OB Planning Board Nixes Roundabout at Bacon and Brighton

by on August 4, 2023 · 34 comments

in Ocean Beach

By Geoff Page

The clear highlight of the Ocean Beach Planning Board’s monthly meeting August 2 was the board, and the attending public, driving a stake into the heart of the Bacon Street roundabout proposal. If the city is true to its word, that idea is dead. We’ll see.

Bacon Street and Brighton Ave. Roundabout

The proposal for a roundabout at Bacon and Brighton came before the OBPB in May. It came back in June . The third time Wednesday was not the charm.

City of San Diego Senior Traffic Engineer, Philip Rust, returned to seek a vote of approval from the board. He was not successful. As recounted by board member Tracy Dezenzo, Rust told the board at the last meeting that the city would drop the proposal if the board opposed it. If so, that should be the end of it.

The biggest question for everyone was — who was responsible for the roundabout idea? No one knows, not even the city’s engineer spokesperson. Rust said he had been trying for weeks to find out and he still did not know himself. The Rag speculated on the genesis of this proposal in the June story.

It was clear, however, that no one on the OBPB, or anyone else in OB, requested it. This looked like another top-down action by the city. The OBPB was unhappy because the introduction of the roundabout into the overall paving project once again delayed paving Bacon, by at least a year.

During the June meeting, Rust said several times that the roundabout plan was not the reason the paving was delayed. He did not explain what then did delay the work. The effort this writer made to get an answer about what did delay the paving was recounted here.

At first, the city took the position that the claim that Bacon was to be paved this year was an assertion, a fabrication. Documents were set to Mr. Anthony Santacroce, Supervising Public Information Officer, disabusing him of that notion. Here is how he responded on July 20:

Ok. I will present this information and assertion and provide a response.

From now and moving forward I request that you email communications@sandiego.gov for any questions or inquiries. I will only be responding to your emails forwarded to me from the Communications inbox. Also, I will be only providing you with answers verbally moving forward as well.

Santacroce has not lived up to his promise.  And the rest of his response is unacceptable coming from a public employee to a citizen of this city. But, that is another matter.

So, no answers about who wanted the roundabout and why the Bacon Street paving is again delayed. This did not help the city’s cause. As the discussion continued, it also became clear that there was no need to spend the money to build a roundabout.

The intersection needs ADA improvements. But, these are a part of the original repaving plan anyway.

Several members of the public attended the meeting and every one of them spoke against the idea. Some of these folks live at this intersection.

One resident said how happy he was when the city put in the four-way stop at this spot. His driveway is close to the intersection and he said backing out onto Bacon used to be a nightmare due to constantly moving traffic. Putting in a roundabout would just cause him to have the same problem all over again.

The roundabout proposal would remove nine parking spots from an area already parking challenged. No one was happy about that.

Residents described how pedestrian heavy this particular intersection is. In the proposed roundabout design, the crosswalks on both streets are a considerable distance from the outer edge of the roundabout. With this design, a driver would have to stop in the roundabout while a pedestrian crossed.

Stopping in a roundabout would foul up traffic on both streets. With a four-way stop, traffic is only affected on the street being crossed, the other street can proceed. The idea of trying to provide continuously moving traffic on a north-south street like Bacon, two blocks from the beach, being crossed regularly by pedestrians, makes no sense.

The city’s arguments for a roundabout are weak. They say roundabouts are safer, which is true. But, in the same breath, they conceded that the Bacon and Brighton intersection has a very safe history. They say roundabouts are environmentally beneficial because they keep traffic moving instead of idling and spewing pollution waiting at four-way stops.

Dezenzo responded to that claim. She said that argument about idling cars is fading into history. Cars have improved considerably over the years and the advent of electric cars might make the point moot in the near future.

In the end the board voted unanimously on a motion to express disapproval – not approval – of the roundabout idea.


The board heard two projects. The first was at 4732 Del Monte. There are three units on the lot now. The owner proposes to demolish the two rear units and build two new 1,200 square foot units each with a two-car garage.  These will be called ADUs, accessory dwelling units. He said the only reason they are being designated as ADUs is to take advantage of new ADU rules that allow them to avoid some requirements. The board unanimously approved the project.

