Due to City’s Neglect, Local Planning Boards in Point Loma and Ocean Beach Faltering Before Our Eyes

by on May 24, 2023 · 4 comments

in Ocean Beach

It’s a sad but predictable truth, that the local planning boards of Point Loma — Ocean Beach, Peninsula and Midway — are faltering before our very eyes. And it’s all due to the city of San Diego’s neglect.

Take the following as prima facie evidence of this maddening trend.

Ocean Beach Planning Board

The OB Board has been struggling this past year in maintaining enough members to serve. At their May 3 monthly meeting, “there were only eight of ten board members attending for a board this is supposed to have 16 members,” as Rag reporter Geoff Page observed. Getting OBceans to turn out for their annual elections has also been a challenge over the last several years, not discounting the pandemic.

And despite a potentially controversial or contentious issue of planned roundabouts on Bacon Street on the agenda, Page reported, “There was only one person in the audience during the board meeting besides this writer and the District 2 representative.” When the Rag published an announcement of the May 3 meeting with the issue of roundabouts on the agenda, there was a lively discussion in the comments to the post about roundabouts.

Also during the meeting, it was disclosed that a planned resurfacing of Bacon Street had been taken off the schedule, which angered some Board members. Plus, Board members were confused about the city’s plan for roundabouts on Bacon.  “The OBPB has no idea why the city is putting in roundabouts because no one asked for them,” reported Page.

The question about why the city is planning to place roundabouts on Bacon St. puzzled the board. Usually, changes like this are generated by requests from the community, through the planning board. No one on the OBPB knew of any requests.

In fact, one of the actions of the Board was a request to the city for more information on the roundabouts, specifically, what generated them.

Page surmised, “The sad part about all this is that the city has not kept the board informed about planned changes in OB. The board was ignored. Adding to the sadness was the public’s lack of interest.”

Peninsula Community Planning Board

At the most recent Peninsula planners’ meeting on May 18, “not a single representative from any public agency like the District 2 council office, the mayor’s office, the planning department, the SDPD, or any state or federal offices bothered to show up,” as Geoff Page reported.

“Government and Community Reports” has always been a part of planning group agendas and representatives used to attend. This was the first time this writer ever witnessed a complete lack of attendance by government representatives.”

Although there were perhaps a half dozen local residents who did attend the meeting over a controversial issue — stop sign on Voltaire — still the absence — and neglect — from the city was the most telling. “Perhaps it was a sign of the community planning group’s status in the city,” Page wondered.

Midway District Planning Board

The Midway board has been the wild child of the three local planning committees. Without any community as its base, the board often appeared to be full of business and property interests.

Developers and the city used the board as a validating instrument, getting the Midway planners to endorse this or that development or this or that ballot measure to eliminate the Midway height limit.

The board has had chronic quorum issues, lack of minutes, public notice posting problems and just recently, their website was down for weeks. It went back up but announced its agenda for their next meeting was “pending,” — which would make its publication too late to post as their meetings are on Wednesdays, and they need 72 hours.

The city has been aware of these problems in the past, but never stepped in with suggested corrective measures. Now, the city doesn’t care.

It’s All About the City’s Neglect

This observable neglect of local planning boards by the city has been predictable. The OB Board hasn’t been kept up to date on city plans for changes, nor on new developments being proposed. The Peninsula Board was totally ignored by government officials at their last meeting. And the Midway planners are off on their own.

Yet, why is the city neglecting these valuable resources of community-elected volunteers?

The answer is that this is the plan. It’s the city’s plan to essentially eliminate community planning boards. Last September, the city council passed a series of “reforms” that are supposed to make planning committees more representative and more transparent.

But that’s just the subterfuge. The reality is much different.

This is what I wrote in “The End of San Diego’s Community Planning Boards: How We Got Here” back in March:

After decades of existence, the community planning boards of San Diego were delivered a devastating shock last September 13, 2022, when the City Council passed a breath-taking tsunami of so-called “reforms” that laid out a blueprint for the demolition of the city’s current 42 citizen volunteer planning panels.

In an earlier post from yesterday, I outlined the 3 main methods the city will use to dismantle San Diego’s community planning boards – or groups as some call them (CPGs):

    1. Force current planning committees  / boards to “re-apply” and compete with other groups to be officially recognized by the city as a community’s CPG;
    2. Force volunteer planning group members and any candidates to endure a rigorous background check; CPGs would be subject to profiling, by collecting “periodic demographic data on voting members.”
    3. Not require developers to appear in front of planning committees which cuts planning boards entirely out of the formal review process, and destroys their raison d’etre — their reason for being in the first place.

(For more on these 3 methods, go here.)

What to do? How to respond?

My general advice is to not take it sitting down.

Do what grassroots activists did in the 1970s when OBceans forced the city to hold a community-wide election for the very first planning board. Thousands voted. Activists in OB and elsewhere also didn’t sit down when developers ran amuck at the coast, and they helped usher in an era of environmental consciousness that established the OB Planning Board, the California Coastal Commission and the 30-foot height limit for San Diego’s coast.

And my friends on the OBPB need to figure out how they will respond to the city’s draconian measures to gut planning committees.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda May 24, 2023 at 12:49 pm

One party rule doesn’t work….they just roll over us…even though we voted for their lies.
They know what’s good for us! So just shut up?
Renters get kicked to the curb…no housing( walk of shame )
Tourists rent our zoned residential property we were kicked out of! Illegal
City buys hotels and apts. for the homeless with our tax dollars. Property values go down……
That’s one way to kill a community….look across the channel…Mission Beach…
What a crazy hamster wheel.


Frank Gormlie May 24, 2023 at 4:12 pm

One thing I should have mentioned, is that one way to respond is to garner community support for the planning boards. For example, the OB Town Council and the OB Mainstreet Assoc. could come out and make public statements in support of the OBPB. Likewise, in Point Loma, the PL Association could do something similar.


Geoff Page May 24, 2023 at 4:32 pm

Midway apparently held its meeting anyway with only 48 hours of notice. At one time, I thought there was a good case for de-certification but the city doesn’t give shit one way or the other about the planning groups, so why bother? And, every community planning group has to re-apply this year anyway. And, even when “certified” the groups that come out of that process will not be what they once were.


Mat Wahlstrom May 25, 2023 at 6:31 am

“Now, the city doesn’t care.” Unless, that is, a community planning group is still active and engaged enough to cause a hitch in their effort to hand our city over to developers. Then they care very much about hindering and harassing them. Just ask anyone in North Park or Uptown.


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