Apartment-to-condo conversion project meets with resistance
by Dave Schwab
Jan 29, 2014 | 1461 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Peninsula planners nixed a map waiver to convert four apartment units under construction into condos and approved flashing crosswalks near Silver Gate Elementary School, as well as hearing a comprehensive report from the Unified Port of San Diego updating its long-range vision.

Those were the highlights of the Peninsula Community Planning Board’s (PCPB) Jan. 16 meeting.

Claude-Anthony Marengo, representing developers American Coastal Properties, gave a presentation on a project under way at 3102-3104 Avenida De Portugal and 1120-1122 Locust St. requesting planners’ approval of a map waiver to allow a change of building type.

Marengo said the project is merely “following the regulations to meet the (building) code.”

Roseville neighbor Gale Barlow, who lives near the project, said she opposed the map waiver.

“Anyone can fudge,” she said, given less stringent height regulations for apartment-to-condo conversions. “We have many condos [already] in Point Loma. We don’t need any more.”

Barlow said if one were to drive around the neighborhood, “there’s nothing that looks like this.”

Another neighbor complained that allowing this apartment-to-condo conversion would “open up the floodgates” to other similar development projects “obstructing view corridors.”

“This project is a fait accompli,” said planner Norm Allenby. “They’re already building it. I don’t think there’s anything we can do.”

Other planners were not so sure about it being a done deal.

“We can vote in opposition,” disagreed planner Jarvis Ross, who said laws favoring condo conversions in areas not conducive to them “need to be addressed.”

PCPB chairwoman Julia Quinn also expressed reservations.

“It’s kind of like a Taj Mahal in the middle of Roseville,” said Quinn.

The PCPB board voted 11-1 for a motion finding the conversion project didn’t conform with community character. A second motion specifically on the map waiver — which required a majority vote to carry — resulted in a 5-5-2 vote. The action fell short to pass the waiver.

In other action, the advisory group voted unanimously in favor of a motion to support placing flashing crosswalk lights at the corner of Catalina Boulevard and Orchard Avenue for traffic-calming measures to protect pedestrians.

“Parents at Silver Gate Elementary School have asked the city to come out with many different options and this is the option that’s best with a push-button [system] activating the light,” said PCPB secretary Nicole Burgess.

In other developments, Keith Walzak of the Unified Port of San Diego spoke on the Port District’s 50-year vision plan.

“Over the next two to five years, the Port District is updating its long-range master plan,” Walzak said.

Walzak said the Port District’s mission includes protecting the tidelands trust and the resources within it, creating a “balanced approach to the maritime industry, tourism and environmental stewardship of water and land resources, including public safety.“

“The majority of our jurisdictional area is actually water-based,” Walzak said.

The idea, he said, is to do a long-range master plan, rather than “piecemealing things together.”

Walzak said the port’s visionary plan will be conducted in numerous phases over a number of years.

“We’re doing outreach to get a lot of ideas from a lot of people in order to develop guiding principles and a vision statement,” he said. We need to think of economic development opportunities throughout the entire bay area.”

The PCPB meets the third Thursday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at the Point Loma/Hervey Branch Library at 3701 Voltaire St.
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