The second project was a proposal to build three new ADUs over the commercial property at 2171 Abbott. The site on the corner of Muir Ave. and Abbot St. now houses a laundromat and a surf shop. Here is the description from the agenda:

The board will review a Process 2 Coastal Development Permit to construct three new accessory dwelling units of 669 sq. ft. for the first unit, 637 sq. ft. for the second unit, and 806 sq. ft. for the third unit over an existing 2,495 sq. ft. commercial building at 2171, 2175 and 2179 Abbott St. An additional 203 sq. ft. of new construction will be added to the existing ground level commercial building for a total of 2,315 sq. ft. of new construction. The existing site includes (4) detached dwelling units and (1) detached single-car garage at 5086, 5090, and 5092 Muir Avenue that will remain with no new construction proposed.

The big problem with this project is that these two-bedroom and two-bathroom units will have no parking. The owner is taking advantage of the new ADU rules. Parking is at a premium in this area and is even more scarce during the summer due to the proximity of the beach. The architect presenting the project said he did not like either but it was legal.

The board approved the project unanimously, also taking the tack that it was all legal. Planning board recommendations do not have to approve something just because it is legal. A no vote on any project like this with no parking, would be perfectly acceptable. It would send a message that dumping probably six cars, at a minimum, on the surrounding streets is unacceptable.

OB Pier

The City of San Diego’s Director of Strategic Capital Improvement Projects, James Nagelvoort, gave an update of the pier replacement project. He did not have anything new to offer but did encourage everyone to attend the next public workshop. It will be held September 9 at the Liberty Station Conference Center, where the two previous workshops were held.

Nagelvoort said this third workshop is very important because it will be the point where the preferred design of the pier will begin to be solidified. The workshops have been well attended, hopefully this one will be as well.

Bermuda Stairs

District 2 representative, Manual Reyes said the old stairs have been demolished and the base for the new stairs has been poured. The new stairs should be complete sometime in the fourth quarter or between October and December.


{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Sam August 4, 2023 at 5:20 pm

“The biggest question for everyone was — who was responsible for the roundabout idea?”

I’m quite certain it was proposed by none other than our local bike “activists.”


Chris August 4, 2023 at 11:24 pm

Those gosh dearned bike activists.


Geoff Page August 5, 2023 at 12:15 pm

You know, Chris, one of the reasons there are negative feelings out there about the cycling advocates is sneaky stuff like this. If they had been up front about it, they might have gotten at least some respect. But, these tactics just damage their cause and create opponents where none existed before.


Chris August 5, 2023 at 2:14 pm

I could be wrong but I seriously doubt that bike activists had anything to do attempting to put a roundabout on that corner. If I am wrong then I can say there are some understandable reason why they’d be sneaky about it.


Geoff Page August 6, 2023 at 11:58 am

So it it wasn’t them, then who? Did some traffic engineer at the city just think of it randomly? No way.


Chris August 5, 2023 at 2:22 pm

To elaborate a bit, it’s like the bike lanes that I DO use. If left up to voters many would probably not be there but since they are I’m thankful.


Geoff Page August 6, 2023 at 11:56 am

Well, Chris, it seems like you’re OK with top-down management from the city and would prefer that to letting people have a say. That’s a dangerous road to go down, one day, your ox will be gored and you won’t be able to say a thing.


Chris August 6, 2023 at 1:51 pm

It’s definitely a slippery slope. I don’t deny that. I don’t know a perfect solution. I’m sure every city in the country has made some decisions that were not popular with the majority of its residents. I’m not blind to the fact the powers that be didn’t make any of these decisions out of the goodness of their hearts. Hell, I doubt Todd even knows how to ride bike.


Geoff Page August 5, 2023 at 12:13 pm

I agree, no doubt about it.


David stjohn August 5, 2023 at 2:41 pm

Good day.

Los Angeles requires bicycles to be licensed. I think it would be a great idea if San Diego were to also to license and then get money. After all, Californians are switching to EVs and we need money for street upkeep. Maybe everyone needs to chip in! Maybe an annual fee plus a booklet handed to cyclists on their responsibilities.

I’m sure to get a lot of angry responses!


