Search: Wahlstrom

Friday, Nov. 17 Is Deadline to Comment on Dangerous ‘Plan Hillcrest’ Draft

November 17, 2023 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom / Times of San Diego / Nov. 17, 2023

Friday, November 17, is the deadline for submitting public comment on the Plan Hillcrest draft that will be moved forward to the San Diego Planning Commission.

Launched in 2020, allegedly to address the 11-acre area around the Hillcrest sign that had been carved out of the 2016 Uptown Community Plan, Plan Hillcrest warped into a do-over community plan covering 400 of the 2,700 acres in the Uptown planning area.

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Future of Hillcrest Up in the Air

October 31, 2023 by Staff

If San Diego planning officials get their way, the community of Hillcrest will undergo significant changes with the current update to the community’s blueprint for the future. The changes include dozens of 20- and 30-story buildings, more one-way streets, roughly 50,000 more residents, new public promenades, plus an LGBTQ historic district– and were unveiled in late October.

The proposals would translate to downtown-style high-rise housing in Hillcrest along existing transportation corridors and revamped versions of the neighborhood’s two large hospital campuses.

See this news video from CBS8 on the proposed changes; Mat Wahlstrom is interviewed;

Here are some of more of the elements/consequences of the new proposals:

  • 20,000 new units of housing in Hillcrest
  • 50,000 new residents
  • proposal would double current density maximum now allowed of 109 dwelling units per acre, which typically allows for buildings of 10 to 12 stories to 218 units per acre in some areas and nearly triple it in some limited spots to 290 units per acre. That means buildings of 20 and even 30 stories could be built in Hillcrest.
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Monica Montgomery Steppe for County Supervisor

August 11, 2023 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

As a rule, I rarely endorse anyone for public office — as when they invariably disappoint, as holding office tends to do, the mud may splatter back on one’s petticoat. And while I always assess a field of candidates and express my thoughts if asked, I tend to keep my own counsel.

I have not met any candidate or been contacted by any campaign. But after the barrage of disinformation and dirty tricks I’ve seen being used to rig the outcome of the special election this Tuesday for the District 4 seat on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, I must speak out.

If you choose to vote, the only person running who deserves it is Monica Montgomery Steppe.

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The Law, in Its Majesty: King Todd’s ‘Unauthorized Camping Ban’

June 13, 2023 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

Today, June 13, the City Council will vote to make appearing unhoused in public illegal. Euphemistically called a ‘unauthorized camping ban,” its purpose is to pretend to solve a problem by making it invisible.

Despite winning election largely by campaigning to solve the homeless crisis that undid the political prospects of his predecessor, Todd Gloria has doubled down on Kevin Faulconer’s policy of all stick and no carrot. Cynically or not, yesterday even Faulconer called out this latest effort

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The End of San Diego’s Community Planning Boards: How We Got Here

March 24, 2023 by Frank Gormlie

By Frank Gormlie

After decades of existance, 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 my post from yesterday, I outlined the 3 main methods the city will use to dismantle San Diego’s community planning boards.
None of this is hyperbole. Here is the language at the city’s Planning Department website page under “Community Planning Group Reform“:

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Here Are the 3 Main Methods the City of San Diego Will Use to Dismantle Local Community Planning Boards

March 23, 2023 by Frank Gormlie

By Frank Gormlie

Last September, the San Diego City Council enacted a series of what they called “reforms” to supposedly make local community planning boards or groups “more independent” and the development review process more “streamlined.”

In truth, as the Rag and our writers Geoff Page and Mat Wahlstrom have been warning, is that the city is actually moving to dismantle these volunteer panels, including the Ocean Beach Planning Board — which has been around since 1976, three years shy of half a century. From a review of their writings, the following is offered:

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Do Community Planning Group ‘Reforms’ in San Diego Mean the End of Local Democracy?

March 6, 2023 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom / Times of San Diego/ March 4, 2023

Every March, the 42 community planning groups in the City of San Diego hold public elections for new board members. These unpaid volunteers are required to meet residence or business or property ownership qualification to hold office.

For over 50 years, they have served as the official advisers to the city on land use, development and project review in our neighborhoods

Every March, that is, until next year.

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OBceans and Peninsulans – Vote at Your Local Planning Boards Before the City Dismantles Them

February 28, 2023 by Frank Gormlie

Annual elections for local planning boards are coming up fast – the Ocean Beach board has its election on Wednesday, March 1, while the Peninsula Community Planning Board has theirs on March 16.

But, OBceans and Peninsulans need to be aware that the City is making lots of noise these days to dismantle the volunteer citizen panels that have, for some at least, been around since the mid-1970s.

