Point Loma Project at Garrison and Locust Raises Community’s Eyebrows

by on October 12, 2017 · 6 comments

in Ocean Beach

Circa May 2016, the previous four single-story structures were demolished.

Roseville developers’ runaround in progress

Editor: This article by Julie Stalmer originally appeared in the San Diego Reader on October 6th. Since its publication, the City’s Development Services Department (DSD) got back to Julie and she wrote a follow-up, which was not included in the Reader article but we have published here at the end of the original article.

By Julie Stalmer/ San Diego Reader / Oct. 6, 2017

Since moving into the Roseville neighborhood in May, Toni Popoki Reed had not seen much happening in the vacant lot across the street. She knew of the housing project that broke ground there in 2016. She was aware it had stalled sometime early 2017 but didn’t know why.

She was surprised when, mid-September, she saw something other than the weeds getting taller on the corner of Garrison Street and Locust Street. At 6:45 a.m., she spotted workers on the lot.

Reed spoke with the onsite project engineer.

“He told me the goal was to be completely done in three months. He told me he didn’t know why construction originally ended. I seriously doubt he didn’t know, but he was being friendly. He said the units would be townhouses, bi-level — he explained that to mean one row would be higher than the other for the view.”

Reed wasn’t able to ascertain how many stories or the height from the project engineer.

One thing Reed didn’t feel the need to ask about was the flooding she is sure will happen in the project’s planned basement parking. “We’re at the bottom of a huge hill that Garrison meanders up. All rain will be in those garages.”

The same architect who designed this project’s underground parking also designed underground parking in Ocean Beach that drowned a Lamborghini in 2015. This same architect is in the midst of the controversial Kellogg Beach condo project that aims to put underground parking beneath on-the-beach condos.

The city opted not to answer any of my questions. They instead asked me to do a public act request.

City permitting describes the project as “2 new 4 unit [8 units] condo buildings with partial basement parking, balconies, roof decks & cover over driveway aisle.” Previous permitting stated “4 story 4 unit condo buildings with partial basement parking.” While the fourth story has been removed from current permitting — has it been removed from the plans?

The project engineer’s mention of “townhouses” caught my attention; this seems to be what builders call the rentable units they apply to build. Once built, some then apply for a map waiver so they can sell the units instead. A map waiver subdivides the parcel(s) so each unit can be sold separately. This isn’t needed when one owner owns all the units being rented out.

Map waivers can save developers time and money — and bypass public input.

As far as I can tell, Garrison/Locust’s two parcels have yet to be subdivided. It’s not clear that this developer plans to jump on the map-waiver bandwagon, but it’s clear that Roseville bandwagon is getting crowded. The controversial condos on the corner of Emerson/Evergreen took that route.

There is a feeling of déjà vu as Garrison/Locust has some of the same hallmarks as the much protested project at Emerson/Evergreen.

Circa May 2016, the previous four single-story structures were demolished.

On July 1, 2016, a grading permit was issued. On July 7, a neighbor photographed piles of dirt brought onto the site. At the time, neighbors were on high alert having just protested the builder bringing in mounds of dirt to raise the grade at Emerson/Evergreen.

Then, in February 2017, what looked like the partial basement garages were filled with water; one looked like a dirty swimming pool.

In March 2017, the city received a code-compliance complaint about all the water. A resident, Marian D’Angelo, said a neighbor complained because she was concerned about mosquitoes breeding in the standing water. She said the water was treated with mosquito killer. The case was closed on June 9, 2017.

Three days after the code-compliance case was closed, a project invoice totaling $187,617.42 was paid by the applicant.

Geoff Page [Ed.:who writes for the OB Rag], former chair of the local planning group, went downtown to look at the building plans. From what he could tell, it looked like the project may have stalled because of revised grading plans. (Two days after asking who exactly in development services made the decision to not answer questions, and a few hours after Page checked out the building plans downtown, the city offered to respond to questions. As of publication, that has yet to happen.)

Page said the confusion about the number of stories is because the partial basement garage is being called the first floor with three stories above that. He said it looks like they are using raised planters that allow the builder to start measuring the height from the top of the planters.

Page said an anomaly exists in the plans that hint at something similar to what was tried at Emerson/Evergreen (where they brought in dirt to bury the above-ground garages to make them appear underground).

“The grading-plan sheets show existing grading is below the basement of the northerly buildings and cutting through the basement of the southerly building. It looks like they are putting a retaining wall on the north side and trying to make the garage subterranean again. But another plan sheet shows existing grade right above the garages. There is a clear contradiction here. If they are doing the subterranean trick, we all need to speak up.”

What about Reed’s concerns about those garages flooding? A July 2016 agreement was issued between the city and the developer to “hold harmless for public storm water onto private property.” Page explained this agreement ensures the city won’t be liable for runoff down Locust Street that might end up flooding the garages.

As far as height, Page said,

“They show the buildings at 32 feet and 5-1/2 inches tall, but the question remains where they are measuring from. The sheet that shows this measurement is the one that shows existing grade above the garages.”

Where the bi-level [tiered] height the project engineer mentioned to Reed comes into the height equation isn’t clear. Neither is the roof deck. Page said he didn’t notice a roof deck design in the plans.

