Peninsula Planning Board Not Happy With Development Plans for San Diego Airport

by on October 23, 2019 · 9 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

The San Diego airport has plans for a great deal of new development and the Peninsula Community Planning Board is not at all pleased with what is being proposed – judging by the comments at the regular monthly meeting Thursday October 17 at the Point Loma Library.

The PCPB’s Airport subcommittee reviewed the new Draft Environmental Impact Report in detail and composed a strong letter with comments that the board voted almost unanimously to support.  The lone vote against the letter came from board member Don Sevrens who did not explain his opposition.

The letter stated the basic position in the first paragraph:

“In general, we object to the DEIR as all the benefits of the Airport expansion go to the Airport Authority and the airlines. However, the burdens of increased noise and pollution all unfairly fall on the residents of Point Loma, and other surrounding communities, such as Ocean Beach.”

They didn’t stop there:

“The Airport’s position in the DEIR is that these issues of noise and pollution are ‘significant but unavoidable harm’ to the human health of Point Loma residents. This is offensive and unacceptable.”

And the first paragraph ended with:

“As outlined below, there are procedures in place to address these human health issues. This should be done first. Thus, the DEIR should not be approved or move forward until real harms to human health are properly addressed.”

The letter then stated:

“Below are more detailed comments on our objections to the DEIR and our request for the Airport Authority to follow the proper order of actions, which places human health concerns first, and before Airport and airline profits.”

The airport is proposing to add 11 new gates to Terminal One and additional overnight parking that the PCPB said would mean increasing late arrivals at night and would stretch morning departures into the mid-morning.

The PCPB noted that many if the improvements were to benefit the traveling public but this was:

“… all “to improve the passenger experience”—without regard to the impact on our Point Loma community (emphasis theirs)

“Unfortunately, the DEIR does not commit any moneys to protect the health of persons in Point Loma or in other affected communities.”

The PCPB letter stated that the airport’s plans will:

  • generate three times the noise it now generates by 2026, according to the EIR.
  • lead to an increase in health impacts such as cardiac stress, sleep disturbances, cancer, and cognitive learning
  • increase safety risks due to increases in missed approaches
  • Increase pollution and climate impacts from increased operations
  • Result in more louder and low-flying aircraft.

Another area of concern was:

“In fact, the SDCRAA has not undertaken any efforts to monitor or analyze the annual accumulation of hydrocarbon residue on Point Loma residents.”

This a tangible concern that anyone who lives on the Point Loma peninsula can relate to having seen what is deposited on cars and any other surfaces facing skyward.

The letter then lists what the PCPB believes the airport’s plans are in violation of, including federal law, the Regional Airport Authority’s own rules, and some California code.  Considering that the lead of the subcommittee is an attorney, these three allegations are worth considering.  But the conclusion of the letter contained the gist of what the PCPB believes should happen – “do things in the proper order.”

The PCPB letter listed four steps that the board believed should be taken that cannot be easily paraphrased and are much better to read in their entirety.  These steps are detailed, well thought out, and well written that would probably appeal to anyone affected by airport operations.

What is very clear is that the PCPB is making an issue of the airport and the aviation businesses making a boatload more money with no apparent consideration for the impacts on Point Loma and other affected communities including Mission Hills, South Park, Golden Hill, Mission Beach, Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, and La Jolla.

A second letter from the La Jolla planning group was introduced with similar and additional objections to the DEIR.  The La Jolla group was asking for support of its comments and the PCPB voted to give that support. Sevrens abstained from this vote.

Old Vagabond Inn on Scott St. to Be Replaced by 3-Story Hotel

Of the projects on the agenda, one was a teardown of the old Vagabond Inn on Scott Street to be replaced with a 98-room, three-story hotel with underground parking.  The style was described as Modern Retro.  The brand will be Marriott. Everyone felt this was a nice improvement to the area and voted to approve the new project.

When questioned about the height and where the height was to be measured from, the project representative made a point of saying they were not measuring from inside of new planters.  This trick was used by the last hotel project that came before the board to gain an additional five feet over the coastal height limit.  That the new development did not do this was welcome news.

