Development to Begin On the Last Sand Dune of Ocean Beach

by on October 17, 2017 · 4 comments

in Ocean Beach

Photo by Kathy Blavatt

It appears with the recent installation of a construction fence around it, the “Last Sand Dune of Ocean Beach” will be demolished with the building of a mixed-use project upon its soon-to-disappear sands.


5040 Santa Monica Ave – artist rendering.

The project at 5040 Santa Monica includes a 2-story commercial unit in front and 4 residential units behind and above it.

The Ocean Beach Planning Board approved it by a vote of 7 to 2 over two years ago, on July 1, 2015.  The Board’s Project Review sub-committee had approved it 2 weeks earlier on June 17th.

Here’s our description of the project and our report from June 17,:

Commercial and Residential for Santa Monica – the “Last Sand Dune in OB”

The project proposed for 5040 Santa Monica was a scaled-down version of a development that had been approved back in 2006 but never constructed. The developer was going for a ‘substantial compliance review’ with the city, as the site has been dormant for around 10 years. The lot supposedly contains “the last sand dune in OB”.

The new design includes one 2-story commercial unit in front and 4 residential units behind and above it. As that block of Santa Monica is zoned as a mix of commercial and residential, it was incumbent on the developer to install some commercial. The commercial parking – as is all the parking – is in the back and off the alley. Twelve parking spaces are planned. The residential units will be eventually turned into condos, the owner said.

There were some questions whether an upstairs deck hung over the required set-back, and it was noted that from the street level to the very top of the development was close to 40 feet, but the 30 foot height limit is not measured from the very bottom of the project. Also, Board members bemoaned the “industrial” look, the very linear and heavy on the glass appearance of the units, and lack of fitting into the community’s character. “This is transforming,” one member said, and complained that “the character of the community is starting to deteriorate.”

Another said “the facade has very vertical lines, no sloped lines, all flat roofs, and doesn’t necessarily jive with the Community Plan ….”

One of the architects stated that this building is the very first “purposely-designed” building to take energy storage into its design. “It will be highly visible nationally”, he said. Another stated that every one of the units has a view of the pier and ocean.

After all discussion, the Project Review Committee voted 6 to 2 to recommend approval to the full Board.

Here are the minutes from the July 1, 2015 meeting of the full Board on the project:


• John – Reported that the Project Review Committee voted 7-2 in support of the project.
• Leo Sullivan (Developer) Provided a summary of the project. Noted that it was approved previously by the Board, in much larger version, several years ago.
• Steve Lombardi (Architect)–Described the project, noting: Several changes made to project since original approval (parking moved
from underground to surface, units decreased in size, units split east-west instead of north -south to allow more light/ventilation).
o Allowed Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 2.0 (~14,000 sqft) in CC-4-2 commercial zone. Proposed project is now 1.20 (~8,500 sqft).
o Includes 1, 150 sqft commercial space fronting Santa Monica Ave.

Board questions/ comments:

  • Pete– Asked about building height. Noted that with the underground parking removed, the height calculation was more  straightforward. Expressed support for the project
  • Steve – Roof does reach 30’ at its highest point, but roof edge is a parapet that will allow space for vents and other items below the 30’ limit
  • Valerie –Expressed concerns regarding bulk and mass with respect to to Community Plan.
  • Craig – Expressed support for project, believes it is appropriate for commercial zone.
  • John – Believes project is ultimately incongruent with Community Plan due to its bulk/mass from the street and its scale relative to the neighboring properties.
  • Jane – Expressed support for the project, believes it is congruent with Community Plan for a commercial zone.

• Craig moves to recommend approval of the project as presented, seconded by Jane.
o Motion passes, 7-2- 0.
o For: Dan, Nanci, Pete, Craig, Andrew, Jane, Tom
o Against: John (bulk/mass incongruent with Community Plan); Valerie (bulk/mass incongruent with Community Plan)

Hat tip to Kathy Blavatt

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Marc Snelling October 17, 2017 at 2:09 pm

That used to be my ‘front yard’ when I lived at 5043 1/2 Santa Monica Like the sand dune better than the drawings for this project. Going to be a lot less sun hitting the neighboring properties now. Zoned commercial perhaps – but any actual businesses between Pizza Port and Newbreak?


OB Joe October 17, 2017 at 7:55 pm

There’s that hole in the wall little store front up the block. It’s been so many different businesses over the years, cannot keep track.


kh October 18, 2017 at 9:43 am

There’s a couple businesses there… legal vacation rentals. Looks like a dirt mound to me, not a dune.


Frank Gormlie October 18, 2017 at 11:27 am

Check out that old map of OB that the OB Historical Society sells for locations of OB’s sand dunes.


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