Peninsula Planners: Vehicle Habitation Ordinance to Be Enforced Again and City’s Problem With Understaffing

by on June 23, 2022 · 3 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

The regularly monthly meeting of the Peninsula Community Planning Board on June was pretty routine. There was only one project to review, but it was said that the July meeting would be crowded with projects.

Board chair Fred Kosmo again opened the Zoom meeting by informing everyone the meeting was being recorded and to “be careful what you say.” This was mentioned in the previous Rag article about the last PCPB meeting. Anyone can take pictures or film a public meeting, there is no need to warn the audience.

And, it is certainly wrong to caution attendees about what they say. These are public meetings where people may say whatever they please. This kind of an admonition has an unnecessarily chilling effect on some people. That probably was not the intention but it is the effect.

Government Reports

The Government Reports portion of the meeting provided the most interest. Council District 2 representative, Linus Smith, had several things to report starting with the vehicle habitation ordinance.

Smith said the ordinance is not being enforced at the direction of the mayor. The reason given was that on-going litigation about the ordinance allegedly prevents enforcement. But, then Smith said this has been discussed in the city recently and enforcement will begin again soon.

A class-action lawsuit against the existing vehicle habitation ban began five years ago. A judge issued an injunction barring the city from enforcing the ordinance in place at that time. The city then rewrote the ordinance. It is not clear if the earlier injunction also applies to the new ordinance. This question has been asked of the city but no response has been received yet.

The court case is scheduled for October of this year. If the earlier injunction does not apply to the revised vehicle habitation ordinance, it would seem the city could be enforcing what it has.

Smith went on talk about a city budget item. What he said can only be done justice with a direct quote:

“The first thing is a really big item – the city council allocated $3.6 million to establish a pilot for a housing stability fund which is gonna provide shallow subsidies of up to $500 for seniors, families with children, people with disabilities and traditional age youth at risk of falling into homelessness.  The purpose of this budget allocation really is to prevent homelessness before it occurs by providing this really small but meaningful amount of financial assistance.”

“Shallow subsidies,” “really small but meaningful amount of financial assistance.” How are shallow subsidies and really small amounts of financial assistance also “meaningful?” It may be well-intentioned but if those who created this pilot program are themselves describing it as basically meager, perhaps the dollar amount needs to be reassessed.

Smith then said that the city is creating 12 new positions in the personnel department to assist the other city departments with hiring new staff. It has become a common refrain from city officials, in response to complaints about getting things, that the city is badly understaffed.

It appears the claim of understaffing is true. It certainly is true of the police department. It is claimed the vacancy rate is this way across all city departments.

Unfortunately, no one on the board asked Smith why there is such a high vacancy rate. This question has been put to Smith but a response has not yet been received.

Some of the vacancy problem was attributed to the difficulty of going through the city’s hiring process and how long that process takes. Smith said processing times will be faster with additional people but not much was said about simplifying the actual hiring process.

Smith said there is money in the budget for three more graffiti abatement teams.

Cole Reed, representing State Senator Atkins, talked about the senator’s bill to expand abortion services and health care. This legislation is working its way along and is intended to prepare California for an increased need for abortion services if Roe v Wade is over-turned. Because this may come down to a state’s rights issue, women may need to go to another state for these services.

Reed was asked about government rebates rumored to be coming from Sacramento. Apparently, the governor and the legislature have proposals about how to share rebates of the state’s $97 billion budget surplus. According to Reed, the governor and the legislature are very far apart in scope. He said the legislature was proposing $200 per person plus $200 for dependents and for non-tax filing seniors. No consensus yet.

Protect Act

Tracy Dezenzo, who sits on the OB Town Council and the OB Planning Board, spoke up about a presentation she had seen in Pacific Beach about the Protect Act. She is trying to get the presentation for the Town Council. This could be very entertaining.

This is a serious issue with very strong proponents and opponents. On the one side is the Coalition For Police Accountability & Transparency. On the opposite side is a group named “Stop the Protect Act.”

Boiling it down, it seems the proponents of the Protect Act want controls and restrictions for the police force and the opponents say it will destroy law enforcement’s ability to do its job.

Apparently, each side has a presentation and they are making the rounds of places like planning groups and town councils. The ordinance will come before city council at some point. In the meantime, hearing both sides could be very interesting.

Project Review

The one project was another Accessory Dwelling Unit, or ADU, behind a home at 1039 Alexandria Street. The applicant plans to build a 561 square foot ADU and to convert an existing carport into a garage. There was a minor question about a little bit of setback but the project easily passed.


The board voted to continue meeting on ZOOM for now due to concerns about a new COVID flareup.

The board also affirmed it would be “dark” in August. It seems that this may have triggered a number of applicants wanting their projects heard in July.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Webb June 23, 2022 at 11:14 pm

Geoff, I know you mean well, but I believe your ire at Fred’s introductory comment may be unfair. My recollection from my working days is that such a statement is required for a public meeting to be recorded. It’s not meant as a warning to be careful of what you say so much as a warning that there will be a public record.


Geoff Page June 24, 2022 at 12:33 pm

I always respect your opinions, Paul, but I have to disagree. Telling people to be careful what you say as he does will have a chilling effect on people who are not familiar with the meetings and it will discourage anyone who wants to speak but is too timid. I checked the city council videos and they don’t do this.


Geoff Page June 28, 2022 at 8:29 pm

The D2 rep, Linus Smith, responded to an email asking why there is such a high vacancy rate at the city. He cited two reasons, the pay is too low and it takes a long time to process an employment application at the city, so long that people get discouraged and give up.

So, we are now a year and a half into Gloria’s term as mayor and they are just now doing something about the serious vacancy rate? This budget has to be approved and they will need to go through this lousy hiring process to hire 12 people to help the city hire people. That means it will be at least two full years into his term before they get these 12 helpers on staff.

Maybe it’s just me, but I believe the function of a city government is to take care of the city’s basic needs. If the whole city is complaining that nothing is getting done and the mayor believes the vacancy rate is to blame, that should have been a priority as soon as he entered office. The 5% increase they put in the budget is not going to solve the problem.

But, this could also be intentional. A whole lot of things can be blamed on this and whole lot of things can be slipped by the citizens all because of a staff shortage. Why else is it taking Gloria to act on this basic cit problem?


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