Midway Planners Make Dire Plea to City for Help on Sports Arena Blvd

by on January 25, 2022 · 69 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

The regular monthly meeting of the Midway-Pacific Highway Planning Group on Wednesday 19 was dominated by the homeless problem in the Midway area that is badly out of hand.  There was also a stealthy visit by a couple of cycling advocates who argued in support of the city’s plans to gut planning groups because they believe the groups stand in the way of their cycling agenda.


The mess on Sports Arena Blvd., by the Goodwill facility, kicked off a major discussion about the homeless problem in the Midway area. That large encampment is only the worst face of the problem, the problem with the homeless is everywhere in the Midway area.

This piece of Sports Arena Blvd. may not be familiar to everyone. It is on the south side of Rosecrans at the big Rosecrans-Sports Arena Blvd. intersection. Oddly, the big intersection was not engineered to allow driving across Rosecrans onto this last section of Sports Arena Blvd. through to Pacific Highway.

The only way to access this road is through the parking lot where the Big 5 store and Burger King are located. It is also not possible to make a right turn onto this piece of Sports Arena Blvd. from Rosecrans headed east because the turn is barricaded. The only other way to enter this road is from Pacific Highway at the far south end.

This is all to show that the traffic volume on this road is very low compared to the rest of the Midway area, making it ideal for what has happened.

The encampment runs from south of the Goodwill facility almost all the way to Pacific Highway; it is a major settlement. There are lots of tents and other types of shelters. Bikes and bike parts piled up. Kids. Trash. Dogs. It looks like the Third World.

A couple of months ago, the whole thing was cleared out after a great deal of complaining by business owners, residents, visitors, and the planning group. Apparently, the clean-up had barely concluded when the homeless began drifting back and rebuilding the encampment. This writer saw the original encampment and has seen the new encampment. It looks like nothing was done.

The complaints reached another crescendo and the city went into action again on January 14.  They posted, or planned to post, a 72-hour Notice of Abatement but inclement weather caused a postponement. According to the mayor’s representative Kohta Zaiser, it was not possible to post such a notice during bad weather. He appeared to indicate this was part of the approved process for taking such an action.

Zaiser said they planned to post the new 72-hour notice at the beginning of this week. Considering the nice weather last week, it was not clear why the notice was not posted early last week. If the weather turns rainy, it could delay the process again. He also described a multi-agency outreach effort that preceded the final step of the 72-hour notice. He said there are about 180 people in the encampment. The plan was to contact all of them and offer a menu of services designed to get them off the streets.

Zaiser said that seven people had accepted shelter services so far. He stressed that these numbers were just the first report and expected to have updated numbers by the Friday following the meeting. The new numbers were not available as of this writing.

The people who attempt this kind of outreach work are very candid about the dismal record these efforts have. The rub for those being offered services are the conditions that come with the services. No drugs or alcohol rules are a big barrier to success. If people feel the rules are not worth what they would be getting, they will not participate.

Group chair Cathy Kenton, started off the discussion with a heartfelt complaint about the process that seems to be constantly stalling any progress in helping Midway deal with this runaway problem. This latest glitch of some bad weather stalling the clean up another two weeks was part of the process.

Kenton has long experience in the Midway area and speaks quite passionately about the area and how she perceives it is treated by the rest of the city. She complains that Midway gets dumped on and there is truth to that.  A new homeless shelter and two hotels for refugees were planted in the Midway area with no notice to the planning group.

Kenton mentioned a new dumping happening with no notice to the group, a tent city to be put up in the parking lot of the County Health Services Complex on Rosecrans.

Having attended Midway meetings for several years, it is possible to say that Kenton had never spoken with such despair. The people in this group are shouting for help as they watch the area get worse every day with little being done by the city. Some sitting board members who live in the area spoke about moving away because they were so discouraged

In addition to the Sports Arena problem, there is another large encampment on Kurtz — there are several smaller encampments scattered around and some individual ones. Board member Todd Howarth said the area on Hancock Street is also very bad. According to Zaiser, all of these are being acted on with this next effort, but not all at once.

Board member Judy Holiday made a passionate plea that the sidewalks be scheduled for immediate cleaning because of the state they are in now.

A woman asked when the city will clean up the mountains of trash along that section of Sports Area Blvd. and other areas. She described huge piles of trash that have accumulated from the homeless population that is attracting rodents and trash picking.

A question was asked about progress on the subject of conservatorships. Basically, a conservatorship allows people to be taken off the street, without their consent, for their own benefit. This can be used for the mentally ill or severe drug addicts or alcoholics. As can be imagined, this is a complicated issue fraught with personal rights problems.

Zaiser said the city is looking into it along with the county. He said the county has to be on board — for some reason.

The homeless discussion continued when Lisa Jones, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, of the San Diego Housing Commission gave her update on the new homeless facility at the old Pier One Building. Jones has faithfully attended each planning group meeting since the existence of this project was sprung on the group last summer.

In her update, Jones explained that the shelter that they refer to as the “Harm Reduction Shelter,” opened December 15. Six people from the city’s big outreach effort had “enrolled” in the shelter so far. She said they had 13 current enrollments and approximately 12 more people coming soon.

Jones did not say where these 25 people came from and, oddly, no one asked. It was not clear if the six people from the outreach effort were included in the total or not.

This writer sent an email to Jones asking how many shelter residents came from the Midway area. Jones responded that she was not able to provide the number of shelter residents that came specifically from the Midway area. Jones was sent another email asking if the information was not available or if she had it but could not release it. As of this writing, the answer was not received.

