It’s Michael Winn’s Mission to Form a Point Loma Town Council

by on October 30, 2018 · 3 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

There was a meeting October 24 at the Point Loma library to talk about the Point Loma Town Council.

Point Loma Town Council you say? Point Loma doesn’t have a town council.  Ocean Beach has a town council.  So does Mission Beach and Pacific Beach and even La Jolla has one.  That’s what this meeting was about, Point Loma doesn’t have a town council and one man is trying to change that.

Community member Michael Winn has made creating a Point Loma town council his mission and he has put some effort into it.

The meeting on the 24th was intended to explain his vision. Winn’s plan is a bit different in that he wants to incorporate technology more than perhaps other similar bodies.  Despite notifying the public using Facebook and the Nextdoor site and some things in the Peninsula Beacon paper, the turnout was small.  There were 12 people in attendance not including Winn and his young videographer from Muirlands Middle School in La Jolla..

The biggest problem Winn is having is getting people to understand how the PLTC will be different from the Peninsula Community Planning Board and the Point Loma Association.

Winn came before the PCPB in 2017 to seek support and was impolitely rebuffed with the board seeming to think it was already doing what a town council would do.  Some from the PLA were present and appeared to express the same sentiments.  If people in these organizations didn’t understand the difference, explaining it to people who aren’t generally involved in these groups has been difficult.  Winn hoped to make the difference clear at his meeting and that was successful.

The Peninsula Community Planning Board is part of the city of San Diego’s legislative branch and is beholden to the city rules for what it does.  The PCPB cannot have much in the way of funds other than for operating expenses to buy web service, rent a P.O. box, pay for printing and things like that.  The Point Loma Town Council is a nonprofit registered corporation with the state and can have and manage money.  That ability is the key difference, a town council could hire legal help, for example.  The council would not be connected to the city at all, a major difference.

The Point Loma Association is a long time local organization that has mostly made beautifying the peninsula its focus and it has done a good job of that.  It can also have funds to manage and it is also not connected to the city.

But, the PLA avoids political issues completely.  The current fight over the open land on Famosa Blvd. is just such a political issue that the PLA has been silent on.  It is exactly the kind of issue the PLTC could help with if it was up and running. The PCPB has been involved with the Famosa situation and has given the community a forum they needed.  But, the PCPB has not taken a position on whether it should be open space or affordable housing, to the disappointment of many.  To be fair, the PCPB has said that more information is needed before it can take a side.  The PCPB has the additional problem in that they are supposed to review land use projects and there is no project to review yet.

The meeting began with a brief explanation by Winn. He then asked everyone to introduce themselves and explain what issue or issues concerned them.  These were listed on a whiteboard and included the following:

  • Density—stopping unwanted Infill development
  • Airport Noise
  • Public safety
  • Trespassing
  • City ignoring municipal codes
  • View protection ordinance
  • Building height limits
  • Means of residents communicating about issues
  • Preserving our heritage places and structures
  • Saving open space (Famosa and others)
  • Increasing park spaces
  • Midway redevelopment
  • Corruption of local boards and planning.

Not everyone was there to be supportive or to contribute.  When the introductions got to one audience member he said he was there to make sure the PLTC was not “hijacked” by liberals. That prompted this reporter to explain, when the introductions reached him, that he was there specifically to ensure that the PLTC was definitely hi-jacked by the far liberal left.

But everyone else, with one other possible exception, was there because they were genuinely curious, and a decent discussion was conducted.

Suggestions were offered in how to birth the town council in a practical manner.  It was suggested the group have a sort of interim council and pick a particular issue to target and show what it could do.  The Famosa property was one idea.

Once it got rolling on something along these lines, it could eventually build to the town council design.  The idea is to have 11 districts in the peninsula with a representative from each one to ensure all parts of the community have a voice.  The OB Planning Board does this but the PCPB does not.  There have been complaints that the PCPB is too weighted to certain neighborhoods, true or not, the PCPB often does not have representation from all of its area.

There was a member of the PCPB at the meeting, although not in an official capacity.  Margaret Visissimo was originally one of the four founding members that Winn needed to get started but was removed based on poor public behavior.  As Winn stated at the meeting, she was removed because she fought publicly with this reporter who is one of the four founding members as is Winn and two others.  Virissimo appeared to be supportive at the meeting but the next day posted derogatory comments on social media about the meeting. There are clearly people in the community that do not want to see Winn succeed in forming the town council.

Winn explained that he needed help.  For one thing, the website he has created needs work.  The PLTC needs to collect money and keep careful records of that also.  He also needs to drum up more interest, which was obvious.  Having been involved with the PCPB for many years, this reporter can attest to the difficulty of getting public involvement in community issues and organizations.  Winn hopes, once people realize that a town council can have real teeth, as opposed to the planning boards, that more people will be interested.

One of the suggestions during the meeting was to set up a regular meeting time and place.  This is what town councils and planning boards do and it helps draw some interest.  Winn’s idea of using technology to get people involved should hopefully reach an even larger audience because it will not be necessary to always attend meetings to be involved.  The goal is to have the community speak up about what it wants the council to focus on.  This is not how planning boards operate.

Winn has not yet announced when the next meeting will take place.  For more information, go to the website cited above or contact Winn on Nextdoor.

 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar Micporte October 31, 2018 at 6:13 am

Support the town council of Point Loma…why not? It is all in the very name, TOWN COUNCIL a group to support and consider the town of Point Loma, seems self-evident…. but why did you say “even La Jolla has one” La Jolla is one of the oldest communities of San Diego, aand a prehistoric site of amazing natural wonderfulness, and although now, hijacked by the “rich” still, a worthy place, with a town council, like Point Loma should have too…get with it, suggest just starting meetings at somebody’s home , like the pb town council started

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Avatar Geoff Page October 31, 2018 at 10:14 am

I didn’t really mean anything by saying even La Jolla has one, just a poor choice of words I guess. I know from friends that La Jolla had a plethora of community groups and organizations so maybe, unconsciously, I was thinking despite all of those other groups, they also have a town council. I have no problem with La Jolla.

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Avatar kh October 31, 2018 at 5:52 pm

Considering the legal limitations of a planning board (limitations which most people don’t understand), a town council can be a great asset to any community.

Anyone not in favor of that should kindly step out of the way. That takes some nerve to obstruct volunteerism.

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