OB Planning Board Approves Projects and Takes on Scooter Corrals

by on June 6, 2019 · 3 comments

in Ocean Beach

At Wednesday nights Ocean Beach Planning Board meeting, the volunteer panel quickly dispatched 2 projects before it, had rounded discussions about Capital Improvement Projects for OB, a couple of California Senate bills concerning housing, plus the board took on scooter corrals.

The board had a full quorum of 13 members within the Community Meeting of the OB Rec Center, while at least 25 people circulated in and out of the audience. Chair Andrea Schlageter gaveled the meeting to order very close to 6pm.

Projects to Review

4684 Santa Cruz

The first project up for review is located at 4684 Santa Cruz Avenue, where Robert Kimnach and Rachel York are applying to build a studio apartment over a garage. They live in the already existing front house, which was built in 1990, Robert said during his presentation before the board.

The existing garage, what Kimnach called a “workshop”, will be mostly torn down and a new one built, but with the same foot-print. The studio will be a “mini-me” of the front house.

The board’s sub-committee, the Project Review Committee, voted 5 to 1 to recommend approval to the full board. Issues raised at the PRC meeting, as explained by vice-chair Kevin Hastings, included parking issues – no new parking is planned -, the project didn’t fit the OB Community Plan, and there was an assertion the garage has been used on Airbnb as living space. The fear was the new studio would also end up on Airbnb.

Kevin said the garage/workshop is in violation of the law against garage conversions. This was initially denied by Kimnach, who claimed it had been rented as a workshop.

Hastings pointed out the city had found a possible code violation, flagged it and during their investigation found plumbing fixtures in the garage, an indication of the space being used to live in.

Kimnach countered that the city did not find a garage conversion; that the workshop is legal, and “yes” he was renting the workshop on Airbnb. There was also a confirmation the city found a toilet and sink.

Board member Craig Klein jumped in. He said, “to Kevin’s point, how should the board consider a proposed project, while at the same time, the applicant is engaged in illegal activities?”

Kimnach, with an occasionally assist from York, insisted they would rent out the new place as a long-term rental, and that they have made an agreement with the city not to install a workshop in the new garage.

Jane Gawronski asked, “Does this mean there’s a third unit on the property?” The front house, the new studio and whatever was being rented out on Airbnb.

York said that they live in the front house with 3 kids and they want long-term renters.

Klein, the lawyer, asked Kimnach and York whether they had a written document from the city confirming there would be no short-term vacation rental at the new studio. No, was the response.

A motion was then made to deny the project. It failed by a vote of 2 to 11. Craig then made a second motion, to approve the project contingent on the city issuing a document confirming no STVR would be installed. He claimed the city has the ability to place restrictions such as this on the permit.

This passed 11 to 2.

4630 Pescadero

The presenter of this project, Craig (LNUK) was representing the owner, Timothy Darling, on this application to build a 2-story single family residence at 4630 Pescadero. It would also have a roof deck. There’s an existing 2 bedroom, 2 bath on the property.

The PRC voted 6 to 0 to recommend approval. Hastings said this was a “quick item” for the PRC; there had been a question on the landscaping, and the developer had promised “to salvage as much as possible.”

The existing carport will be demolished and the new residence, sitting at 2300 square feet with 3 bedrooms and 3 baths, will be rented out, long-term.

Hastings added, “This was the best project I’ve seen come before this board,” which elicited a few chuckles.  The motion to approve passed 12 to nothing.

Capital Improvement Projects – (see separate post)

Scooter Corrals

At the beginning of the meeting, Seamus Kennedy, Councilwoman Campbell’s rep, had asked the board for feed-back on the proposed locations for the corrals. A map with a list of all the proposed locations for Ocean Beach had been issued by the Mayor’s Office. Kennedy didn’t  have too many details, and eventually referred any future inquiries to Greg Block, who works for Faulconer.

125 corral spaces had been proposed for OB, spaces in front of red curbs, 4 feet by 40 feet. Kevin, the vice-chair, explained the proposal: the scooters cannot be left on sidewalks, and no closer than 40 feet to the next group, with no more than 4 in a group (outside the corrals), and if there’s a corral, it has to be used; the red curbs will not have fire hydrants. The scooter companies can cram as many scooters into the corrals as they can.

The scooter company staff will move the scooters into the corrals; and they’re being put in downtown, he explained. The city, the mayor want feedback by June 10.