The reason why it is important to know where the residents have come from is because of an initial concern the Midway group expressed when they first learned of this new shelter. They asked then if the Housing Commission was going to fill its facility with the local homeless population or bring people in from elsewhere.

The group was clear it did not want to see more homeless brought into an already badly impacted area. When asked this question back then, Jones said they would try fill the facility with the local homeless population but could not guarantee that people would not be brought in from other areas. Judging by the numbers, it appears that is exactly what has happened.

Jones stated in her email that the Housing Commission directed the outreach teams titled “Community Harm Reduction Teams,” to focus on the Midway area and the East Village area at the same time. One has to wonder what effort it takes to come up with names like “Harm Reduction Teams.” One also has to wonder what harm is being reduced, harm to the homeless or harm to the general community.

Instead of the new facility helping to alleviate their problem by removing homeless off of Midway streets, it just looks like Midway was dumped on again. And, there was a new, serious concern about this facility.

When Jones first described what they planned to do at the old Pier One store, she said the residents at the facility will be able to leave the place during the day whenever they want to. Some in the Midway group expressed concern about the kinds of people who may be residents.

That concern came up again because of a recent beating in the area. One of the persons attending the meeting witnessed an unprovoked serious beating of a citizen by someone wielding a skateboard. It was clear the incident very much affected the woman as she gave her account.

The question to Jones was, how could they tell whether or not the assailant was a resident of the new facility brought in from some other part of town. Jones replied there would be no way to know unless the police contacted the person. For some reason, this did not happen after this incident.

In the end, the homeless discussion was a serious plea for the city to do something to help an area drowning in unpleasantness and actual crime. Discussions about homelessness seem to come up at every Midway meeting but the tone of this meeting was more dire and depressed than this writer has previously witnessed.

People may have disagreed with Midway about Measure E, but the homeless problem is serious for everyone. Midway deserves the city’s full attention.

Stealth Continues

During a discussion of the major changes the city wants to make to the planning boards, the Midway group heard from two members of BikeSD’s Board of Directors, Paul Jamason and Nicole Burgess. They did not, however, identify themselves that way. Burgess did say she was from the Peninsula Community Planning Board, giving the impression that her remarks were the opinion of the PCPB.

They were there to lobby for the city’s planned drastic changes regarding planning groups but neither one stated that overtly. It was how they spoke that told the story.

The “mobility community,” that consists largely of cyclists, has complained mightily over the past years about planning boards being full of old geezers and geezettes who do not agree with their vision of life. They see the boards as standing in the way of progress – their idea of progress.

Instead of running candidates and voting in the people they want, which would be the normal procedure, they decided to attack the planning board system as a whole. The majority of the recommended changes came from a group named Circulate San Diego. Check them out here. https://www.circulatesd.org/. The changes are Draconian and will result in a nosedive of volunteerism because it won’t be worth the trouble for anyone to volunteer.

The gist of the proposed planning group changes consists of two prongs. The first prong is disassociating the boards from the city to the extreme of cutting them out of the project review process. That is the heart of the planning board’s existence, and without that, citizen review of projects and things happening to the community ceases.

The second prong involves dilution by merging planning board areas. For example, think of merging OB, Point Loma, and Midway. What better way to muffle OB’s strong voice for OB than to make such a merger? With a merger like this, OB would only be a very small voice. Imagine if representation in the new super group wound up with no one from OB on it or just one or two people.

The Midway group is as wary of the changes as other planning boards, the loss of autonomy is a major worry.

When Jamason spoke, he repeated the mantra of this mobility group that the planning boards don’t fairly represent the communities.  He went on for some time with his remarks.

Jamason said one of the problems with people getting on planning boards is that they are time-challenged. He said renters have to work two or three jobs to afford to live here and to say we want you to also volunteer for these committees is asking a lot. Jamason did not, of course, cite a source for his information that renters have to work two or three jobs just to live here, but it sounded good.

Jamason said, “We have this additional layer of regulation or local control around land use, it’s a big ask.”  Jamason considers the planning board review as just an unnecessary layer of oversight. That it is the one place where citizens get to review projects does not matter to Circulate San Diego, in fact, they consider it a nuisance.

Jamason said, “I’m curious to see how we (We? He lives in Kensington) can get greater representation of people who have not been historically represented on these planning groups. I’m looking for ways to address that and I’m all ears.”

His remarks sounded like he was sympathetic and positive but were meant to punctuate the mobility community’s position that it is a fact that planning boards don’t represent the communities. The problem is, that is not a fact and it is not correct.

Jamason mused on ways for better outreach like a local paper and various social media. He said, “Younger people don’t read publications so look to things like TikTok and Facebook wherever the kids are nowadays, I am no longer in that category.”

He said a lot of people don’t know planning groups exist. Thank you Captain Obvious. Anyone sitting on a planning board today could say that and all planning boards struggle with this.

But, Jamason finally got to his real point.

“Maybe we need to consider the role of community planning groups if we can’t get fair representation because people don’t know they exist.”

There was a big discussion of these changes at the Community Planning Committee, or the CPC, the group of all the planning group chairs that meets monthly. Jamason attended their recent meeting and had this to say.

I was kind of surprised by the level of suspicion and even outright contempt towards this reform process from some of the planning group representatives because these issues have been identified for several years now but we had planning group chairs saying ‘where did this come from,’ ‘Joe Lecava used to be a developer.’

My planning group chair at our planning group said this was all a plot by Circulate San Diego to make the city more developer friendly. I don’t think this is useful. I think there are significant representation issues, transparency issues with these planning groups and these are trying to be resolved by the city now and so I think any input that folks have on how to make these groups more representative and more transparent and find solutions to these critical problems which is kind of the feedback I’ve gotten from some planning board members. I’m very hopeful this process can help improve community planning groups.

