Coast Repairs, ADUs, Replacing Car Parking and Public Input on New Library Design – OB Planning Board Report

by on October 12, 2021 · 9 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

The regular monthly meeting of the Ocean Beach Planning Board, Wednesday, October 6, appeared to have a busy agenda, but much of it took very little time. Some of it was clearly just procedural by the city and looked like a waste of tax dollars.

Action Items #1 and #2 – Emergency coastal repair permits

Sonja Olsen, City of San Diego Transportation Department planner, represented the city in the two action items that involved emergency repairs. It was not clear why a planner from the transportation department was called on to present these two repairs to coastal areas instead of an engineer involved in the work.

The first emergency repair was a large void area at the foot of Narragansett Ave. west of the Sea Spray Apartments. The work was done over a year ago. All the city was doing now was following the Coastal Development Permit Procedure it was able to put off under the emergency repair procedure.

The work involved was simply to fill the void with concrete and repair the steps at the end of the walkway. For this, the city is spending the money to go through the process simply to complete a procedure. This one does not appear to be the city’s fault.

The second emergency repair was at the end of Bermuda Ave. where a slope and a seawall were repaired.  The city had received calls about a void at the top of the slope in March of this year.  The city engineers evaluated it and concluded the void was compromising the seawall there.

The repairs were done in March. The city placed 68.5/Cubic Yards of concrete and 35/CY of sand slurry into the void and then restored the surface. The location does not now show any sign of this work. What Ms. Olsen was there for was a Site Development permit for the work.

This one seems even more wasteful since the city itself issues Site Development permits. Its hands are not tied as they are with the Coastal Commission.

The OBPB voted to approve both permit applications but really had no other choice as the work was already done.

Action Item #3 – Accessory Dwelling Unit

This item was a Coastal Development Permit application to convert a 269/SF former storage unit to an accessory dwelling unit. In truth, this was an illegal conversion that is being made legal now thanks to the complete relaxation of all rules involving additional dwelling units.  This is one of the consequences of the new ADU rules.  This took little time to discuss and passed.

Action Item #4 – Replacing car parking with bicycle parking

The action item was:

“The board will review a motion from the transportation committee to request a code update to the bicycle parking for car parking. This is a continuation of the discussion that occurred at the August Meeting. Motion: To request a code update to 142.0530 to include all commercial spaces and strike 1c to be replaced with secure bike facilities and not simply bike racks.”

As stated, this was discussed at the August meeting.

There was a long discussion about this idea of swapping car parking places for bicycle parking. This time the focus was on changing some of the language in the proposed code update. Instead of allowing just bicycle racks to satisfy the bicycle parking requirement, the suggested change would be to add secure bike facilities.

Bicycle theft is a concern in OB, as it is everywhere, and some on the board did not feel racks were secure enough. If a business was to be allowed to eliminate car parking, there needed to be a higher trade-off. Some kind of secure lockers or cabinets or something should be provided.

The larger argument about even allowing bike parking to replace car parking took up most of the time. Some believe the parking requirements for eating and drinking establishments are too onerous for a place like OB with limited parking in the downtown area. And unfair because the retail establishments have no parking requirements.

Allowing replacement of car parking with bike facilities would ease the parking requirements on some businesses. It would also encourage more people to come downtown without their cars.  These arguments do make sense.

But, others argued that some businesses need the parking. It was mentioned that seniors are not riding downtown on bicycles. Much of OB and Point Loma is pretty hilly. The idea of riding a bike down those hills to have dinner and pedaling back up is not attractive to some. But, the advent of electric bikes might eliminate that problem.

One person in favor of the change mentioned that this was an optional thing for businesses, not a requirement.  This seemed a bit naïve because what business would not want to take advantage of this considering the real estate they could then devote to more outdoor dining and not care about where anyone parks.

But, what finally put an end to the discussion was when it was pointed out the OBPB had not heard from the merchants about this.  None had attended the meeting or contacted the board about it. There was a reluctance to take an action without hearing from the merchants so the item was tabled. The board plans to invite the OB Mainstreet Association to the next meeting for their input. It was curious why no one from the merchants group had attended either of the meetings to discuss this issue.