San Diego Parks Foundation

There was another presentation by a group called the San Diego Parks Foundation.  This was an Information item to introduce this new group founded in November 2018.  It is a nonprofit formed to help neighborhood parks that all have a great deal of deferred maintenance.  The group can raise money as it is a 501 C corporation and use that money to help the parks.

The presenter and apparent founder of the group was Martha Phillips, a Point Loma resident.  One example of what the group has done was providing money to repair two of four non-functioning drinking fountains at the Point Loma Community Park behind the fire station on Catalina Blvd.  The group’s goal is to help where the city has fallen down and there are plenty of those areas.

Anyone wishing to volunteer or donate money all to improve neighborhood parks, can go here .

OB Planners’ Outreach

The liaison from the Ocean Beach Planning Board, Traci Dezenzo, explained how the OBPB is working on outreach to the community to make more people aware of the planning boards and the work they do.  She talked about a float in the Christmas Parade that they did for the first time last year and invited the PCPB to join them this year.

Dezenzo also mentioned a plan to bring a forum to the high school to introduce the students to various community groups including the planning boards, town councils, and the PLA.  The PCPB appeared receptive to both ideas.

Remembering Jarvis Ross

Lastly, there were a few moments to remember Jarvis Ross, a long time PCPB member and a tireless community activist who passed away recently.  Ross regularly attended PCPB meetings and participated in subcommittees despite not having a seat on the board.  He was also a regular at City Council meetings.  A few stories were shared about Jarvis and all agreed that his presence would be missed.


{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

lyle October 23, 2019 at 2:20 pm

a) Thank you for reporting on this meeting. It appears that the PCPB is doing some fine work on our behalf.
b) Is the PCPB letter re: Airport DEIR available for download ?


Geoff Page October 23, 2019 at 3:05 pm

Thanks, Lyle. I agree, the PCPB did a nice job on this. I had a link in the story to the letter that was on the PCPB website. But, the letter seems to have been removed. I don’t think this is intentional, probably just a glitch. I’m checking on it and will provide the link in a comment here when I get an answer.


Micporte October 24, 2019 at 4:30 am

Keep strong OB, you are a voice from the past to the future, saying, hey, what up, (wo)man….? development on the beach? “NOT an “undeveloped zone”, the beach, but an ecological zone, essential to the future of humanity… LET IT BE, quoting the Beatles..
The elephant in the room is the cannabis tourism…we are expanding the airport for cannabis tourism? Or the convention center for super hero tourism? Hype, trend, not to last, don’t waste our tax dollars…. please.


Geoff Page October 24, 2019 at 9:44 am

Micporte, all I can say is, where do you buy your stuff, it must be amazing.


GML October 24, 2019 at 11:47 am

Geoff, thanks for taking the time to write this up. Really appreciate all of the detail and information.


Frank Gormlie October 24, 2019 at 12:29 pm

ON behalf of Geoff and the OB Rag, we thank you. Geoff is a paid staff writer for the OB Rag – that is the OB Rag does pay Geoff a pittance for his time to attend and write up his reports.


Geoff Page October 24, 2019 at 2:29 pm

I’d say a pittance is a pretty good description others might be chicken feed, chump change, peanuts, slave wages…But, I obviously don’t do it for the cash, I think the Rag is really good for the community so I am happy to help out. Frank does the lion’s share of the lifting.


Geoff Page October 24, 2019 at 12:32 pm

Thanks, GML, and let’s throw some credit to editor dude who asked for this coverage in the effort to have the OB Rag provide as much community information as possible for everyone.


sealintheSelkirks October 27, 2019 at 1:59 pm

Here’s a thought:

How about requiring the people that want this, the people that will directly benefit including monetarily (including the politicians who get ‘campaign funds’) for allowing this, to live directly under the take-off flight pattern? Maybe also require their children be educated in the schools under it? Since we can’t share the wealth maybe they should share the headaches?

Just a thought.



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