What Public Improvement Projects Does Ocean Beach Need? – Updated

by on May 9, 2019 · 36 comments

in Ocean Beach

This is an updated version originally posted May 9, 2019.

It’s that time again in the large public project process when communities give feedback to city government about what they’d like to see in their neighborhoods.

These are Capital Improvement Projects – CIPs – and are usually projects that cost $100,000 or more.

And capital improvement projects for Ocean Beach will be on the OB Planning Board’s agenda for Wednesday, June 5th. That is the time to express your thoughts and ideas about CIPs.

CIPs were also the topic at the most recent OB Planning Board meeting in early May when Chair Andrea Schlageter offered ideas to the board. According to City Council Policy 600-24,

Community planning groups may be called upon to advise on, or participate in, additional efforts such as CIP infrastructure needs identification discussed in Council Policy 000-32.

Here’s most of our report from the OBPB meeting May 1:

Capital Improvement Projects

Every 2 years, the city has the various community planning committees come up with a list of prioritized improvement projects which the groups would like to see built in their communities. These capital improvement projects – usually the top six – are supposed to cost at least $100,000 each and are recognized – usually – as those communities’ main priorities by city government, the councilperson, the mayor, etc.

… Before the Board Wednesday night was a decision to either confirm the previous year’s list or come up with a whole new one. The decision is due July 1st. Last time, the Board made this list of CIPs:

    1. New lifeguard station
    2. OB Library expansion
    3. Salt water pool and stairs
    4. Recreation Center upgrade
    5. Saratoga Park
    6. OB Pier and parking lot improvements and OB Pier retrofit.

… Once the city decides to “fund” a project, the funds are committed for at least 5 years. It may take even longer for a project to get on a CIP list, go through the “feasibility study” stage and then get built.

The lifeguard station is funded – which means it’s in the “feasibility study” stage – still. … The library expansion is funded – there’s $8 Million – and it too is in the feasibility study time.

Schlageter tabled the decision until the Board’s June meeting and asked members to come up with their ideas.

So, now is the time for OBceans to give their Planning Board representatives ideas. (Here is their contact page from the OBPB website. – Figure out who your Rep is so you can address them specifically.)

Here Are Some Ideas:

Coastal Stairs

Kevin Hastings, vice-chair of the planning board, did an assessment of OB’s coastal access earlier this year and gave the community a “failing grade” due to all the closures. Here’s a sampling of his blistering report:

  • OB Pier closed – due to open Memorial Day weekend;
  • South boardwalk stairs – closed;
  • Salt Pool – closed;
  • Narragansett Stairs – CLOSED;
  • Santa Cruz Stairs – DAMAGED, at risk of collapse;
  • Orchard Stairs – CLOSED;
  • Orchard “Boat Ramp” – OPEN;
  • Pescadero Stairs – CLOSED, technically;
  • Bermuda Stairs – CLOSED;
  • Point Loma Ave Stairs – CLOSED;
  • Ladera Stairs – OPEN, recently repaired.

OB Recreation Center

Built at the end of World War II, the City’s website states:

With dedication and grand opening 1946, the center is one of the oldest in the City.

At the Planning Board meeting, Schlageter pointed out the rec center does need many improvements, like air conditioning, a new projector, the meeting room in which we meet, a need for a bench outside the front door., plus other improvement. Someone suggested asking the staff what they felt was needed.

Yet, being as old as it is – 73 years – the whole building needs an overhaul. It certainly gets a lot of use – all hours while it is open.

New Pipeline

A few years ago, a former OB Town Council president was lobbying for a major overhaul of OB’s sewer and water lines – the reason OB floods during heavy rains; our pipes are too old and too small to handy all that water.

What’s Your Ideas?

District 2 and Mayor’s Contact Info

Besides contacting your OB Planning Board reps, also contact District 2 Jen Campbell’s office (619) 236-6622, jennifercampbell@sandiego.gov or her OB Rep Seamus Kennedy SKennedy@sandiego.gov .

Contact Mayor Faulconer’s office: (619) 236-6330 – kevinfaulconer@sandiego.gov and community rep, Anthony George georgea@sandiego.gov

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

thequeenisalizard May 10, 2019 at 9:58 am

FIX the fuckin’ sidewalks!