Paul Grimes August 5, 2023 at 6:52 pm

My guess is the City saw that the intersection at Brighton and Bacon had open storm drains under the corner curbs and that prevents ADA ramps from being installed. If installed, the roundabout would require 8 ADA ramps along with a loss of parking. So pedestrians would have to jog away from the street to continue straight.
Glad to see it’s not happening. Waste of money that the City seems to do a lot of the time. Thanks for OB Planning saving taxpayers a ton of cash.


Geoff Page August 6, 2023 at 11:59 am

The city tried to use the ADA ramp thing to advance their proposal. But, they also showed those ramps could be set back from the corners and avoid the storm drains completely. It will cause some loss of parking but much less than the roundabout.


Manuel Reyes - Council District 2 August 7, 2023 at 10:28 am

Hello Geoff,

I appreciate you sharing this topic with the OB community, however, I would like to take this opportunity to address some of the inaccuracies within this story. First, I want to be clear that the Ocean Beach Planning Board, back in August 2018, did request for “Bacon Street Bicycle and Pedestrian Improvements which Traffic Calming techniques include, but not limited to:
* Roundabouts and Traffic Circles
* Curb Extensions and Bulb Outs
* Signage
* Street Paint Markings
* No Center Line
* Speed Humps
* Bike Parking
* Diverters
* Flashing Beacons”

The City did not do this project without the knowledge of the community, but rather moved forward with the request of the Ocean Beach Planning Board. I have also shared with you the letter from the planning board via email. Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Manuel Reyes
Community Representative
Council District 2


Geoff Page August 7, 2023 at 12:00 pm

One other thing. You sent me an unsigned letter from the OBPB. Do you have a signed version? If not, this is nothing more than a draft.


Sam August 7, 2023 at 3:43 pm

If you get a real copy of this document please post it for all to see!


Geoff Page August 7, 2023 at 3:44 pm

Do not hold your breath.


Paul Webb August 7, 2023 at 4:12 pm

Manuel, I checked the OBPB website for August, 2018, and there is no item regarding Bacon Street on the agenda, and there is no mention in the minutes of any discussion. The September, 2018, agenda does, however, include an item identified at “Bacon Street Safety Improvements” which describes the item as reviewing and possibly approving a letter forwarded by the Transportation Committee. However, there is no copy of the letter on the web site and there are no meeting minutes that indicate that the letter was voted on and approved. Given the absence of minutes, it is difficult to tell if this item was, in fact, reviewed and approved by the OBPB. Do you have any other record of this letter being adopted as an official recommendation of the OBPB? I note that the Council policy requires submittal of any recommendation of a planning group within seven (7) days of the planning group’s action. Did this happen?


kh August 10, 2023 at 1:15 pm

Manuel is correct, the board deliberated on this, in 2017 in the midst of planned repaving, and then requested a roundabout in 2018. And passed subsequent votes to prioritize Bacon repaving without mention of roundabout. Unfortunately summer of 2018 was a tough time for the Board with lack of quorum and a lot of turnover, and some of that information was not retained as it should’ve been. We’ve since taken measures to ensure better continuity. Here is that letter:

The mystery to me is, why did the city already have Bacon slated to be repaved this year after multiple delays and then delay it again? We were recently told it changed from overlay to reconstruction because of the ramp modifications for the roundabout, and that it might have to go to the Coastal Commission. Neither of these appear to be correct. The city just showed us the repaving work will require adding ramps regardless of whether a roundabout is installed.

And where did the city come up with a roundabout at Voltaire & Bacon that was never requested by the Board? Did others recently request these two locations and dig up the Board’s 2018 recommendation for Brighton, thus interrupting the planned repaving?

I don’t want to shoot the messenger, but honesty is lacking here. The city seems more interested in insulating themselves from criticism than in engaging in transparent public process. And if outside groups are requesting these sort of modifications, they should at the very least be directed to the local planning board for feedback first. It’s quite literally our purpose for existing.


Paul Webb August 10, 2023 at 2:23 pm

KH, your letter sheds some light on this, but it also raises some questions. First, there are no meeting minutes that I can find that describe and record what action, if any, the OBPB took at the August meeting when the letter was supposedly approved. If there is no official record, there can be no reliance on what seems to be an unsigned draft. Is there any record of an OBPB action on this?