The last sentence belied Jamason’s, and by association BikeSD’s and Circulate San Diego’s real message.

Look at Jamason’s choice of words. “Significant representation issues.” Significant to whom?  “Transparency issues?”  And he calls these “critical problems.” Again, to whom.

On planning group boundaries, Jamason says they need to be changed by combining some groups to address perceived disparities.

Then, Jamason went after the alleged Midway “opponents” and the call for affordable housing in the redevelopment.  He said:

“I hear that argument a lot, ‘We don’t support housing unless its affordable’ but I think we can see with these opponents is that it is really not about affordable housing it’s about keeping new development out I guess because they want to keep the traffic down.”

The only loud opposition voiced by Point Loma and OB was about removing the 30-foot height limit. This mobility group is trying to rewrite reality. They are turning opposition to removing the height limit into all manner of evils, racism, wealth protection, a desire to keep the unwashed far away from the other communities. A bigger bag of shit this could not be.

The comment about keeping the traffic down was only meant as sarcasm, meaning all the privileged Point Lomans care about is too much traffic messing up their days. It was meant as an insult.

Jamason brought up the example of Grantville. He said there was a new trolley station and more housing around it was approved but none has been built because the residents of Allied Gardens have opposed it. Jamason claimed it was because the residents wanted easy ingress and egress to their community and he said he thinks “that is what is going on around here.”

First, the longtime residents of Allied Gardens have every right to defend their way of life. Second, comparing Grantville to the Midway-Point Loma-OB area is ridiculous. But, it seems that was all he had.

The real surprise was hearing the things Burgess had to say. She sits on the PCPB and also sits on the OBPB transportation subcommittee. But, in her comments, she disparaged both communities.

Burgess said:

“It’s unfortunate that Point Loma and Ocean Beach doesn’t want to see that beautified (meaning the Midway area) and see that become what it really can be. I’m really disappointed in the lawsuit (fighting Measure E) and I really hope our city can overcome and I’m grateful we do have a leader in Todd Gloria that is wanting to challenge that”

Frankly, this statement was complete crap. Point Loma and Ocean Beach have never voiced the opinion that they did not want to see the area improved. As stated previously, the fight was over the height limit only. Burgess is hewing the line of twisting opposition to Measure E into something it was not, total opposition to any improvement in the Midway area.

Listening to the PCPB representative voice these opinions, that this writer knows the PCPB has not expressed, was alarming. Burgess’ support of removing the 30-foot height limit in the area runs counter to the community she supposedly represents. And, she threw OB under the bus too.

Then, she finished up with a bit of very bad acting, to the point of being insulting. She was musing on the changes and then she said this as if it was an epiphany that just came to her in the middle of her musing.

“The Point Loma community is actively fighting Midway a lot of times… so maybe there is that we need these community groups to be larger so that we actively have these all-inclusive conversations.”

There it was, another plug for merging planning groups. This was clearly the point Burgess wanted to make but it was so soft pedaled with that bit of acting that it seemed like a harmless suggestion, just an idea. The problem is, it is not a harmless suggestion, it is designed to further the mobility community’s agenda.

Kenton and other board members stepped in after all of this from Jamason and Burgess and defended Midway. Kenton said the changes amount to “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” She was against combining groups into super groups.

Kenton then made a completely rational suggestion:

“If there are problems with some of the planning groups, then let’s fix those planning groups not take everything away from planning groups in general.”

The real problem is from groups who want to influence the public discussion by going to planning group meetings and being dishonest in how they present their point of view. Frankly, it looks like they have studied the developer’s handbook and are using those tactics to further their agenda.


{ 69 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris January 25, 2022 at 10:24 am

I know this article is about the Midway area, but I’ve notices out and around in my area, there is a lot of anti Boomer sentiment. I was eating lunch and having couple beers at Working Class on 30th. Most of the patrons there that afternoon were there by bike. I asked what they thought of the bike lanes along 30th and reduced parking. There is mixed reaction in that area. Some bars and restaurants have been negatively impacted while others are doing really well. Working Class being one of them. The gist of what both this group and the employee I was talking to that day was that the reduced parking (and lack of handicapped parking) would mean less “boomers” and and around in their presence. They feel that over time more cyclists will starting using the lanes. Guess I looked young enough that day these people didn’t know I was a boomer lol.


Geoff Page January 26, 2022 at 12:14 pm

Yes, Chris, at the heart of it, is that sentiment. Old boomers need to get out of the way or at least shut up. But, I look at these types like boxing matches. Young fighter with lots of stamina and energy tires to overwhelm the older boxer who uses patience and strategy to defeat him. One thing we will not do is go quietly into the night.


Chris January 26, 2022 at 1:15 pm

I’ve found it best to take people like that with a grain of salt. Or some times have some fun with them, like interrupt them at a bar and ask if they heard of MySpace and how to create and account. Ok I have not done that but I think about it lol.
Joking aside, I have known some pretty awful people born in the boomer years who really do fit the accusations.


Geoff Page January 26, 2022 at 1:50 pm

Oh sure, Chris, some pretty awful people have been born in every generation, even the Gen Xs, the millennials, the Gen Zs. But I would never label an entire generation based on a few bad characters, nor would you, I’m sure.


Chris January 26, 2022 at 3:29 pm

I agree Geoff. I will call out people in any generation who do that, including people in my own.


lyle January 26, 2022 at 5:34 pm

Per David Mamet: “Old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance.” The really hard part he missed was that effectiveness requres dogged persistence, and a lot of use boomers really don’t agree with the treachery part.


lyle January 26, 2022 at 5:52 pm

Perhaps better stated that a lot of us boomers don’t agree with being treacherous ourselves. (and OBW I’m glad that folks like Geoff are persistent.)