ZZ May 10, 2019 at 12:13 pm

The library expansion I think is a big waste of money. Buying land that costs millions, evicting the business tenants and losing local jobs people can walk to, then millions more to actually build it. $8 million total! That’s about $250 for every resident, yet the library doesn’t seem to be very busy other than people using the computers.

Regarding a flooding pipeline, that seems to be something the people who own the $2 million dollar properties half a block to the beach should deal with. Part of the reason there is flooding is so much of those lots are paved with nowhere for the water to run.

Repair of the stairs, repair of sidewalks, and keeping the public bathroom from being disgusting all the time should be higher priorities and will improve quality of life more.


danny June 3, 2019 at 2:48 pm

zz-repairing the public restroom is part of a new lifeguard station the last time I looked!


ZZ June 4, 2019 at 12:50 pm

Danny, the bathroom by the pier has always been in good repair the rare times I’ve used it over the years. The issue is its overwhelming and disgusting smell. Maybe it just needs to be bigger, but it doesn’t seem to be used beyond capacity. I think the city is just failing to clean it often enough. The other OB restroom, and the large one in Mission Beach are not nearly as bad.

DA: Not anti-library, just think the expansion is a giant waste of money and shows lack of priority. If I propose a $100 million expansion that displaces 20 local businesses, if someone disagrees are they “anti-library” too?

I also see no signs when I’ve been there it needs to be bigger. Most of the patrons every time I’ve been there have been homeless individuals using the computers. Sometimes 3/4 of the patrons.


dajohn June 4, 2019 at 12:35 pm

Anti-library and pro AirBnB, what a great community booster you are ZZ, it’s great to have people like you here in OB. You are such a shining light of positive energy.

When we take our kid to the library I see many other people utilizing the children’s books and movies. Many people in the community want and would appreciate a better local library. Even the former REPUBLICAN council person acquired $175,000 to study a new library, seems like a new library is a bi-partisan desire. My guess is a library probably just sounds like a waste to the arm chair contrarians that need to let everyone know how smart they are.


Judy Collier May 11, 2019 at 11:47 am

Hi ZZ—I’m sorry that you don’t enjoy our little gem of a library. Next Saturday, May 18, there will be a How-to-Festival there: How-t0 11:00-Meditate; 12:00-DIY Home Facial; 1:00 Read Music (by me!); 2:00-Use a Loom; 3:00-Establish a Garden. There are many educational and musical events at this tiny library, plus special programs for babies and children. This small library is a hub, connecting us with the larger library system. I frequently order books from the larger library system and pick them up within walking distance of my home at the OB Library. Oh, and they have kick-ass books and knowledgeable librarians there too. OB needs a large community meeting space, and the expanded OB Library would be ideal—the Heart of OB.


ZZ May 13, 2019 at 1:24 pm

Judy, I’m glad people find the library useful. I do not see the need to spend $8 million dollars to renovate it, nor displacing local businesses and jobs at the now-vacant building next door.


Danny June 3, 2019 at 2:54 pm

zz-the “building next door” is vacant because it was/is? part of the plan to renovate the public library


ZZ June 4, 2019 at 12:51 pm

Yes, it was purchased by the city and all the tenants evicted as part of a wasteful expansion.


Geoff Page June 4, 2019 at 1:08 pm

ZZ, that building has been empty for years so it’s hardly an issue now. But, since you appear to know about it, how about some additional information? How many tenants were evicted? What businesses did they run? Where did they go?


ZZ June 4, 2019 at 1:25 pm

Searching for the address shows there were law firms and property management places located there.

I don’t agree it isn’t an issue anymore, as OB has very little office space for small business. Actively cutting the amount by 3500-4000 square feet and getting rid of employment people can walk to is bad for the environment. All for an extremely expensive library expansion when libraries are being used less and the current one seemed to be fine for many decades.


dajohn June 4, 2019 at 1:42 pm

ZZ is such a dedicated contrarian troll, they’ve been casing the OB libary for decades just to keep track of how it “seemed to be fine” so they could trounce all over an expansion in favor of 3500 sf of office space. Well done.