A construction change was issued on January 30 to modify the elevations, change the driveway standard, relocate two walkways and a tree, and shorten the stairs. Page said, “The elevations look like they are raising the grade because the grade at garage floor level is only about six feet below the grade at the sidewalk.”

Page said he is going to try to meet with the project manager to discuss the grade further.

Don Sevrens from the planning group, speaking for himself and not the group, said that Roseville is changing project-by-project and the impact to the overall character of the neighborhood is going unchecked without public hearings.

Development Services [department] has a responsibility to both the builder and the community. More than density, Point Loma needs gathering places, mini-landscaped corridors to each street or another.”

Sevrens wants to see something more like the public spaces in Little Italy. He said if more public input were required of projects, maybe a dialog could be had.

Sevrens said it’s important for the community to organize and pick their battles carefully.

“Opposing these projects one-by-one is like putting out a brush fire with a wet towel.”

Some residents say they are concerned as more people inherit homes that they will sell them to developers. Some say they are tired of the barrage of letters from developers chomping at the bit to buy their homes. Some hope the new developments will raise their property values while some are certain it will lower them via the views being wiped out by these same developments.

Addendum by Julie Stalmer:

The city got back to me, sort of.

When they did, I asked that someone in the DSD read my article and let me know if they saw any inaccuracies. Also if they could clarify a couple things. I was told by city communications that he was sure they had already read it. So I asked for clarification on height and how that would be measured (how tall will neighbors see this when they look out their window, 3 or 4 or 5 stories from original grade), if the city thought they were building apartments or condos, and I asked for a rendering.

This is what I sent my editor to add:

On October 10, someone from the development services department via city communications staff, Brencick Sr., Paul, answered some questions.

As far as height, they said,

“This project is currently proposed at a 30’ height. Three stories above subterranean parking.”

No clarification on how that will be measured.

Does the city deem the applicant to be building rentable apartments or for sale condos?

“In order to sell them as condos, the applicant would have to apply for a discretionary map waiver. They have not done that yet, but they could rent them out as apartments when completed.”

When I asked if they could share a project rendering, I was invited to visit “the city’s development services customer service desk to request to view the records plan sets for these properties.”


From Julie:

Someone asked for names of people involved in this project. I’m sharing them here in case anyone else needs to know. I have contact info for all if needed, just message me.

ARCHITECT: MICHAEL MORTON from Morton Marango Architects http://www.marengomortonarchitects.com/

OWNER: Garrison Property One LLC registered in 2015 by Littrell Holdings Littrell Holdings was registered in 2015 (DAN LITTRELL CEO, Tim Littrell CFO) RYAN DALZELL is listed as rep for Garrison Property One LLC http://dalzellgroup.com/the-dalzell-group


ENGINEER: FRANK FLOREZ, P.E. (civil engineer) at Frank Florez Engineering http://florezengineering.com/

INVESTOR OR MIDDLEMAN: MIKE SPELTZ from Revest Capital listed on permits Company does real estate finance and acquisitions. Speltz is listed as the agent on permitting. He may be the middleman or the investor https://revestcapital.com/partner-bios

BUILDER: KEN TOUPS at EC Constructors http://www.ecconstructors.com/

CITY DEVELOPMENT SERVICES CONTACTS: Nathan White, Bryan Hudson, Justy Kozachenko, and Jama Vega

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Daniel Smiechowski October 12, 2017 at 3:38 pm

Did the Point Loma Planning Group formally vote on this development as an action item? If not, why not? Daniel “Danny” Smiechowski candidate San Diego City Council district 2


aj October 14, 2017 at 11:48 pm

No Daniel. Its a process one and does not go to the Peninsula Planning Board… Process one projects don’t go to community board reviews.


korla October 12, 2017 at 8:33 pm

PCPB has not seen this project. It is ministerially approved. When the new city amendment was passed after the Emerson & Evergreen debacle, this project only had grading permits. So it is not in what we refer to as the “dirty 7” that will be under the old rules; all of which will be over 30′. The city should be diligent here and apply the new amendment and make sure this project is NOT over 30′.
It looks like the community is watching.

Question: What was the $187 thousand fine for? It couldn’t possibly be for treating with mosquitofish a few times. I understand there also was a code complaint for the weeds and broken down fencing. Were they fined for that as well?


Daniel Smiechowski October 13, 2017 at 11:23 am

Have to agree that the buck stops at 202 c Street. The 52 City Planning Groups seem to be all for show! No teeth, no bark just good people believing they really have a voice. Sad! Danny SD CC candidate Thank you!


Geoff Page October 13, 2017 at 1:53 pm

Korla is correct about why the PCPB did not review this one. I’m not sure that it isn’t one of the dirty seven. It looks like they are measuring from panters again. The $187k wasn’t a fine, it was just the development fees.


Michael Winn November 2, 2017 at 11:47 am

I recall that it was one of the projects listed as on Locust Street? The $187k was a development fee, the timing of the payment seems ironic, simply because we have an expectation that a city department is serving the public interest as if we don’t understand that DSD is paid by developers and its job is to work to facilitate development projects more or less despite public interest. DSD works hard to ensure that those who fill their rice bowls get the best deal they can from their investment.


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