After Their Presentation at Peninsula Planners’ Meeting, SANDAG Appears to Be Working for the Navy

by on April 21, 2021 · 5 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

The Peninsula Community Planning Board’s regular monthly meeting, Thursday, April 15, was mostly about procedural matters that take place each year after the March elections.  This stuff doesn’t usually interest most folks.  There were two other items that were of interest though.

Judging by a SANDAG presentation, it appears that SANDAG is now working for the Navy. And, a 1,029/SF, two bedroom, two bath companion unit with no parking in an RS-1-7 single family zoned neighborhood.  All depressingly legal.


Gia Ballash gave a presentation for SANDAG describing something called the “San Diego Region Military Installation Resilience” project.  Here is how SANDAG describes it:

“SANDAG and Navy Region Southwest are working together to evaluate climate threats to critical transportation facilities, develop strategies to minimize potential climate impacts to Navy operations, and develop long term data sharing processes.”

Evaluating climate threats seems to be the main goal of this project.  The study focuses, however, on three Naval bases, Coronado, Pt. Loma, and San Diego. It’s the “why” that feels odd.

In the “Key Objectives” part of the presentation was this statement:

“Develop climate resilience strategies to support ongoing Navy operations and mission readiness.”

What is not clear is why SANDAG is working on what appears to be a military project.  An attempt to quell such a question was the fourth bullet on the slide:

“Project will contribute to concurrent work on key transportation corridors within the San Diego region, where possible.”

SANDAG is a sort of transportation agency so their involvement in this project was justified because “where possible” maybe, perhaps, we’ll see, there will be something of use to San Diego.  It began to feel as if SANDAG was reaching with this project and the feeling increased with the next slide titled “Resilience Plan.”

The Resilience Plan in the Power Point slide contained four boxes as steps one to four.  The arrows across the top above each box contained the wording  “Analyze how climate stressors… affect critical transportation access… and Navy mission readiness… to inform long term adaptation strategies.”

Three of the four boxes, contained the wording “transportation facilities critical to Navy mission readiness.” It was very apparent that this was all about the Navy. Why is SANDAG working on Navy “mission readiness?”

Ballash showed the timeline for the project.  The “Climate Vulnerability Report” was already done.  SANDAG is now in its “Outreach and Engagement” phase during April and May.  The final report will be out in June. Anyone interested in reviewing and commenting has about six weeks to do so.

Luckily, funding for this effort came from a U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation grant – not the city or county. Ballash stated that Caltrans and the City are subrecipients of the grant but did not explain any details of the funding amount or how much each participant got.

When the presentation concluded, the most logical question seemed to be, why is SANDAG involved in this kind of a project working for the Navy?  This question apparently did not occur to the PCPB members because no one asked that.

Board members did ask a few questions. One questioner asked if SANDAG had information about all military traffic on and off the peninsula. Ballash promised to check.

A new board member this year, Matt Schalles, asked an interesting question.  He said it appeared the focus of the study was all on infrastructure and asked if SANDAG and the Navy were also looking at behavior modification as well.

Modified behavior would involve things like carpooling, using mass transit, or cycling instead of driving.  Judging by Ballash’s response, this was not a part of the study.

Two contacts were provided. and Dejesus is an Associate Transportation Planner and Ballash is an Associate Public Outreach Officer. No web address was provided.

Big “Companion Unit”

Because rules regarding second units on single family zoned lots have been virtually gutted to help satisfy the “housing shortage,” projects like the new companion unit at 4379 Saratoga Avenue are now, sadly, commonplace.

At 1,029 square feet, the two-bedroom, two-bath new unit is as big as many homes in the peninsula.  And, because it is within a half-mile of a transit corridor, Voltaire Street, the owner does not have to provide any additional parking.

The parking issue appears somewhat ameliorated on this particular project because a new two-car garage is included and there is one off-street parking spot in the front driveway.  The original garage facing Saratoga has already been converted to habitable space.  However, there is no guarantee that any of this parking will be devoted to the use of a renter.