Second, the letter recommends traffic circles and roundabouts in a vague and general way, with only the W. Point Loma/Bacon location specifically called out. To take this as support for a specific location is akin to saying “build some homes” without specifying what kind of homes are to be built and at what locations. Oh, wait, that is the City’s strategy for home building, so maybe it’s the same for roundabouts.

As Geoff points out, there is a distinct lack of transparent communication on this matter and, sadly, on pretty much anything else in our community. This has got to change.


Geoff Page August 10, 2023 at 2:38 pm

Another point along those lines, Paul. If you look at the meeting minutes for the Transportation subcommittee from May 2018, they did not discuss Bacon and Brighton but did discuss some of what was in the letter. See here:

“Action Item 2 Potential Implementation of Traffic Calming measures on the Bicycle Boulevard intersection of Bacon Street and Santa Monica Avenue The Committee discussed the stretch of road on Bacon Street running from Santa Monica Avenue to Niagra Avenue. This stretch of road lies on the Ocean Beach Bicycle Boulevard and the intersection at Newport has no traffic lights and because of this may be hazardous fo pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers. The board is concerned with improving the safety of this corridor.

Motion to request the City evaluate the use of temporary bollards to calm traffic to enhance safety at a dangerous intersection on the Bicycle Boulevard at north bound Niagra Avenue and Bacon Street as well as south bound Santa Monica Avenue and Bacon Street (Nicole Burgess 1st, Rick Williams 2nd)”

The June meeting minutes stated very little:

“Action Item 1 Bacon Boulevard
Reviewed letter that came out of previous meeting’s action. Motion to present draft letter “Bacon Street” for support to the full Ocean Beach Planning Board. (Rick Williams 1st, Nicole Burgess 2nd)
Passes Unanimously 4-0”

The August meeting minutes stated briefly:

“Action Item #1 for September OBPB meeting – Bacon Safety Improvements (Rick)”

The full board agenda in September:

“Action Item #3: Bacon Avenue Safety Improvements
The board will review and vote to send a letter, written by the Transportation Subcommittee, to the city about possible safety improvements along Bacon Avenue Bicycle Corrido Avenue”

The only missing minutes from 2018 are the ones from September. This is the sum total of the record.


kh August 10, 2023 at 3:07 pm

Our best record of that meeting may exist in the OBRag itself. https://obrag.org/2018/09/ocean-beach-planners-appoint-2-new-board-members-approve-two-story-condos-on-froude/

I also have drafts of the other 2 letters voted on at that meeting, they were requesting changes further up Brighton, and on Niagara.


Paul Webb August 10, 2023 at 3:55 pm

The Rag article you quote states “Each of these recommendations were discussed ad nasium (sic), when the board voted to send either one or three different letters the city expressing the suggestions.”

Uh…that’s really clear. Which letter did they vote to send? No offense, I know planning board meetings can get a little chaotic, but this is beyond sloppy. Exactly which letter was approved and by what vote. There is nothing here that explains what was or was not approved.

In most things involving government and business, if there is no written record it didn’t happen. I believe you when you say you remember what happened, but memories can often be mutable things, particularly after five years.


kh August 10, 2023 at 2:49 pm

Actually I have a draft in Word format with the previous chair’s name on it. Same wording otherwise. The newly elected chair put her name on this and distributed it to the city. I attended that 2018 meeting and am certain of that even though minutes don’t exist. I recall it was not unanimous. She does not send out things like this without board approval.

Regardless the roundabout is dead.


Paul Webb August 10, 2023 at 3:14 pm

KH, I reiterate, if there is no official record of any action taken on this, then what? We just take it on faith that it happened? There is such a thing as process, which, at best, did not happen here. At worst, somebody is using a draft letter to justify something that was not approved.

As a planning board member for nine years, my recollection is that there was never a Peninsula board meeting that did not generate minutes per council policy, assuming that there was a quorum and an official action was taken.


kh August 10, 2023 at 4:16 pm

Paul, the board didn’t even have a secretary at that point in time, so frankly I’m surprised it’s not worse. If it turns up I will share it. Have you checked on the city’s committees? Some of them are awful to non-existent with their records. Which makes it all the more insulting when they criticize CPGs for lack of transparency. At a recent city presentation they used the OB Board’s agenda as an example of it done right.

