Jennings and Camulos Projects Before Peninsula Planners

by on November 27, 2017 · 1 comment

in Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

In an attempt to make right on one of its sorrier performances, the Peninsula Community Planning Board (PCPB), during its regular monthly meeting at the Pt. Loma Library, decided to revisit its bizarre /no decision on a project in July of this year.

At that time, the PCPB voted no on a motion to deny a project and then also voted no on a motion to approve that same project. This rehearing of the project was part of an equally bizarre agenda that had applicants still waiting to present their projects at 9:30 in the evening, three hours after the meeting started. They had to wait while the PCPB discussed internal matters and heard informational items for things that won’t happen until May of 2018.

The PCPB by-laws state what the main job of the planning boards is:

The Peninsula Community Planning Board has been formed and recognized by the City Council to make recommendations to the City Council, Planning Commission, City staff, and other governmental agencies on land use matters.”

While the PCPB does other things, the principal function of the community planning board, reviewing proposed projects within the Peninsula, seems to have been forgotten by whoever put the PCPB agenda together. Instead of making the project reviews a priority, the first one was not heard until 9:00. This simply provides fodder for developers who dislike the planning board process.

Short Term Rentals

Before rehearing the no decision project, there was presentation by Conrad Wear, representing Zapf’s office, on what has been referred to as the Bry/Zapf proposed ordinance for regulating short term vacation rentals or STVRs. This was the first oddity in the agenda because this same presentation was made at the October PCPB meeting. Wear said in October that the City Council vote was postponed because the City Attorney noted problems with the ordinance and with the other STVR proposals being put forth by other council members.

This second STVR presentation also noted that several ordinance details have not been worked out yet, which was evident by the big DRAFT watermark on the document, but Zapf was looking for PCPB approval anyway. As the board discussed the proposal, this reporter asked how they could possibly consider approving the ordinance without having had presentations on the other STVR proposals out there. John Ambert, chair of the Ocean Beach Planning Board, did offer OB’s opinion that the other proposals were disasters but it appeared that OB had gotten into the issue in more depth because the STVR problem is more acute in OB.

Wear said that the first reading of the ordinance will take place at the December 12 City Council meeting. A motion to support the ordinance failed with five opposed, three for, and three abstaining. A vote for an incomplete ordinance, without hearing any of the other proposed ordinances, took more than 30 minutes of the agenda. The correct move here would have been to table it immediately upon hearing that the ordinance was still incomplete. A copy of the ordinance could not be found on either Bry’s or Zapf’s City of San Diego councilmember web sites.

3424 and 3434 Jennings Street

The board then moved to the “no decision” project at 3424 and 3434 Jennings Street. For more details on this project in the Wooded Area, see the OB Rag article on the July PCPB meeting.

The first thing the PCPB had to decide was whether or not they could revote on the project. Considering that the board did not reach a decision one way or the other in July, this extended discussion about rehearing it, in order to have a decision, seemed moot. But it took up more time.

The board finally voted 7-3 to rehear the project. The applicant had come back as had the opponents, headed largely by Janet Axtater who lives next to the project. The developer was not happy with the project’s opponents and Axtater specifically. It was related that the developer’s attorney sent Axtater a threatening letter and also sent the letter to her employer. These are the tactics that make developers look bad.

The main issue the opponents have is that this project involves building two houses on two twenty-five foot wide lots, which will be out of character for that area. There were also drainage and fire safety issues. Axtater’s main point was that the two lots were supposed to be merged under a 1989 California ordinance. The ordinance required that adjacent substandard lots of less than 5,000 square feet, owned by the same people, be merged. San Diego sent out a Notice of Merger to affected property owners in 1989 and sent out a second notice in 1990.

According to Axtater, the city failed to follow up and a number of affected properties were never acted on. The two Jennings properties were two of those that were missed. Axtater believes that the lots must be merged because they are under the same ownership. It appears that the four 25-foot wide lots on the corner of Santa Monica and Ebers, where four narrow new homes are now, were also missed.

After much discussion, the PCPB voted 6-5 to approve the project. The motion, made by board member David Dick, was an odd one. Motions are supposed to be in support of an item or to deny an item. Dick proposed a motion that stated a yes vote was for the project and a no vote was against the project, something for which no precedent has been found. Dick said he did this to avoid the kind of confusion that happened in July? But, a simple, normal motion to approve would have sufficed.

The board approved the project despite the opponent’s presentation showing the project clearly did not conform to the Peninsula Community plan and a petition with hundreds of signatures opposed to the project.

From the comments made by board members, it appeared they only looked at the project as does the Development Services Department that only looks to see if the project conforms with the Municipal Code and ignores the community plan. The PCPB is supposed to be the guardian of the community plan and is supposed to review projects for conformance with that plan but that did not appear to have happened.