This reporter fought a project in the neighborhood years ago.  Part of the documentation shown to city council was a picture of four cars parked double tandem in the driveway to illustrate there was sufficient parking.  The project was approved.  The first renters showed a document from the owner prohibiting them from parking in the driveway and instructing them to park in front of the property next door, in the street

Because the project conformed to all the land use requirements, it was unanimously approved by the PCPB.  The shame of it all is that eventually, the nice backyards all over Point Loma will disappear and not for the altruistic reason of helping with the housing shortage. It’s all about making money.


PCPB chair Fred Kosmo opened the meeting by warning those attending that the meeting was being recorded using the Zoom software.  Kosmo said he wanted everyone to have their warning and that “Special modifications to the Brown Act due to the pandemic” seemed to be the reason.

In fact, recording, or making videos of, public meetings has always been allowed. It was not clear what modifications Kosmo was referring to.

A while ago, a past PCPB chair tried to make an audience member stop video recording a meeting but learned very quickly that it was perfectly legal.

Kosmo asked the mayor’s representative, Kohta Zaiser, about the news concerning the OB Pier and what the city is doing and about funding. Zaiser responded, “We are having a briefing about that next week.”  One has to wonder when this briefing was scheduled, before or after the OB Rag pier story.

Zaiser went on to explain that a consultant finished an assessment of the pier and that a final report would be ready soon.  So far, the city has not provided any information on the current assessment, and nothing shows in the city’s budget for this work.

Newly elected board member Paul Webb asked who the consultant was that was performing the current assessment of the pier.  Zaiser did not know but promised to find out. Zaiser responded to an email about this stating that the consultant was Moffat & Nichols, the same firm that did the current report.

And lastly, there is a concern that the city is making moves to remove planning boards entirely from their land use review system.  There was also discussion that the city wanted to make the planning boards independent of the city entirely, which would mean the end of the boards.

District 1 councilmember Joe LaCava has stated a commitment to keeping the boards.  He was heavily involved with the La Jolla planning group before being elected to city council.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris April 21, 2021 at 12:02 pm

Yeah the “modified behavior” is kind of confusing. The example seems to mean changes in how military personnel (and I assume base civilian employees also) commute to work. I live in Hillcrest and commute to North Island so I would love for there to be a way to use mass transit as an alternative to driving every day but I just don’t see how that would be possible.


Geoff Page April 21, 2021 at 1:03 pm

You know, Chris, it is amazing how many people agree with you. City “leaders,” business people, residents, workers on the bases, all agree and the city and the Navy don’t do anything. Even something as simple as a reliable shuttle system that could replace ten cars coming and going would be an improvement. It just takes money and, in this case, it should come from the Feds because they are the source of the problem.


Chris April 21, 2021 at 4:39 pm

Well that’s a catch 22 as far as who the funding should come from. Aside from transportation to the base, for everyone else who doesn’t work on any of our bases I still wish we would improve our public transportation throughout the whole SD area but I know that’s just not likely. It makes me sad when people say something to the effect of “we love our cars and don’t want us them less”. You DO bring up an interesting point when you say it should come from the feds. We are constantly getting reminded about complaints from Coronado residents about all the morning and afternoon traffic we create coming from the bridge to the base or base to the bridge. Additionally (or more like allegedly), there have been complains from some residents of base personnel yelling obscenities at them as they are trying to cross. You would think leadership (which would fall under Federal) would try to figure something out like van pools or shuttles but nothing.


Chris April 21, 2021 at 4:41 pm

“and don’t want us them less” I meat to say “we don’t want to use them less”.


Paul Webb April 21, 2021 at 5:20 pm

At one time, the navy did run a shuttle from the Old Town transit center to the point loma base – I don’t know if it is still running or what kind of ridership it has/had.


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