Geoff Page January 26, 2022 at 6:57 pm

Great quote, Lyle, thanks for that.


Vern January 27, 2022 at 6:20 am

Chris, these cyclists drink at the bar, get on their bikes and ride away, yes?


Chris January 27, 2022 at 9:16 am

Yes they do. I’ve done that myself.


tennyson January 26, 2022 at 9:43 am

If the devil is in the details then the devil is present here. Rosecrans runs north/south, there is no “south side” of Rosecrans only an east or west side. This encampment is north of Midway, a right turn off Midway just before you pass Big Lots and there it is many tents, much trash but strangely/seemingly somewhat organized. If you are homeless, have a pet, drink or do drugs no shelter will take you. I’ve worked with the homeless in other cities at times feel sympathy overlaid with feeling appalled This whole “update Midway” is disturbing. If these tents are destroyed where will all these people go? If I had a solution I’d be putting it into practice not just posting on the Rag


Geoff Page January 26, 2022 at 1:02 pm

I don’t see why it matters, but if you really want to be technical about it…

Rosecrans runs southwest to northeast, not north and south. Most people who drive it believe it runs west to east because it comes from the ocean so I simplified it for that reason.

Sports Arena runs southeast from Rosecrans. The encampment is northeast of Midway.

You cannot turn right off of Midway, you have to go through the Big Lots parking lot.

Yes, the question was asked where these people would go and no one has a good answer. The problem is everywhere.


Geoff Page January 26, 2022 at 1:53 pm

I received an answer from Lisa Jones of the Housing Commission about how many people in the new Midway shelter come from places other than Midway. Ms. Jones is a pleasant well spoken sort but I find it hard to believe, considering all the information they gather on each person going into a shelter, that they don’t record where the individuals come from. This was a touchy issue with the Midway group when they were first told about the new facility. I suspect the majority of the residents did indeed come from elsewhere and they don’t want to reveal that.


tennysonclark January 26, 2022 at 4:52 pm

I am in what I guess we call the Midway area almost daily. It appears to me that there are 100’s of low cost housing units spread throughout the area. OK not units I would like to live in but that’s irrelevant. I believe the salary ceiling to be admitted to the new “low cost” housing that is proposed is around 80K, I am also assuming that those who current dwell in these current low cost units would not be able to afford the units proposed. Are we then going to create another entire group of homeless when the current, albeit most shabby, units are destroyed only to be replaced with units that are not affordable for the current residents. I would propose that the entire upgrade Midway project to make it more presentable should just be 86’d until we figure out how to solve the current homeless issues we have.


Geoff Page January 26, 2022 at 9:02 pm

Yes, tennysonclark, there is low cost housing in the Midway area. It is mostly senior subsidized housing. And, it is not on city land so it is not part of the city’s redevelopment plans. Not to say that it wouldn’t happen one day when the land is too valuable to keep using that way, certainly if they are successful in removing the 30-foot height limit.


tennyson January 27, 2022 at 10:20 am

Not considering the senior housing there are literally 100’s of small apartments that are occupied by many who will not be able to afford whatever is now being proposed as “low cost”.


Geoff Page January 27, 2022 at 11:39 am

If a person qualifies under the affordable housing guidelines, they could rent one of the new places if it goes as one proposer is showing. As I wrote in the article about the January OB Planning Board meeting, the “affordable” housing will target extremely low to lower income families and individuals.


Mat Wahlstrom January 26, 2022 at 8:00 pm

Yes, it was definitely a coordinated masks-off moment this week.

At a special meeting of Uptown Planners on Monday, a member on the boards of both this CPG and Circulate expressed his exasperation during consideration of a high-rise project: this ‘kind’ of community input is exactly why he ran to get elected — to end CPGs entirely, to let developers build whatever they want by right.


Douglas Blackwood January 26, 2022 at 8:54 pm

We want the 30 foot height limit because: its the only way to limit high-rise’s from dominating our landscape! Homelessness is a very different, and complicated; thorny problem. When people are addicted, add mental illness; logic does not remedy. I don’t have the solution!


Mat Wahlstrom January 26, 2022 at 9:30 pm

Exactly. And as I have to keep pointing out, buildings 65′ and under mean that wood frame construction, the least expensive, can still be used. This helps ensure affordable housing. Higher buildings structurally require steel and concrete, which automatically price them into the luxury — and higher profit margin — market.


paul jamason January 27, 2022 at 12:09 am

How does excessive, expensive off-street parking for new housing (even near transit) – as the Uptown For All slate demands for every project presented – help ensure affordable housing?

How does denying supportive housing at the Mission Hills Library help ensure affordable housing?

Why do you keep pointing out that wood frame construction can only go to 65′, when new technology and regulations allow much taller heights? https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2018/12/19/1669836/0/en/2021-IBC-To-Include-Wood-Buildings-Up-To-18-Stories-Tall.html


Paul Webb January 27, 2022 at 2:54 pm

Well, Paul, this is more than a little misleading. Mass timber construction is a relatively new building type that allows new construction methods and new construction materials. Mass timber is very, very different than the typical wood frame construction techniques sometime referred to as “stick-built” construction that is used for single family homes and smaller apartments and other structures. It utilizes various types of large, manufactured laminated beams and can be built up to the height you state, but it is a far cry from the 2X4s that make up the more typical residential construction. Apples to oranges.


Paul Webb January 28, 2022 at 10:27 am

I disagree with your characterization of what I said. I can think of a lot of ways to change the planning board and the development approval process to make things better and allow for greater inclusion.

