Ocean Beach Planning Board: Reviewed New Bermuda Stairs Design, Denied Orchard Project, Okayed Pedestrian Safety at OBE

by on February 6, 2020 · 3 comments

in Ocean Beach

Proposed design of new stairs at Bermuda. (from city graphics)

It was a packed, standing-room-only crowd at last night’s meeting of the Ocean Beach Planning Board. The various issues on the busy agenda each brought out their own numbers of residents and this reporter counted 50 people in the audience over the scope of the meeting in the OB Rec Center.

The board of community volunteers received a presentation on the design for the new stairs at the foot of Bermuda, shot down a project proposed for the 4600 block of Orchard, were asked to support parents at OB Elementary in their efforts to achieve pedestrian safety improvements around the school, and were asked to okay reaching out to the Mission Bay Park Committee to seek improvements to the River Bike Path trail.

New Design of Bermuda Stairs

A handful of staffers from the city’s Public Works Department made a presentation before the Board to give it an update on just where the project is to replace the destroyed current stairs with a new coastal access set.

The replacement project is projected to cost $1.5 million and is anticipated to begin the construction phase in the Summer of 2021. City staffers believe it will take 6 months to complete. But the new design has not been completed yet as it’s about 60% completed.

As one can see from the photo, the new design will have 3 flights of stairs, with a similar alignment as the existing one; it will be a self-supporting structure – separate form the seawall, the Board and audience were told. There will be piles at the top and middle landing, a spread footing for the bottom flight – and hopefully – will be resilient to coastal impacts such as sea level rise, waves, storm surges and tides.

Andrea Schlageter, Board chair, accepted a motion to table the action item, “until we see the final design,” she said. It passed unanimously. When the Board moved to the next agenda item, a good third of the audience filed out.

During a break in the meeting, Feb. 5, 2020. Photos by Frank Gormlie

Orchard Project Denied

By a vote of 10 to 3, the Board recommended to the city a denial of a large project proposed for 4640 Orchard. It is a permit to demolish the current building, which has been in disrepair for a long time, and construct two, 2-story single-family residences. It also included the building of 3 garages.

The basic problem the Board had with the project was the design for the two structures had them near the front of the 50 foot lot, without enough staggering; the lot-split would orient the buildings out of conforming to the OB Community Plan; and that the design squeezed as much as space as it could for structure, creating, for example, only 6 feet between the two, 2-stories, and only 8 feet with other neighbors.

A number of neighbors spoke against the project as out of conformity with the neighborhood, with its severe impacts to street parking, and blocking of views. One women, newly-arrived to OB, voiced support for it.

The Board was obviously split on the project. One member spoke of the need to do “whatever we can to get more affordable housing,” whereas another member doubted the new housing if constructed would be affordable. That same member decried the lack of natural light coming in between the two buildings, and that they should be staggered.

Another veteran board member raised the issue that the floor-area-ratio was maxed, in contrast to housing on that block, which averaged an FAR of .35 – showing a very low density on that block.

At one point, chair Schlageter made an impassioned plea to her fellow board members not to be hypocritical by approving this project after they had a few months ago not approved a project on Cape May for being out of conformity. Vice-Chair Kevin Hastings made the motion to deny the project due to the orientation of the lot split and its lack of conformity. As mentioned, it passed 10 to 3. Haft the crowd left after the review of this project was over.

Most of audience had left by the time this photo was taken.

Cable Street Granny Flat Approved

The Board voted unanimously to recommend approval for a proposed granny flat and 3-car garage at 2077 Cable. Pete, the owner was present to give a personal accounting to the Board, and he and the architect explained that they had made the changes recommended by the Board’s Project Review Committee. The ADU, additional dwelling unit, aka granny flat, would be 1100 square feet and built over a new 3-car garage. The new house would have 3 bedrooms. The existing house is only 675 square feet. Pete said he will be adding shade trees and install solar.

Plea for Support for Pedestrian Improvements at OB Elementary

Ashley, a parent and a member of the OB Elementary school PTA, made a plea for support from the Board to parents’ efforts to achieve safety measures for children and pedestrians around the school. She and her group are writing letters to the school board and to Councilwoman Campbell asking for specific improvements.

Ashley explained there was an incident last fall where there was a hit-and-run at Newport and Sunset Cliffs Blvd. She listed a number of problems; drivers blow through the intersections while school children are walking or riding to OBE; OBE also has no drive-way for parents dropping off their kids. She is asking for city school and city to cooperate and deal with these problems. Specifically Ashley is asking for cross-walks to be re-stripped and even installed at some intersections to have the Continental yellow striping, also lighted speed indicators for both ways on Sunset Cliffs, and signage to prevent right-hand turns on red lights during school hours.

Her “big ask” Ashley said, was that the school district and city should work together to get crossing-guards for OB Elementary. Currently, there are only volunteers with no training, and no official authorization. OBE cannot provide students as it only goes through the 4th grade. The Board voted unanimously to support her and other parents’ efforts and their letter.

“OB Pathways”

There some cycling enthusiasts who are working with the city to install “OB Pathways” signs with mileage indicators to specific locations, like the OB Pier. These signs would be especially useful to bicyclists and pedestrians. So, expect to see such in maybe 6 months, says Nicole.

An example of needed repairs to River Path Bike Trail. Photo by Rick.

River Path Bike Trail

The Board voted to work with the Mission Bay Park Committee to get about 300 to 400 yards of River Path Bike trail improvements.

Board Elections

The OBPB annual elections are coming up in early March. There are vacancies for 3 seats: Districts 1, 2 and 7. For more info, see this post.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Vern February 6, 2020 at 1:48 pm

SLR – Sea Level Rise


Frank Gormlie February 6, 2020 at 7:29 pm

Vern, thank you; editordude made the correction.


Janet Carroll February 6, 2020 at 3:13 pm

First time attending the OB Planning Meeting – I was impressed!!! I don’t know what I expected but I got a whole lot more. Thank you board for giving of your time and professionalism to the OBeacians


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