More On the Status of San Diego’s Community Planning Groups

by on September 21, 2022 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

Zoom meeting of the Peninsula Community Planning Board, Jan., 2022.

The following is in response to Geoff Page’s post, “The End to San Diego’s Community Planning Groups As We Knew Them,” from Sept. 20, by Paul Webb and was originally submitted as a comment; the views expressed are his. Paul Webb is a member of the Peninsula Community Planning Board.

By Paul Webb / September 20, 2022

The thing that I keep coming back to in all this is the notion that the planning groups are somehow stifling the development community and blocking much needed housing development that will bring down the cost of housing in San Diego.

I will ignore for the moment the often asserted belief that more housing will result in lower prices and just focus on how much housing planning groups have blocked. I have served two full three-year terms and am in my current term that ends in March.

In that time, I can recall only one project that was denied by the planning commission on an appeal by the Peninsula Community Planning Board. My personal belief was that this denial was based less on the merits of the project than on the fact that the developer was caught in an obvious lie in their statements before the planning commission.

That denial did not result in a blocked project – the structure was already built and part of the housing inventory. The requested permit was for a tentative map waiver only, to allow the units to be sold as condominiums, so in effect the denial allow a contribution to the city’s rental housing inventory!

How this is a major impediment to the development of housing or other projects just baffles me. I don’t know how many successful appeals other planning groups have been granted, but I suspect the number is very, very small and does not represent any major or significant roadblock to development.

I personally don’t mind increasing our representation of renters, lower income people and minorities, I just don’t know how to do it.

We place ads in the Peninsula Beacon and try to get as much involvement involvement as we can. The last had five open seats and five candidates, despite press releases, etc., announcing the election. The previous election had a much larger slate of candidates. What do we do if we assign one or more seats to a renter, but no renters stand for election? Leave the seat vacant? Do we ask for documentation of income to insure that lower income candidates can receive some preferential treatment? Again, I’m baffled as to how to implement these supposed reforms.

I also don’t care if the city wants my personal information. If you run for any public office, even one with as little power or influence as the planning board, you are opening yourself up to scrutiny that you might not otherwise have. I can live with that. But some of the other reforms are just puzzling in how they will result in the better process the city seems to want. Of course this assumes that the city wants a better process rather than just emasculating the boards as seems to be the intent.

One additional thought. Talking to architects and builders, I haven’t heard as much displeasure with planning groups as I have heard about problems with city staff. It is apparently very difficult to communicate with staff, schedule meetings, get meaningful input regarding project plans, etc. The costs of permits has gone way, way up and processing times are very long. There is much greater delay in the city’s Development Services Department than is caused by the planning groups.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Hank Ramírez September 25, 2022 at 2:54 pm

Maybe the problem isn’t with planning groups, but with the city and its staff.


Frank Gormlie September 26, 2022 at 11:00 am

Ya think? Absolutely. Planning groups do have problems but the lack of city support is even more detrimental.


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