OB Planners: Pier ‘Update’, City Budget Hearing, and Cell Towers on Apartment

by on May 7, 2021 · 4 comments

in Ocean Beach

Cell tower equipment at 4710 Point Loma Ave. Do the tenants know?

By Geoff Page

The OB Planning Board meeting Wednesday, May 5, drew an abnormally large crowd because of an agenda item that stated, “The board will hear a presentation from the City about the current status of the pier and what options there are to reopen.”  According to the on-line meeting information, 68 people had tuned in, far more than most meetings draw.

Unfortunately, the presentation from the city did not happen due to a scheduling mix up, but one will be rescheduled. The city was, however, represented by Teddy Martinez, the District 2 representative.  Martinez was not there specifically for the pier item but did field a number of questions during the pier discussion.

In his remarks during the standard “Representatives Report” portion of the agenda, Martinez said a community forum would definitely be held to discuss the pier.  He described a wide array of participation including the federal, state, and city governments, community leaders, and members of the public.

The goal of this forum would be to then set up an in-depth presentation that the city can take to the general public.  Ideally, this presentation will provide a clear, understandable picture of the pier’s condition and then present some options of how to move forward from here.  The public will then have an opportunity to provide comments on the options or suggest others.

There still was a general discussion of the pier that included a number of public and board comments. Chair Andrea Schlageter opened the discussion by mentioning the District 2 council office press release received the morning of the meeting.

The “press release” contained very little information and what it did contain was flawed.  It read more like a campaign flyer than an informational release.  The fourth paragraph, of the eight-paragraph press release, contained the only specific pier information of any kind.  The paragraph was a list of pier restrictions that will be in place when part of the pier reopens:

  • “The part of the pier beyond the Café but before the expansion joint will remain closed for safety reasons
  • No vehicle traffic will be allowed on the pier except emergency vehicles and only when necessary
  • The pier will close during very high tides”

This list appears to be an abbreviation of what the engineers recommended and very poor abbreviation at that.

Bullet #1 – How many people in the general public know what an “expansion joint” is?  This means nothing to folks who are unfamiliar with concrete or bridge construction. Even a person who does know what this is, would not know where it is without more information.

Bullet #2 – Who writes this stuff. No vehicle traffic has ever been allowed on the pier.  Supply vans for the Café and cleaning trucks are all that have ever been allowed out there besides emergency vehicles. And, emergency vehicles will only be allowed on the pier “when necessary?”  Why else would they be there?

Bullet #3 – As far back as 2016, the engineers have recommended the pier be “closed to the public when sea levels (including wave crests) encroach with [sic] 2-feet of any pile caps.” Including wave crests is something very different from “very high tides.” It could be a low tide with high surf.  And, the suggested distance, two feet below the pile caps would be more like three feet or more from the bottom of the pier deck.

The earlier pier reports and recommendations on public use will be detailed in another OB Rag story soon.

Schlageter mentioned that there was a briefing on Friday, April 30, that more or less fell along the lines of the press release.  She said she wanted to ensure that there was public input on this issue and to hear what people think before the next meetings with the city. The discussion was opened after her remarks.

One commenter mentioned the safety of the pier now, specifically because people are circumventing the closed gate and fence and getting onto the pier.  As Schlageter remarked, tackling this safety issue is an “actionable” item that something positive can be done about right away.  If the city has not installed any security cameras at the pier entrance yet, well, one would wonder why.

Board member Nicole Ueno expressed a desire that the pier project include “green sustainable energy concepts” and proposed an ocean educational resource center with a new pier.

Board member Virginia Wilson expressed what came to be the predominant sentiment, that funding should be provided for temporary repairs but planning for a new pier should begin at the same time.

Another comment was about the possibility of snagging some of the infrastructure money that the federal government plans to release.  This might be a possibility to help pay for the short-term repairs.

Board member Craig Klein expressed the opinion that money spent in the short term will be poorly used when what is needed is a new pier.  His concern was that repairs might make everyone complacent – only putting off the inevitable.  Considering how too many politicians think only of the short term, this would be a legitimate concern.

Vice Chair Kevin Hastings, an engineer by profession, agreed with Klein’s comment but also recognized the probable need to make some temporary repairs, while looking at the long-term solution. Hastings also took a moment to recognize the OB Rag for exposing this story in the first place.  Hastings said “We would not be here now talking about it if not for their efforts.”

