Faulconer, OB planners at odds on beachfront variances, demolitions
by Tony De Garate
Published - 08/10/11 - 04:54 PM | 8371 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
According to District 2 City Councilman Kevin Faulconer, there’s nothing wrong in terms of property owners on West Point Loma Boulevard — south of the entrance to Dog Beach — who want to tear down one-story, 1950s-era duplexes and replace them with more stylish, three-story homes.

Faulconer was responding to a recent letter of protest from the Ocean Beach Planning Board (OBPB) that alleged the city has been improperly granting variances, allowing owners of these beachfront properties to build houses larger than called for by zoning statutes.

The board sent the letter after opposing, without success, two property owners in the 5100 block of West Point Loma Boulevard, a block that originally contained 14 similar-looking, low-rise concrete structures on 2,500-square-foot lots. A third application has been submitted for a three-story project requiring a variance.

The block is zoned RM 2-4, which stands for residential multi-family housing with lot sizes up to 6,000 square feet. In Ocean Beach, the zone restricts total gross floor area to seven-tenths of the lot size, 25 percent of which must be set aside for enclosed parking, unless underground parking is provided.

For a 2,500-square-foot lot, this means a maximum of 1,312.5 square feet for living space and a 437.5-square-foot garage. The most recent of the two variances allowed a combined 1,748 square feet among the three floors for housing and a 335-square-foot open carport. The city ruled it was appropriate to allocate the garage square footage for living space because of the small lot size and lack of alley access.

The request for the variance was upheld by a San Diego hearing officer, the San Diego Planning Commission and the California Coastal Commission. Faulconer is satisfied the variances have been properly approved, Faulconer aide Michael Patton told planners during the OBPB’s Aug. 3 meeting.

“You guys aren’t going to like what [Faulconer] has to say, because he is fine with what they [property owners] are doing,” Patton said.

Faulconer is the first city official to respond to the OBPB’s opposition letter, which was addressed to Mayor Jerry Sanders and copied to Faulconer, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, Development Services director Kelly Broughton and councilmembers Sherri Lightner, Todd Gloria and David Alvarez .

The letter charges that the variances “constitute … rezoning of these lots without adhering to city procedures for rezoning.

“It should be noted that all the lots in question are and have been perfectly buildable without variances,” the letter states.

The public also stands to lose ocean views because of the variances, according to the letter.

“Those views are called out in the Ocean Beach precise plan revision and should be preserved,” the letter states.

The OBPB members seemed undeterred by Faulconer’s lack of support.

“We intend to fight this,” said board member Tom Gawronski. “If Councilmember Faulconer wants to be on the other side of this battle, okay.”
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