OB Planners Call to Close Host Loophole, Solve ‘Mystery’ Behind Bacon Roundabout, Hear Details on Abbott St. Apartments

by on June 12, 2023 · 17 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

Considering what has lately appeared to be a total lack of community interest in the Ocean Beach Planning Board, seeing the large crowd in attendance Wednesday, June 7, was heartening. When the community really wants to express itself, the OBPB is still the place to be heard.

The agenda for the board’s regular monthly meeting at the OB Rec Center contained two hot topics that brought out the crowd. But, the bombshell revelation that night did not involve either of the two items.

The proposed Bacon St. and Saratoga Ave. roundabout and the Abbott St. apartment complex being converted to “permanent supportive housing” drew most of the crowd. These were both “Information Items” on the agenda. The first “Action Item” was what got everyone’s attention:

OBTC Letter Regarding Closing The STRO Host Loophole

The board will review a letter put together by the OBTC advocacy committee in regards to the issuance of 115 STR permits to one entity. The letter is aimed at the City Council, asking to change the host loophole that is allowing for some many permits to be issued to a single entity.

What happened with this item was first reported in The Rag, Thursday morning, the day after the meeting.

The story has since traveled around the local news media. An NBC Channel 7 film crew attended the meeting. The Rag also covered that as well.

As the agenda item stated, the letter originated with the Ocean Beach Town Council’s advocacy committee headed by Tracy Dezenzo, who is on the OBTC board of directors. Dezenzo is also on the OBPB and has been for some time. The data that produced the loophole revelations was compiled by Kevin Hastings, vice chair of the OBPB.

Dezenzo and Hastings deserve the community’s gratitude for doing this work and making a concerted effort to expose this loophole and to recommend a fix. These two people are volunteers working on behalf of everyone else while holding down full-time jobs and dealing with families. Oh, and neither one is anywhere near an old fart, which is what some folks tell the world that planning groups are made up of.

The board voted unanimously to support the OBTC letter.

Bacon Street Roundabout

This topic was discussed at the OBPB’s May meeting and covered here in The Rag.

Because the OBPB wanted more information, Philip Rust, senior traffic engineer, attended the June meeting and provided more details. By the time he was finished, the mystery of who asked for the roundabout was gone. It was clearly the work of a cycling lobby entrenched at city hall.

Rust began by saying the roundabout was part of the Climate Action Plan and Vision Zero goals, something he repeated more than once. This phrase is the mantra of groups like Circulate San Diego.

Rust explained that roundabouts reduce accidents at intersections by 90% to 100%, because the circular nature of a roundabout reduces “crash energy” as cars approach each other on an angle. Crashes on an angle apparently have much less energy that a T-bone collision at a four-way stop.

Rust was then asked if the intersection was a problem with accidents, and replied that very few accidents were ever recorded at the intersection and no fatalities. The why for all of this still puzzled everybody.

But, it was when Rust referred to Bacon Street as a “bicycle boulevard” that the connection became clear. One slide in the presentation purported to be from the 2013 City of San Diego Bicycle Master Plan. It showed a zoomed in graphic of the Bacon St. and Brighton Ave. intersection. Down the middle of the graphic for Brighton St. was a row of round green dots. Alongside the graphic of Bacon St. was another row of round green dots.

On the right side of the slide was a legend graphic, and highlighted in yellow were three green square dots labeled “Bicycle Boulevard.” There are two serious problems with this slide. First, none of what is in the slide appears in the master plan as it states. And, second the slide is intentionally misleading because Bacon has never been designated a bicycle boulevard.

The 2013 City of San Diego Bicycle Master Plan shows Bacon, along with a lot of other places, as “proposed” for the bicycle boulevard designation. Bacon has never been formally designated as such. The mobility advocates have misrepresented this “proposed” designation on a number of occasions to make the public believe that Bacon and other streets actually are bicycle boulevards. Now, it appears to have happened again, by a representative of the city.

