What’s Going On at Ebers and Greene? An Update on the New Project

by on August 19, 2019 · 36 comments

in Ocean Beach

Project as of Mon., Aug. 19, 2019. Third floor has been removed.

Update on 2269 Ebers Street

By Geoff Page

The project that has sat idle on the corner of Greene St. and Ebers St., basically only a framed two-story addition to an existing old home, has restarted construction as recounted in the OB Rag Thursday, Aug. 15.

In order to understand what is happening with the property, the new permitted plans for it were reviewed on Friday, August 16 at the City of San Diego Records Department.

Here is an overall description of the new project:

  • 3,510 square feet – a Floor Area Ratio of .70 where a .75 is permitted.
  • Roof elevation 24 feet plus 3’-6” handrails for roof deck – total building height 27’-6”;
  • Four bedrooms – Three bedrooms and a master bedroom suite;
  • Three and a half bathrooms;
  • Two-car garage;
  • Complete remodel of existing home including a flat roof also with a roof deck.

Existing house remodel:

  • Two-car garage where living space was;
  • Three bedrooms – two with walk-in closets, third bedroom closet is in hallway to addition
  • Two and a half bathrooms

Addition First Floor:

  • Foyer, dining room, living room, kitchen

Addition Second Floor:

  • Master bedroom and master bathroom and walk-in closet
  • Loft
  • “Office”


  • Both flat and both have planters on the roofs

Ebers and Greene – Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019. Photos by Mick

50% Rule

The project is using the 50% rule to avoid a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) or public review.  It looks like use of the 50% rule was questionable. The plan shows all of the 50% removal is from the existing home. The rule says the builder has to incorporate the remaining 50% of the framing in the walls of the new structure. The problem with this project is that none of the remaining framing is part of the “new” addition. Additionally, the foot print of the existing home does not change so the new framing in the existing house will simply match what was removed – in place.

This interpretation by the Development Services Department (DSD) is just another example of why the community has a serious problem with them. This was a big problem project that the OB community corrected by loudly protesting.  It was a problem because of what the DSD first approved.  The site sat idle for well over a year and it was learned the original developer could not finance the property and it went to a public auction.  The new owner created the plans that are now permitted.

So, knowing that the OB community was already really angry about this project, the DSD still allowed this manipulation of the 50% rule to help the developer avoid a CDP or a public review.  The smart thing to do, the decent thing to do, would have at least required the developer to come before the Ocean Beach Planning Board. But, that is not how the DSD works.

It might get worse.  The layout could be ripe for a short term vacation rental.  The new layout for the existing house, as seen in the sketch below, shows it contains three bedrooms, 2-1/2 bathrooms, and a garage.  There is no living space, it resembles a second story of a home with only bedrooms.

The new design broadened the common wall between the existing home and the addition to twenty feet.  The first builder only connected the two buildings with a covered hallway and no common wall.  But, the new design is deceiving in that the only interior opening from the existing to the addition is still just a hall way.

An occupant of the house could easily close off the existing home and rent the rooms out.  The existing home will have a rooftop deck as will the second story addition.  One has to ask, if a family owned and occupied the entire home, why anyone would want to sit on the one-story deck when there is a second-story deck with something of a view and a better breeze.  But, anyone renting a bedroom in the home might enjoy it.

There is no kitchen in the plans for the existing house, the current one is shown as being removed.  A new kitchen is shown in the addition on the ground floor.  But, the idea of a half bathroom is curious.  There are three bedrooms that share two full bathrooms and the half bathroom. It would not take much to convert the half bath to a kitchenette.

On the second floor of the addition is a large space described as an “office.”  This could easily be made into another bedroom, which would require more parking.  This is a commonly used tactic by the DSD.

