Blueprint for OB’s future being readied for public scrutiny
by Tony De Garate
May 29, 2013 | 4194 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A document more than a decade in the making, designed to act as a blueprint for how Ocean Beach will grow over the next 20 years will soon be available to the public.

The document, known as the Ocean Beach community plan update, is the latest revision to the Ocean Beach precise plan, which was the first community plan in San Diego when it was adopted in 1975.

A community plan contains specific proposals for future land uses and public improvements. Elements within the plan address transportation, urban design and public facilities like libraries, parks, recreation centers and the like. The last update to the plan was made in 1991.

The document should be available for public examination in less than two months, said Maxx Stalheim, a city senior planner who appeared at the monthly meeting of the Ocean Beach Town Council on May 22.

“What a long, strange trip it’s been,” said Stalheim, referring to the fits, starts, hiccups and delays since work on the update began in 2002.

The document has been on the drawing board so long that Stalheim won’t even have the satisfaction of being around in time for the official adoption, estimated in March of next year. In July, Stalheim will retire and turn the reins over to fellow senior planner Theresa Millette, who oversaw the Otay Mesa community plan update.

Next week, Stalheim will ask the Ocean Beach Planning Board (OBPB) for its feedback. He said he’ll hand out copies to board members only, not the public, at the OBPB’s next meeting June 5 at 6 p.m. at the Ocean Beach Recreation Center, 4726 Santa Monica Ave.

Even though the document will be discussed in public, audience members won’t be able to view it, Stalheim said.

“We simply don’t release draft documents before they go out,” Stalheim said.

The document will make its next stop at the San Diego Planning Commission on June 20. Finally, the update will be available to the public online and at the Ocean Beach Library on July 12, he said.

Stalheim characterized the document as a “no-change update,” because all land-use designations remain in place since the plan was last updated in 1991. However, he listed several features the community may find noteworthy:

• The controversial trend among property owners on West Point Loma Boulevard to replace one-story duplexes with three-story homes could become a thing of the past. Language in the introduction will state that variances allowing homes with larger square footages than permitted by zoning is not compatible with the plan.

• For the first time ever, the document will contain a public facilities financing plan that identifies projects to be built when funds become available.

• A Beach Cottage Historic District has been identified.

In other Town Council news

• The Ocean Beach Hotel, 5080 Newport Ave., has been awarded the Small Business of the Year by Marty Block, state senator for the 39th District. Hotel owner Rich Grosch has been invited to Sacramento to receive the award, according to Block aide Roberto Alcantar. Grosch’s son, Steve, manages the hotel and serves on the Town Council.

• A former member of the San Diego City Council who now champions public financing of political campaigns has reached out to the Town Council for support. John Hartley, who served on the council from 1989 to 1993, now serves as campaign coordinator for a group called Neighborhoods for Clean Elections. Hartley said the group is aiming to place a proposition on the 2016 ballot.

• Ed Harris, longtime San Diego Lifeguard Services sergeant, plans to jump into waters of a different sort. He told board members he will run for the City Council District 2 seat in 2014. The incumbent, Kevin Faulconer, cannot run again because of term limits. If Harris does end up filing candidacy papers, he would likely be running against District 6 City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, who would then be representing District 2 under new redistricting mapping.

• The trial period for closing the less-than-1-year-old restrooms at the foot of Brighton Street at night has been extended by 30 days to mid-June. The city wants more information on how the decreased availability of restroom facilities is affecting the community, said Faulconer aide John Ly.

• An ordinance that would ban overnight parking of recreation vehicles, trailers and boats in the western areas of city will come before the City Council on June 11, said Ly.

• A trail leading from the corner of West Point Loma and Sunset Cliffs boulevards to Robb Field — a major component of the Ocean Beach Entryway project — should be complete by year’s end, Ly said. The City Council recently approved a $50,000 allocation of development impact fees to pay for design and construction, he said.

• Three contractors have been invited to submit bids to reconstruct the weather-worn, termite-infested Ocean Beach sign that greets southbound traffic on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, said Jim Musgrove, who chairs the Community Enhancement Committee. Only one has submitted a bid so far. Last month, Musgrove estimated the cost at roughly $10,000.

• Mayor Bob Filner has proposed $76,000 in next year’s budget for a new Veterans Plaza on Abbott Street south of the lifeguard tower, said Steve Grosch, who chairs a committee spearheading the effort. Grosch said he’s pleased with public feedback on the two designs recently released by architectural firm KTU+A. The plans can be viewed at the Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation’s website by visiting obcdc.org.

• As the saying goes, there’s no harm in asking. That was the idea behind a request from four members of the San Diego Fire Department’s Station 15 in Ocean Beach, who asked the board if funds might be available for workout equipment at Saratoga Park, where the crew holds its morning workouts. At the end of a presentation about Water Safety Month, board member Musgrove asked if there was anything the Town Council could do to improve conditions for the crew. That’s when paramedic Chris Brown said there was no suitable equipment for pull-ups and dips, and a donation of materials would benefit the entire community. Board members said it would depend on the ability of the firefighters to develop a detailed proposal that would pass muster of the various government permitting agencies.

“We’re happy to see what we can do for whatever you guys need,” said Town Council president Dave Martin.

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