Carleton condo decision a 'pivotal moment' in Roseville neighborhood in Point Loma
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 04/02/15 - 04:01 PM | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Peninsula Community Planning Board (PCPB) and some Point Lomans are characterizing the March 19 decision by the San Diego Planning Commission to overturn a hearing officer’s previous approval of a controversial apartment-to-condo conversion on Carleton Street as a “pivotal moment in slowing the destruction of the Roseville neighborhood’s community character.”

“We (PCPB) appealed the hearing officer’s approval of the map waiver for the four-unit Carleton project,” said PCPB chair Julia Quinn at the advisory group’s March meeting. “We had concerns about the project, having been told it was two beds and 2.5 baths when it was actually three beds and 3.5 baths.

“The commission was told there were also concerns about setbacks and with the project complying with the 30-foot coastal height limit. They approved our appeal,” she said.

Roseville is one of San Diego’s oldest neighborhoods, dating back to the mid-1800s. PCPB planner Don Sevrens laid out many of the advisory group’s concerns about condo conversions and map waivers in a letter posted on Nextdoor.com and on PCPB’s Facebook page.

“The current trend is to tear down ancient single-family homes and replace them with three-story, multi-unit buildings, which can be erected without any hearing or public review,” said Sevrens. “To expedite their projects, developers apply to build apartments buildings, then later ask for conversion to condominiums in a process known as a map waiver.”

The impact of apartment-to-condo conversions, Sevrens claimed, is to “change the face of Roseville without any public discussion or review, one project at a time.”

However, Sevrens also pointed out that, due to a quirk in the city’s municipal code, a condo conversion requires a hearing before the area’s advisory and elected citizen planning board.

In November, the PCPB Board overwhelmingly recommended against the Carleton Street project’s being converted to condos for a variety of reasons, including “deception” over the number of unit bedrooms and the project’s alleged non-compliance with off-street parking requirements.

In February, a hearing officer overruled the PCPB board but, according to later testimony, ordered that the units be recorded in official documents as three-bedroom condominiums.

The final appeal then came March 19 before the appointed city Planning Commission. In a 5-1 vote (Commissioner Austin dissenting), the commission overturned the hearing officer’s decision and sided with PCPB.

“The units, still not finished, will remain as rental apartments instead of being subdivided and sold as condominiums,” said Sevrens of the impact of the Planning Commission’s decision.

Critics alleged there were many flaws, omissions and irregularities concerning the Carleton 4 project, with the most blatant being a miscount of bedrooms and bathrooms. Three-bedroom status for the four-unit building requires 13 parking spaces, and the project has only 12.

Board chair Julia Quinn filed the appeal on the planning group’s behalf and detailed the other flaws, alleging the building is 33 feet high, violating the area’s 30-foot height limit, as well as being constructed without a grading permit and with other expired building permits.

“The third-floor ‘lofts’ or ‘dens’ contain closets and bathrooms and are really third bedrooms and violate municipal code parking requirements,” said Quinn on behalf of PCPB in a letter to the Planning Commission. “PCPB was concerned that the current city approval process allows building permits to be issued for apartments, without community review, and only subsequently allows communities to provide input during the map waiver process when the construction is (already) under way.”

 PCPB recommended that the Planning Commission deny the Carleton map waiver request due to alleged misrepresentation of the facts of the development, that the city’s definition of what constitutes a “bedroom” is incorrect, that the permit for this project has already expired, that a grading permit for the project should have been required and that the right-of-way permit for new sidewalk, driveway, water service and sewer laterals had also expired.

“There is no further appeal,” said Sevrens noting PCPB chair Quinn said that, after a year, the developer could seek to get a waiver on the parking deficiency and file a new application.

“Meantime, board members and community activists say it is imperative that there be a dialogue on the race to density in Roseville and closer review of individual mult-unit projects,” Sevrens concluded.
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