Ocean Beach Planning Board endorses more choices for electricity
Published - 05/13/17 - 07:33 AM | 3151 views | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
If skeptics of climate change and defenders of San Diego Gas & Electric are abundant in Ocean Beach, it wasn’t apparent at this month’s meeting of the Ocean Beach Planning Board.

Seeing none of either constituency, the OBPB threw its weight behind the creation of a government body designated to buy electricity and compete with SDG&E. It voted unanimously May 3 to write a letter to the City Council supporting the concept known as Community Choice Energy (CCE).

“Currently, SDG&E both buys and distributes power to ratepayers. With CCE, also known as Community Choice Aggregation, the government would also buy electricity, allowing customers to choose between the two vendors. Bills would still come from SDG&E and the utility would still provide the means of distribution,” said Alicia Race of Climate Action Campaign.

Debate among the 11 board members and comments from the two dozen or so audience members was surprisingly scant – surprising, perhaps, until you remind yourself the motion took place in this left-leaning beach community that prides itself for its environmental consciousness.

“CCE is seen as an important step in meeting the requirements of the city’s landmark Climate Action Plan, which among other things, calls for all electricity used in San Diego to come from renewable sources by 2035,” Race said. (Stoves, dryers and other appliances that use natural gas would still be allowed.)

“The Climate Action Campaign is in the midst of an information offensive at planning board meetings to urge the City Council to approve CCE,” Race said. So far, 63 cities and nine counties throughout the state have signed on.

Like the other 40-plus planning boards throughout the city, the OBPB is sanctioned to make nonbinding recommendations to the city on land-use and quality-of-life matters.

“Most energy still comes from dirty fuel sources,” Race said. “This shifts from the for-profit model to a nonprofit model and gives us local control and accountability over our rates.”

CCE could also boost the local economy if managed skillfully, Race suggested.

“Today we see millions of dollars are leaving San Diego to pay for electric generation. We see that with community choice, we start to build up local infrastructure,” she said. “We could take advantage of our beautiful sunshine – 89 percent of our buildings are solar viable – so there’s a potential to create local jobs.”

Race said CCE is strongly supported in the polls. However, the concept has its critics, including SDG&E parent company Sempra Energy and the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, according to reports.

In other board news

n The board appointed two residents to fill vacancies, putting the board at full strength with all 14 positions filled. Both appointees – Numan Stotz (District 5) and Andrew Waltz (District 3) – are former members.

Stotz described himself as a 15-year real estate broker with deep OB roots – he graduated from Ocean Beach Elementary and Point Loma High schools and worked at Olive Tree Market for 17 years. Waltz said he is a former architecture planner who now works as an event planner for arts and advocacy groups.

n Ocean Beach trees and the challenges to maintain them may be a prominent theme on an upcoming episode of “A Growing Passion,” scheduled to be aired for the first time May 18 at 8:30 p.m. on KPBS.

Virginia Wilson, local representative of the city’s Community Forest Advisory Board, said video crews recently descended on three OB locations – including the Ocean Beach Recreation Center, where they sat in on a workshop – to produce the episode titled “Urban Forests – Trees And Plants In The City.” Wilson said tree advocates are gearing up to defend spending on urban trees in the FY 2018 budget under development.

n The election isn’t until next year, but one Ocean Beach resident has already declared himself a candidate for the District 2 position of the San Diego City Council.

Bryan Pease, who described himself as a Cape May Avenue resident and public interest attorney with 11 years of experience, wants to replace incumbent Councilmember Lorie Zapf, who is ineligible to run again due to term limits. Pease said he favors CCE and strengthening public services.

n Regardless of whether Obamacare gets repealed nationally, a proposal for single-payer healthcare in California is making its way through the committee process, said Chevelle Newell-Tate, aide to State Senator Toni Atkins. Atkins is co-sponsor of the legislation, Newell-Tate said.

n Maybe two out of three ain’t bad, what about one out of six? There was a bit of grumbling during the Representatives Report portion of the meeting, in which aides to elected officials address the board about what’s going on in their various jurisdictions. Newell-Tate was the only one to show.

meaning no report from Zapf, Mayor Kevin Faulconer, District 4 County Supervisor Ron Roberts, Congressman Scott Peters and state Assemblyman Todd Gloria. Peters’ office did call in advance, but’s it’s the third consecutive no-show for Faulconer’s office, OBPB Chairman John Ambert said.

- Seeking to strike a blow against the practice of renting out homes to short-term vacationers, the board unanimously recommended denial of a proposed two-story house built over a four-car garage at 4925 Saratoga Ave. Board members said they suspected the house would be used as a vacation rental because an existing structure on the same lot is currently advertised as such by online platforms. Approving the structure would run counter to affordability goals called for in the Ocean Beach Community Plan, board members said.

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