Rant: Point Loma Association Stirs the Pot With Ridicule of Peninsula Project Concerns

by on June 25, 2019 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

The Point Loma Association or the PLA has begun publishing the “Peninsula News from PLA.”  I was sent a copy this weekend.  It seems the PLA is branching out a little from its traditional work of just beautifying Point Loma, which it has done admirably for decades.

The newest face at the PLA is former news anchorman, Clark Anthony, who uses his real name now, Clark Burlingame – Anthony was a stage name so to speak.  The June 20, 2019 edition contained something that called for commentary but there is no mechanism for commenting directly to the Peninsula News from PLA.

One of the items covered was titled “Read Nexdoor? Cry? Laugh? Fume?”  Here is how it opened:

The Nextdoor community forum can be helpful for finding a pet or a plumber or learning why the police chopper circled your neighborhood two days ago.

But the best way to approach many other posts is as entertainment.

It can be fun to fact-check a string of comments, something apparently not many people do when adding their opinions to a string.

For example, consider the recent exchanges regarding this posting…

What followed was a copy of a post about 1126 Catalina Blvd., a problem development project that I have been involved with for months. The developer has problem projects all over Point Loma and the violations on this project are numerous. The most serious is a violation of the 50% rule that the city refuses to enforce despite clear photographic evidence.

The PLA article opened with, “It can be fun to fact-check a string of comments, something apparently not many people do when adding their opinions to a string.”  The writer was clearly guilty of what he was criticizing the Nextdoor posters for in that there was obviously no fact-checking in the PLA artilcle.

What raised my ire was what followed in the copy of the postings where the writer said several things that were just plain wrong.  First was this:

“Not all projects in the community are required to come before the Peninsula Community Planning Board. It is NOT the responsibility of the planning board to confirm zoning and code requirements.”

The capitalized “NOT” was clearly meant to express the PLA’s opinion and to send a message – but it was wrong.  The city’s website states:

“Community planning groups (CPG) provide citizens with an opportunity for involvement in advising the City Council, the Planning Commission, and other decision-makers on development projects, general or community plan amendments, rezonings and public facilities.” 

Land use, that is what the planning boards are involved with.

Then, the writer wrote this piece of naivete:

“Typically any project that receives a City building permit should be in compliance with code. The comment about this being a nightclub is ridiculous. This area is zoned for residential. A night club or even a bar or restaurant would never be permitted.”

Obviously, the writer has no experience with the city and the Development Services Dept. (DSD).  One of the main jobs of the planning boards is to watch the DSD like hawks to make sure they do their job.

To say that what the neighbors believe is happening is “ridiculous” shows the writer spent no time at all investigating this issue before pronouncing it as ridiculous.  This was the height of irresponsibility because Point Lomans will read this and think, a former newsman must know what he is talking about.

Point of fact, news readers are not all actual journalists.  But, with a public reputation as a trusted news persons, one would think there would be a stronger sense of responsibility in presenting this kind of thing.

If anything illustrated the writer’s lack of planning board knowledge it was this statement:

“The recommendations of the planning groups are integral components of the planning process, and are highly regarded by the City Council and by staff.”

“Highly regarded?” That is only true when the planning boards approve a project.  When the boards oppose a project, they are ignored.  Anyone with a modicum of experience with planning boards would never had made this statement.

What is really disturbing about this PLA newsletter is that there was no good reason to ridicule community members who have legitimate and genuine concerns about a project near their home.  It makes one wonder why the PLA picked this project to ridicule, maybe the developer has friends on the PLA.

And, even more disturbing is that the PLA seems to think it needs to tell everyone, presumably including members of the PCPB, how planning boards should operate.  This criticism of the PCPB is rather high-handed and does not serve to create harmony among community groups.

I would advise that anyone reading this newsletter from the PLA read it with a grain of skepticism.  I would also suggest that the PLA show some responsibility and do some actual fact checking of their own before writing something like this.

 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar Bob Goldyn June 28, 2019 at 6:08 am

As chairman of the PCPB I would like to point out that Clark did in fact reach out to myself and also chairman of project review committee regarding this project. Clark was correct in his statements, as they were pretty much direct statements conveyed from the PCPB. Not all projects are required to appear before the PCPB, as stated. We are trying to correct this so at least the projects that push density and height appear for comment, but as it currently stands not all projects are required, and the project mentioned had not come before the Board. Furthermore the comment regarding zoning and code enforcement is also the responsibility of the city and not the board. Board main task is to review projects according to the community plan and to serve as outlet for community input. Community plan provides guidelines, not regulations, on bulk and scale and in some respect character. However many times community members are under impression that the board is responsible to regulate and enforce much more beyond our charge. We commend Clark for pointing some of this distinction out.

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Avatar Geoff Page June 28, 2019 at 9:06 am

I did not take issue with the statements that this project did not have to come before the PCPB. The developer used the 50% rule to avoid a Coastal Permit that would have required them to come before the planning board. This is what I have been fighting on this project because the developer violated the 50% rule by not maintaining the exterior walls they were required to maintain. The city will not listen.

I do take some issue with the statement that it is not the PCPB’s responsibility to review zoning and city code, this is exactly what the PCPB does in its project review. The plans come before the PCPB and are reviewed for height, parking, setbacks, floor area ratio, and other things. The idea that just because a project has been reviewed by the city everything is fine has been proven incorrect many times in the past.

Code enforcement is another matter. That is the city’s responsibility. But, where the PCPB fits into that picture is that it serves as a sounding board and information source for people who have complaints about projects in their areas that are problems. The PCPB will help review those complaints and provide the community members with guidance. That is indeed part of the Code Enforcement process. Many times the board has to explain to upset people that what is happening is perfectly legal. Other times they will concur things are not right and will help.

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