim they’re going to move in and raise a family, lol.


Frank Gormlie September 6, 2017 at 10:17 am

Did not know that. I wish the owner’s/ applicant’s name was listed on these projects. For more on the Froude project see http://obrag.org/?p=107089


aj September 7, 2017 at 9:39 am

My god, really??
Thats what you think “kh”?…That allll developers should only build where they want to live and raise a family…
Its called a business. Developers build to make money and they provide MUCH needed housing in exchange and renovate shitty old communities. Thats like saying to a restaurant owner that he should only have a restaurant in HIS community…not anywhere else…so don’t expand!….
You NYMBIS are the cause of unaffordable housing. You make it as difficult as possible for developers to bring in more housing. Therefore, there is no product and demand keeps rising and so prices keep rising. And yes we need better infrastructure to support more housing…maybe you should focus your efforts on pushing for that instead of pushing for less density and wasting time appealing to planning commission on bullshit needy greedy items…..which raises prices for everyone and people get pushed out of their communities because they cannot afford to live there anymore.


kh September 7, 2017 at 10:00 am

These new properties all too often are being built to operate as vacation rentals.

Without that income potential, many of these projects would never even show up at the planning board. It’s standard operating procedure to go before the board, shine them on about how it will be used for their family/daughter/etc to live in and rent out the other, sell to families, etc,, then turn around and do the opposite. The board members will tell you the same.

Tearing down an old cottage and replacing it with a tourist hotel takes away housing and drives up housing costs for the remaining cottages. I hope for your sake you don’t rent or you won’t be here in 10 years to see the difference. If these are actually purchased or rented and used as homes,, then I have no problem with that.

And yes I’d call any stucco cube built out to maximum setback and height and floor area… a monstrosity.


editordude September 7, 2017 at 11:00 am

Kudos to kh for not responding to aj’s demeaning comments and for sticking to the issues.


aj September 7, 2017 at 7:49 pm

sticking to what issues. his “issues” are non issues.


kh September 7, 2017 at 8:05 pm

aj, Please share with us why you have such interest in this “shitty old community” as you call it. If its so shitty, why do you live here?

Or do you live somewhere else? I’d like to know so I can tell you all my opinions about what needs to change in your community.


aj September 7, 2017 at 7:58 pm

“all too often built for vacation rentals”. If you don’t know , don’t assume. And guess what, if its legal, the developer has every right to do vacation rentals. The fact that a few hundred NiMByS don’t like it doesn’t make it wrong. Guess what? some people like the fact that they can rent their homes our for the weekend. It pays for a lot of things. People go on vacation and rent out their house for instance. Be respectful to this developers as you don’t know what they are going to do. Whatever they do has to be legal, so respect that. If you don’t like vacation rentals then spend time trying to make a change. I respect that 100%….What I don’t respect is your approach with this developer who is simply exercising his or her rights. Weather YOU like it or not!!
You think developers want to go to your board meetings?? filled with people who throw back everything that comes in, and to get their design and taste criticized by a bunch of people wearing american flag t shirts! come on dude…those boards have an average of 20 attendees at most…OUT OF 80,000 PEOPLE IN PL AND OB. The rest of the people have lives. You say”If these are actually purchased or rented and used as homes,, then I have no problem with that.” Its not up to you dude!! who cares what you want or like. Rules allow what they allow, don’t like it? make an effort to change the rules but don’t sit there and criticize a developer for exercising HIS/HER rights. Think!!!
You also said “And yes I’d call any stucco cube built out to maximum setback and height and floor area… a monstrosity.”. Oh lord. Well, lets think here, try. You as a owner of land are allowed to maximize setbacks and heights and floor areas. its called having a limit set by the city. These people have every right to maximize what they want. What they can not do, is go over. That make sense my friend?


Frank Gormlie September 7, 2017 at 8:38 pm

There are so many problems and misconceptions in this lengthy comment, I don’t have the time to respond – and wouldn’t know where to begin.

First, aj, short term vacation rentals are illegal in residential areas of the city. Right now, and the city is not enforcing violations until the city council sets final policy – probably in late Oct.

Perhaps you’re not aware of something called the Ocean Beach Community Plan. If you live in OB, you are probably somewhat familiar with it; if you don’t, go bother some other community.


Frank Gormlie September 7, 2017 at 8:41 pm

Short term rentals are helping to destroy the community. If the citizens of a town wish to block something that is taking away their character, then they have the right and duty to form planning boards, elect members democratically,and formulate rules for developers to follow.

If there are 500 such rentals in OB, that’s a serious dent in the available housing; it drives up the rents of housing available to renters – who make up 6 out of every 7 OBceans.

aj – do you understand this dynamic?


aj September 7, 2017 at 9:38 pm

Frank, weather I live in OB or not is irrelevant to my comments.
I don’t disagree with your comments on short term rentals. if they are illegal they are illegal. But don’t attack developers because you think they might do this. You attack on assumption. Its wrong. And yes a lot of people do want to be able to have short term rentals. Its not all about what you and 100 friends want. But if you don’t like it, fine, fight it…but don’t take it out on developers who are simply doing what they are allowed.


Frank Gormlie September 7, 2017 at 9:53 pm

Nobody is attacking developers. Most developers who come before the Board are honest and straight forward. But there’s a few who haven’t been. OBceans and their planning leaders have been lied to by developers who promised not to turn new units into STVRs – but they did; and who lied and said they themselves would move into the new units – but they didn’t.


Frank Gormlie September 7, 2017 at 9:55 pm

Oh, yeah, who is this “100 friends” thing? 3 years ago OB volunteers obtained 4,000 signatures of people who wanted to keep the OB Community Plan the way it was.


editordude September 7, 2017 at 10:59 am

aj – some of your comments that were edited out border on violating our comment policy. Please refrain from calling others names or demeaning them – keep to the issues.


aj September 7, 2017 at 7:49 pm

Yes, I apologize.


aj September 7, 2017 at 9:46 am

Also “kh”
You call this a monstrosity??? hahahah

Its a two story building over a half way underground garage…its probably sticking out 25 feet from the street level…thats a monstrosity??? Maybe in comparison to some of the little 1940s houses around it that are falling apart but guess what, its not zoned for little old boxes anymore….u must be 2 feet tall yourself to think thats a monstrosity.

Its called density and change and renovation sir. Thats exactly whats going to happen in OB and PL over the next ten years…welcome to the new and improved OB. And guess what, you can’t do anything about it…Im not even a developer or in real estate at all hahah Im in computers but sometimes people’s stands grab my attention and make me pasionate about this stuff.


rick callejon September 7, 2017 at 2:09 pm


As I stand 5′ 6″, I find your comment to be offensive. Are you a fan of Randy Newman’s song “Short People”?


aj September 7, 2017 at 7:48 pm

Rick, don’t be so sensitive…I said 2 feet. 5’6″ is not short, its average…relax.


aj September 8, 2017 at 2:15 pm

I don’t have time to respond to everyone on this…when people start using the word “DESTROY” it just gets pointless. hahah. Have a great weekend everyone.


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