Peninsula Planners Told By City It Will No Longer Review Proposed Accessory Dwelling Units

by on January 31, 2023 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

The Peninsula Community Planning Board’s regularly monthly meeting, Thursday, January 19, was relatively unremarkable until a certain piece of very remarkable information popped up, almost routinely.  It appears the evisceration of the planning board system has begun.

About one hour into the meeting, the PCPB reached the point in its agenda called “Applicant-Initiated Action Items.” Board chair, Fred Kosmo, pointed out that there were no projects on the agenda and explained why. Kosmo said that the PCPB’s Project Review subcommittee chair, Joe Holasek, informed him of a change at the city.

The planning boards will no longer be reviewing projects involving accessory dwelling units or ADUs. So, how does removing projects – the most common and of numerous projects these days – from planning board review square with the following?

Overview of Community Planning Groups

There has been long-standing citizen involvement in planning in the City of San Diego. The City Council adopted policies in the 1960s and 1970s that established and recognized community planning groups as formal mechanisms for community input in the land use decision-making processes. Community planning groups (CPG) provide citizens with an opportunity for involvement in advising the City Council, the Planning Commission, and other decision-makers on development projects, general or community plan amendments, rezonings and public facilities. The recommendations of the planning groups are integral components of the planning process, and are highly regarded by the City Council and by staff.

That is taken directly from the city’s planning department website,

It seems the city is wasting no time in “streamlining” the development process by removing as much public review as there is. There is no doubt that this will extend to any project review the boards used to do because the city is cutting the planning boards entirely from the formal review process.

Instead of planning boards being on the actual process list for permitting projects, the groups will be relegated to providing advice to the city, if they want to. Developers will no longer need to go before these groups. And the city will have even less of a reason to listen to them than they do now.

The groups will not be automatically alerted to new projects or forwarded plans and documents either. Not only has the stature of planning groups been greatly diminished, the group’s effort to try and keep up with projects will be greatly hampered.

In what can only be described as a major understatement, Kosmo concluded that, “It may be an area of concern.”

Vendor Ordinance

The city’s new vendor ordinance is now in effect, but another revelation at the PCPB meeting was also very surprising. San Diego Police Department Community Relations Officer David Surwilo was asked about enforcement of the rules in the new vendor ordinance. As anyone knows, rules that are not enforced are useless.

Surwilo explained that primary enforcement will be the responsibility of Code Enforcement and park rangers. The SDPD will be involved only as necessary. Let that sink in. Anyone who has dealt with the completely understaffed Code Enforcement Department will be disheartened by this news. Code Enforcement is understaffed and under funded and has been for years.

As for the park rangers, well there are only a few of them. The one assigned to Sunset Cliffs Park, for example, is, or was at least, responsible for the area all the way to La Jolla. Equally understaffed and underfunded.

What will probably happen is these two “enforcement” groups will be alerted continuously to violations by the public until there is an unmanageable backlog. Surwilo did not say the police will never be involved as their role may still be under discussion. The main problem may be that the police force is also considerably understaffed.

Terminal One

The representative for the airport, Ivonne Velazquez, advised the group of an important closed road at the airport. People wishing to return to Point Loma from Terminal One are used to a ramp that turned them onto Harbor Drive north. That ramp will be closed for several weeks. A return north will mean going south first and then turning around at some point to go back north.

Board member Paul Webb experienced this the night before the PCPB meeting when he returned to San Diego. Webb said there was virtually nothing to alert drivers to this change, including no signage to speak of. Webb described a bit of a chaotic evening as cars tried to figure the change out. Fortunately, this situation is temporary.

Traffic Letter

The PCPB’s very busy Traffic & Transportation subcommittee presented a letter for the city that was unanimously approved.

RE: Request traffic safety mitigations and lighting be installed along north bound Nimitz at the right turn ramp to head east on a West Point Loma Boulevard.

The Peninsula Community Board and community members would like to advocate for safety improvements at the crosswalk located on Nimitz and West Point Loma Boulevard.

    • Additional signage to alert drivers of the crossing area
    • Pedestrian Crossing Striping on the street leading to the crossing area.
    • Rumble bumps installed before the crossing area
    • Installation of a raised crosswalk
    • Installation of a streetlight over the area to promote visibility of pedestrians in the dark.

The only reason given for this letter requesting various safety “mitigations” was that there had been a news segment on the crosswalk at this location as having “visibility issues.” Nothing was said about any actual serious incidents at this location.

Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Priorities letter

A second letter outlining the PCPB’s budget priorities for the next city fiscal year was also presented and approved. The letter can be viewed here

The letter contained three categories of recommendations, “Service Items,” “Traffic Safety Items (pedestrian & bicycle),” and “Point Loma Street Improvements.”

The Service Items category contained four subcategories:

  1. Street sweeping program
  2. Vegetation Encroachment on Bike Lanes
  3. Public Safety
  4. Parks & Environment

The Traffic Safety Items category contained a list of seven items, five of which were items the PCPB has requested in the past. This new letter referenced previous letters dealing with those requests. These involved:

  1.  Intersection Improvements at Westbound Sports Arena Blvd and West Point Loma Blvd
  2. West Mission Bay Drive Bridge Connections
  3. Froude and Voltaire Flashing Beacon
  4. Scott Street Traffic and Pedestrian safety request
  5. K Street design of Catalina, Santa Barbara and Hill
  6. Nimitz/I-8 Traffic Safety Request
  7. Traffic calming and safety improvements to Nimitz & Evergreen

Numbers 4, 5, and 6 all have previously approved and sent letters posted on the PCPB website.

The “Point Loma Street Improvements” category stated:

“Repaving is needed on the following streets with class IV bike lanes, improved pedestrian crossings, and ADA access:

  1. Oleander Drive and Oleander Place resurfacing
  2. Barnard St. Repair
  3. Valeta St. between Camulos St. and Famosa Blvd.
  4. Evergreen between Canon & Talbot
  5. Worden between Bob & Valeta


The PCPB will hold its yearly election in March when five seats will be open. The board is looking for people to run for the seats. Last year, the response was so underwhelming that an election was unnecessary as the number of candidates matched the number of vacancies. This was a first for the PCPB.

The board formed a subcommittee that will schedule a candidate forum in February and will conduct the March election.

Anyone wishing to run for a seat must have attended at least one PCPB meeting in the past year. There is still time to attend the February meeting. And, for reasons that make no sense, attendance at the candidate forum will qualify even though that meeting does not resemble a regular monthly meeting in any way at all.

Other News

  • The board voted to continue Zoom meetings at least until February when the city may have something to say, according to Kosmo. Several board members are still reluctant to meet in person and several also touted the advantages of Zoom meetings.
  • Work on the Cañon Street pocket park has been put in the “expedite” mode according to board member Don Sevrens. Work may start next summer if the bids come in at a “reasonable” cost. What was considered reasonable was not explained.
  • NTC park will be getting new trees to replace the ones that have died recently, mainly Canary palms.
  • Once again, board chair Kosmo opened the meeting with a completely unnecessary ominous warning when he reminded the public the meeting was being recorded. Kosmo said, incorrectly, that “everything you say will be carefully scrutinized so be careful what you say.”

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

frankf February 1, 2023 at 7:29 am

This is a perfect example of “Beware of who you vote for.”.

It’s human nature to want your team to dominate the halls of congress, the state house, or city hall. But it’s also human nature to crave political power at the expense of the little guy who voted the politicians into power.

The entire ADU/zoning nightmare is brought to you by a super-majority Democrat Sacramento and a complicit San Diego City government. Once they have super majority they don’t have to fear you or listen to you any longer.

Some advice to voters: take time to investigate candidates on the ballot. What do they stand for? What is their record in voting for thing that you care about. And then vote for the best candidate regardless of political affiliation.

The most advantangous political makeup to protect the voter’s interests would be for Sacto or San Diego to have a split house or council and not a veto proof super-majority. A split house/council where items get debated, voters get listened to, and nothing like this un-zoning of our neighborhoods will hopefully happen.


Paul Webb February 1, 2023 at 9:53 am

I have to laugh at the assertion that removing citizen review of development projects is “streamlining” the process to get more housing built.

If you talk to people who actually have projects in the pipeline, the real roadblock is the Development Services Department. Simple projects that should be handled relatively quickly are taking months and months to get through the DSD process. Architects and builders are bewildered by the length and frequency of delays, with no justifiable explanations, and very little transparency or accountability in the process.

In my three terms on the Peninsula planning board, we have appealed only one project, and that was a successful appeal. We have not been frivolous in our actions on projects, and our review takes far, far less time that does DSD. Admittedly, their review goes into greater detail than ours, but still, to blame delays on the planning boards is a shameful mis-truth.


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