Coronado Avenue Project Postponed at OBPB Meeting Due to Neighbors’ Complaints

by on May 10, 2022 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

The Ocean Beach Planning Board held its regular monthly meeting in person for the first time in well over a year, Wednesday, May 4 at the OB Rec Center. The meeting was held to two hours because of the Rec Centers current operating hours.

The short meeting agenda was shortened even more when one of the two projects on the agenda was postponed until June by the applicant.

4705 Point Loma Avenue

The postponed project was for 4705 Point Loma Avenue. This location is on the southwest corner of Ebers Street and Point Loma Avenue and the property has been vacant and deteriorating for many years. It was used briefly by the Veterans of Foreign Wars as a sort of clubhouse, and before that was Rancho’s Market.

The location seems to be cursed and the latest proposal is no different.  Here is what the agenda stated:

The Board will review the application for Coastal Development Permit for a demolition of an existing retail structure and construction of 2 MDU buildings with 4 units each at 4705 Point Loma Ave. This project is an affordable housing density bonus project of 8 units total.

The motion from the PRC was: Recommend denial based on not complying with Community Plan in regards to building spacing [Section 4.6] and lack of ground level patios, courtyards and interaction with public right-of-way [Section 4.2]

Denial by the OBPB Project Review subcommittee was probably the reason for the postponement. Hopefully, the applicant will come back with some of these issues addressed. Unfortunately, with the current blind rush to build housing of any kind in San Diego, it is possible the applicant’s project could be approved by the city regardless of the OBPB’s opinion.

This is not a large lot, two buildings with four living units in each one is really cramming the available space. It is easy to see why there were no ground level amenities.

4953 Coronado Avenue

The project that was presented at the meeting is located at 4953 Coronado Avenue. This project actually generated a great deal of discussion. Here is how it was shown on the agenda:

The board will review the application for a Coastal Development Permit to demolish an existing detached garage at an existing single-family residence and construct a new 1,200 S.F. 2-story ADU with attached Garage, second floor deck and roof deck, at 4953 Coronado Avenue. The motion from the PRC was: Recommend approval of project contingent on meeting the FAR requirement in Code Section.

On paper, this looked like one of the many ADU projects currently clogging the system in a rush to cash in on the new ADU rules. But, when board chair Andrea Schlageter asked if there was any public comment on this project, they got an earful.

Aerial view of 4953 Coronado displays how it was built as a “twin” with the house to the west, and how narrow the space is between the buildings. From Google Maps

Bruce Babock, the neighbor on the west side of the project, had a great deal to say. He prefaced his remarks with a strong complaint about meeting noticing on this project. Babcock said he missed the first of two PRC meetings because he never knew the meeting was happening.

He said the notice about the second meeting came out on a Sunday night and the meeting was on Wednesday and claimed this was not enough time to properly prepare his side of the story. This was, however, consistent with the Brown Act requirement of 72-hour notice for public meetings.

Babcock said he was limited in what he could do at that meeting with that amount of notice. He had contacted chair Schlageter he claimed he contacted and was told he would be on the email list for notice but got nothing about the PRC second meeting or the regular board meeting.

Babcock said he only learned about the regular board meeting because board member Kevin Hastings, who chairs the PRC, called him the morning of the meeting to ask a question. Babcock said he was very displeased.

In all fairness, the OBPB notices its meetings as well as any planning board can do. It was not clear what happened but it is doubtful that the board is entirely to blame for this.

What Babcock then asked the board was to consider postponing a decision on the project until the June meeting when he could make a presentation as the applicant was allowed to do.

Babcock explained that his house and the applicant’s house were twins, built side by side on separate lots. The houses are 85 years old. The main point of contention was the space between the houses. The structures are only separated by five and a half feet. A three-foot wide sidewalk runs down the middle of this space straddling the property line.

The area has been a sort of common easement that both property owners have used for all those years. It was never actually recorded on the house deeds, according to Babcock, but was just an informal agreement that the properties have honored for 85 years. Until now.

The applicant wants to build a fence down the middle of this narrow lane. This would leave only 2.75 feet from the fence to Babcock’s house. This seems like a bad idea for both property owners when it comes to maintaining those sides of the structures. And that was one part of the complaint.

