Ocean Beach Planning Board Votes for Inn at Sunset Cliffs and Against Soccer City at Qualcomm

by on October 5, 2017 · 17 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Bob Edwards

On Wednesday, October 4, 2017, the Ocean Beach Planning Board met at the OB Rec Center and dealt with two hot button issues.

In the first action, the Board voted 8 to 3 to recommend granting a retroactive building permit for repairs and changes to a cliff side deck at the Inn at Sunset Cliffs.   These modifications had been done without a permit in previous years by former and current owners and in 2016 through an emergency permit.

In the second action, the Board voted, also 8 to 3, to oppose the Soccer City proposal for the Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley.

Inn at Sunset Cliffs

The Inn has a complex and murky history of unpermitted expansion of a deck on the cliff edge by previous and current owners.  When they received an emergency permit to repair storm damage from the El Nino event of 2016, the Inn exceeded the scope of the permit by adding amenities unapproved by the city i.e. a fire pit.   The Inn has since removed the fire pit.

The Inn at Sunset Cliffs

A representative of the Inn, along with a dozen or more community members and vendors associated with the Inn, advocated for the retroactive approval.  The Inn’s attorney said this move is needed to prevent possible forced removal of the deck and limits that could be placed on future work such as shoring up the deck to prevent storm damage.

One community member, Travis, who said he was speaking “on behalf of all the surfers in OB”, supported the Inn saying they contribute positive things to the community and they “let us swim in the pool when it’s hot”.  Another community member spoke of his happiness with the Inn for providing a great venue for his wedding.

Although one supporter described the Inn as a “gem” that serves as a beautiful advertisement for Ocean Beach and Point Loma, other neighbors urged the Board to reject the retroactive permit stating that the deck is an “eyesore on the cliffs” and is unsafe.  Marco Gonzalez, attorney and executive director for CERF (Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation) said that there was no Environmental Impact Report for the project and that the Inn has been dishonest about the scope of deck modifications in the past.

Although acknowledging that the Inn had not always been transparent or totally forthright, most Planning Board members felt positively about the Inn’s impact on the community.  One board member stated that “mistakes were made in the past, but the Inn has contributed a lot; they’ve improved the site”.

Another member said “the Inn is an economic asset to the community”.   Still another said the Inn “took some liberties but on the balance” it deserves support as the project fits in with the goals of the Community Plan by providing non-corporate, small scale hotel space.  Several Board members said that providing community-friendly hotels such as the Inn would help reduce the demand for Airbnb rentals thus increasing housing availability.

Eventually discussion was closed and the Board passed a motion recommending that the City okay the permit, “subject to the City’s approval of a geo-technical report”.

Soccer City at Qualcomm?

In another Action Item the Board expressed distrust of the Soccer City proposal to turn the Qualcomm site into a mixed use recreation/entertainment/housing/retail/park project.  Some Board members felt the project is a giveaway of public lands.  Others questioned whether or not Soccer City would live up to its claims to provide affordable housing and other benefits at no cost to the public. On an 8 to 3 vote, the Board registered its opposition to the Soccer City project and asked City Councilwoman Lori Zapf to oppose it.

West Mission Bay Drive Bridge Project

In other items, a city representative updated the Board and community members on the West Mission Bay Drive Bridge Project.  This will replace the existing bridge over the San Diego River. This bridge crosses from near Sea World to the Sports Arena/ Midway area.  Estimated construction cost is $123 million and should start early next year and be completed by Spring of 2021.  The City rep said there should be little impact on traffic during construction as the existing bridge will remain open and then be demolished after completion of the new one.

Catalina Emergency Pipeline Replacement

Another City representative reported on the Catalina Emergency Pipeline Replacement between Tennyson and a couple blocks north of Voltaire.  He said that repairs will resume about October 15 and should be completed by Spring of 2018 with minimal impact to water service for residents who live along Catalina.

Free Street Tree Program

Finally, Virginia Adams Wilson from Save Peninsula Trees, presented a positive report about the Free Street Tree Program.  Over thirty people have signed up and the City will be providing them with free parkway trees.  It is still possible to participate in the program by sending an email to them or by dropping by the OB Green Center (4843 B Voltaire Street) for more information and an application form.

Bob Edwards is a retired RN and used to work on the original OB People’s Rag in the 1970’s. He and his wife, Kate, live with their 2 cats in northern Ocean Beach.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Carl Z October 5, 2017 at 5:44 pm

Nice to see your byline again


Timothy S. October 6, 2017 at 8:33 am

It’s no longer the Qualcomm site that Soccer City is after. That naming rights deal expired back on June 13. It’s now the SDCCU site.


Babs October 7, 2017 at 8:46 pm

I believe the SDCCU name is only good for 1 year


south ob girl October 6, 2017 at 12:40 pm

A little concerned about the objectivity and neutrality of this reporter, and I am not familiar with his work. The article references the board member who said the Inn fits in with the Community Plan. Not mentioned in the article is that 2 board members (Tom and Jane Gawronski) said the Inn is in violation of the Community Plan (and the long time OBceans were among the 3 votes not in favor). Reference to a fire pit as one of the main problems was a very cursory, minimal, and incomplete description of what has occurred and currently exists on this environmentally sensitive land.