After settling this project, inexplicably, the PCPB spent another 15-20 minutes discussing an internal board matter, that of reviving an ad hoc subcommittee that was planned to end. This subject matter does not require public input and could have been discussed after the project presentations.

Then, more time was wasted by having two Information item presentations. One was for a water main replacement project and the other was about replacement of the West Mission Bay Bridge – both of which are not slated to start until May 2018. It was a mystery why these presentations were scheduled seven months before the projects will start. The water project, AC Water Group 1043, will be in the area of where Narragansett intersects Chatsworth. The federally funded bridge replacement project will cost $138 million with the bulk coming from the Federal Highway Department. For more information on the bridge project, go to https://www.sandiego.gov/bridge-replacement.

Citizens for Responsible Coastal Development

By this time, it was 8:30 and the first project applicant still had to sit through another item. There was a presentation by Citizens for Responsible Coastal Development. This is a group people from of La Jolla who have been working for two years on a land use proposal intended to cure some of the coastal development problems in the code today. One of the items in their sights is the 50% rule where a mansion can be built around two walls of framing from an old craftsman cottage with no public review or coastal permit. The presentation was very technical and difficult to understand but it was clear that a dedicated group of volunteer professionals had worked hard on it and that it had a great deal of merit. For more on this item see Dave Schwab’s story in the Beacon News .

The PCPB voted to support the effort, which was all the CRCD had asked for. The proposed code changes are not ready for an action vote or for presentation to the city.

2727-2745 Camulos Drive Near Famosa Slough

Finally, at 9:00, the first project was heard, a development adjacent to the Famosa Slough at 2727-2745 Camulos Drive.

This is a remodel and new construction project involving two old, existing apartment buildings that were moved to this site after WWII. The owners intend to upgrade everything and intend to actually turn one of the buildings to give it a better orientation. The project calls for an underground parking garage under the new building in order to eliminate much of the pavement around the buildings now devoted to parking. This item has been contentious because of the proximity to the slough.

To the owner’s credit, they are not “maxing” the site out in terms of FAR or height or setbacks. Where they could be putting in eight units in one building, they have opted for only six. The owners also seem to be very sensitive to concerns about the slough. A representative of the Friends of Famosa Slough (www.famosaslough.org/) raised a variety of concerns including shading, bird strikes, drainage, habitat loss, sound, night lighting, and water quality. The owners were agreeable to reviewing these issues to see if they could do anything to alleviate the concerns. They agreed to bring the project back for consideration after looking at the items the Friends of Famosa Slough brought up. Because they agreed to return, no vote was taken.

The Famosa Slough project consideration ended at 9:30 with three other applicant projects.

Other Projects

One was a project at 1303 Sunset Cliffs Blvd. to remodel and add to an existing home and build a new companion unit over a new detached garage.

A second project was a map waiver for a project at 3020-3026 Fenelon, another of those projects started as apartments to avoid public review then converted to a condominium project while under construction.

The third project was a proposal to subdivide two lots into five lots to build five three-story detached residences. For results on these three projects go to www.pcpb.net/agendas.html and look for meeting minutes for November when posted, probably in January. By 9:30, this reporter had seen enough.

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Avatar Janet Axtater December 10, 2017 at 4:37 pm

Thanks, Geoff, for your support and accurate reporting of the Jennings St. project. In addition, by the board approving this 2 on 1 project, it was in direct contradiction to a early November PCPB proposal (see PCPB website for copy of Proposal) sent to The Mayor’s office, City Council, and the City Attorney’s Office supporting lot consolidation of the sub standard common ownership lots that were missed in the 1989/1990 Merger Ordinance. All the reasons they stated in the proposal were almost identical to our objections to the Jennings Street project including not meeting the Community Plan objectives and the potential of lower property values which I stated in my comments prior to the vote. Then the Chair of the Long Range Planning Committee that drafted the proposal, Robert Goldwyn (who voted to approve the project), made a comment PRIOR to the vote that the Lot Merger Proposal had nothing to do with the Jennings Street project. That absolutely makes NO sense and, appeared to me, to be leading the board on how to vote (illegal?). How can they appose, in their Lot Merger Proposal, development on sub standard lots yet, under the same breath, approve a project on sub standard lots?? Our Planning Board is a farce and we might as well not have one if they are going to so blatantly disregard the Community Plan and the best interests of the Community. Fortunately, we will be able to appeal to the Planning Commission when the City approves permits for this project. You can be sure I will be letting my thoughts regarding the PCPB be known to the Planning Commission when appealing this project and hope other community members will follow suit.

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