And I’m definitely not saying any alternative will be worse, I’m saying that if you eliminate the planning groups or reduce their influence, you are just giving more power back the the developers and the city hall insiders. As I noted before, look at the diversity of the planning commission. Also look at the diversity of grand jury that made recommendations for the alterations to the planning groups and the somewhat secretive ad hoc committee that proposed the changes that will be voted on by city council.

Planning groups don’t have the kind of power that they seemed to have had in Seattle. I can think of only one project during my tenure that the PCPB appealed to the planning commission, and that project and the conduct of its developers was so egregious that the planning commission denied it.

Oh, and in regard to your comments about the planning groups not providing demographic information, the city required me to provide my info after my most recent election. If they haven’t complied and disseminated the info, that’s not the planning groups’ fault.

Paul, give us at least a little break. We are all volunteers. We give up our time because we want the best for our community. You and I may disagree with what “best” means in this context, but to dis us because many of us are older or whiter or less likely to be a renter truly does a disservice to people who want to work toward a better community. You appear to be white, and you also appear to be well educated and live in an affluent community. Does that make your views any less legitimate than someone from a different background? That appears to be what you are saying about planning board members.


Geoff Page January 28, 2022 at 10:38 am

VERY well said, Paul Webb.


kh January 28, 2022 at 12:56 pm

Despite opposition from neighborhood groups like Uptown, the city council approved the zero-parking proposals. Are you noticing a trend here Paul? You’ve already won, the decision makers at the city do not care about community input.

But you give them an excuse to look like eco-warriors while giving away neighborhoods to developers, divesting in infrastructure, and displacing naturally affordable housing…. That’s a winning combination!


Paul Jamason January 26, 2022 at 10:25 pm

I didn’t identify myself as being on BikeSD because I’m no longer on the BikeSD board. Please correct your article Geoff.

The transparency and representation issues I mentioned were identified in both the Grand Jury and City Auditor reports. Look them up and read them (again). And that’s why this reform process is happening, 5 years later.

Most planning groups do not represent their communities – period. How does the Kensington Talmadge Planning Board, which is 100% white and 100% owner-occupied, represent Talmadge, which is 43% white? How does it represent San Diego, which is 42% white and 49% owner-occupied?

Why do KenTal board members get to act as official advisors to the city on land use issues, when they’re elected by a mere 20-100 people? We elect city representatives (84% turnout in D9) to represent us. We can also contact their offices directly and have staff members respond. And town councils and other groups can continue to perform community advocacy.

At last nights CPC meeting, a group of mostly white, older CPG reps claimed their groups *were* diverse – while providing no data to back up that claim.

I will continue to speak out about how unrepresentative most CPGs are, and look forward to seeing more of my quotes printed here – because even your biased reporting helps to get this fact out.


Chris January 27, 2022 at 9:47 am

Perhaps the goal should be to improve the planning groups as opposed to eliminating them altogether?


Geoff Page January 27, 2022 at 12:06 pm

My article identifying you as a director on the board of Bike SD was correct when I wrote the article because I checked. I also looked at the site last night to check on another person and you were still there. Perhaps you need to speak to BikeSD.

While there may be transparency issues with some planning boards, I can say that the three in our area, Midway, OB, and Point Loma do not have any transparency issues. Representation is a red herring. The members of these boards are elected by the communities they serve. Anyone can participate in that process, the process itself does not discourage representation.

Interesting figures about the Kensington Talmadge Planning Board that you say is 100% white. Then you say that Talmadge only 43% white. What about Kensington, how white is Kensington? So far, it looks like a candidate of color would have a big advantage in Talmadge. Added to whatever population of color there is in Kensington, seems like they’d have a good shot at a seat. How about some statistics on how many non-white candidates have run for a seat there?

You say the Kensington Talmadge Planning Board is 100% owner-occupied. Are you saying there are no business representatives on the board, just homeowners? That would be odd, perhaps the business owners should be upset too.
“KenTal” board members get to act as official advisors to the city on land use issues because that is the function of the planning boards and they were elected to do just that. The number of people who vote in these elections is traditionally low everywhere. Elections are advertised well in advance. The people who are interested show up to vote. There is no conspiracy to keep the public away.

You know, Jamason, one of these days, you’re going to be one of those white, older people you keep complaining about. You seem to believe being old and white means that person is in the way, in your way.

Yes, we know you will keep preaching the mantra about representation on the CPGs. But, why don’t illuminate us on what effort you have ever made to follow the process, find a candidate, campaign for them, and get them seated. How often have you done this and what were the results? So far, all you have done is spout your opinion. What the Grand Jury and the City Auditor had to say did not apply to all of the planning boards so there is no reason to apply the “fixes” to the whole system.

I’m not sure what more of what you will have to say will be quotable because its seems you say the same thing over and over again. And, I had to chuckle at the comment that my biased reporting got the facts out. Seems like an oxymoron.


Paul Webb January 27, 2022 at 3:05 pm

Geoff, I have to disagree with you as to the transparency of the Midway group. I hate to take pot shots at another group, but their transparency leaves a lot to be desired. If you look at their web site, their members are not listed. Similarly, although their agendas are listed, their meeting minutes are not, so it it difficult to determine what occurred at their meetings. By City Council policy governing planning boards, minutes are required to be transmitted to the city, but I cannot find Midway’s minutes on the city’s web site.

They could be a lot more open and informative than they are.


Paul Jamason February 1, 2022 at 7:02 pm

Again, CPGs are not representative of their communities, period. Tonight I was reminded of this article which showed exactly that:


“City planners in December and January sent a survey to its planning group email list, which includes both current and former members, and posted the same survey online for anyone to participate. The city received 912 responses, 296 of which came from past or current planning group members.

