What Ocean Beach Planning District Do You Live In? — Here’s District 1, Northwest OB

by on March 4, 2019 · 1 comment

in Ocean Beach

OB District 1 Map off'l

Editor: This is an updated version of an earlier posting –  published on District 1 in January 17, 2014.

The annual election to the Ocean Beach Planning Board is coming up on Wednesday, March 6th. This 15-member board reviews, approves and monitors development in OB as it adheres to the OB Community Plan – the blueprint for the community updated and approved in 2014.

OB Plan Area Map goodEach planning district has 2 representatives on the Board. Currently Tracy Dezenzo and Anthony Ciulla represent District 1. Anthony is up for election this time around.

Tracy Dezenzo, Secretary

(From bio on OBPB website:) Tracy Dezenzo has been an OB resident for over 22 years and is proud to represent District 1. Tracy has been a graphic/web designer since 1998 and has had the honor of being a graphic design educator and mentor for many adult learners, interns and mentees for close to two decades. One of her goals while serving on the OBPB is to educate and inform the community about the Board and empower OBecians to share their ideas for improving Ocean Beach. She lives with her husband Bill and her rescue pup Ava.

Anthony Ciulla

(From bio on OBPB website:) Anthony has 25 years experience as an aviation industry professional in addition to having 12 years in the construction industry/trades industry where he managed and operated a family-run plumbing contractor business including commercial and residential new construction and repairs. He is married with two adult children and three grandchildren and he owns a home in Ocean Beach, where he has lived for two years. He also enjoys playing music, working on fixing up his beach bungalow and gardening.


District 1 – Northwest OB

OB District 1 Bechprklot Jan2014OB Dist 1 DogBeach signDistrict 1 – the northwest sector of OB – is bordered on the north by Dog Beach, the San Diego River and Robb Field – which makes the district the gateway to two of OB’s parks. Robb Field is officially part of Mission Bay Park, which means it’s a city-wide park – and on certain weekends, there’s thousands of sports fans and their families from all over in the fields coming to play.

District 1 is the site of the most famous dog-friendly beach park in the city and due to the district’s proximity to the beach, there’s a heavy impact on the district’s residents from tourists and visitors, with West Point Loma Boulevard being a well-traveled feeder street in and out of OB.

OB District 1 Volt 01 Jan2014

Looking west down Voltaire – the second busiest commercial area in OB.

District 1 includes most of the Voltaire Street commercial zone, which is the second busiest business area in OB. It has numerous bars and definitely some of the more high-end restaurants in the village.

OB District 1 Lucy+ Jan2014

There is a night life in District 1.

It has one of OB’s most famous and popular ones – The OB Noodle House – on Cable. But there’s also Bo-Beau’s, Third Corner and just across Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, there’s Kaiserhof. There’s Hungry Lu’s (one of the only bakeries in town), Plant Power, and Voltaire Beach House.

Since the opening of the once-controversial Sunset Plaza at the corner of Voltaire and Sunset Clliffs, District 1 OB now has its own “fast-food” vegan restaurant.

Beginning of Voltaire Park, Spring 2000

Of interest to local historians is the story of the most contentious corner in Ocean Beach, the northwest corner of Voltaire and Sunset Cliffs Boulevard – where Plant Power and the upstairs gym sit. Here is our report from an earlier day:

No other corner in all of Ocean Beach has had as much attention and been the point of so much contention and conflict within the community as has the corner of Voltaire Street and Sunset Cliffs Boulevard. The northwest corner to be exact.


For more than ten years, this corner of contention has experienced divergent forces of the community pulling it in different directions: from a gas station to a popular recycling center, from plans for a community center, to plans for another gas station, then to an illegal but community-supported garden, and then more gas station plans – and for the last six years, an empty ugly lot.

Residential Element of District 1

Of course, most of the district is residential. It’s one of the most dense neighborhoods in Ocean Beach and within the City, with its mixture of small beach cottages, single-family homes, condos, two to three story houses and apartments. Muir is its longest street. And Lotus is one of OB’s more peculiar streets as it seems to wander through north OB.


City is considering a “roundabout” at West Pt Loma and Bacon.

Those with any memory about the community know the district as OB’s “War Zone” – a reputation gained during the Sixties and Seventies which it 1 shares with some of the other districts. It was for years one of OB’s low-rent areas, and its roughness was hewed by the hippie explosion that began in the late Sixties, bikers, the black market drug trade the constant influx of students from local colleges. Today, much has changed and the neighborhood struggles to keep alive remnants of the counter-culture trademarks of “sex, drugs and rock n roll”.

For years, its rentals enabled young people, students, seniors and other low-income folks to reside at the beach. But gentrification and the loss of housing stock from short-term vacation rentals have posed serious challenges to allowing this district to maintain any affordable housing.

An idea that has been floated about in the very recent past, has been the idea of putting in traffic circles – or “round abouts” at the busy intersections that West Point Loma Blvd has – such as with Bacon, with Cable, and at Abbott.

OB Dist 1 Wonderld

Part of OB’ s history; the remnants of the famous OB Wonderland Park is right here at Lotus and Abbott.

The district has witnessed the process of gentrification as it’s been on the frontline of OB’s fight with encroaching over-development. The 5100 block of West Point Loma Avenue is where that battle occurred.

For years, City planners granted variances to property owners who tore down their old duplexes and in their place, built three story behemoths – large structures that are out of character in terms of bulk and size with the rest of the immediate neighborhood. The OB Planning Board resisted these variances.

It took a while, but finally, this issue was supposedly resolved with stronger language in the 2014 approved OB Community Plan around maintaining OB’s unique low floor-area-ratio. Now OB’s low floor-area-ratio can continue to help prevent over-development.

OB airbnb map

Red dots represent Airbnb rentals – outdated; it’s worse now.

Another challenge to District 1 – and other districts and neighborhoods right along the coast – is the potential “loss of community” to short term vacation rental companies like Airbnb. Here’s part of our analysis:

… [T]he even more drastic consequence of loss of community occurs when there are so many residential units within a neighborhood that have been turned into short-term units, that a goodly-sized chunk of the area has morphed into a resort candyland of beach, surf and sand. There are no longer any actual residents in the immediate neighborhood, and every unit is utilized as a vacation rental – every condo, every McMansion, every apartment, every little cottage – no longer are the houses of residents – the human make-up of a community – but of visitors.

Without actual residents then, that portion of the neighborhood as “a community” collapses into a mishmash of rental and property managers, online rentals, private trash and private security details.

Voltaire & Abbott – The Poster child for STVR redevelopment. 3 homes lifted in as modular units have been turned into vacation rentals here. It is reported the units have upstairs “offices” which can be turned into their own rental. When the project appeared before the OB Planning Board, the owner promised he would live in one unit and his mother in another. They now go for $299 a night. The owners live in Poway.

All this makes District 1 extremely important and hence, its representation on the Planning Board is very important.

With its adjoining parks and beaches, its commercial district, its numerous high-end eateries and bars, District 1 is one of the most vibrant districts within OB’s planning area. It’s one of the first neighborhoods visitors and tourists see when they set foot in the village – and those very visitors have a huge impact on the district’s residents and businesses, both positive and negative. The positive impact includes the jobs that locals have in the various eateries and the negative side is illustrated by the traffic jams that now occur regularly every weekend in District 1.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Dr. Jack Hammer March 6, 2019 at 3:37 pm

Can’t really read the legend… what do the colors on the map signify?


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