City’s Absurdities Confront Ocean Beach Planning Board

by on October 3, 2019 · 5 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

We live in a highly regulated world that often borders on the absurd.  There was a great example of this  Wednesday at the regular monthly Ocean Beach Planning Board meeting held at the OB Rec Center.

The city of San Diego was there seeking the board’s approval because the city needs a Coastal Development Permit.  By itself, that is not unusual but why they needed it was.  Some time ago, at least a year ago or maybe two, the city performed an emergency repair on a section of sidewalk.  The sidewalk is on the north side of the big, dilapidated apartment building just south of the OB Pier.

The section of sidewalk is between the building and the sea wall and it cracked and buckled.  When the city investigated, they learned that all of the material under the sidewalk had washed away and there was large void under the concrete.  The city filled the void and fixed the problem under an emergency repair procedure that allowed the city to fix it immediately without seeking any permits.  But, the same provision that allowed this emergency repair also required the city to retroactively obtain permits, in this case a coastal permit.

The absurdity is that, when finished, the city restored everything exactly as it was.

There were two reasons why they had to get a coastal permit.  On reason was that they had run mechanized equipment on the sand and the second reason was that they built a temporary – temporary mind you – sand berm to protect the work while it was being done.  That’s it.  So, two years later the city is spending staff time and paying fees to obtain a permit for a project that changed nothing.

Protecting the coast is something everyone in OB would be supportive of but this is simply a ridiculous waste of time and money.

     OB vs. City in Differences Over ADA Sidewalk at Dog Beach

The absurdity continued with a discussion of the city’s project to replace the ADA sidewalk at Dog Beach.  The planning board filed an appeal to the city over this wasteful one-million-dollar project. To read the details of this story go here .  Board Chair Andrea Schlageter encouraged everyone opposed to this boondoggle to write letters and send them to the board to support their appeal.

The new representative from Councilmember Dr. Campbell’s office, Teodoro “Teddy” Martinez , who has only been in his position for a month, expressed frustration over this issue.  Martinez said the board should withdraw the appeal and allow the process to play out.  He said the city has no intention of backing off the project, so the appeal was not helpful.  That fell on deaf ears as would be expected.  Martinez’s attitude was a bit condescending, but he probably should be given the benefit of the doubt since he is new.  Everyone should be angry about this project and the more letters the better.

Community Relations With Officer Surwilo

The SDPD’s Community Relations officer, the always affable David Surwilo, was there with his new partner Mike Hayes.  Surwilo’s former partner, Roberto Pinõn, was reassigned to a gang prevention unit.  Hayes explained that he is a 12-year veteran of the PD and has had a varied background during his service. Hayes is a San Diego native as well.

Surwilo explained that there used to be an all year beach team but that has ended.  But, he stressed that the PD is devoting two officers as a walking team in Ocean Beach covering from the skate park south.  This is in addition to the regular patrols, Surwillo emphasized. The team is patrolling from the afternoon through the evening but the hours are changing due to the approach of fall and winter.  They will be patrolling from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.  The change is intended to help in the mornings when businesses are opening and need some assistance to deal with transients sleeping in shop fronts and doorways.

Surwillo gave an update on three recent arson fires in OB.  He said the Metro Arson Response Team, consisting of police officers and firefighters, is investigating the fires that so far look suspicious. He promised to update the board if there are any developments.

Update From Campbell’s Office

Martinez gave an update for Campbell’s office.  There were two items of interest. One is a push to have the city auditor be an elected position instead of a mayoral appointment to make the office more independent.  The former auditor has left and there is an interim auditor for now.  The other item was the street vendor ordinance that has yet to be passed by council but is being worked on.

Pescadero Project Approved

The only project on the agenda was 4811 Pescadero.  The owners plan to build one house at the front of the lot and two units in the rear, one two-bedroom and one studio.  The lot is zoned for four units so the proposal is not maxing out the lot.  The project is also well under the coastal height limit.

There will be six parking spaces but that is something of a misnomer because this will be tandem parking.  This is allowed where the lot sits but the chances of the six spaces being used for parking are slim, tandem parking is inconvenient and residents usually park on the street rather than shuffle cars.  But, it is legal.  The family plans to live in the house, rent the two-bedroom and use the studio for family.  The project passed unanimously.

Board chair Schlageter announced that a housing survey is out now and the survey can be accessed at the Ocean Beach Planning Board Facebook page.  She encouraged folks to take the survey.  She also mentioned that the airport Environmental Impact Report is out for public comment.  She said she would send it to anyone interested in reviewing it.

Community Outreach Created

The last item of note was the creation of a Community Outreach subcommittee headed by board member Tracy Dezenzo who has been working to promote the planning board and get more people aware of what the board does and to participate more.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

A.A.Ron October 8, 2019 at 8:40 am

Has anyone been following the new ADU bills, AB 68, along with SB 13 and AB 881, that would for example increase the .7 MAX FAR in OB by a mandatory addition of 800’ish sqft. allowance above the max? The new bills would also allow for a triplex (+ADU/JR. ADU)on every single family lot.

Looks like the Gov. has till Sunday 10/13 to sign. Get ready for the adu revolution if they are approved.


ZZ October 8, 2019 at 11:33 am

On one hand, the laws do seem to go too far. They aren’t bad, but maybe too much of a good thing, and too fast. We already liberalized ADU rules statewide about 3 years ago. Let’s give that a bit more time to see how it works before moving on to “Jr. ADUs.”

On the other hand, I am sick of the local reactionary NIMBYism and like the idea of handing them a giant defeat. So I won’t be calling up the Gov either way.


A.A.Ron October 8, 2019 at 1:57 pm

Thank you ZZ.. I appreciate your perspective. Blah on NIMBY and make room for YIMBY. I think we are going to see a dramatic change in OB if the bills succeed. Think about an 1,800 sg ft single family lot being allowed to build a 2,000 sqft tri-plex with no parking because the garage was converted to a Jr. Adu. That’s a big change from now.

Just in case…No, you are not allowed to use a new ADU or Jr. ADU as a vacation rental according to what I have read. It must be used as a residential rental for a minimum of 30 day lease.


ZZ October 8, 2019 at 3:54 pm

Yes my problem is people are against all development that increases density. The most absurd example was the giant lot in Point Loma zoned for multiple houses in a area full of $5 million homes. Yet we still had a self-styled progressive publication portray this as the little guy (living in those $5 million houses) against greedy developers!

Even when project actually get built, there are long delays that drastically increase the construction cost.

I think a happy middle ground would be to keep the FAR we have now as the default, but have an automatic increase in it if you pay a development impact fee. Instead of spending $100,000 in legal costs and delays getting a variance, you get a speedy permit but pay that extra $100,000 to the city, which then uses it to improve the neighborhood, and maybe even pay part of the impact fee as cash to neighbors. We already have something similar with the density bonus from green building and low income housing. Include both, and you get 20% bonus in both units and FAR automatically if I understand the regulation correctly.


A.A.Ron October 10, 2019 at 1:29 pm

All of the housing Bills passed: This is HUGE!

Can somebody please write an article for the impacts to SD/OB..I would but have zero grammar skills!


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