The designation is important because, once a street is designated a “bicycle boulevard,” all kinds of things can happen, including traffic circles. Table 3-2: Non-Classified Bikeways on page 21 of the Bicycle Master Plan explains what can be done along with a graphic showing what can be done. Within the graphic is a traffic circle with the notation, “Mini traffic circles and speed bumps serve as traffic calming devices.”

It appears that the city and others are attempting to make Bacon into a bicycle boulevard when it is not, in order to do things that bypass public input. Sounds familiar.

Rust said he would be back in August and hoped to get the board’s approval for the roundabout. But, he also said the project was fully funded, which usually means it is a done deal. And, he only came to the board because the board asked the city to explain what was happening. It seems the project was traveling along without anyone on the OBPB knowing anything about it including who asked for the roundabout.

There were more problems. The main one was that the long-delayed Bacon St. resurfacing project, that was supposed to finally take place this summer, has been delayed again by another full year. Rust said the delay was not attributed to adding the new roundabout, but said the resurfacing project was delayed for other reasons. He never explained what the other reasons were.

Rust also maintained that adding the roundabout to the resurfacing project would result in a savings somehow. Considering that the design includes adding 12 concrete islands and a large center circle island to the project, it is hard to see where there would be a savings to a simple asphalt resurfacing project.

What will not be a savings is parking. The roundabout design removes eight parking places in an area where parking is precious. This was an issue for several audience member who live near the intersection have to park on the street. Most of the community members were just baffled as to why the city is doing this when there does not seem to be a need.

Abbott Street Permanent Supportive Housing

Rebecca Louie, CEO of Wakeland Housing & Development Corporation, gave a presentation on what is happening at 2147 Abbott St. Wakeland is developing the 14-unit property into 13 “permanent supportive housing” units and one office.

Here is how the Federal government’s Housing and Urban Development department defines permanent supportive housing:

Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) is permanent housing in which housing assistance (e.g., long-term leasing or rental assistance) and supportive services are provided to assist households with at least one member (adult or child) with a disability in achieving housing stability.

Essentially, the units are designed for permanent living with tenants signing leases and paying rents at some level. The difference from a regular apartment complex is that there will be support services readily available for the special needs of people who will be living there.

The property was formerly a place for sheltered women but that function ceased about two years ago and the property has been vacant ever since. The Rag story in May provided much of the detail.

Regardless of the value such a place provides for at least 13 people, the cost of just buying expensive beach property does not seem like a fiscally prudent use of money available to help people in need. Here is a paragraph from the May 17 article in The Rag:

The acquisition cost is $4.5 million, or $347,000 a unit, but rehabilitation expenses would increase the cost to $6.8 million, bringing the per-unit cost to $525,000.

Wakefield brought in a couple of people to speak for their past work. One was a gentleman from the Clairemont area who said a project in his area was originally opposed by many people who now all say it is a welcome addition to the community.  The project is called Ivy Senior Apartments. It has 52 units for “seniors with chronic medical needs who have experienced homelessness.”

The Clairemont project is at 5858 Mt. Alifan Drrive, bounded by Genesee Ave. on the west, Balboa Ave. on the north, and Mt. Alifan on the south and east. High traffic, very commercial area with lots of stores and amenities within easy walking distance and serviced by mass transit. This is nothing like Abbott St.

One has to believe that there is a marked difference in land cost between the small place in OB and the large property in Clairemont. The problem with projects like this is that the money comes from the government, in all its forms, federal, state, county, and city. Cost consideration can suffer when it is other people’s money.

Louie explained that money comes from California’s Homekey funding program, vouchers from the City of San Diego, and funding from the county. There will be some income from the rents being paid as well.

Wakefield’s second supporter was a tall, very thin older gentlemen who said he was 77 years old. He spoke very softly. The gist of what he had to say was that Wakefield’s place had saved his life. He sounded like a man who had been through some things. He was a resident of one of Wakefield’s senior facilities.

