OB Planners to Review Controversial Bermuda Avenue Project

by on February 6, 2018 · 5 comments

in Ocean Beach

Future plans for 4719 Bermuda Avenue.

Adair St Project and 30 Foot Height Limit Also on Agenda

The Ocean Beach Planning Board meets Wednesday, Feb. 7th and on its agenda are 2 projects to review, both demolitions and construction projects – one on Adair Street with the other on Bermuda, a more controversial plan that upset neighbors last time the project appeared in front of the Board. Plus there’s a presentation on the 30 foot height limit by Geoff Page. The Board will also review its upcoming annual election materials.

The Board meets at the OB Rec Center, 4726 Santa Monica Ave, in the community room at 6pm.

4664 Adair Street to be demolished under the permit.

4664 Adair Street

The owner has applied for a coastal development permit to demolish an existing residence and detached garage, and to build in its stead, a 2-story with attached garage.

The new project will be 4,462 square feet on a 0.158 acre lot.

4719 Bermuda Avenue

The other project is also a CDP to demolish an existing single family residence and replace it with two, 3-story residences on the 0.15 acre lot. The last time this project appeared before the Board – back in mid-August 2017 – there was an organized pushback by neighbors. Our reporter Brett Warnke attended that Project Review Committee and here’s how he recounted it:

The builders and architect presented drawings of a trendy modern design — a style popular for vacation rentals and in the changing neighborhoods along the coast.  In the design, there are two three-story single-family residences on a .15 acre site at 4719 Bermuda Avenue.  The plans, which call for four-bedrooms and 3.5 bath, in the builder’s words, maximize their profits as well as the space of the two narrow lots.

Plans for 4719 Bermuda which presented in August 2017

But while specific critiques of the design plans were lacking from the audience, the proposal met pushback from Candace Szalay and others who gathered over twenty signatures of neighbors and locals who oppose the plan based on its style.

“You’re not honoring the neighborhood with your design,” Szalay said.

OB Planning Board members Dan Dennison, Blake Herrschaft and chair John Ambert discuss the Bermuda project with developer during the August 2017 meeting. Photo by Brett Warnke.

The builders defended their design but appeared not to have referred to the OB Community Plan regarding local size and design specifications.  The plan, which took over ten years to complete, is the statement of policy regarding growth and development in OB.


OB Planning Board Chairman John Ambert repeatedly referenced the plan but neither the architect nor the builders seemed familiar with the specifications he broached.

Bermuda site

“This is our Bible here and I’m just trying to get you compliant with the policies of our community,” he said holding up the plan.  The builders were clearly displeased, even jousting with Ambert over his stalwart defense of the regulations.

We do not know at this point whether the developer/ owner has changed the design. If he hasn’t, there should be interesting fireworks.

Also, Peninsula activist Geoff Page will be giving a presentation on the 30 foot height limit and Prop D.  Page was a former board member of the Peninsula Community Planning Board and currently writes for the OB Rag, reporting on the meetings of the Peninsula planners as well as on the Midway District planning committee.

The OB Board will also review and certify the application materials for its March 2018 annual election. Anyone interesting in running as a candidate must attend at least one board meeting before the election, and the Feb. 7th meeting is the last one to attend, if those interested have never attended one.

Here’s the official agenda:

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page February 6, 2018 at 1:05 pm

What is really telling about this story is that the developers did not seem to know anything about the OB Community Plan. This does not surprise me because what is in community plans is not considered by Development Services when reviewing a project, they only look at the Municipal Code. The community plans are not part of the Municipal Code and do not have the force of law, they are recommendations and desires. A good developer, and yes, there are indeed good ones, will take the plan into consideration when designing a project. Unfortunately, a developer can ignore the plan if they choose to with little impact. The community may cause problems for the developer but once it goes to the Planning Commission, all bets are off. If the local planning board approves the project, that approval is waved all over at the Planning Commission hearings. If the plan is opposed by the local planning board, that is simply noted and does not carry the same weight. I hope that OB does make these developers sorry that they did not consider the community plan.


retired botanist February 7, 2018 at 12:48 pm

I totally agree, Geoff. I think Development Services should, at the very LEAST, ALWAYS counsel the developer to consult the Community Plan when considering design. They do a serious disservice to communities by not doing so. It is a community’s most important document, regardless of its muscle, and a developer should expect full push back and all attempts to undermine the project if it does not take into consideration these carefully thought-out policies. Seriously, does DSD think communities spend thousands of hours crafting these documents for FUN? And the Plan will come up every single time a project goes before the Board, as it should.


Geoff Page February 7, 2018 at 1:05 pm

I just had an eye-opener when someone sent me a link to La Jolla’s Planned District ordinances in the Municipal Code. This was not an area I’ve ventured into before but it is worth a look. It is in Chapter 15 and it looks like the essence of a community plan but is codified in the Municipal Code, including a requirement to measure height from “pre-existing or finished grade, whichever is lower.” Pages and pages of stuff as if La Jolla has its own section of the code and it supersedes the rest of the MC. And, not just La Jolla, also Barrio Logan, Carmel Valley, parts of PB, Centre City, Gaslamp Quarter, and others. This is worth a serious look.


Phil Lawrence February 7, 2018 at 2:37 pm

The article says there was pushback, etc., on the Bermuda project, but doesn’t say what the concerns are. Did I miss it?


Denine Hunt February 8, 2018 at 10:06 am

Pretty disheartening that only one member of the Planning Board voted “no” on the Bermuda Avenue Project, especially given the concerns that most of the members voiced during the review of the proposal.


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