There are no indications that any of these possibilities will actually happen.  But, the big question to ask is why someone would build a very oddly configured, 3,500 square foot, McMansion in this part of OB.  The value of this house will far exceed the values of surrounding properties.  People who can afford such an expensive home do not usually desire to live in a part of OB that is flat, has little if any view even with a second story, is surrounded by very modest, older homes, and is on a very busy collector street.

Everyone will need to keep an eye on this one.  A challenge to the 50% rule could be mounted if the OB Planning Board felt there was something to be gained by protesting the permit.  Sometimes, it is just necessary to keep fighting, not fighting just makes it easier for people to do whatever they want.


{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

bobo August 19, 2019 at 12:28 pm

4 bedrooms with a 2 car garage. I don’t think that meets the off-street parking requirements. They aren’t building a “granny flat” or other ADU, the new (and increased) bedrooms aren’t exempt from the parking requirements.


Gerald Barksdale August 20, 2019 at 10:17 am

Two things here:

1. You are not required, in any zone, to provide more than two off-street parking spaces until the dwelling reaches six bedrooms. So, in any case, we are well within code. There are thousands of four bedroom houses in San Diego with two car garages.

2. This parcel is in a Transit Priority Zone. That means I didn’t have to provide any off-street parking. I don’t agree with that option, at least not fully, so I provided a two car garage as would be standard in most areas.


kh August 20, 2019 at 10:47 am

The code requires 2.0 off-street spots for this development as it is described. As for the rest of your comments you are mistaken and I suggest you read up on the parking rules for your benefit.



ZZ August 19, 2019 at 12:34 pm

You want additional delays and reviews on a project that conforms to height limit and FAR? Why? Is there any concrete advantage to another two reviews?

One reason for our affordability problem is overregulation and endless approvals deters development.

“The layout could be ripe for a short term vacation rental.”

Which, under the new (and excessive) regulation of vacation rentals, is one type of permitted vacation rental: a second unit on an owner-occupied lot. Or, if it isn’t counted as a second unit, it falls into the “less than full home” exception.

Either way, by restricting vacation rentals to these two categories, the city provided a gigantic inducement to make properties with such a layout.


kh August 19, 2019 at 2:20 pm

There is no such restriction. The new law was rescinded following a signature referendum funded by Airbnb. We are back to the existing laws which prohibits it but is not enforced (or not enforceable depending on who you ask.)

Although a separate law was passed prohibiting all short term rentals in granny flats.


ZZ August 19, 2019 at 2:49 pm

Thanks for the correction. The repealed law though is still a warning that if another anti-AirBNB law is passed, what the likely exceptions to it will be.


Geoff Page August 20, 2019 at 9:36 am

ZZ, if you turn your head and allow people to flaunt the rules then you open a door that is hard to close. Regulations are there for reasons. A public review would have gotten this owner on record regarding what they plan to do with this property. Making them follow the system discourages others from trying to game it.


retired botanist August 19, 2019 at 2:34 pm

ZZ, “overregulation” wouldn’t be necessary if local municipalities weren’t constantly ambushed by those who believe regulations are put there to simply sidestep.
And here’s a perfect example…which part (and which people) of the last three years of this saga is misunderstood?:
The fact that the community and Planning Board, based on non-compliance with the OB Plan, based on inconsistencies in the review, permitting, advertising, marketing and recording of the developer’s plan, felt this project had serious issues?
The fact that the original developer’s contracting license expired, he was not paying workers, and the property fell into neglect and vandalism, which the community had to monitor and aggressively request that the City deal with?
The fact that the very definition of just what this property is, and is MEANT to be, regardless of the style of expansion, seems to be lost on the City’s DSD department?

And here are yet more flags, more disconnects. This is the WHY of ‘overregulation”, which btw doesn’t seem to be working very well with respect to this project. Now the developer has been ‘educated’ on the hot button issues, “FAR and 30′ height, he’s whittled those into compliance, and then taken expansive ‘license’ elsewhere on the design…
Sigh, where’s the conscience?


