Reader Rant: Peninsula Planners Promote Increased Density in Point Loma

by on July 23, 2018 · 6 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Michael Winn

Peninsula Community Planning Board is tacitly promoting densification, expressed in this letter to Councilmember Lorie Zapf.

The board voted to send it as if on the behalf of all Peninsulans, certainly without our consent and/or knowledge or debate. Present board members, most of whom were elected by less than 200 of their friends, weigh in about whether projects are compliant with our Community Plan. Elected by a couple hundred residents (hopefully), it doesn’t reflect the political will of a community of 80,000 souls.

This letter, however, oversteps their authority.

The letter is problematic because committees and the City Council that vet Housing Commission projects can be shown this letter as evidence of how Point Lomans feel about Famosa and Midway. But the letter is also problematic because it makes false claims and assertions in defense of densification, as if Point Loma wasn’t an already fully built-out community.

The letter begins with an absurd assertion that Point Loma has tried and refused to build affordable housing.

When did this happen? Where? Who? How?

PCPB cites a San Diego measure (Measure M). It authorized city ownership of homes but it actually forbids using it in the way PCPB has in this letter.

Next are some assertions that high rents are a product of limited supply. Renters know that 1-year leases with rent increases quickly double the rent, and it is this, rather than short housing supply, that is the reason for the Initiative on the November ballot to support rent stabilization ordinances.

Who are these PCPB people? By what right are they empowered to speak for Point Loman? PCPB members are volunteers on a board that has no authority.

Check them out at Some PCPB members are former city employees: Jerry Lohla and David Dick were with the Housing Commission. (They were involved in a June 2017 PCPB letter that invited the Housing Commission to develop Famosa Canyon.)

At the June 2018 PCPB meeting, Mr. Dick cautioned that, if the community opposes the Commission’s project, the Commission will sell the Famosa property to a private developer and then residents will have less control. A bold statement, since access to the Famosa site is through an HOA’s private property.

Another PCPB member, Jim Hare, was appointed by the board has worked previously for the San Diego Planning Department. Is there not, with these three, enough identity of interest to suggest conflict?

The problem in this hullabaloo for Point Lomans, is that the City Planning Commission and City Housing Commission use PCPB letters to justify decisions. This is because board members are supposed to be chosen so the board “represents the geographical community and its interests”.

Yet their performance shows they have no understanding of the needs and interests of renters and many parts of the peninsula. And, though the letter asks Ms. Zapf to ask the Park department to look into it, the PCPB also states that it doesn’t oppose the Commission’s project or that the community opposes it.

In some places, including Point Loma in different times, limited housing stock causes higher rents. But in fully built out communities like Point Loma, La Jolla, PB, Coronado, Rancho, etc., where economic diversification significantly declines due to real estate speculation, adding sufficient density to solve the problem is impossible, thus other measures must be found.

Already existing apartments can be purchased. Yet, some suggest a real estate recession will “pop the bubble” thus reducing rents. Wishful thinking. In the June PCPB meeting, Mr. Dick suggested “we should stop people from moving to San Diego”. These are fanciful ideas but nonsensical. But based on this letter, these are the kind of arguments we’re likely to hear from the PCPB and the City about Famosa and about adding 27,000 residents in Midway.

The PCPB board doesn’t care about unaffordable rent, nor does it want to examine the CAUSE of rent volatility, nor is it the board’s job to do so. They don’t care about rent volatility since they aren’t renters and/or they don’t see themselves as directly affected by exorbitant rents. Perhaps, like Ms. Trump, they “really don’t care. Do you?”

Several paragraphs in the letter reference the 2017 PCPB request to develop Famosa Canyon. Put aside that planning boards have no authority to request Ms. Zapf support densification; that they are only charged with advising the Planning Commission about compliance issues and neighborhood standards.

In this letter, PCPB cites an unsigned letter from an HOA in Famosa Canyon. The HOA’s letter asks PCPB to ask Ms. Zapf to ask the (cash-strapped) City Park Department to evaluate the Famosa site as a park. The HOA’s letter was drafted with the help of PCPB members, and the knowledge of Ms. Zapf’s office. Park and Rec has no funds. The HOA was not surveyed. Famosa Canyon is a matter of general concern of all residents on the peninsula, not just this HOA.

The most troubling paragraph in this letter suggests that the PCPB plans to act in a way that could make it easier to violate Brown Act provisions for open government. If communications from the Councilmember, from the Commission, from Park and Recreation Department are sent to a board member’s personal email address rather than to the entire board, that could be a problem. Per the Brown Act, there can be no communication that is not open to the entire board and available to the pubic.


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

OB Joe July 25, 2018 at 2:53 pm

There’s a lot of problems and incorrect assumptions in Winn’s rant. There’s too many to even respond to. He too easily puts down planning committees. IF you’ve got 200 “friends” who come out to vote for you, you probably deserve to be on the planning committee.

Winn asks: “Who are these PCPB people? By what right are they empowered to speak for Point Loman? PCPB members are volunteers on a board that has no authority.” They are volunteers to get elected to 2 year terms by a demcractic process – that is somewhat flawed, yes. Why put down the authority planning committees have? That’s moving backwards. I know Winn wants to set up a Pt Loma Town Council and doesn’t like the planning committee due to that.

I do like the fact that someone pointed out some of the past employments of some of the members.

I think the real answer to PCPB’s problems is to have district elections like they have in OB. The OB planning committee has 7 districts and only people in your district can vote for the candidates of that district. In fact that would settle a lot of the problems at Peninsula.


Michael Winn July 26, 2018 at 12:22 pm

83% of respondents to a Nextdoor poll want to recall this board.
Please, vote at:

83% voted recall. Of this group, 22% want to recall and limit the board to reviewing proposed projects–stop developing; 11% want to recall & change election rules to create geographic and demographic diversity; 44% voted recall and both to limit board to reviewing proposed project and to create geographic/demographic diversity. 4% want to recall but not impose limitation or guarantee diversity of representation.
17% opposed recall.


RB July 26, 2018 at 3:52 pm

Hardly a fair, unbiased and scientific poll.
No wonder the Dems always rally around their polls and pollsters
and are completely surprised by the election results………


Michael Winn July 26, 2018 at 12:23 pm

OBJoe, don’t blame the messenger. Fact is that I like most members of the board I’ve met. I also agree with the April 2018 County Grand Jury Report which criticizes all SD planning boards. I believe a planning board can be effective when reviewing projects for compliance with community standards and the community plan. And there are other issues, like the impact from the airport, the Navy and our Midway neighbors that are beyond the purview of a planning board advisory to the City Planning Department.


Paul Webb July 26, 2018 at 1:45 pm

Okay, so a poll went out to people on Nextdoor. I am a resident of Point Loma but I was not aware of such a poll. I tried to take the poll at the address listed in Mr. Winn’s posting but was informed that my poll was only for another neighborhood. My question is, who exactly was able to vote in the poll? Not me or my neighbors who were geographically excluded despite being within the boundaries of the Peninsula Community Plan.


Paul Webb July 26, 2018 at 1:47 pm

Excuse me, I should have said “the poll” not “my poll.”


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