OB Rag writers, particularly Geoff Page and Mat Wahlstrom, have been sounding the alarm for weeks and months. The city of San Diego is coming for the community planning groups with schemes to make volunteering on the boards so onerous that no one will want to put themselves through the process.

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By 5 to 4 Vote, San Diego City Council Okays Final Approval of 1 Mile Walk to Transit Station and Other ‘Reforms’

February 28, 2023 by Source

This morning, Tuesday, February 28, the San Diego City Council voted on the final approval of the so-called “Sustainable Development Areas” (Item 57).

Despite deeply informed presentations by Neighbors for a Better San Diego, they passed it with the same 5-4 vote as taken on the first vote of the measure and “reforms” back on February 14.

Councilmember Jennifer Campbell joined councilmembers Joe LaCava, Marni von Wilpert and Raul Campillo in opposing the raft of “reforms” to the building code, including the very controversial rule that allows taller apartment buildings and more backyard units when a property is near mass transit — with that transit line being up to one mile away and which may not even be built until 2035. The previous measurement was a half-mile.

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What’s Wrong With Measure C in the Midway Area Is What’s Wrong With San Diego

October 17, 2022 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom / Times of San Diego / October 15, 2022

It’s depressing because predictable that the attempted repeal of the 1972 citizens’ initiative in 2020, which was invalidated by the courts last year, was once again put on the ballot this November as Measure C.

Measure C is a verbatim repeat of the same ballot wording used in 2020, justified by the same flawed environmental review process, even as that decision is still being appealed by the city.

Measure C again proposes removing the Midway-Pacific Highway planning area from the 30-foot Coastal Height Limit Overlay Zone, allowing otherwise unlimited heights for all new buildings

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The End to San Diego’s Community Planning Groups As We Knew Them

September 20, 2022 by Source

By Geoff Page

Anyone not living in a cave these days recognizes that we – the citizens – are now in a parent-child relationship with the administration in this city of San Diego. And we are not the parent and we are to be seen and not heard.

There are stronger terms for this than parent-child, of course. But, that term seems to fit because it is how the administration sees it, and us. To that end, the city has just taken another big step toward silencing the children so it can do what is best for us all, without having to actually listen to us.

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San Diego City Council Votes Today on Flawed ‘Midway Rising’ Deal

September 13, 2022 by Source

You Get What They Pay For: Midway Rising and Every Other City “Deal”

By Mat Wahlstrom

In the wake of an FBI investigation into the mayor for his alleged pay-for-play deal to broker (in cahoots with the local Chamber of Commerce) the sale of the city’s sports arena site to a donor in exchange for $1 million to support his re-election campaign, today (September 13) the city council will consider implementing stronger anti-corruption rules.

If you were mistaken in thinking this actual news item was about San Diego instead of Anaheim, it’s understandable.

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Key City Council Committee Pushes Gloria’s Choice ‘Midway Rising’ Forward

September 9, 2022 by Frank Gormlie

Councilmember LaCava Calls Issues About Midway Rising “Unsubstantiated”

On Thursday, September 8, a key San Diego City Council committee voted unanimously to push forward Mayor Gloria’s choice for the Sports Arena redevelopment, Midway Rising.

The four councilmembers on the Land Use and Housing Committee include Democrats Vivian Moreno (Chair) – out on maternity leave, Joe LaCava (Vice Chair), and Stephen Whitburn, plus the lone termed-out Republican, Chris Cate.

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Midway Rising and the Fall of San Diego

August 26, 2022 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

I had resisted looking into the particulars of the mayor’s pet project to redevelop the Sports Arena site, released with so much fanfare last Monday, as I had dreaded that it would be as fubar as every other city real estate deal he’s been involved. But once I dug in, it was even worse than I imagined.

Beyond all the patter and glitter, the devil is *always* in the details.

Midway Rising” is the mayor’s pet proposal to “lease surplus property” to redevelop the 48.5 acres of this city-owned site for token newer housing and a generic saddle-shape replacement, with 250,000 sq ft of commercial space and a 200-key hotel.

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More Reasons to Support the OB Rag : the Writers – We’re Nearly 3/4’s the Way to Our Goal

August 25, 2022 by Frank Gormlie

As we wind down the week of our annual summer fundraiser, we can proudly say we’ve now reached three-quarters of our goal of $2,000 — $1480 to be exact.

And to add more reasons for our readers and supporters to donate to keep us goin’, it’s the people, the writers for the Rag. Nowhere else can you find their writings, reportings, observations, poetry and photography.

Geoff Page

Through his reports on the goings-on at the 3 local community planning boards, Geoff keeps the Peninsula informed. His excellent research into the state of the OB – San Diego Pier is unrivaled, and he was the first to determine the pier needed to be replaced.