Geoff Page June 4, 2019 at 1:42 pm

Law “firms” plural or a law firm? Property management “places” plural or one place? Where did they go? Neither of these types of business are high traffic businesses and they are not location dependent so they could pretty easily move. Do you know if they stayed in OB or not? I did a quick check and there appears to be sufficient space available for small businesses. I think the main issue is you are not a library fan, which is fine, but let’s stick with the main objection and not obscure it with the perceived problem for small businesses.


ZZ June 4, 2019 at 2:48 pm

If you google the address, you will see multiple law firms and multiple property management/realtors. One of the law firms moved a block away.

People seem to be overly emotional on the topic of libraries. Did I say “shut down all libraries!”? No, I said spending $8 million and displacing businesses is not a good use of scarce land and scarce public dollars. The $8 million is better spent on any of the other issues in the article. The building is better kept as it was providing jobs. Or if the city wants to do something else with it, for affordable housing.


Geoff Page June 4, 2019 at 3:10 pm

“multiple law firms and multiple property management/realtors” all working within 3500/SF? Must have been pretty small firms. The displacement, if it occurred, has already happened. Who is to say they didn’t find other spots and those jobs, the few that law firms that small and property management firms, provide, are filled elsewhere?

I’ve been unable to verify the $8 million price tag. The city site says the budget has yet to be decided.


ZZ June 4, 2019 at 3:51 pm

I think the $8 million figure was from an earlier article here.

retired botanist June 4, 2019 at 1:47 pm

ZZ, I recommend you read Susan Orlean’s current best seller- The Library Book!! While the underpinnings of the book are about the terrible, and expensive, 1986 fire at LA’s Central library, the book is really more about how important libraries are to ALL communities. They are not just facilities that dispense books, they are not arcane hard copy files of everything one can get online these days. They are multi-functioning facilities that can provide help, shelter and knowledge to everyone in a community. Ironically the only constraint to providing a multitude of services to the public is SPACE. Libraries are, literally, one of the heartbeats of society! Check that book out! :-)


Doug Blackwood May 11, 2019 at 3:52 pm

Ok then: what do we need?

#1. Library: I am there 3 to 5 times a week: & Matt has done a lot to improve our library! All the librarians assist as needed.

#2. Pier: visited daily by locals & tourists!
The parking lot is fine.

Local business’s had the chance to use the structure that was torn down ( Santa Monica & Cable) : to add bar/restaurants that we don’t need!

OB Local.


OBKID June 4, 2019 at 7:25 am

Extend the Boardwalk from Newport to Dog Beach


Frank Gormlie June 4, 2019 at 11:32 am

Just so you’re aware of your OB history, OBKid, the community rose up to block that idea / plan back in the 1990s.


ZZ June 4, 2019 at 1:06 pm

For what reason? Was the plan a big MB style boardwalk, or just extending a narrow sidewalk over the 1.5 blocks it cuts out?

Pretty annoying how the sidewalk randomly ends like that and you can’t walk from one end of OB to the other entirely away from car traffic without filling your shoes up with sand on this one little section.

Looking at the map, all this would require is one full block and one half block, from the Spray/Brighton intersection to the alley between Cape May and Saratoga. If this were done, you could walk along the curving path that runs in Robb Field seperated from the 4-lane part of sunset cliff (or from the OB Entryway on Sunset/WPL) then west through Robb Field, around through the grass east of dog beach, then on a sidewalk on this 1.5 block section, then into the grass again that starts at the Saratoga park all the way to the cliffs path.

Potentially even 1 block of sidewalk would solve this issue, as the last half block has a compacted dirt path already.


OBKID June 5, 2019 at 7:01 am

Both times the city offered OB money to simply extend the board walk to connect the pier with dog beach (when they created the new bathrooms by dog beach) – not sure who in the community opposed this or how even – absolutely insane.

Yep, with the right boardwalk you could walk/bike from the river bridge to dog beach to the pier to the cliffs/tidepools/coves….


OBKid June 5, 2019 at 6:58 am

I am well aware – it was in the late 2000s too – OB turned down the city money then – both instances were non-sensical NIMBY behavior.