Babcock’s other main objection was that the fence will be 13 feet high. He said the houses had existed nicely side by side for 85 years without a fence. Although perhaps technically legal, the applicant’s desire for extreme privacy could result in a degradation of Babcock’s property.

This writer has been involved in planning boards for many years and has seen many projects where an owner is trying to have something that the lot they have is just not right for. Perhaps a person with such a desire for walls like this, and privacy concerns like this, should find a more secluded property not at the beach. Force-fitting what a person wants into a neighborhood at the expense of the neighbors is not neighborly.

Babcock was well spoken and made a good case that this project needed to be more closely examined. Later, the neighbor on the east side of the project had a number of comments and questions. It became clear by listening to the public that another look, and providing Babcock and others an opportunity to present their positions, was a reasonable request.

The applicant was not at the meeting but her spokesperson said she believed her client would not object to waiting another month for a decision. With that, the board voted to table a decision until the June meeting. This was a classic example of how planning boards are meant to work where people have a say. Hopefully, the three property owners will reach a compromise.

Ocean Beach Estuary Enhancement Project

When Googling for this project, the first thing that comes up is the OB Rag story about it October 9, 2020. There actually is not much else to be found on-line.

The 2020 presentation was the first presentation of this project for the OBPB. Wednesday’s presentation was the same as it was in 2020 although the news seems to be that it is funded. The project is mainly new fencing along the trails at Dog Beach and more signage.

The same spurious claim was made again about dog feces causing high bacteria problems in the water. This has never been substantiated but has often been claimed by people who really want to see Dog Beach go away. For now, they are settling on fencing areas off to protect the “dunes” and certain birds and endangered plants from dogs.

At the 2020 meeting, the OBPB voted unanimously to support this project.

Ordinance Enforcement

The District 2 representative, Linus Smith, reported that money to provide enforcement for the new vendor and short-term vacation rental ordinances has been requested in the budget. The STVR ordinance may be in place by the end of this year but he was not sure about the timing of the vendor ordinance. Clearly, OB will be living with the vendor problem for another summer.

Newport Palms

Smith talked about the Newport palm trees that were cut down by the city. He opened by mentioning the stories in The OB Rag that pointed about problems in what the city has said about the FAA’s part in the tree removal. He said Campbell’s office is looking into what The Rag highlighted. Of course, no one called The Rag to ask any questions.

Board member Craig Klein asked Smith if the city had an FAA order to remove the trees. Smith replied there was an order to remove the five trees that were cut down. It was clear Smith did not have good understanding of what happened. The “order” was a letter from the airport and did not involve the FAA.

Smith claimed the neither Campbell nor the mayor had seen the FAA letters about the trees before the trees were removed. Considering the noise this community has made about these trees, especially about the city’s behavior, it’s hard to believe what Smith claimed.

A woman spoke up about parrots and the palm trees. A city spokesperson was asked the morning the trees were cut down if anyone had surveyed the trees for birds. The city person said yes but here appears to be some doubt about that. A Public Records Request has been submitted requesting a copy of the bird survey.

The Fish & Game Department has been advised of what happened and has taken a keen interest in what the city is doing.

Other news

  • People are hearing the police say that they are being told to not enforce the non-habitation in vehicles ordinance. The order is said to come from the mayor.  Apparently, no one is saying what is being done but the problem seems to be growing according to residents.
  • The OB Library should be open at the beginning of the fiscal year, June 30. On Tuesday evening, May 31, there will be a presentation by the city on the new library design. Where the presentation will be and the time were not known at the time of the OBPB meeting. The Friends of the Library will notify folks when they know.
  • The OB / San Diego Pier will be discussed in June 1 OBPB meeting.
  • Susan Booth, a certified geologist with career in environmental clean-up work, was appointed to fill the “at-large” seat on the board.



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

GML May 10, 2022 at 12:01 pm

Thanks as always Geoff for summarizing the meeting. It is greatly appreciated.


Geoff Page May 10, 2022 at 4:25 pm

My pleasure, GML. I’m happy to hear that someone finds it useful.


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