Midway Planners Continue Isolationist Stance -Reject Support for Critique of City Parks Plan and for OB’s Recommendations to Short-Term Vacation Rentalss

by on February 22, 2021 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

The Midway-Pacific Highway Planning Group has changed ever since the successful ballot measure last November to remove the thirty-foot height limit within their boundaries. Two positions the group took at its regular monthly meeting Wednesday, February 17, were decidedly isolationist. It appears that Midway, now that they got the one thing they wanted, looks at everything only in relation to themselves.

As related in the report of the January meeting, an all-volunteer group of professionals called PARC, made a presentation.  It was a detailed review of the city’s Master Plan, specifically the Parks portion, and a list of recommendations they believe are critical.  In January, the Midway group voted to table the item until February because there was so much information to absorb.

PARC was simply looking for support for park policies that would affect the entire city. Anyone who saw the material would agree it was well done. Nothing was, or would be, set in concrete.  These were recommendations for improvements and requests for corrections in what the city had planned, most notably the 2.8 acres of park per thousand residents guideline.

The acreage guideline is only a guideline but this is in line with the industry norm for planning across the country.  The city wants to remove that requirement and use a system of points that could allow them to satisfy park requirements in the future by never adding any park land.

Here is how the Chair, Cathy Kenton, reacted to PARC’s request at the January meeting as related in the report of that meeting :

“Kenton laser focused on PARC’s request that the city not do away with the 2.8 acres per one thousand residents.  “I don’t want to be hamstrung by an overriding requirement.”  The way this was stated was very telling.  Kenton is one of the board members who own property within the Midway boundaries.”

Midway had the same problem with PARC’s proposal during its February meeting.  All of the property within the Midway group boundaries became exponentially more valuable the minute the height limit was removed.  The idea of having to devote any of this now very valuable property to parks is hard enough to swallow.  But, 2.8 acres per one thousand was unacceptable.

Kenton took a different tack this time but with the same intent.  She disingenuously said she could not support PARC’s proposals because they haven’t told Midway how the proposals would specifically impact Midway.  Keep in mind that PARC made a detailed Power Point presentation in January, that they made available on request.  Midway tabled the issue, allegedly to study it. A month later, it was clear none of the group members had studied it to see how it might affect Midway.

Additionally, Kenton’s comment was based on an impossibility.  None of the legislation for putting anything into effect has been discussed or written.  There is no way to tell Midway how anything will affect Midway specifically. PARC was asking for moral support for policies that would benefit the whole city, ensuring San Diego remained a beautiful place. It was clear that Midway cares only about Midway now.

One of the board members mentioned the homeless problem that Midway has and how more parks would just bring be more problems.  So, hard-working, tax paying San Diegans should do without parks now it seems.  This was a weak argument.  The development planned for the area will solve the homeless problem. [The La Jolla Community Planning Association endorsed PARC’s recommendations at its January 2021 meeting.]

In the end, Midway decided to take no position and PARC left empty-handed.  Then, it was OB’s turn.

OB’s Turn

Ocean Beach Planning Board vice chair Kevin Hastings made an appearance and presented a letter that OB was seeking support for regarding short-term vacation rentals. OB had put a lot of work into a detailed list of recommendations and requests it was sending to District 2 council member Jennifer Campbell. OB wanted changes and amendments to the ordinance Campbell is pushing that no one likes. The city council will discuss the proposed STVR ordinance on Tuesday, February 23.  Unfortunately, Hastings was doomed and may not have known it.

The Midway group loves Campbell because she sponsored the ballot initiative to remove the height limit.  There was no way they were going to support anything contrary to what Campbell wants.  But, Kenton’s opposition this time was both disingenuous and isolationist at the same time.

Kenton basically said that OB did not work with Midway on this effort and because they were not included, they were not inclined to support OB now.  The OB letter, like PARC’s proposals, contains recommendations that are intended for the entire city.  OB’s recommendations are for serious improvements to Campbell’s ordinance that will benefit everyone.

What Kenton really meant was articulated by group member Dike Anyiwo, who has closely aligned himself with Kenton.  Anyiwo said it clearly, we don’t have an STVR problem in the Midway area because we have very little residential property.  Can’t get much more isolationist that that.

Kenton said she favored Campbell’s bill and it could be modified later.  But, her statement was very telling.  She was saying that, although Midway did not have this problem and had very few residences, she supported Campbell’s bill.  She didn’t remain neutral as one might expect representing an area that was not concerned with this issue. The only reason for her to support the bill was because Campbell wanted it.

Hastings left empty-handed as did PARC when Midway decided to take no action at all.  Apparently, Midway has turned in upon its newly empowered and enriched self and is not giving any thought to the city as a whole.  Midway wants to be left alone.

Other than that, there was a series of government reports, most of them about COVID issues.  Former San Diego city council member, now California State Assembly member, Chris Ward put in an appearance during the on-line meeting. He discussed his climate change bill AB 11 and the issue of “ghost guns,” which are guns assembled or changed to be untraceable. Ward also addressed the COVID issue as well.

The group voted on how to handle its upcoming yearly elections.  They decided to continue with the current members until at least September and make an attempt to fill open vacancies in the meantime. All of the planning boards are struggling with how to handle elections because of COVID.  The city has basically decided to let the boards do whatever they wish.  OB has developed a sophisticated system based on volunteer efforts of some tech savvy folks.  The Peninsula Community Planning Board decided on a combination of drop off and mail in balloting.



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