Wakefield appears to be very experienced in projects like this. A visit to their website confirms it.  The project was well received by the board. Because the property was previously used in a similar manner, this project does not represent a major change in usage for the neighborhood.

Audience members expressed concerns about the type of people who will be renting at the project. Wakefield assured everyone that it has a strong vetting process and a strong lease with enforceable requirements. There will be a full-time on-site manger as well.

Louie was asked if the 13 units could be filled with homeless right here in OB. She said that would be difficult to promise for many reasons, one of which was surprising. Louie said that taking in all OB homeless people would be bad optic because the area is “lily white.” It was an odd statement. While OB may be predominantly Caucasian, it would be hard to describe the local homeless population that way.

The project hopes to be ready for residents by the beginning of January 2024.

In other news…

  • No government representatives showed up for the “Representatives Report” portion of the meeting. It seems the past practice of sending representatives to planning board meetings is becoming a thing of the past.
  • Chair Andrea Schlageter reminded people that the ordinance against camping in the street will be heard by city council on Tuesday, June 13.
  • There were no non-agenda public comments at all.


{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page June 12, 2023 at 11:36 am

I wanted to add some information to the piece I did not have when I wrote it.

The Abbott St. property belonged to the OB CDC. Mark Winke, president of the CDC, explained that the CDC bought the property many years ago with the help of the San Diego Housing Commission. There is a 55-year deed restriction on the property dictating that it be used for low income housing. This, of course, lowers the actual market value of the property.

The last tenant was the YWCA and they moved out two years ago. The CDC has been looking for an answer since then and selling the property to Wakefield was the final solution. The proceeds from the sale go to the CDC and that money will be used for other projects. Winke said the Veteran’s Plaza project is at the top of that list.

Winke described this as a win-win situation for everyone. A working facility will be in place helping people and the money from the sale will help the community as will the money from the new tenants as they frequent the local businesses.


Greg June 13, 2023 at 8:09 am

A roundabout on Bacon?!?! The big money shadow bicycle illuminati strikes again! Why I may have to take one of the nine other auto-centric north-south arterials that run through our community from Abbott-Catalina. The horror!


Frank Gormlie June 13, 2023 at 8:20 am

Greg, I think you’re missing the point(s). Nobody from the community asked for it. The city didn’t inform the appropriate neighborhood organizations what it was doing – namely the OB Planning Board. And even though some residents and former planning board members have talked about Bacon being a bicycle street for years, it was never designated as a “bicycle boulevard,” which has legal and planning meaning.


Geoff Page June 13, 2023 at 11:13 am

Why would you “have to take one of the nine other auto-centric north-south arterials that run through our community from Abbott-Catalina?” What is that supposed to mean?


Tor Ueland June 13, 2023 at 3:27 pm

Interesting article about the roundabout and the resurfacing delay for Bacon Street. Curious how the City decision makers again delayed the resurfacing of Bacon St, while breezing through a new unnecessary roundabout on Bacon, based upon it being a Bicycle designated street. This was done, despite the “Bicycle Street” not officially designated and none of the usual safety reasons for a roundabout at Bacon & Brighton applying either. As an avid and frequent bicyclist from OB for more than 15 + years, I specifically avoid Bacon Street on my way to the Robb field bike path entrance. For years, riding on Bacon Street provides unavoidable teeth and body jarring pot holes, ruts, and other street deformities. Cable Street will remain my ‘go-to’ street, while traversing OB to access the bike path.


Geoff Page June 13, 2023 at 4:33 pm

I’m seeking an answer from the city as to what did delay the resurfacing project. Rust said it was not the roundabout design. I spent my whole career in construction, including street construction, and I am very curious what did delay an overlay project. If the cycling lobby had anything to do with the delay, it would seem they are not thinking of their peeps. The road could easily be resurfaced first and the roundabout built second, if one really will be built.