It was clear the OBPB is behind the pier wholeheartedly.  Anyone with any comments or questions should contact the board.  Go here to http://oceanbeachplanning.org/ to contact the board or to sign up to receive emails from the board.

City Budget

Teddy Martinez opened his comments with information about the city budget review that is underway right now.  There were two important takeaways: the time for the public to make comments and suggestions is right now, and the city’s bureaucracy is tied in knots and will be for another week or two as everyone works on the budget.

The District 2 council office will host an on-line “Budget Forum” on Friday, May 7, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. According to the registration form, “The purpose of the forum is to provide an overview of the Mayor’s proposed FY2022 budget, and then to allow community members to express their thoughts on budget priorities.”  Registration is required to join the Forum on Zoom.

It is difficult to look at this forum as anything other than a checked box for Campbell.  She is devoting one whole hour of her time for a discussion about a very complicated subject among a large group of people. How is it possible to do this justice in only one hour?

Vendor Ordinance

Teddy Martinez was asked about progress on the vendor ordinance that Ocean Beach has been waiting for.  Apparently, the original version of the ordinance ran into some “hiccups” according to Martinez – more of a buzzsaw actually.  The city received a letter from a collection of community groups, street vendor advocates, and non-profits essentially saying that the ordinance had not had enough public input and asked for a pause.

The letter advocated for a much more intense public review and inclusion of other elements such as a budget that could help provide a “pathway to entrepreneurship.” In other words, it seems a large number of people believe the work done on the current ordinance was insufficient and they want a much more complicated process of gathering information before drafting an ordinance.

It does not appear that an ordinance will be on the books soon.  One has to wonder how the District 2 office got so far down the road only to run into very organized and widespread criticism of the final product. Certainly, the disruption from COVID made their work more difficult.

Martinez said they hoped to have something in place by the summer months, but this was not related with a great deal of confidence.

Projects

Three projects were reviewed and all three received board approval. One project was on the Consent Agenda.

The project on the Consent Agenda consisted of demolishing an existing residence and a storage building at 4928 Brighton Ave. and constructing new single family-home and a large detached garage on a very small lot. The project review subcommittee voted unanimously to approve the project.

It was not clear why this project was on the consent agenda and the second one was not, because the second project the board reviewed also received unanimous approval from the subcommittee.

The second project at 4861 Coronado was another demo and new build.  An existing residence on the front of the lot will remain the same.  A two-story building at the rear will house a three-car garage, a townhouse style residence, and an apartment totaling three residences on a lot zoned for four units.

The third project involved removing cell tower equipment at 4710 Point Loma Ave. and then installing a whole new set of equipment.  This is the address of the Esquire Apartments, a two-story building. The existing equipment is housed in two building projections above the front entrance at the top of the building.

Some board members expressed surprise that this equipment was on an apartment building so close to where people live. The cell site presenter was asked if potential renters are alerted to the presence of this equipment when they come to see an apartment.  The presenter did not know what information the building landlords gave potential tenants.  For people worried about the effects of wireless transmissions, this set up would be particularly worrisome.

Please register for budget forum with IBA and Council President Campbell here

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie May 7, 2021 at 11:28 am

Geoff Page’s dry witted commentary makes me laugh.

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Avatar Sam May 7, 2021 at 5:18 pm

Shocking that Campbell’s office had nothing but problems with the vendor ordinance! She has got to go, and she can take her inept staff with her. What a joke.

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Avatar OBer May 7, 2021 at 8:55 pm

Great round up. Not plausible that there was a “scheduling conflict” about the Pier. Shows lack of gravity with which the decision-makers are taking this, and sadly, it must be said, some of the Board entertains, to allow it to happen. Seems the administration and elected officials are in cahoots for a long drawn-out nothing-burger under the guise of “community input”. Need grassroots decisiveness and action, the Chair was saying as much about the loudest get the $. LFG

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Avatar Geoff Page May 9, 2021 at 12:33 pm

I have to disagree on this one, OBer, I don’t think the city did not take this seriously. I think this was more a case of good intentions on both sides with maybe some overly optimistic assumptions that something could be put together quickly. District 2 at least seems to be taking it seriously. Campbell may see this new and popular issue as a lifeline and may actually try to accomplish something. Regardless of the motive, anything that helps the pier is fine.

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