Action Item #5 – Proposed expansion of ADU and Junior ADUs development rules

The board had a discussion of the new state laws involving Accessory Dwelling Units and Junior Accessory Dwelling Units and the even more expansive city versions of these laws. In the end, they decided to table any action and attempt to get more information for the next meeting.

OB Library

Mary Cairns from the Friends of the Library spoke up during non-agenda public comment about progress on the library project. She explained that the budget included $1 million for design work and a $3 million anonymous donation for construction. One has to admire a person making such a big donation and not needing recognition for that largesse.

Cairns explained that she wants a public meeting to discuss the design. She said the city process only requires a presentation to the OBPB and nothing else. Apparently, there are plans underway for a meeting in November at the Water’s Edge Church on Sunset Cliffs Blvd. This will be an in-person meeting that will practice all the necessary COVID protocols. It was not known if this would also be an on-line meeting.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Tessa October 12, 2021 at 3:23 pm

Kudos to whoever stepped up to donate $3 million dollars towards the OB Library renovation. With any luck, the donor will step out from behind the curtains at some point — to well deserved applause!


Muir Avenue Ale October 14, 2021 at 2:46 pm

Concur, huge props.

Anyone happen to know how much private money was contributed for the Hervey (Point Loma), Riford (La Jolla) and Taylor (Pacific Beach) libraries?

Re the potential design meeting: Don’t we already have a perfectly suitable design gathering dust on a city shelf? Do we really want to bog down the process even further by revisiting this?

Unless: does the anonymous donor have a pet feature he or she wants in a redesign? I do recall the inclusion of a dome at the downtown library added several million to the design; but its inclusion was insisted upon by private donors.


Mary Cairns October 16, 2021 at 8:23 am

Yes! You are correct. There was a design completed about 20 years ago that was beautiful, but the recession of 2008 put an end to any thought of expanding. Since that time, libraries have changed, e.g. more computer use, e-books, more organized activities and areas especially for children, etc. The new library expansion addresses those needs with study rooms, more computers and a large meeting area for lectures, concerts, group activities and presentations. Please come to the proposed meeting and check the OB Rag for the most up-to-date time and place.


Frank Gormlie October 16, 2021 at 10:53 am

Thanks Mary. Do you wish to promote a town hall meeting on the design? BTW, I was on the OB Planning Board when that design was presented, so remember it well.


Mary Cairns October 16, 2021 at 2:57 pm

Hi Frank. So you remember that fancy older design, huh. That was when they had thought about getting the gas station property too. Now we just have the building between the library and post office. We’re still working with the city and planning board to finalize the date…hoping for Nov 3 but could get pushed back to Dec. The city is ready to present the new design, just getting everything coordinated with the planning board, etc. And yes, as soon as we have a final date we’ll let you know! We will want lots of folk there. Thanks!


Joni Halpern October 12, 2021 at 10:30 pm

Geoff, I love reading your reports. I usually give in to boredom about halfway through the usual types of reports, but not yours. Thanks.


Geoff Page October 15, 2021 at 12:38 pm

Wow, Joni, a compliment from one who writes as well as you do really means something. Thanks.


kh October 14, 2021 at 12:46 am

Retail and other businesses are not exempt from parking requirements unless they are grandfathered in. New construction and expanded businesses in the “Parking Impact Overlay zone” west of Sunset Cliffs Blvd require 4 offstreet spots per 1,000 SF for eating and drinking establishments, and 2 spots per 1,000 SF for other uses. That can also be fulfilled by a shared parking agreement. And there are some exceptions.

Outside of the overlay zone the requirements are lesser, as it assumes street parking is more readily available.


Geoff Page October 15, 2021 at 12:49 pm

Thanks, kh, for clarifying the parking requirements. You are correct, I remember there were parking requirements for mixed-use project businesses. So, if a retail establishment closes and another opens in that space, does the new business need to make provisions for parking if it is over 1,000/SF?


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