Two Map Waivers Denied by Peninsula Planners to ‘Send a Message’

by on September 25, 2018 · 1 comment

in Ocean Beach

“15 on Jarvis” on Rosecrans and Jarvis Streets

By Geoff Page

What was most notable about the Peninsula Community Planning Board meeting this month was the lack of any real drama.  For the PCPB, at least in recent months, this was a departure.  The only items on the agenda that did stir some passions were two map waiver requests.  This is a mechanism that developers have been using for years to avoid public review of their projects and it is, unfortunately, completely legal.

What is a map waiver?

It is a request to convert a project permitted as apartments into condominiums.  An apartment project only requires ministerial approval – meaning there is no public review or commentary in the process – and the project is approved by the city.  But, a condo project requires discretionary approval that includes a public review period.

So, developers start their projects as apartments and when the buildings are well under construction, they apply for a map waiver and convert to condos. This mechanism has been criticized for years but no one has made a serious move to change it. The PCPB did send a letter dated November 17, 2017 to the city about this but apparently has not received a response and no follow up has occurred.

Projects Denied Map Waivers

Two projects came before the board requesting map waivers.  One is called “15 on Jarvis” on Rosecrans and Jarvis Streets. This is a 26,611 SF, 3-story structure over parking on a 0.34 acre lot containing 15 condominium units.  This project stands out for its bulk in Roseville.

“Bayview Townhomes” at Locust and Garrison.

The second one is another controversial project on Garrison and Locust Streets. The project is called “Bayview Townhomes.”  This one is eight condominium units within a 9,120 SF, 3-story structure over parking on a 0.23 acre lot.

There was a lengthy PCPB discussion about the map waiver loophole just as there has been for many years on the PCPB. The board voted to deny both map waiver requests to send a message to the city about the board’s displeasure with this developer gimmick.

This also has happened before with the PCPB.  What has not happened is that no one has ever taken this bull by the horns and attempted to get it changed.  Admittedly, this would be a difficult task because the city and the developers would oppose such a change.  The city would oppose it because the development community loves it.  A developer explained in a PCPB meeting once that this cuts a year off the approval process and saves money but did not say what a relief it is not to have to go through public review.

It is doubtful if these votes will have any effect on the city because the process is legal and there is no defensible reason to actually deny the map waivers.  Unless there is a real effort to get the Municipal Code changed, this will continue.

These two projects were also criticized for their bulk and there were serious questions about how the Bayview project measured the coastal 30-foot height limit.

This reporter viewed the plans before the project was started and saw the measurement was being taken from a planter in the northeast corner of the project, a planter that this reporter took pictures of.  That planter is now gone and there is a note on the plans that says “New Adjusted High Point of Grade Within 5′ of Bldg.”  The presenter, and the plans, say the building is only 28 feet tall but that all depends on where the measurement is taken from.

Developers are now presenting projects stating they are complying with the height limit but the big question is where it is measured from.  The city is allowing measurements from inside of new, tall planters the developers build calling that “finished grade.”

[Editordude: See this October 2017 post about this project.]

During this discussion, audience member and former candidate for the PCPB, Lucky Morrison, complained loudly about the PCPB’s Project Review subcommittee holding its meetings at 1:30 in the afternoon making it difficult for people to attend.  He said he was told it was held at that time for the convenience of developers and he said that was backward, it should be convenient for the community.  Morrison is correct, it is very difficult for working people to attend those meetings.

Styrofoam and Plastic Ordinance

A more far-reaching subject was on the agenda, the “Styrofoam and Plastic Ordinance” being pushed by Councilmember Chris Ward. The new ordinance would restrict the sale of Styrofoam products and limit plastic straws in restaurants.  The ordinance was passed by the Council’s Rules Committee and will be heard by full Council in the fall. The presenters were there asking for PCPB support.  This ban would not include Styrofoam that comes from outside of San Diego in packaging but would include anything packaged here such as take-home food from restaurants.

The feeling in the room was very much in support of the Styrofoam ban although there were some questions about how it would affect business.  Two restaurant operators were there to lend their support and to explain that the cost of using substitutes was negligible. The board voted 9-1-1 with board member Virissimo abstaining for reasons that were not clear.

Other News

There were two other action items, one for a home remodel and one for a new home that were approved with little discussion.

Conrad Wear, for Zapf’s office, mentioned that the short-term vacation rental signatures, to put the item on the ballot, were submitted and were being reviewed now.  Wear also mentioned that the Convention Center issue has qualified for next year’s ballot.

Board member Sevrens explained that the effort to improve the esthetics of the Voltaire Street bridge was moving along.  The improvements included some lampposts and a design for the fencing that will cost about $95,000 that has to be raised privately.  Sevrens said some money was raised so far.  Board member Joe Holasek is apparently working on the design pro bono.  Requests for more details of the design were not answered by the time of this article.  Anyone interested may contact the PCPB by going to their website

A presentation about the proposed Point Loma Town Council was on the agenda but the presenter, Michael Winn, had to cancel due to illness.  Winn plans to come back in November.  Anyone interested in the new town council can go to and get more information.

The PCPB holds its regular meetings on the third Thursday of the month at the Point Loma Library starting at 6:3o p.m.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Micporte October 2, 2018 at 5:37 am

Good overview, what happens in OB affects us all… yep, the mafia developers, yep the city planning department is lazy and corrupt, yep fast food take out is a HUGE local trash problem….i .would tax take out as much as eat in…


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