Geoff Page August 20, 2019 at 9:37 am

Perfect response, retired. Very well said.


Gerald Barksdale August 20, 2019 at 10:02 am


I am the designer of the current project. It abides by all applicable municipal codes for this parcel. There was no manipulation, sidestep or exploitation of any code. To say such is false, and potentially malicious.

I’d be happy to speak with you so that you can understand this process and not fan the flames further. We did not create this problem. We are fixing it.

I am the one and only person involved that will give you accurate information. Everyone else has been instructed to direct you to me with questions.


Geoff Page August 20, 2019 at 11:15 am

Mr. Barksdale, I see by your web site that you posted a picture of that highly controversial project on Emerson and Evergreen. If ever there was an example of code manipulation, that was it. I see you had a contractor’s license but it was revoked for failure to pay an arbitration settlement.

For some reason, the permit site does not list the owner. Is that you?


Gerald Barksdale August 20, 2019 at 11:22 am

I am not the owner. There is no ‘manipulation’ any more than going 35mph in a 35mph speed zone is not a ‘manipulation’ of the law. You need to stop using that word. The code is written in a certain way and that’s what we abide by. Both on Emerson and here and every other project we’ve ever done.

If you think we’re actually manipulating the municipal code to satisfy ourselves, you need to take this to City Hall and find out why they’re allowing us to do so (they aren’t).

The original project here was both too tall and too large. I don’t know how it passed review in the first place. We have reduced the size and height to conform to current code.


Geoff Page August 20, 2019 at 11:35 am

I see you did not answer the question as to who the owner is.

The project on Emerson was a complete manipulation, why else did the top floor have to come off? That project was a travesty. And, the community did go to city hall on that one.

And it’s not City Hall, it’s the DSD. They allowed toe original design as they also allowed the Emerson design. It is not encouraging to learn that the developer of the Ebers project was also responsible for Emerson.


Gerald August 20, 2019 at 3:50 pm

Who do you think was involved in both? The only connection is my and one other person and neither of us are the developer of either.


Geoff Page August 21, 2019 at 9:46 am

Is the project on your website the house on the corner of Emerson and Evergreen? It sure looks like it. If so, you are or were involved in both.


Gerald August 21, 2019 at 10:02 am

I just said I was involved in both. What was unclear about that? No one on the development team was involved in both. We are the designers, not the clients.


Geoff Page August 21, 2019 at 10:18 am

You wrote, “Who do you think was involved in both?” after I had written that you were, so I figured a clarification was in order.

You keep dodging the question. Who is the client then? Who was the client on Evergreen?


retired botanist August 20, 2019 at 1:05 pm

I think you’d find this community well-versed in the processes involved with residential development- those are not the questions they would have for you.

So…if your design seems perfect, and in compliance withe the guidelines of the OB Community Plan, why not pitch up to a Planning Board Meeting, present it, and take questions? Simply because you don’t have to? And if everything is sound and good, how come nobody else can answer a question besides you?


Michael August 20, 2019 at 2:43 pm

That’s like asking someone to drive 30 in a 35 until they get support from their neighbor’s to drive the speed limit. If it fits within the scope of the law, why would you add more costs to the end user?


Geoff Page August 20, 2019 at 3:10 pm

Because it is very important to see what kinds of contortions they went through, including the DSD. The DSD interpretations of the MC are amazing in convoluted logic they use to allow things the MC does not allow. It’s not about costing people more money, it’s about making sure the law is followed, correctly.


bobo August 20, 2019 at 3:19 pm

I think the point is that this project doesn’t fit within the scope of the law. Without community oversight, we won’t know. The original project was built illegally. And the basis for the new design (which is exempt from community oversight) relies on the old design.
Recall that in addition to adhering to municipal codes, this project must also comply with state coastal regulations because of it’s location. There are several exceptions, but because the original project was allowed to skirt this process, stronger community skepticism seems reasonable.
I personally believe that a property owner faces too many regulations and heavy costs to improve their home, but this project and the extremes it went to avoid overview necessitates corrective action by the community.


