Here Are the Candidates for the Peninsula Community Planning Board Election

by on March 9, 2020 · 4 comments

in Election, Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

The following is a list of the people running for seven open seats on the Peninsula Community Planning Board with information taken directly from their candidate applications.  A brief analysis follows.

Jesse Benson

Third generation Point Loman.

Resident checked on application.

Occupation: Deli cook/ OB People’s Organic Food Market

“Natural open space conservation, sustainable environment, tree canopy initiative, bicycle transportation awareness improvements, advocate for Point Loma, participate with parks and recreation improvements.”

Volunteer with several groups including Save Famosa Canyon, Save Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, the PLA, and others.  Benson is an active member of the Save Famosa Canyon group.  The tree canopy and the new swimming complex at Liberty Station are other areas of interest.

Howard Haimsohn

Point Loma native.

Property owner and resident checked on application.

Occupation: Business owner with over 40 years of experience in the furniture business.

“I live near Kellogg Beach and have an interest in preserving the character of this local beach area.  My general philosophy is to embrace & preserve our natural resources & characteristics of Point Loma.  I want to help maintain PL as one of San Diego’s unique and best communities to live in.”

Haimsohn’s main interest appears the effort to Save Kellogg Beach.

Lucky Morrison

Relocated to Point Loma only recently after living in North Park.

Resident checked on application.

Occupation: Retired, former nurse at the Veteran’s Hospital in La Jolla.

“I want to focus on density and over-developement on the Peninsula. City plans call for the MidWay area to add a [sic] additional 11,000 new dwelling units to our area.  This will radically change our traffic and quality of life we enjoy on Point Loma. I want to mediate that impact.”

Planning board experience in North Park for six years.

Nicole Burgess

Commercial property owner in Point Loma for 15 years.

Property owner only checked on application.

Occupation: Self-employed. Does not say what kind of business.

“I believe in healthy and sustainable practices to maintain the quality of life within the Peninsula Community and throughout San Diego. I value clean water and clean air and believe humans have the responsibility to be good caretakers of the environment.  I ride my bike of transportation and advocate of safe streets for all.  I am open minded and understand the value of proper development. “

Burgess is well known as an avid cycling advocate, it could easily be said that she is a one issue person.  She has prior experience on the PCPB having served a three-year term from 2013 to 2016.

Fred Kosmo

Long time Point Loma resident.

Property owner only checked on application.

Occupation: Attorney, business law.

“Important issues to me include protecting Famosa Canyon, Sunset Cliffs Park, and Kellogg Beach. I will remain active in trying to reduce noise and pollution associated with the Airport. I will enforce the 30 foot height limit. I will also work for a cleaner and healthier community.”

Incumbent running for re-election after having served one three-year term. Kosmo has served as the vice chair for two years, has chaired the PCPB Airport subcommittee, and has been the PCPB representative to the Airport Noise Advisory Committee or ANAC.

Matt Schalles

Recently moved to Point Loma.

Resident checked on application.

Occupation: Research scientist

“I want to preserve open and green spaces, while reducing noise pollution and other contaminants. I intend to bring a level-headed, and analytical approach to solving land use problems in our community. We live in interesting times, and must address housing and transportation issues that are compounded by increased cost of living and less predictable weather patterns.”

PH.D. in neuroscience, University of California, also a psychology degree.

Angela Vedder

48-year resident of Point Loma.

Property owner and resident checked on application.

Occupation: Realtor, formerly clinical laboratory scientist

“I would like to serve the community by being an active listener to help assist fellow board members give sound recommendations to the City Council, and to help make the community more aware of these recommendations, so they have the ability to give feedback.”

Vedder has also been a very active member of the Save Famosa Canyon group as well as MADCAPS – Mothers and Daughters Club Assisting Philanthropies, La Play Auxiliary, and area school PTA/Parent Associations.

Tina-Marie Compton

Long time Point Loma resident.

Resident checked on application.

Occupation: Property / Business Management – Independent Contractor

“As a former owner of a property in Liberty Station, I have a deep interest in the future development and progess of Liberty Station/NTC. As a long term resident of the Community and mother of 4 children, I have a deep vested interest in the Park &Recs, traffic, and code compliance. I also believe that it is important to be a voice for the community to protect our last open space on the Point.”

Compton is also a member of the Save Famosa Canyon group.

P J Lucca

Point Loma residency unknown.

Property owner only checked on application.

Occupation: Attorney, practice area unknown.

“Like many who live on the Peninsula, I share a life-long passion for fishing, surfing, nature and the high quality of life our Peninsula offers.  I also share a commitment to preserve our Peninsula for our children and generations to come.”

Don Sevrens

Long time Point Loma resident.

Property owner and resident checked on application.

Occupation: Community Volunteer, Book Author (no book mentioned)

“I am a volunteer stepping in when organizations do not: Examples: Voltaire Street Bridge beautification, pocket park on Avenida de Portugal, relocation of recycling center next to housing. I help business start-ups, creating local jobs. I belong or network with several organizations.”

Sevrens has served two three-year terms on the PCPB.  He put on his application that he has been the “Parliamentarian” for two years but there is no such position on the PCPB.

Analysis

Two of the candidates, Haimsohn and Schalles, did not make it to the Candidate Forum.

The grass roots group trying to Save Famosa Canyon is large enough to have elected several board members last year and are poised to elect several more this year.  Benson, Vedder, Compton, Morrison, and Sevrens fall into this group.  They are trying to save the open space from an affordable housing proposal for the area.  They were unhappy with the PCPB in the past two years and were determined to take it over, as it appears they will.