Ed Decker

Ed has joined the Rag with a monthly “advice” column. You can’t read his superb wit anywhere else.

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Keep the OB Rag Goin’ – We’re a Quarter of the Way to Our Fundraising Goal

August 23, 2022 by Staff

We’re in our second day of our annual summer fundraiser — and we’re actually over a quarter of the way to making our goal of $2,000.

As we don’t have ads that fund and guide us (those that are up are freebies), we rely on you, dear reader, to keep the OB Rag goin’. Here are some reminders why the Rag needs to survive and thrive:

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OB Rag Fundraiser: ‘We’re Over Half Way There’

August 23, 2022 by Frank Gormlie

The annual OB Rag summer fundraiser is in our third day and we can announce we’re over half way to our goal of $2,000!

Actually, as of this writing, we’re raised over $1,150 in donations and pledges.

Because we are independent and not saddled by advertisers, we need to look to our readers and supporters for a sustaining budget.

Here are some reminders why the Rag needs to survive and thrive:

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The Deadly Logic of CARE Courts

August 23, 2022 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

We’ve been dealing with many attacks on our rights lately.

From above, the activist Supreme Court has gutted the right to privacy that underpinned the right to reproductive freedom as well as non-normative sexuality, allowed tax dollars to be transferred from secular public to private religious schools, and endorsed performative public prayer in the name of someone who specifically rejected making a show of praying in public (Matthew 6:5).

From Republicans, who almost universally support the January 6 insurrection, it’s the freedom to mass murder so long as it’s with bullets, and continued voter disenfranchisement.

But while these have been dominating headlines, we’ve lost sight of the single most dangerous one yet: the plan touted by state and local Democrats to create a separate legal system through what are perversely called “CARE Courts.”

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The Bad Math and Bad Faith Behind San Diego’s Housing Policies

August 9, 2022 by Source

A Deep Dive Into San Diego’s “Regional Housing Needs”

By Mat Wahlstrom

On July 13, there was an extraordinary story by Voice of San Diego on San Diego’s current Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA, pronounced “ree-na”) cycle, which was implemented in 2021. This mandates the number of units that a city must have planned to be built by 2029, or else face having more of their oversight on land-use decisions transferred to Sacramento.

And what’s extraordinary about it is that, for once, the RHNA projections were called out as the farce that experts usually only privately admit they are. No less than *the* go-to guy on local land-use economics, Gary London, was quoted as saying, “I don’t think it’s possible” to meet the state’s RHNA goals, as “15,000 units a year is a fantasy.”

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San Diego City Council Approval of Ash Street Deal Just Tip of Iceberg of Kowtowing to Developers

July 28, 2022 by Source

Gloria Did Make an Ash of Us All

By Mat Wahlstrom

In a city where corruption is standard operating procedure, the agreement approved Tuesday by the City Council on 101 Ash Street stood out as the most blatant screwing of taxpayers in living memory.

While in comparison the Chargers ticket guarantee and the pension fiasco were done in relative secret with the consequences only apparent later, our electeds proceeded in broad daylight under howls of protest to put their own interests above those of their constituents with immediate results.

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Todd Gloria is Making a 101 Ash Out of You and Me

June 27, 2022 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

You may have heard that today, Monday June 27, the City Council is being called into a special meeting to formally approve a ‘settlement’ agreement possibly illegally negotiated in just a week ago.

The original deal being ‘settled’ is the disposition of the 19-story building at 101 Ash St. Approved in 2016, it called for taxpayers to lease to own a building for $128 million that insiders knew was really only valued for $67 million — and that was before anyone outside their circle realized it’s a toxic vertical landfill.

There’s currently a lawsuit, likely to prevail, claiming this deal was illegal and so not only is it void, but all the millions paid to date in rent would have to be refunded. Not only isn’t this lawsuit costing the city a penny but, even if it were to fail, there are other lawsuits and remedies.

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LGBTQ+ Pride and YIMBY Prejudice

June 23, 2022 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

June is Pride Month, commemorating the Stonewall riots in June 1969, when lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other sexual and gender nonconforming (LGBTQ+) persons fought back against police violence and state oppression.

Considered the formal beginning of the ‘gay rights’ movement, Pride is first and foremost about visibility — which is why the main event of every Pride celebration is a parade.

But since everything gets co-opted under capitalism, June is also the month when corporations post rainbow versions of their logos, in the hopes that this gesture will get them noticed, and hopefully translate into more sales or favorable brand awareness.

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Can State Policy Trump the Will of the People Over San Diego’s Coastal Height Limit?

June 21, 2022 by Frank Gormlie

A recent opinion piece by a state agency bureaucrat on the coastal 30-foot height limit has developers and San Diego’s establishment licking their chops.