It found that 86 percent of current or former planning group members who responded are homeowners, compared with just 47 percent of San Diego residents, according to a 2017 Census estimate.

Among survey respondents, 79 percent of current or former planning group members live in single-family homes, even though those homes make up just 54 percent of the city’s housing, according to the San Diego Association of Governments.

The age discrepancy is even more pronounced. Nearly 40 percent of the city’s population is under 40, though people in that age range account for just 15.2 percent of past or former community planning group members who responded to the survey. On the flip side, 71 percent of past or former community planning group members are over 50, compared with just 43 percent of the city’s population.”

As I said elsewhere, I strongly believe that everyone should have a voice, even older white people – which I am rapidly becoming myself. The problem (which you seem deeply unable to accept) is that these voices unfairly dominate CPGs. Yet I hear excuse after excuse here, at CPC, and at CPGs as to why this is OK. It’s not.


Geoff Page February 1, 2022 at 7:59 pm

You wrote, “The problem (which you seem deeply unable to accept) is that these voices unfairly dominate CPGs.”

How is it “unfairly?” Why is it this way? Are you suggesting there is some kind of grand collusion that caused this unfairness?

The statistics are the same across the board so the idea that this is some kind of grand conspiracy to keep renters, young people, and people of color off the planning boards is ridiculous.

It is “interest” Jamason that fills those seats and nothing more. It can be a challenge to even find enough people to run for seats some years. The meetings are usually very poorly attended unless a controversial action is before the group. And, that is not for a lack of effort to advertise the meetings.

I’ve been on a board. I was chair for a while. What actual planning board experience do you speak from, Jamason?


kh February 1, 2022 at 9:46 pm

This reminds me of a Tonight Show skit where they interviewed people on the street on whether they approved of their representation at congress. Of course they said no, but none could even name their congressman.


Geoff Page February 2, 2022 at 10:43 am

Thanks for the laugh, kh.

It reminds me of the recent interviews conducted on the streets asking people if they approved of the Affordable Care Act and they all did, but when asked if they approved of Obamacare, they were all against it.


kh January 26, 2022 at 10:35 pm

I’ve talked with Mr. Jamason and he is woefully misinformed on the role and process of planning groups. If he wants to change the process he should first at least understand it.


Paul Jamason January 27, 2022 at 12:00 am

Can you explain how I’m woefully misinformed?

My understanding is that these groups are supposed to represent their entire community, not just the interests of older, white single family homeowners who currently dominate most CPG boards. Yet people elected by just a few dozen of their neighbors are somehow acting as official advisors to the city on land use issues, and drawing up community plans.

The argument that only a small number of people have the time to spend the “thousands of hours” to be qualified to serve on these groups (as Julie Hamilton made at the Planning Committee) is revealing. How convenient that only retired folks can do this!


Vern January 27, 2022 at 9:11 am

“… How convenient that only retired folks can do this!…”

Andrea Schlageter, Chair of the Ocean Beach Planning Board, appears to be not-so-retired.



Geoff Page January 27, 2022 at 3:15 pm

Two recent past chairs of the PCPB were both far from retirement. They were white though, as if this matters.


Paul Jamason January 27, 2022 at 11:12 pm

I think it’s great that Andrea is a younger renter on a CPG. However, most younger residents in San Diego didn’t have the privilege of living in their mom’s costly Ocean Beach house while mom lives in Tahoe. To be fair, Andrea informed me that she now pays rent to someone else.

My intent here is not a personal attack, but to show that our perspective on issues like the housing crisis is influenced by our backgrounds. Would Andrea oppose new housing opportunities if she were less fortunate? http://www.sdnews.com/view/full_story/27757513/article-Ocean-Beach-planners-not-happy-about–Complete-Communities–proposal-

Vern, what is the makeup of the entire board – is it 58% non-white, with a median age around 35, like San Diego? Is it 61% renter, like OB?

Perhaps Andrea or Paul Webb could provide these demographics, as the City Auditor and Grand Jury reports asked CPGs to do many years ago. I suspect we already know the answer to that question and the representation one.


kh January 28, 2022 at 12:20 am

OB is closer to 80% renters. I suppose some have been lost to STVRs. If you go door to door you’ll find most of them have been here for 5 years or less and don’t know and don’t care about any local volunteer planning board. Good luck getting participation from those people. The renters we have on our board are long-time residents, which is a shrinking demographic.

Hey I have an idea, rather than cutting funding, let’s put a salary on the position, maybe that will motivate more people to find the time. I have two young children and a full time job and make time for it, because I care.


kh January 28, 2022 at 12:36 am

Thank you for the link with my quotes. The complete communities proposal resulted in considerable organizing, research, and pushback from CPGs. Bur contrary to your narrative, the city passed it anyways with just a few very minor tweaks. We did manage to convince staff to remove high-rise options from one of the low density zones.

If you favor being able to watch your neighbors TV and borrow tools through their 18th floor window 3 feet away, you could just save yourself the trouble and move to Manhattan. I hear their high density has made it quite affordable.


Paul Jamason February 1, 2022 at 6:52 pm

kh, thank you for showing your true colors here. It appears there are just two options to you and many other housing opponents: status quo and Manhattan. The reality of course is that there are many, many options in-between.

Surely converting Manhattan into single family housing would make it more affordable!


Geoff Page January 29, 2022 at 2:23 pm

You really do like the low road, Jamason. In one sentence you say that Andrea is living rent free than you take it back in the next sentence. None of that was important information but you just had to find some way to make a personal attack. Stating you did not intend to make a personal attack doesn’t wash out that you did exactly that.