Gerald Barksdale August 20, 2019 at 3:43 pm

The new design uses the old footprint and nothing else. The community isn’t involved because this isn’t a coastal or development permit. It’s classified as a remodel per city code. We didn’t skirt anything or go to any extremes to avoid anything. We reduced the size and changed the design drastically and followed all codes for this particular parcel.


Geoff Page August 20, 2019 at 3:47 pm

Sorry, I have to disagree. I’ve never seen the 50% rule used in this manner and we will be asking more questions of the DSD about that. If you wanted to be open and transparent, you could have at least brought it before the OB Planning Board.


Gerald August 20, 2019 at 3:54 pm

I had no obligation to do that. The 50% rule is used this way all the time. As long as the code is in place, myself and many others will keep 51% of the existing, permitted structure to avoid costing our clients a lot of extra money and time.


Geoff Page August 21, 2019 at 9:44 am

I see you still have not identified the owner. I’m guessing it’s you.

No, you did not have an obligation to do that but it would have been good community PR considering the history of the project. But, you appear to be just another developer not from OB or Point Lome here to make money. And, the 50% rule is not used this way all the time, I, and many others, are very familiar with that loophole and I’ve never seen it applied in this manner, which is why you now have a spotlight on your project. I should say, a brighter spotlight because there already was one on it.


kh August 20, 2019 at 10:53 am

The 50% rule allows any amount of addition to an existing dwelling to qualify as a remodel and go through ministerial review (aka no local planning group oversight) as long as 50% of the original exterior wall structure is retained as an exterior wall.


Michael August 20, 2019 at 5:04 pm

Maybe he could have done a city wide pill on the exterior color and the type of windows and doors. Why would the developer jump through more hoops than are required? That’s like asking all the prop 13 beneficiaries to voluntarily pay market rate taxes to support the community. Perhaps when you buy a new car, the planning boards can weigh in on its sutability in the neighborhood.

This really minimizes the real issues facing OB.


retired botanist August 23, 2019 at 3:42 pm

Michael, maybe you could use a little less hyperbole. What is so onerous about an architect or developer consulting a community’s Plan for guidance and aesthetics regarding design? Maybe regarding a particular community corridor that might have a ‘signature feature’ the community wants conserved? Or a bungalow -friendly vibe that a McMansion would destroy? Why not, as a developer or an architect, ALWAYS approach a local Planning Board (whether DSD requires it or not) for constructive feedback on a project?
“Why would a developer jump through more hoops than required?”. Hopefully b/c:
he/she is conscientious and wants to build something the neighborhood will be proud of.
he/she is cognizant of the community’s interest, and prior history of the site.
he/she is aware of the community’s concerns regarding recent encroachment of STVR industry.

Especially given the sordid history of this sorry project, is it really too much to expect the newcomer/ developer to pitch up with something other than the bare minimum/compliant to ‘2 decimal places”/can’t be bothered running it by the community since I don’t have to/cards close to the chest/ SOP??
So disappointing. I expect, at a minimum, a presentation to the OB Panning Board and attending community. Damnit, Mr.Barksdale, if you own this project design then defend it and explain to the community, and allow them to voice their concerns, why your design and conversion of this parcel is a good thing!


Geoff Page August 23, 2019 at 3:50 pm

Rah, Rah, retired botanist! From now on, I’m just going to say “what retired said!”


retired botanist August 23, 2019 at 4:18 pm

haha, thx Geoff- you often endorse my more pointed commentary :-). just tryin’ to pull something positive from this project. The community has been so straightforward and earnest about their concerns over the lack of ‘local-ness’, for lack of a better word. Upsetting the neighbors for 2+ yrs with negligence and poor management, exceeding the ordinances and regulations regarding design, worrying the Torrey pine conservation community…these are things that the owner/developer should not only be aware of, but be dedicated to addressing in this latest go-round of parcel development.
Mr. Barksdale may see it as a gauntlet thrown, but its really an extended hand: please convene with OB’s planning Board and be receptive to their concerns. A project that has the backing of a community, and is well understood, is worth hundreds that get implemented and built w/out community discussion, and later wonder why they fail.


