Some History of the Land Where the Point Loma Bike Track Is Built

by on April 23, 2018 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach

Area outlined in red is the original grant by DC Collier to the “children of San Diego” for parks. It appears half of the bike track space is within the original Collier Park.

Editordude: David Dick, a member of the Peninsula Community Planning Board, responded at length to our post entitled, “Point Lomans Oppose Plans to Build 78 Units on Bike Track – Part of Original Collier Park,” published Friday, April 20th. His comment had such history and made many clarifications for us that we decided to repost it as an article. We also reposted a couple of comments to his by other readers.

By David L. Dick

At the Peninsula Community Planning Board meeting on Thursday, April 19, I offered to assist Ms. Bendixen with her efforts to investigate ownership and title to the property. I asked her to e-mail me at my personal e-mail address that appears on the PCPB website ( and I would work with her. I am a former member of the San Diego Housing Commission and and very familiar with the property and its history. Further, I believe I could help her cut through the “red tape” at the Housing Commission to resolve questions about title. But, so far, I have not heard from her.

But I have since done some of my own investigation since Thursday.

I believe the state of title is clear. The property where the “BMX pump track” is located is owned by the San Diego Housing Authority (not the Housing Commission), which is basically the City of San Diego, acting in its state-mandated role as the provider of affordable housing in the City of San Diego. The San Diego Housing Commission is the governmental agency that implements San Diego Housing Authority policy. The Commission is merely advisory. The Housing Authority (which is comprised of the members of the City Council siting in their capacity as members of the Authority) has all the legal authority.

In 1981, the City of San Diego conveyed all of the property it owned generally south/southeast of Famosa Blvd to the San Diego Housing Authority pursuant to Resolution #R-254954. I’ve seen the Deed. It is posted elsewhere on the OBRag website.

At that time, the site was crisscrossed with “paper streets” (Banning, Yonge, Xenophon, San Clemente Streets and Famosa Boulevard (in a different configuration from today’s version of Famosa Blvd)). It appears that those streets, and a related sewer easement, were vacated in a Tentative Parcel Map dated in 1982 prepared by the engineering firm of Sholders & Sanford. The property abutting those “paper streets” was owned by the Housing Authority. If those public streets were properly vacated as suggested by the map, the land lying beneath those “streets” automatically became part of the adjacent properties. As a result, it appears that the entire site, including the vacated “paper street” is now owned by the San Diego Housing Authority.

I am told the Housing Commission (as the representative of the Housing Authority) has title insurance confirming that the Authority has clear title to the entire property in question.

That site has been slated for the development of affordable housing for many years. I served as a Housing Commissioner for 8 years from 1996 – 2004. That site had been identified as a site for affordable housing even before then. But the site has numerous development challenges, including topography, geology, drainage, street access and proximity to existing neighborhoods who might oppose a project for any number of reasons.

The Housing Commission has on several occasions considered selling the site for private development and use the sales proceeds to acquire or build affordable housing elsewhere. But even private development is considered challenging, ironically in part because affordable housing advocates would oppose the development of market-rate housing on a site available for affordable housing in a community desperately in need of it.

So, inertia being what it is, the site has sat there unimproved and unsecured for years, as it had for many years before that. (I mean, I myself used to ride my own Stingray bike there with my friends when I was a kid. And that was a LONG time ago!)

So there you have it: what I believe to be an accurate history of title to that property up to this day. In short, the property is owned by the City of San Diego and is held in its stock of undeveloped property slated to address the need for affordable housing.

Regarding the “BMX pump track,” as an attorney and taxpayer I can appreciate the City’s concern about the potential legal and financial liability stemming from an unauthorized, unmonitored and unprofessionally designed track that lacks compliance with all sorts of state and federal laws and regulations. As much as I think its great and necessary that kids should have places to play outdoors and away from their electronic devices and other distractions, we (and the City and Housing Commission) also have to be realistic about the litigious world we live in. With the City paying out millions of dollars each year for mildly dangerous sidewalks where people trip and are injured, allowing this sort of “attractive nuisance” on public property is simply asking for trouble and a seven-figure payout of taxpayer money the City can ill-afford.

As a resident of our community, until the future of that site is settled, I would rather see it remain in its current relatively undisturbed condition. I fear, however, that the likely result of continued agitation on this matter without pursuit of credible alternatives to the ad hoc status quo will leave the City with no choice but to fence the entire site.

Let’s all see if we can work together to find an alternative that checks all the boxes of safety, legal compliance and community needs. As a member of the PCPB, I’m willing to help in that effort in any way I can.

David Dick

Editordude: Now, to be fair, David’s original comment attracted some worthy responses, and we republish them here:


How does a “tentative” map from 1982 on the street and alley vacations carry any legal standing, when the city council as late as 1989 still had it on the agenda but did not approve it?

And, if the tentative map was ever approved, why the county parcel maps were never updated to reflect it? There’s no evidence that the former parcels of “block 9” immediately southeast of that intersection were ever parceled out after the rerouting of Famosa. Nor does the deed presented include that piece of land where the track is located. It does however cover adjacent parcels in the area.

Also I’m curious how resolution 254954 is relevant, as it addresses landslides in the San Carlos area:

Assuming this is SDHC land was fine and dandy right up until legitimate questions were raised to the contrary. Perhaps its all kosher and the paperwork was just sloppy. Maybe PCPB could help get to to the bottom of this rather than regurgitate assumptions by other parties with a vested interest in the land.

I appreciate your willingness to find an alternative site for the kids. In the meantime, why does the city suddenly care about liability for open park use on this particular parcel amongst all the open park space throughout the city? It’s been in use for years, maybe decades without issue. I see no reason it can’t stay that way until the facts are researched and until there is an actual permit in place for developing it. Or else maybe we should get to work shutting down all the dangerous bike trails in Balboa park while we’re at it. We can let them all become illegal homeless camps instead, since unlike children, they are immune to the rules.

Speaking of which, does anyone have a grading permit to run a bulldozer through there? That sort of unpermitted development is probably within your purview.

Here’s the correct resolution, you transposed 2 digits.

Click to access R-254594.pdf

This helps, but the question still remains about the right of way and the corner lot.



Thank you David for your report on this property. I would like to clarify one aspect of the PCPB letter. Please note “workforce” housing. The term “affordable” housing strikes fear into residents. As I understand it, “workforce” housing is a term used to describe families who work and make a living. Their children attend local schools and participate in local sports, etc. These families tend to be better neighbors as they take an interest in the community and quality of life therein.

It was discussed in the LRPC that affordable/”workforce” housing should be the term that fulfills our obligations as outlined in the Peninsula Community Plan.

by korla eaquinta

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ms Bendixen April 23, 2018 at 7:32 pm

David – I have reached out (via email) & look forward to hearing from you!


David L. Dick April 25, 2018 at 6:38 pm

Katie – Thanks for contacting me. Now that we’re communicating directly, I think we’re making good progress getting to the bottom of who has legal ownership and development control over the property. There’s more digging and analysis to be done, but I think we’re heading in the right direction toward definitive answers.

David Dick


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