Residents chime in on wish list for OB’s future
by Tony de Garate
Jul 10, 2013 | 3076 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kathy Blavatt of the Ocean Beach Historical Society wants better protection for historic trees like the beautiful Monterrey cypress near Cable Street and several Torrey pines on Saratoga Avenue.

Bicycle activist Nicole Burgess wants infrastructure that emphasizes safety and making things easier for people to get around on bike and on foot.

Resident Vince Adame wants to clear up confusion about regulations that govern special events around the Ocean Beach Pier and to make sure setup crews aren’t allowed to make too much noise when people are trying to sleep.

Those were a few of the wishes expressed July 3 when the Ocean Beach Planning Board (OBPB) voted 7-0 to authorize the release of a draft plan designed to guide growth and address quality-of-life issues in OB over the next 20 years.

Eleven years in the making, the document, known officially as the Ocean Beach Community Plan and Local Coastal Program, contains specific recommendations for such weighty topics as land use, transportation, urban design, public utilities and historic preservation. The 166-page plan also assesses public-facility needs like schools, libraries and parks; and fire, police and lifeguard stations.

The plan and accompanying environmental impact report will be available on the city’s website and in hard-copy form at the Ocean Beach Branch Library by July 26, the official release date. However, it can already be viewed at the OBPB’s website, oceanbeachplanning.org.

The plan has a long way to go before ultimate adoption early next year by the California Coastal Commission. It must still be reviewed by various City Council committees before it comes to the full council in November, said senior city planner Maxx Stalheim, the plan’s author. OBPB chairman Tom Gawronski said it’s likely he will schedule a town hall-style meeting next month, possibly under the joint banner with the Ocean Beach Town Council.

But many Obeceans who have examined the plan are already eager to share their thoughts, as evidenced by the recent OBPB meeting.

Frank Gormlie, former OBPB chairman and editor of obrag.org, said all the good intentions expressed in the plan could be for naught if they aren’t supported by funding and proper enforcement.

“There’s lots of great, flowery language. That’s what planners like to do,” Gormlie said. “When that language is connected to common sense [and] money sources, it’s great.”

Mixed-use development and “city of villages” planning are great concepts in theory, but risky if misapplied, he said.

“If it’s not tied to mass transit and historic preservation, it can be disastrous,” Gormlie said.

Onerous business regulations were on the mind of Denny Knox, executive director of the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association. She called for the removal of Commercial Activity Recommendation 8.2.3, which calls for restrictions on businesses that abut a residential neighborhood.

“If you have a business license or own a restaurant or bar, you already have the strong arm of the law coming down on you,” Knox said.

Citizens who want to offer amendments, reword specific proposals or make other comments may do so by email. Giovanni Ingolia, who co-chairs the board’s Plan Update Committee, encouraged residents and merchants to send feedback to gingolia@hotmail.com.

Other OBPB news

• Expect libraries and recreation centers in Ocean Beach and throughout the city to see a reduction in hours in response to an unexpected $20 million budget shortfall, said John Ly, aide to District 2 City Councilman Kevin Faulconer. A projected surplus for fiscal 2014, which began this month, flipped to deficit status, resulting from a recent vote by the San Diego City Employees’ Retirement System Board on how to calculate the annual pension payment, Ly said. “We don’t know yet how we’re going to cover the whole amount,” he said.

• Even though Mayor Bob Filner returned $100,000 to the developer of the Sunroad project in Kearny Mesa, there are other allocated funds in the city budget dedicated to a proposed Ocean Beach veteran’s memorial, Ly said. Filner had included more than $70,000 for the project in his May budget revision, and that’s not affected by the Sunroad situation, he said. Because more than $70,000 had also been earmarked in the $100,000 returned to the developer, the similarity in the amounts had caused confusion, and Ly said he’s been on the receiving end of phone calls from concerned citizens recently.

• Board vacancies exist in districts 1 and 3, Gawronski announced. To be considered for appointment, citizens must live, own property in or run a business in the Ocean Beach planning area and must gather at least 35 signatures in the district in which they wish to serve. More information is available at oceanbeachplanning.org.

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