Why not have a boardwalk connect OB? makes no sense to have that gap in the middle


Geoff Page June 5, 2019 at 11:36 am

I’m curious about this too, I never heard of a proposal to do this or the opposition to it, maybe I wasn’t paying attention. What was the reason for the opposition?


Geoff Page June 5, 2019 at 12:40 pm

Here is some information about the proposed boardwalk years a go. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1992-11-16-me-397-story.html


OBKID June 5, 2019 at 3:01 pm

Could not find the one from 10 years ago…basically the city was gonna give OB $300K or so to extend the boardwalk – OB turned it down – not sure who or how they turned it down (planning board?)….money went to PB.

Dear City and OB planning board – Just pave that 1.5 block gap and connect the OB beaches .


ZZ June 6, 2019 at 12:51 pm

Yep, nothing more than a standard narrow sidewalk 1.5 blocks long would make the area a lot nicer, as well as provide better access to individuals on wheelchairs and older people who cannot walk on soft uneven sand.

That is far from making the area like Mission Beach. As it stands now, there is also ambiguity as to where the public beach starts and the end of the property of the six gazillion dollar beach houses along that stretch. Is it the fence, or is it the ice plants growing around the fence, or what? My guess is the ice plants were put in a long time ago by the owners of the houses to deter people from setting up on the sand nearby, and they keep them watered. Certainly the city’s policy has been to remove, not plant, non-native ice plants for a long time.


kh June 6, 2019 at 5:41 pm

I believe the ice plants were put there to help with sand migration. In fact there’s a foot path inland of them right next to the properties. A quick look at the city parcel map would show their boundary. There are also some undeveloped parcels completely on the sand as well which I assume are now public land.


Frank Gormlie June 6, 2019 at 1:17 pm

BTW – no one, I repeat, no one at last night’s OB Planning Board discussion about CIPs brought up a boardwalk across the beach.


Vern June 5, 2019 at 1:17 pm

Yep, keep paving… great idea. You’ll be back in Phoenix before you know it.


kh June 6, 2019 at 11:55 am

My impression of the reasoning behind the rejection of the boardwalk was not wanting mission beach type concrete wall and runway interrupting the edge of the natural beach and turning it a touristy roller derby scene. But rather to “keep it funky” ie disjointed and unpolished.

There are other plans for OB’s waterfront that have failed. One from the 60s had parking lots extended out across much of the beach head, with Spray street connecting to Newport. And another plan had a breakwall jutting out and around a large part of the north end of the beach.


Frank Gormlie June 6, 2019 at 1:13 pm

You’re right about the proposed boardwalk. It was almost a done deal and some people were already licking their chops. But at the last moment, some veteran OB organizers emerged and unleashed a campaign against it. And defeated it.

And don’t forget the whole jetty/ marina attempt. https://obrag.org/2012/07/ob-history-42-years-ago-this-july-ob-stopped-the-jetty/


OBKid June 5, 2019 at 7:06 am

Bring back the salt water pool, or put a volleyball court there – why does the south side of the pier have to look like an absolute pit??

Clean up the silver spray apartments – place looks like garbage and its a historic building.

Library could use some upgrades, but not expansion (go to the PL library 1 mile away if you want a bigger one).


Geoff Page June 5, 2019 at 11:41 am

There is no way to “bring back” the saltwater pool. it would have to be completely rebuilt and today, given the protections of the coast by the Coastal Commission, it would be very difficult. But, that begs the question of why? Salt water pools were built in a time when there may have been reasons such as bathing modesty and fear of the ocean, neither of which matters anymore. There was a cool salt water pool on Oahu with diving platforms and viewing stands that fell into disrepair for years before being removed. No one used it. The apartment building is privately owned, not a candidate for CIP funds.


ZZ June 6, 2019 at 12:55 pm

Wouldn’t be a bad spot for volleyball, but the area is routinely underwater. Can the poles hold up to that? Best bet may be to just keep it clean in the summer for sunbathers.


Vern June 5, 2019 at 1:20 pm

Volleyball courts are a few hundred yards north (street called Brighton or thereabouts). Get on your rental e-scooter and scoot north!


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