ZZ August 23, 2019 at 4:52 pm

My view is if a developer wants to spend more than the bare minimum $$$ to make his project more beneficial to the public, the way to do this is not to go through extra delay and public review when it isn’t required, but spend it to make the project more physically attractive and to incorporate more green features.

I also wouldn’t characterize the planning board as “the community.” It represents maybe 1% of the community who takes an interest in these sorts of topics. Good for them! But for the other 99%, I think the most common views are “It isn’t my business” “I don’t care” or “I don’t care as long as it follows the law.”

So I cannot agree with the way RB repeatedly invokes “the community” this way, in particular stating “the community” wants additional, non-required reviews of a simple single-lot 1 or 2 unit development that meets the two big restrictions on height and FAR.


Frank Gormlie August 23, 2019 at 11:39 am

Thank you, Geoff Page, for going to the trouble of going downtown and reviewing the documents; you’ve done OB a big service – and a lot of us are relying on your expertise to figure these issues out.


Geoff Page August 23, 2019 at 4:14 pm

Very nice, Frank, thanks.

For anyone who wonders why I get involved, or stick my nose in, as some would quickly say, I just want to quickly explain that I have two motivations. The first is that I’ve been in OB for 39 years and I love it. I grew up a Navy kid and lived in a lot of places, including San Diego. I really know how special OB is. I’ve seen a lot of good people devote time and energy over the years to protect this community, if anything I can do helps with that tradition that’s time well spent.

The other motivation is professional. I’ve been in the construction business for 46 years, starting with a shovel in a trench and ending as a testifying expert in court. It is a profession full of hard-working people who enjoy building. But, as with all professions, there are bad apples and bad apples in the construction business really stand out. I want people to know that the miscreant contractors out there are not representative of the industry. I believe all industries and professions need to police themselves so people can have a positive view of the work they do. Someone needs to call on contractors that are causing problems and it just helps if they see that bullshit won’t work on the person calling. I’ve been able to help with a few contractor abuses and I feel that is also time well spent.

Not that anyone cares…


allan Tyre August 23, 2019 at 8:08 pm

Why anyone would invest a nickel in OB is beyond me! What a shithole that community is, doper’s, thieves, asshats, and bunch of wingnuts who lived in their mother’s basement, until they were 50, true story the last time I went to that shithole OB, a homeless idiot threw a bottle at me totally unprovoked, when I retreated to a coffee shop a 40 year old gentleman wanted to sell me a comic book collection, obviously stolen, OB is sad, disgusting and you will never see me there again!
Allan Tyre


ZZ August 25, 2019 at 2:32 pm

Well I have lived here my entire post-college life and never had a bum or anyone else throw something at me, nor offer to sell me stolen goods. Nor have I ever seen this happen to anyone else.

Thinking back, I did see one time about 7 years ago a bum trying to sell what appeared to be an expensive digital camera to the clerk at the liquor store on Bacon and Newport. The clerk said $10, the bum said that isn’t enough, and walked out.

As for investing here, the value of my house has gone up about $70,000 a year since I purchased it in 2010, and my downpayment was only $25,000. If I had put $25,000 in anything else, would it have made me $70,000 a year AND given me a nice place to live?


Geoff Page August 26, 2019 at 9:46 am

Well, Tyre, since you don’t use your own name and we have no idea what you look like, how could we have ever “seen” you in the first place? Be that as it may, it is heartening to know that you won’t ever be visiting us again. How about adding that we won’t ever “hear” from you again?


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