Paul Jamason February 1, 2022 at 7:07 pm

No, Andrea informed me she was paying rent to her mother previously, but I can see how one could conclude otherwise based on what I wrote.

Geoff, you literally blamed bicyclists for being killed by DUI motorists who hit them from behind. But I’m the one on the low road?


Geoff Page February 1, 2022 at 7:52 pm

Show me, and everyone else, exactly where I blamed cyclists for being hit from behind by DUI motorists.


Paul Webb January 27, 2022 at 3:16 pm

Full disclosure: I am retired.

Yet, I didn’t have to spend thousands of hours to be qualified to be on a planning board, unless you count the two years I spent in graduate school studying urban planning and the almost four decades of professional experience. All I had to do was fill out an application and attend one meeting. I don’t know the context of Julie’s comments (additional disclosure: Julie Hamilton is a friend and former co-worker, and I have the utmost respect for her but don’t understand what she is saying here), but based on your quote, it appears from my experience to be off base.

Oh, and by the way, I received hundreds of votes in the most recent election, not a few dozen. I tried to find the actual total but could not. Peninsula had a very robust turnout in our last election, which is an indication of the vitality of the PCPB. I can’t speak for other planning boards, but there were a lot of candidates and a lot of votes cast.


kh January 27, 2022 at 4:46 pm

I’m in full support of having a minimum requirement of renters,property owners,business owners. The current bylaws shell doesn’t require it. I don’t know that the CPC has opposed this concept either, so long as it doesn’t prevent seats from being filled. I doubt you’ll find any support for a racial or gender quota though.

The criticisms I frequently see of CPGs, lack of training, lack of professionalism, lack of transparency (minutes/websites etc) are largely attributed to the city’s neglectful treatment of boards. The city doesn’t take the CPGs seriously now, their training resources are sorely lacking, and planning department participation is non-existent. We have increasing trouble filling our seats because volunteers see it as a bunch of work without anything to show for it. And the city has done nothing to promote more planning group interest.

This effort to make CPGs even less relevant and put more administrative burden on them will only ensure even less participation from new residents, and those with other time obligations, job, family, etc.I don’t see any part of this proposal that will lead to more robust participation in CPGs, so I can only fathom it is an effort to destroy CPGs altogether.

If you think CPGs aren’t representative of their neighborhoods now, imagine how much worse it would be with city-appointed boards taking their place, and having purview over a much larger area, including neighborhoods they don’t even frequent or understand.

Citizens, even democratically elected old white Nimbys, should be an integral part of the planning process, collaborating with and counterbalancing the interests of developers, city staff and others . Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.


Paul jamason January 27, 2022 at 10:08 pm

Did I miss the part where you explained how I was woefully misinformed?

Seattle had the same problems with mostly white, single family homeowners dominating planning groups. They wisely disengaged from them and replaced them with appointed folks who *do* represent the diversity of the city: https://nextcity.org/features/seattle-nimbys-neighborhood-planning-decisions

How hard is it for a CPG to collect and publish demographics of their board members? Yet years after the city reports called for that, they still can’t be bothered.

I agree that NIMBYs should have a voice like everyone else in our planning process, but their dominance at CPGs and CPC is far from what we’ve seen in local elections, now that these are held in high-turnout years. And I strongly disagree with your defense of these highly undemocratic groups because every alternative will somehow be worse (well, for NIMBYs, yes).


Paul Webb January 27, 2022 at 5:20 pm

Okay, so we eliminate the planning boards because of an over-representation of older white people, and we leave it up to the planning commission, which is comprised of five white men, one asian american and one white woman. Oh, they are all pretty much associated with the development industry (architect, planning consultants, landscape architect, real estate professional) in San Diego. So getting rid of the planning groups or rendering them even more toothless than they currently are is going to solve exactly what problem?

And they are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by city council. How much inclusion do you really think we are going to see?


Paul Jamason January 27, 2022 at 10:17 pm

“Keep our unrepresentative groups because every other alternative will be worse” is quite a defense!

Yes, having equitable community representation in the planning process will be far worse, power-wise, for the demographic who currently dominate CPGs. But it will be infinitely better for everyone else: https://nextcity.org/features/seattle-nimbys-neighborhood-planning-decisions


kh January 28, 2022 at 12:00 am

Your words not mine. If you are legitimately interested in drawing more diverse candidates to the COG process, you would advocate for more city funding, outreach and admin support, better training and city planner coordination, and increase their relevance in the planning/development process.

The proposals I’ve seen from CirculateSD, Sherman and LaCava do precisely the opposite.


kh January 28, 2022 at 12:09 am

“For decades, activist homeowners have held virtual veto power over nearly every decision on Seattle’s growth and development.”
Anyone that thinks CPG members in San Diego has any measurable influence over the city’s decision making is dilusional or has never served on a CPG! You know very well the developers run this town.


Geoff Page January 28, 2022 at 10:51 am

That Seattle example really illustrates your ignorance of San Diego planning boards. Would that it were true, things would be in far better shape.


Helen Rowe Allen (Dr/Ms/Esq) January 27, 2022 at 2:55 pm

I attended that Midway Planning Group meeting. Curious so today I looked at the BikeSD website. Sure enough, there they were. Board of Directors: Mr. Jamason and Ms. Burgess. Photo of Jamason with unidentified child, no bike. Photo of Burgess with bike, “a passionate bike advocate who loves to ride.”
Good to Know


Paul Jamason January 27, 2022 at 10:11 pm

I don’t run the website Helen but I’ll be sure to ask they take the picture down to assuage your concern!

Why does there have to be a bike in the picture – are you implying I don’t ride because there isn’t one? Stay classy!