I don’t know why there’s no signature on it. The letters were distributed in advance of the meeting to the board members in Word format, and the board supported them at the meeting. This was documented by the OBRag in 2018, and I was present there. That will have to suffice. There’s nothing nefarious here.


Paul Webb August 11, 2023 at 4:12 pm

KH, no argument that some of the CPGs are not transparent. Some have a spotty record of publishing meeting notices or providing minutes (I’m looking at you, Midway!).

Before I was elected to the PCPB I had to attend CPG meetings around the city for my job. I can recall two where the majority of CPG members were large employees of large landowners or paid consultants to large landowners. I even remember that one CPG member was a consultant who I happen to know lived in Idaho.

But, just because someone makes a mockery of the system doesn’t mean it all right for others to not follow the rules. I repeat that if it is not recorded in writing, it didn’t happen. And, if it is not signed, it’s not official.


Geoff Page August 11, 2023 at 7:34 pm

I’m with you, Paul, an unsigned document means nothing.

And, like you, I understand what kh says about planning board record keeping being a challenge. But, this doesn’t make sense.

Why did the minutes, recording the Transportation subcommittee’s discussion of a letter, have nothing in them about Bacon and Brighton, but the letter later did?

Why are there no minutes of and no copies of the letter on either the Transportation subcommittee page or on the full board’s page?

If the letter isn’t on the OBPB site, then who had it and who sent it to the city? Was it someone on the board or someone else?


Geoff Page August 10, 2023 at 3:26 pm

Well if the current chair distributed the letter to the city, why didn’t she sign it?

And, I know you know better my friend, the roundabout is only dead IF the city lives up to its promise to kill it if the board did not approve it. I think the OBPB should get something in writing that this idea will not proceed based on the OBPB vote.


kh August 10, 2023 at 4:19 pm

I’m satisfied with their response, which is saying a lot. I don’t expect that the board or yourself is going to get that in writing from them, but you’re welcome to try. Certainly they could always reneg on that, and they can do so without any notice to us.


Geoff Page August 10, 2023 at 2:29 pm

Part of the mystery here is that letter. It states:

Under the heading “Current Conditions”
(Page 2 of the letter)

“City and Community have been in discussion for several years about a Traffic Circle at West Point Loma Boulevard and Bacon Street.”

Not Brighton.

The next bullet read:

“Brighton Avenue is also designated as a Bicycle Boulevard, therefore the intersection at Brighton and Bacon is particularly ideal for greater safety improvements.”

What any of that had to do with Current Condition, I can’t see, but I do see the lie that Brighton is a designated Bicycle Blvd. It is not. And no mention of a roundabout.

The first time the word “roundabout” appears is under the heading:

“The OBOB Recommends the following:”

“Discuss, plan and implement ADA curb ramps that will meet conditions for a proper mini roundabout at Bacon Ave. and Brighton Ave.”

This was very clever language and it was not a request for a roundabout. This whole letter is suspect and it has never been authenticated. There is no record of it either in the Transportation subcommittee records or the full board’s records. Coincidence? I doubt it.


kh August 10, 2023 at 2:51 pm

See my reply to Paul above. You’re reading between the lines a little excessively here.


Geoff Page August 7, 2023 at 11:29 am

Yea, just one question.

Why is it that no one from the city, including the city’s engineer presenter, Philip Rust, or the Communications representative, Anthony Santacroce, has been able to answer the question about what generated this idea despite my questioning for more than a month?

There was nothing inaccurate about The Rag’s story. Until today, the city has never explained itself and is now hanging its hat on a five-year-old letter that I’m guessing someone sent you.

If this were true, the first presentation before the OBPB months ago should have started with “The city is now able to act on the OBPB’s request in its August 1, 2018 letter regarding improvements at Bacon and Brighton…” All they got was “I don’ know.”


Gregg g Sullivan August 16, 2023 at 1:47 pm

All you naysayers of the roundabout I encourage you to watch this video. Maybe it will change some people’s mind.



Geoff Page August 16, 2023 at 2:06 pm

Commenters are not naysaying roundabouts, they are naysaying about one at this location. Roundabouts are great but not applicable everywhere.


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