Ocean Beach Planning Board Looks at Incentive-Based Zoning

by on January 9, 2018 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach

At the most recent Ocean Beach Planning Board meeting on January 3rd, the Board heard a presentation on Incentive Based Zoning which is a method of zoning that is designed to keep down over-development of McMansions in communities along the coast, in particular, and the so-called exemptions to Coastal Development Permits. The presentation was by Sharon Wample, who is part of a group called Citizens for Responsible Coastal Development.

For background, this Citizens group was formed originally as an ad hoc committee in 2015 by the La Jolla Community Planning Association with locals who wished to battle McMansions and who wanted to abolish the so-called “50 percent coastal exception rule”. They want to 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 a community’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.

OB Rag reporter Brett Warnke was at the Planning Board meeting and reported back that the Planning Board supported the concept for incentive-based zoning but with friendly amendments. They were responding to a draft, pitched by Wample and originally for La Jolla and Bird Rock – communities experiencing development that is much larger than intended.

Much of the discussion by board members focused on the 50% rule mentioned above, where a home-owner can be exempt from a permit if roughly 50% of the home is retained.  Wample argued that certain dubious developers are building into coastal communities and finding loopholes in order to circumvent planning board-style regulations. Wample said:

“Our communities need to know who is doing this so we can work together.  The left hand needs to know what the right hand is doing.”

Board chair John Ambert and the rest of the Board agreed with the proposal with the caveat of supporting the concept with the ability to have “customizable zoning.”

Wample’s draft stated:  “Single Family Coastal Ordinances … are found overly permissive, allowing abuse or misinterpretation to the point that they no longer meet their original Purpose and Intent.”

Here are copies of the Draft:




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