Geoff Page January 28, 2022 at 10:58 am

Why pick on Helen? She just verified what I wrote in my story. She simply described the pictures she saw. I did not see her express a “concern” in her comment. I think you’re getting paranoid, Jamason, she wasn’t implying anything.


Geoff Page January 27, 2022 at 3:14 pm

Paul, I don’t disagree that Midway does not do a great job with the things you mentioned. But, after attending these meetings for years, I don’t detect any deliberate attempt to be secretive. This group didn’t even have a great meeting place when there were live meetings. It was in a large room in a brewery next to the freeway. They have always appeared to be shoestring. I will admit the board is made up of folks who have financial interests in the Midway area but these people are not big developers trying to slip anything by.

And they have a new website finally, although it needs more work. https://mphcpg.com/


Paul Webb January 27, 2022 at 3:20 pm

I originally included the information that they only recently added a web site, but decided not too since they actually have one now. Just not much information on the site. At the least, tell us your members names and post meeting minutes. PCPB members (mostly) include their bios and email contact information on the board web site.


kh January 28, 2022 at 11:50 am

The city hasn’t updated their minutes from development decision maker hearings in over a year. Many of the city-appointed boards do not maintain reliable minutes for public review.


kh January 28, 2022 at 11:55 am

Most of the city boards do not publish member lists either, or even documents for their agenda items.

Perhaps the city should take a lesson from the OB Planning Board on transparency before lecturing us on transparency.


Paul Webb January 28, 2022 at 12:09 pm

It would definitely improve transparency if the city would not use the “ad hoc” committee exception to the Brown Act for the technical advisory group that the city uses to propose changes to the land development code, the planning boards, etc. This group meets practically in secret. They do post their agendas and you can join into a zoom meeting, but their agendas are very cryptic and it is difficult to understand what they will be considering. I’ve never seen any meeting minutes or results, and good luck finding out who exactly is on the committee. Ad hoc committees are intended to be temporary and not meet regularly. This committee has been meeting since 2008.


Geoff Page January 27, 2022 at 3:20 pm

I started 16 years ago and I was not retired. You spout lots of facts that you do not support. The current PCPB membership has only four retirees out of 15 members.


Geoff Page January 27, 2022 at 3:26 pm

I agree and I think that is the plan, it is just taking a long time. Yes, this info is on the PCPB site but there are three board members who have never provided the bio, picture, and contact information that the others have. Only pointing it out as an illustration that even the well done PCPB site isn’t completely up to date.


Paul Krueger January 27, 2022 at 3:30 pm

Thanks very much, Geoff, for taking the time to attend the Midway meeting and spread the word about the homeless problems in that area. I’ve driven by there on my way to and from Walter Andersen. It’s shocking, upsetting and embarrassing to see the extent of the problem, for both the homeless who “live” there, and the “public” who “own” and are responsible for, those public spaces. Not to mention the threat to public health of disease outbreak, etc. Homelessness seems like such an intractable problem for those of us seeking real solutions that balance the “rights and needs” of the homeless, with the rights and expectations of us fortunate enough to have shelter, income and mobility.
Keep up the good work!


Geoff Page January 27, 2022 at 4:31 pm

Thank you, Paul, I consider that valuable praise coming from you. I agree with you, what to do with these people. Intractable is a perfect word for it. We need something to replace the SROs that used to help a lot of people. We need to be able to pull the sad unfortunates we see out there, who are clearly mentally ill, off the streets and into a care facility. And, for everyone’s sake, the criminal element among these people needs a heavy hand.


kh January 28, 2022 at 12:21 pm

The city assured us that the necessary security and supervision would be in place to avoid negative impacts on the surrounding neighborhood.

Disappointing (and predictable) that this isn’t the reality. And its precisely why those entitled-white-nimbys (and everyone else in the neighborhood) frequently object to the placement of homeless facilities. The areas surrounding facilities downtown are overrun. We should provide homelessness and mental health services in every district AND protect the neighbors from crime and quality of life issues.


Christy January 29, 2022 at 11:21 am

Thank you Geoff for a well-written and informative article. I doubt that there is anyone with as much accurate local experience as you, due to your many years of professionally and personally-based experiences. Thank you for calling out the liars and posers. You’ve an uphill battle.


Geoff Page January 31, 2022 at 10:23 am

Thanks, Christy.


Paul Webb February 2, 2022 at 12:07 pm

One think some people seem to forget about the planning boards with regard to the preponderance of homeowners is that homeowners have made an investment in our community – frequently the biggest investment we will ever make in our lives. Yes, we were fortunate and privileged to do so, but we have a stake in the community that renters do not have. If a renter does not like the way a community is changing, he/she can give notice and leave. Yes, a homeowner can sell their home and leave, as well, but it’s a lot more complicated and difficult. Of course, some will say that the homeowners will likely make a bundle if the sell depending on when they purchased, but that’s the capitalist system in which we live.

I would like there to be more renters on the PCPB, but I can’t make them run and I can’t make people vote for them. Homeowners probably have an advantage of having lived in the community longer and having more contacts and acquaintances than renters (although I do have a neighbor who has rented her half of a duplex for over 30 years). That probably makes it easier to muster up some votes, although in my case it probably results in votes against me, as well. Also, I realize that average age of our population skews much younger than the planning board members. I would really like to do something about that, so if anybody can tell me a way to make myself younger I will certainly take advantage of that!


kh February 2, 2022 at 12:22 pm

What is the city doing to encourage more planning group interest and participation to satisfy the needs they have identified?

Their current practice of ignoring, disregarding, and disparaging planning groups clearly isn’t accomplishing that.


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