Bob Edwards October 6, 2017 at 4:20 pm

south ob girl: Sorry you have concerns about the story, especially since I have always enjoyed your articles, comments, and other contributions to this blog. You’re not familiar with my work because I haven’t written a news story in over 40 years! Hopefully I’ll learn more as I go along. When I was assigned the story, I tried to educate myself about the Board and all the items on the agenda in the limited time I had before the meeting. As to my objectivity, I went to the meeting with no preconceived notions and made an effort to report what was said as accurately as I could. I hope to keep contributing to the OB Rag, so in the future I’ll try to get more background as well as more thoroughly quoting both sides in an adversarial situation. Thanks for your comments.


Molly October 6, 2017 at 7:33 pm

If this was his first OB planning meeting, he probably is not familiar with all the characters that sit on the board. Give him a break.


Ol OB Hippie October 6, 2017 at 7:39 pm

Molly, don’t get down on SOBG. There’s probably all kinds of internal politicking going on and there’s a huge power struggle coming down, and the leftists will purge the lefties. I can see the headline now, “Hippies Purged from OB Rag” or will it be “Leftists Purged from OB Rag”?

Don’t take me too seriously.


retired botanist October 6, 2017 at 3:56 pm

The story about the Inn typifies an all too common MO: do it now, ask forgiveness later. It is STILL encroachment on ESL lands and on public beach. There’s nothing murky about it, and the fire pit is the least of it. Even the surfer comment, seriously? I doubt ALL surfers get to swim in the pool. And even if that were true, what about other locals? Sounds like a clique to me. And the wedding venue comment? Now there’s a ridiculous, specious reason for allowing environmental violation. And reduce the # of Airbnbs? Won’t even comment on that.
Maybe the Inn, without its deck and encroachment, was a positive component of OB, but now it just lines up behind all the other selfish purveyors who can only think of themselves and their potential profit and have no regard for the greater good. So VERY disappointed in the Board’s approval of this. This is a classic example of just chipping away at the coastline, one “little” exception at a time, and is sure to set a precedent. :(


nostalgic October 6, 2017 at 4:41 pm

The San Diego Reader offers a more balanced perspective:


Frank Gormlie October 6, 2017 at 7:23 pm

The Reader article is not “more balanced” at all, but it is written by one of the Reader’s main reporters who gets paid, who has access to much more background on the Inn itself than our reporter, who is a volunteer who just wrote his first news article in 40 years.


Molly October 6, 2017 at 7:31 pm

Hey, I remember Bob Edwards! Congrats, Bob on your first article in 30 years. Please, all l- give him a little leeway, let him get his writing skills back. I wonder how South OB Girl and nostalgic would have written the report, if they could or were even able to . It does take patience to sit through hours of boring meetings and make a report that is interesting to the rest of us. Thanks man and look forward to more.


OB Joe October 6, 2017 at 7:34 pm

South OB Girl writes for this here lefty blog. I read her material. Maybe some day she can meets someone else who writes for it.


retired botanist October 7, 2017 at 6:38 am

Haha, ok, just to add to my opine: its not about the article, its about the complete disregard for the environmental regulations, the lack of transparency, and the idea that ‘ignorance’ is somehow above the law. Environmental permitting is an expensive, time-consuming, and drawn-out process, no matter where you put your shovel or bucket. If you want to invest in a business or home along the coastline, be prepared for constraints and expense. Nothing excuses whoever owns the Inn. Emergency permitting is all about the definition of emergency- risk to life and limb. Not risk to decreased business due to lack of deck/fire pit/or even crumbling cliff.
Keep writing, Bob, and thanks for keeping these important issues in print! :-)


triggerfinger October 10, 2017 at 7:46 am

i contribute to the community. Does that entitle me to pour concrete on our beach and fence it in and run a business on it?

No. To hell with the inn, that deck is on public property. They should be forced to either remove it or leave it open to the public.


retired botanist October 10, 2017 at 9:02 am

Now we’re talking :-)


Frank Gormlie October 10, 2017 at 10:41 am

Joe LaCava wrote us:
“Good morning,
As to Bob’s article posted at http://obrag.org/?p=179081

Bob, who I spoke to briefly at the meeting, wrote “…In the second action, the Board voted, also 8 to 3, to oppose the Soccer City proposal for the Qualcomm Stadium site in Mission Valley.” And “On an 8 to 3 vote, the Board registered its opposition to the Soccer City project and asked City Councilwoman Lori Zapf to oppose it.”

The Board actually voted 8-0-3. None opposed to the motion, 3 abstaining. An important distinction.
This can be confirmed through the chair, John Ambert (johnambert@gmail.com)
Thanks! Joe


Joe LaCava

Member, Public Land Public Vote Coalition


LaCava Consulting


OBsince70 October 12, 2017 at 10:34 am

Wow! I really cannot believe that the grace given to a business owner to increase his/her profits has become the majority desire by the board OVER & ABOVE any environmental impact or going into account the precedents being set by such a decision. It SCREAMS that if you break local ordinances and ignore legal requirements and act based solely on your own interest and the interest of your brand, it’s perfectly fine, as long as you have enough people that like you and will say a few kind words at a board meeting. This sucks! Just another example of how the wealthy are “permitted” to do as they please without fear of retribution or being held to the same standards as the rest of us… You can freaking bet that anyone (at all) that owns a home in the Cliffs built ANYTHING on that public land there would be a lynch mob waiting at the board meeting and they’d be FORCED to reverse the improper building practices immediately! Double-standard ALL THE WAY!


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