Howard Haimsohn appears to be running because he is concerned about development planned for Kellogg Beach.

Burgess is a one-issue candidate.  Her focus has always been to promote cycling and she is anti-automobile.  Burgess says she does not drive implying that she never uses automobiles, which is not true.  Her passion for the subject can be admired but her claim that she is open-minded does not apply to this issue.

Lucca and Schalles are newcomers.  It appears that Schalles is also a cycling enthusiast.  The cycling community has taken an aggressive approach to planning boards because the boards are often critical of the cycling proposals that come up, such as reducing West Point Loma Ave. from four lanes to two lanes to accommodate bike lanes.  The recent push to reform planning boards was very much the work of the cycling community because they do not like the opposition they have faced to their wishes.

Then we have Sevrens, the board member who sued the PCPB and the city over language in the PCPB by-laws and in the by-laws of every planning group in the city. Sevrens began his career on the PCPB accusing the chair and the treasurer of dishonesty regarding the minuscule PCPB budget and some small expenditures.  Sevrens has followed this path of disruption ever since.

Incumbent board member James Hare, who chose not to run again because of all the turmoil; on the PCPB, asked Sevrens this question:

“Mr. Sevrens, you filed a lawsuit to protect your First Amendment rights, which you felt were violated by the provisions of City Council Policy 600-24 and the bylaws of the Peninsula Community Planning Board.   Both of these documents received their final approvals by the City.

Can you explain why, then, in a suit where only the City could provide a remedy, you also named the Peninsula Community Planning Board?  In short, why did you find it necessary or appropriate to sue and threaten the possibility of financial damages against the members of a board to which you now seek re-election?”

Sevrens only response appeared to be that it was none of Hare’s business.

Sevrens sued over language in the by-laws, that he willfully violated two years in a row, prohibiting board members and candidates from assembling and promoting slates of candidates to vote for.  The city required this language to be in the by-laws of every planning board, and it has been there for years, so no one on the PCPB was at all responsible for it. But, Sevrens named the entire board in the suit.

The city settled the suit by paying off Sevrens’s attorney and putting a temporary halt to enforcing the provision. The whole sorry affair was handled completely wrong, disrupted the planning board for several months, and caused some members undue stress over something they had no control over.

As if that were not enough.  In January of this year, the current chair and the current vice-chair announced they were resigning after the March election.  They have had enough.  One had two years left on his first term and one had one year left on a second term. But, at the February meeting, Sevrens, along with board members Virissimo, Morrison, and Havlik, filed another complaint and tried to have the vice-chair removed from heading the election subcommittee.

The by-laws dictate that the vice-chair head that subcommittee.  The vice chair is a CHP officer and father of four children and these four members did not trust him to run a fair election.  The motion to remove him failed miserably with only Havlik, Morrison, and Virissimo voting to remove him, Sevrens did not attend that meeting.

So, the final recommendations here are for two candidates not to vote for. Sevrens should not be returned to the PCPB so that he can continue his combative and disruptive ways. If Sevrens is gone, that will leave only one sitting board member that has been as much a problem as Sevrens.  Morrison is following the same path and he received a much less than stellar recommendation from the people in North Park when they were asked about him. In his short time attending meetings and the one year on the board, he has proven to be highly critical of the sitting board members.

In order for planning groups to function well, there needs to be co-operation and mutual respect.  Members can disagree of course, but with civility.  Former members Burgess and Kosmo have demonstrated this, the other candidates are unknown at this point but Sevrens and Morrison have clearly demonstrated their lack of fitness for this kind of an organization.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar Paul Webb March 9, 2020 at 6:16 pm

I find that it is so sad that the planning board, which can be such a positive force in our community, has become a slow motion train wreck. I considered running again (for those of you who don’t know I am a former two-term board member) but decided I just don’t need the headaches. It is doubly sad to me to see board members with expertise and experience (Bob Goldyn, Jim Hare, David Dick) leaving the board.

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Avatar korla eaquinta March 11, 2020 at 3:10 pm

Paul, It truly is a shame that so many good people will not continue to serve on the Board. The lawsuit and numerous “Formal Complaints” which were all baseless and filed directly with the city rather than through proper PCPB by laws procedures have many fed up. I can only hope for something different for the upcoming year.

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Avatar Jerry Lohla March 12, 2020 at 3:52 pm

As a former PCPB member, I empathize with the decisions of Robert Goldyn, Scott Deschenes, Jim Hare, and David Dick to resign or not run for re-election in order to no longer have to deal with Don Sevrens. I chose to not run for re-election last year for the same reason.
I presume Mr. Sevrens and his 2020 anointed slate of candidates will win election to the PCPB. Unfortunately, they will not likely replace the combined planning, architectural, and legal expertise of the PCPB members being driven off the Board by Mr. Sevrens’ divisive behavior at PCPB meetings and his proven willingness to sue his PCPB colleagues in order get his way.
The PCPB should not be treated as a “Game of Thrones” by Mr. Sevrens or anyone else.

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Avatar Geoff Page March 13, 2020 at 12:24 pm

Sevrens deserves the comments here but let’s not forget to share the credit of divisiveness with board members Margaret Virissimo and Lucky Morrison. Sevrens and Morrison are running for re-election so there is a chance for the community to remove some of the problems by not re-electing those two.

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