Battle Over Famosa Open Space Continues

by on November 16, 2020 · 0 comments

in Environment, Ocean Beach

Sunrise at Famosa Open Space.

By “Just a Bike Mom”

Ah, Friday the 13th. As we all sat down to work that morning, so did the San Diego Housing Commission (aka SDHC) to discuss the “exclusive” agreement for Bridge to develop Famosa Open Space.

Short story: They voted to proceed with their exclusive agreement. The exclusive agreement to develop the last plot of natural, urban, open space on the Point.

We last heard from the SDHC in spring/summer of 2019 at the Peninsula Community Planning Board meetings. They had no plans to develop the land at that time they said. Yet, their PCPB presentation included a set of “visionary” plans.

Our community spoke out. Apparently they did listen to some points, as the new plans include a wetlands preserve consideration and acknowledge the San Diego Housing Authority (aka SDHA aka City of San Diego Housing Authority) owns the land. But they never told us.

Commissioner Glumpner reacted to our comments as representing the “microcosm of incoherence that is causing a housing crisis”. This after another agenda item to which there was testimony as to the unprecedented lack of need for homeless funding due to COVID. But that’s another article.

As Commissioner Akers astutely noted – this was the first we were all hearing about these plans for Famosa. Hopefully Commissioner Akers realizes that the community was barred from speaking up in real time. Instead we wrote in HUNDREDS of comments based on the 2019 plans presented to us.

Their lack of outreach backfired. And hopefully Commissioners Mitchell & Benvenuto take note of that fact since they were looking for a solution to ending the “microcosm of incoherence”.

The answer is truly outreach with transparency. But this method of misleading the community was likely done at Mr. Gentry’s bequest to prevent the “messier aspects of democracy”.

Fun fact: This was the first time the SDHC had received this level of feedback! Pat yourselves on the back! We are demanding transparency! Since the bobcats two years ago, and thanks to community pressure, there has been progress in terms of accountability.

First, while no one has been able to prove exactly how the SDHA got the land, the SDHC does finally admit they don’t actually own the land (as proved by their own internal memo).

The SDHA is comprised of City council members appointed by the Mayor. The SDHC does not make the final determination. But a few years ago, I received a letter from Mr. Gentry stating  he is the land czar of San Diego. And homelessness is his business (see SDHC November 13, 2020 meeting).

Second, they admit to wetlands considerations (see Bridge plans in SDHC 11/13/2020 meeting), while simultaneously disregarding them.

With the exception of Commissioner Davis whom – if Mr. Gentry is to be trusted – may be the sole reason this “exclusive agreement’ doesn’t proceed to sale without return to the SDHC commission for review after CEQA, etc. Although, Mr. Christensen, counsel to the SDHC, clarified for all that this agenda item as stated was intended for procession to sale – so long as all other considerations were met.

Then the Commission approved this item – notably without requesting the language be modified to include that it return for purchase review. Thank you to Commissioner Davis for her efforts.

Third, to be clear – a pump track has existed in this space for decades. It now exists on the City’s corner easement conveniently above the wetlands area. It is not on the SDHC’s land. There is no liability – thanks to a lovely law called Recreational Use. So long as this space stays as it is. And that is why the SDHC has not maintained nor secured their portion.

One thing still sticks in my mind listening to the presentation again today was how Bridge representatives did not speak up. Not even in support of their landscape designer, as Commissioner Akers did. Not one word. Let’s hope that means they were listening hard.

Buyer beware. And that they heard us loud & clear — the fight is only just beginning, as Mr. Christensen said. There are a lot of “sister agency” steps and we will be there every step of the way in volume.

Speaking up to be sure they HEAR all our “incoherent” yet common sense concerns regarding development on the Nimitz fault line, increased traffic, lack of public transportation, lack of evacuation routes, etc. especially in light of the developments planned on Midway, at Mariner’s Cove, along Riverwalk, the Port, etc.

There are many options for affordable housing options and they exist along existing transit lines. Why steal a free gift from DC Collier meant for the greater good of the community, especially in the face of a climate crisis?

Link to above references starting @ 1 hour 15 minutes:

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