Scott Batson June 14, 2023 at 9:19 am

Modern roundabouts are the safest form of intersection possible and waiting for someone to die before making an intersection safer is not considered ethical anymore.
That said, roundabouts on bikeways are good, but neighborhood traffic circles on bikeways are not. Neighborhood traffic circles and modern roundabouts are not the same, so a picture of what is proposed would help figure out the value of the proposal.


Geoff Page June 14, 2023 at 1:20 pm

Check the article, the pictures are with the piece now.


Scott Batson June 15, 2023 at 8:44 am

Setting the crosswalks back is safer and more like a roundabout than neighborhood traffic circle. The small size implies a mini-roundabout, where the circular island is all truck apron. This allows larger vehicles (UPS, refuse collection) to drive over the circle to make left turns. Getting the circular island curb detail right is tricky. The splitter islands on the approaches will need to be mountable as well, otherwise trucks will only be able to make through movements.


Tom Cairns June 14, 2023 at 9:27 am

Using roundabouts has a learning curve, for some it is short, for others, they never seem to get it. Here in Humboldt County we have 15-20 years experience with them. They work well in areas of higher traffic volumes but in high pedestrian areas they can be problematic. For example, you enter one planning to take the left street exit (3/4 of the circle) and a pedestrian starts to cross the street, causing you to slow or stop. This can be very dangerous at night, as your headlights are not pointing down the road, but are sweeping right to left, giving you a much reduced time to see that pedestrian or bicycle in front of you. Crosswalks should always be away from the roundabout. Or the person unfamiliar with the roundabout sees a car approaching from the opposite direction, 50-75 yards away, and the car comes to a dead stop, waiting for the other car to enter. And with the thousands of weekend beach goers coming from all over the area, perhaps unfamiliar with roundabouts, traffic will back up. Visibility is key—don’t plant big trees in the center of larger ones, it can reduce that critical visibility needed to use them safely.


Scott Batson June 14, 2023 at 9:43 am

There is a difference between neighborhood traffic circles and modern roundabouts. If you’re looking across a roundabout when entering, you’re focused on the wrong location. Objects in the circular island increase the visibility of a roundabout and help drivers focus on approaching traffic from the left.
Modern roundabouts operate at 15-20 mph, so it is quite easy to slow and stop for pedestrians. Crosswalks are always set back 20-30 feet at modern roundabouts.


Korla Eaquinta June 14, 2023 at 11:33 am

“It appears that the city and others are attempting to make Bacon into a bicycle boulevard when it is not, in order to do things that bypass public input. Sounds familiar.”

Sounds REAL familiar!


Korla Eaquinta June 14, 2023 at 11:34 am

Also, NO government reps show to The PCPB meetings either!!!!


Geoff Page June 15, 2023 at 11:11 am

They tried the same thing on Evergreen and they were not happy when this was pointed out and corrected.


Dan June 14, 2023 at 6:19 pm

City has no need for OB
Get over it. Even same for ages. It’s not a true visitor destination. MB/PB are those SD film rolls you see other places.
I’ll say it again. No city reps. Tax base is not what people think
Building roundabouts get fed money.
Bike people are not the issue exactly.

Doesn’t it have Share Rows ? When added. Puts in new fed class for making goals. CA etc.

A bit funny. But. Many argue the wrong issue.
If it was a bigger deal. Meeting would have had people.

Again. City is run like 1970s east coast. Old Gov/vet typeeafership. Sorry.

Nobody gives a skateboarders butt about Bacon.

No upside for the city.

You have to give solutions.

Truly. Sunset should have about 2-5 of them.

I do love biking. This towns bike lanes are atrocious on the coast etc, Some improving.

Frame the argument. Not your want, Or the lack of Gov interest. They will never have it.

Not that many people actually live here. Overall.
Love You.


Chris June 14, 2023 at 9:28 pm

A mind is a terrible thing to waste.


Sorry not Sorry June 15, 2023 at 4:55 am

I want some of what you’re on…..


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