During the rather lengthy discussion the following points were made:

  • there’s a need to incentivize the users to leave the scooters in the corrals;
  • once installed, the community could really pushback on the whole idea, as they haven’t been paying attention to the issue, and the upcoming plan to install the corrals;
  • scooter crews will be loading and unloading them between 4 and 5am – so, there’s all that noise early in the morning, with their vans, on a daily basis;
  • the scooter crews actually park their vehicles in the corrals while they unload;
  • some companies don’t even take the scooters away, they just do a battery swap;

Chair Andrea made a strong comment; “No corrals outside the ‘Bacon Bicycle Boulevard'”. The community – particularly members of the Planning Board and the Town Council have been pushing the concept of turning Bacon – from West Pt Loma to Newport – into a “Bicycle Boulevard”.

Other suggestions or comments included:

  • there’s far too many corrals proposed;
  • restrict corrals to every other block, and only on one side of the street;
  • “I don’t want them in front of my house”;
  • their placement needs to be coordinated with street sweepings;
  • it’s too dangerous to place corrals in right-hand turn lanes or spaces; people getting their scooters will be standing in those spaces;
  • nothing on Sunset Cliffs Blvd – it’s too dangerous;
  • nothing in the right-hand turn lanes;
  • if they’re limited to one corral per block, the scooters won’t be left everywhere else.

Andrea said the board needs to see the “final list”.

Kevin then made a motion that included:

  1. one corral per block in residential zones;
  2. reduce the number of corrals in residential areas;
  3. allow geo-fencing for Farmers Market and street sweeping;
  4. notification of proposed locales to residents and property owners;
  5. have city Traffic and Safety engineers review the proposal;
  6. no corrals on Sunset Cliffs.

The motion passed 12 to 0.

Senate Bills 330 and 50

Andrea walked the board through the basics of these 2 California Senate bills designed to address the state’s housing crisis, SB 330 and SB 50.

She said SB 330 applies to very low, moderate income housing and emergency shelters. It would keep cities from downzoning after 2018 until 2025. It is supposed to streamline the permit process, and not allow more than 5 public hearings. Andrea commented that the proposed law talks about the loss of thousands of homes due to wildfires, but there’s “no mention of the loss of thousands of homes due to short-term vacation rentals.”

SB 50 was made into a 2-year bill and won’t be voted upon until 2020.

Booth at OB Street Fair

The board voted to spend some money! The board will rent a booth at the Street Fair on June 22nd and share it with the OB Historical Society.

Other News or Announcements

Seamus Kennedy of Campbells’ office was full of news.

City Budget Approved

The city budget was approved last Monday, so :

  • There’s $50,000 for the design of the new lifeguard station which is planned to have space for police officers; earlier funds approved were for the feasibility study, which comes first. Chair Andrea the board wants to be involved in the design process;
  • there’s funds for Dusty Rhodes Park improvements;
  • there’s half a million each to improve the beach access stairs at Orchard Street and Bermuda Street.

The OB Pier is obviously open – but Kennedy said it’s unclear what the long-range costs of the Pier will be.

Blinking Crosswalk for Santa Monica at OB Elementary

He announced some good news: the city will be installing one of those blinking crosswalks across Santa Monica for OB Elementary students. Campbell’s office is asking for an expedited project, and Seamus hopes it will be in by the beginning of the school year.

Stop Sign at Sunset Cliffs and Point Loma Ave?

The city is taking feedback on a proposed stop sign at the intersection of Sunset Cliffs Blvd and Point Loma Avenue. The city is trying to get traffic engineers on board and fit it in.

Jane Gawronski responded to this issue by saying, “years ago, the planning board was told ‘no stop signs on Sunset Cliffs because it was a state highway’.”

Seamus said, “This is the first I’ve heard of it.” A traffic study was just completed on the intersection and the city thinks it’s appropriate for a stop sign.

“Raise the Balloon”

James announced the group Raise the Balloon opposes SB 50, and planned a march and protest for Thursday, June 6.

Peninsula Planners Have Environmental Sub-Committee

Mandy – their liaison with OB – announced the Peninsula planners now have an ad hoc environmental committee, which will meet on Wednesday, June 19 at the Point Loma Library. Ann Curry of Non-Toxic San Diego will speak.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar ZZ June 6, 2019 at 9:35 pm

Bacon St is already a bike blvd, with the least cars and most bikes of the north-south streets.

Any specific changes to make it official? Lower than 25 speed limit? More painted bikes on the pavement?

Given it is narrow and potholed, I don’t think traffic reaches 25mph on it anyway.

Reply

Avatar Doug Blackwood June 10, 2019 at 7:18 pm

Let these companies rent space from existing parking lots: they are a private business.
The public uses the public sidewalk: thats why they exist!

Reply

Avatar Vern June 11, 2019 at 8:20 am

Agreed. The rental e-scooter & bike companies should be paying for “corrals” located on private property and not on public property.

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