Ocean Beach Planners Review Condo Project at Abbott and Muir and Hear How to Battle McMansions – Wed., Jan. 3rd

by on January 2, 2018 · 1 comment

in Ocean Beach

The Ocean Beach Planning Board meets Wednesday, January 3rd, at the OB Rec Center, 4726 Santa Monica Avenue. The meeting begins at 6pm.

On its agenda is one of the most controversial projects – now redesigned – to appear before the Board – 3 new condos to be constructed in the vacate lot at Abbott Street and Muir Avenue.

The project has been controversial because its original design has been way out of line with the OB Community Plan. And the project has been before the Board numerous times. Here’s what we reported when it was scheduled to come before our volunteer planners back in July of 2017:

2150 1/3 Abbott St. – Controversial Project Downgrades to 3 Condos

… On the agenda, but by far the most controversial project, is the permit to build 3 residential condos for a total of 6730 square feet, on that large, empty 7500 square foot lot at the intersection of Abbott and Muir.

Original design of condos at Abbott and Muir – but with 4 condos. The new plans have only 3 condos.

This is one of the most controversial projects ever to come before the review panel and the full board – because the 2-story project has been before the full board or the review panel 3 or 4 times, each time getting rejected or postponed.

The project originally called for 4 condos, and was continually rejected by OB planners for violating OB’s floor-area-ratio. Now, it looks like the developers have figured out they can only build three condos on the lot.

In June of 2015, the developers appeared before the Project Review panel and requested a variance around the floor area ratio. This was denied 8 to zip. (See details here.)

When the project came before the full OB Planning Board in September 2015 – the board took on the issue of developers requesting variances to the FAR because they complied with the City’s “green program”, tabling their decision on the project until after the board had determined its own standards.

Philip Covington’s project returned to the OB planners in May of 2016, and again the FAR exceeded OB’s standards, and again the board tabled its decision to allow Covington time to come up with a new design that would meet with the board’s approval – and recommendation. Apparently, he has, for the original 4 condos has been dropped to three, hopefully to meet the FAR.

We have not seen the new design, but expect it will look like the old design, minus one condo.

Citizens for Responsible Coastal Development vs McMansions

Also on the Board’s agenda for January 3rd is a presentation on Incentive Based Zoning regarding exemptions to Coastal Development Permits by a group called Citizens for Responsible Coastal Development.

This group was formed originally as an ad hoc committee in 2015 by the La Jolla Community Planning Association by locals in that community to battle McMansions and who wish to abolish the so-called “50 percent coastal exception rule”, and replace it with an “Incentive-based zoning” approval process. This process would reduce the project applicant’s floor area ratio (FAR) and the applicant would then have to conform to CRCD’s list of design incentives to earn back their right to build their home more densely to the current FAR allowed.

The so-called 50 percent rule in the San Diego municipal code allows single-family home remodels to be exempt from costly and time- consuming Coastal Development Permits, as long as the builder keeps 50 percent-plus of the exterior walls of the existing home. But critics – including the founders of the citizen group – say developers and the City employ an aggressive interpretation of that (50 percent) rule. The results are the building of McMansions.

Diane Kane, Ph.D., an architectural history instructor, has jumped into trying to understand how rule works and how it can be redefined. She says the problem is with the “permissive municipal code.” Her research through city documents showed the definition of the rule to be obscure. She has said:

“There’s no date on it, no authorship, no attribution. Technically, it doesn’t exist. The city council, or the public, never saw it. It was something developed internally (by the city).”

“It’s not an addition, it’s a completely new structure. That creates a lot of heartburn because people have no idea what’s going on. All of a sudden, a house is stripped to the bone, literally, and people are going, where does this come from? Something can be built too close to the property line. People are losing privacy. And there’s absolutely no community review.”

Dr. Kane says the 50 percent rule is a farce, as presently construed and interpreted. She adds:

“We think this (incentive-based zoning) can be implemented with a (municipal) code update. Clearly the rules that have been used have not worked. That’s why we’re saying specific elements of the code need to be changed.”

OB Planning Board Elections Approacheth

In early March 2018, the OB Planning Board will hold its annual election for members of the Board. To facilitate this year’s election, the Board will create an election sub-committee.  If anyone is considering running for the Board as a candidate, one of the requirements is to attend at least one Board meeting before the March meeting and election. January 3rd is one of those meetings.

Here’s the official agenda:

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Avatar Larry Maggard January 2, 2018 at 3:19 pm

Why do we spend countless hours and millions of tax payer dollars to create legislation, statutes, policy, code, etc., that we don’t enforce? I just don’t get it.

“Law enforcement” is a contradiction in terms.

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