Shannon West, head of housing accountability for California’s Department of Housing and Community Development, wrote “a technical assistance letter” which declared the 30-foot height limit conflicted with state law and thus was “void.” The letter was for San Diego’s development services department

Heidi Von-blum, director of San Diego’s planning department, immediately leaped for joy and repeated the claim that state law supersedes “local voter initiative.”

Why this all came about now is because a local developer, the San Diego Community Housing Corporation, wants to build a 60-unit, 60-foot-high residential building, called Rose Creek Apartments, on a 0.4-acre site at 2662 Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach.

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What Is Supply and Demand in Housing? San Diego As a Textbook Example

May 2, 2022 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

It’s the mantra of pro-developer pundits who self-describe as “YIMBY,” or ‘Yes in My Back Yard,’ that anyone who opposes their agenda of total deregulation on land use as a prerequisite for creating affordable housing, simply doesn’t understand ‘supply and demand’ — or as they put it, “Economics 101.”

If the problem is people need affordable housing, then we just need to allow a ‘free market,’ unconstrained by regulation, to supply whatever housing it wants in order to meet that demand.

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Who’s Paying for the Plan Hillcrest Giveaway to Developers?

April 11, 2022 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

Documents uncovered (as a result of prevailing in a lawsuit filed in 2021 in a California Public Records Act request) indicate the City of San Diego secretly partnered with major property owners to implement their chosen code changes and upzone (read: increase land values) not only for nine blocks in the historic Hillcrest core, but almost the entirety of Hillcrest and Medical Complex — and to use public funds to subsidize their efforts.

The result is the city’s current Plan Hillcrest project, which mandates these two neighborhoods absorb 80% of all new development in the six neighborhoods of Uptown.

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Is the City’s ‘Build Better SD’ a Bridge Too Far for Todd Gloria?

March 28, 2022 by Source

Could Mayor Become Fall Guy as Tide of Opposition Rises Against Circulate San Diego Playbook

By Mat Wahlstrom

What is it about our electeds’ obsession with cringe-making videos?

Announced in the ‘State of the City’ address in January, but details not released until a few weeks ago, Build Better SD is a root-and-branch overhaul of the linkage between development impact fees (DIFs) and capital improvement projects (CIPs),

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How Much More Important Are Homes Than Cars to California’s Elected Officials?

March 9, 2022 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

Even by the terms of the recent years’ fire sale of our city, this week has been exceptional.

On Monday, March 7, we got the launch of “Bridge to Homes,” a plan to spend over $80 million in public funds to make construction of 662 units of low income housing ‘financially feasible.’

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Results in Uptown Planning Group Election a Sea Change Against Pro-Developer Slates

March 7, 2022 by Source

Vote Portends Trend in Local Community Planning Group Elections

By Mat Wahlstrom

The result of the Uptown Planners community planning group election concluded Tuesday, March 1, gives reason to hope for authentic community advocates.

With 925 ballots counted, all three of the Uptown for All candidates came out on top by almost 2-to-1. Despite a lower turnout, this is about the same margin as in last year’s election when we won all eight open seats.

This time around the desperation was on the side of the self-identified YIMBYs, the Rise Uptown slate. They somehow paid for a five-figure direct mail piece to every Uptown household. But unlike the targeted letter we self-funded last year, theirs was a glossy postcard heavy on hype but light on substance.

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Being a Hope: Committing Ourselves to Making a Positive Difference by Getting Involved in San Diego’s Community Planning Groups

March 1, 2022 by Source

Cornel West Inspires at PL Nazarene’s Writer’s Symposium

By Mat Wahlstrom

Last Friday, I had the great fortune to hear Cornel West speak at Point Loma Nazarene University’s 27th Writer’s Symposium by the Sea. He resigned from teaching the public practice of philosophy at Harvard last year in protest over its dismal response to the Black Lives Matter movement because he lives what he teaches.

For Dr. West, the values of dignity, integrity, honesty, and generosity are as scientific constants:

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San Diego City Council’s Plan to Delete Emails After 5 Years Is Attack on Accountability

February 21, 2022 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom/ Times of San Diego / Feb. 18, 2022

On Wednesday, Feb. 16, the City Council’s Rules Committee took up its final consideration of the changes to San Diego’s email record retention policy proposed by Mayor Todd Gloria and endorsed by City Attorney Mara Elliott, voting unanimously to move them to the full council as soon as possible to meet a Feb. 1, 2023, implementation date.

Foremost among these is the elimination of the current policy of forever retaining emails with one that mandates that most all city correspondence before Feb. 1, 2018, and going forward be permanently deleted five years to the day after being sent.

This is being praised as a win for transparency because these changes aren’t as bad as shorter alternatives.

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