Emerson Street Duplexes, currently under construction at the corner of Emerson and Evergreen streets, calls for two, three-story duplexes with garages beneath a total of four dwelling units.
Zoning on the property allows up to 19 dwelling units on a single, or consolidated lot, noted Mark Krencik, an architect and board member on the Peninsula Community Planning Board (PCPB).
Krencik said a building permit was issued by the city for the Point Loma project on March 21.
Not everyone, neighbors or community planners alike, are entirely happy with the project – or how it's being processed through the city's development pipeline.
“We live directly across the street from this project on 1360 Evergreen St. and cannot believe what they are building there,” said neighbor Italo J. Cileu, a fourth-generation Point Loman who's family has owned their property for more than 60 years.
Claiming the development resembles a “four-story building,” Cileu asked, “How did they ever get permits to build such a project? Is there no law to control the height limit?”
“This is not a good fit for the community,” claimed Cileu, adding, “That area is a small, quiet community and has been for a long time. I am so afraid that once they start, they will never finish until the whole community looks like downtown San Diego.”
Proposition D, a citizen initiative approved by more than 60 percent of voters in 1972, restricts the height of all buildings west of I-5 to 30 feet.
Jon Linney, newly elected PCPB chair, said the duplexes may be yet another incidence of developer's pushing the envelope with coastal height restrictions.
“The fine neighborhoods we have known all our lives on the Point Loma Peninsula are slipping away – silently,” said Linney. “Silently, because the 30-foot height limit is being violated frequently.”
Linney claims developers are getting creative in finding ways to get around the 30-foot height restriction.
“An unknown city body adopted loopholes to the Proposition D height limit in what is called 'Technical Bulletin BLDG-5-4,'” said Linney adding, “It was done without fanfare and out of public view.”
Linney insists “lax zoning rules allow many projects to go up without any public hearing or community review.”
Because of this, Linney noted that Roseville, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, “is disappearing one teardown at a time.”
Noting some Point Loma zoning “allows 1,814 square-foot McMansions to be built on tiny 25-foot lots,” Linney pointed out that was the case recently at 2257 Froude St. (redevelopment recently approved by the city Planning Commission) even though the Ocean Beach Planning Board was never consulted.
“Enough,” said Linney. “The public is fed up with forced density and planning by loophole. Citizens are pushing back and showing signs of being silent no more.”
Pointing out the Ocean Beach Planning Board “spent a dozen years on a new community plan only to see it about to be gutted when the Planning Department decided to allow unlimited exceptions,” Linney said OBPB is now pushing back.
“Thousands of citizens signed petitions and the City Council unanimously decided against unlimited exceptions,” he said. “A four-condo project known as the Carleton Four went up without any public hearing or review. When the PCPB learned of a rule violation and successfully protested, the half-built condominiums suddenly became half-built apartments. The builder will not be allowed to sell the units as condos.”
Referencing the current condominium project at 3144 Emerson St. also being done without a public hearing, Linney noted the three-story project above an underground garage is “four stories, the way the public sees it” adding “the sound of silence is being replaced by a public clamor.”
Linney blames density and soaring land values for “pushing buildings out to the sides of the lots and up above the height limit via loopholes. This is a Peninsula problem and the solution will require a unified Peninsula response.”
Duplex developers, identified as permit holder Matthew Bartz from Pacific Enterprise Builders and property owner William Bartz, could not be reached for comment by The Beacon.