OB planners lodge objections to parts of Complete Communities program
Expressing concerns with parts of the Complete Communities program drafted by the city of San Diego, the Ocean Beach Planning Board voted to propose changes.
Complete Communities includes planning strategies to create incentives for building homes in high-density areas and in transit priority areas such as Ocean Beach, as well as provide more mobility choices and opportunities for places to walk, bike, relax and play.
During their June 3 discussion, some Planning Board members expressed worries that the program proposes to increase the floor area ratio (a measurement of a building’s floor area in relation to the size of the lot) to 8.0 (it is currently 0.7), which could create the opportunity to greatly increase community density.
Vice Chairman Kevin Hastings made a motion stating that “OBPB voices its strong opposition to the increase of FAR by 10 times and unit density by even more, that will completely transform our community, throw it to the wolves [developers] and undo the work of OB planners that has been done over the past 50 years.”
The motion passed 11-1, with member Jenna Tatum voting no without comment.
Chairwoman Andrea Schlageter said the 30-foot coastal height limit would prevent overly tall buildings.
Schlageter said the Complete Communities plan was drafted in response to recent state legislation (Senate Bill 375, SB 743 and Assembly Bill 1763) that, among other things, mandates that cities reduce their vehicular miles traveled and provide for more affordable housing.
Some of the proposed strategies in the Complete Communities housing solutions section are:
- Implement an incentive program for housing construction centered around mixed use and multifamily areas served by transit.
- Require developments to invest in neighborhood amenities such as parks and urban plazas.
- Provide incentives for housing that is more affordable, especially for lower and middle income levels, through a restructured development impact fee and streamlined processing.
Further discussion by the Planning Board resulted in two passed motions for amendments to Hastings’ motion.
Member Christopher Chalupsky voiced concern that one of the requirements for developers is that affordable units be within a transit priority area in the same community planning area or within one mile of the proposed project.
Secretary Tracie Dezenzo noted that if developers were to choose to build affordable units a mile from their other units, they would need two separate properties.
“So they could put all their high-rent district stuff together and all their lower-rent district stuff together,” Dezenzo said.
Chalupsky motioned to add that “OBPB opposes the ... stipulation ... that affordable units may be placed within one mile of a proposed project. We strongly feel that inclusionary housing must be built on the same development project site or else it is not truly inclusionary.”
The motion passed 9-3, with Hastings, Andrew Waltz and Virginia Wilson voting no.
“The FAR and unit density is so … big of a deal, I feel like these other points are just distracting from that,” Hastings said.
“I would support that as a second recommendation, but it doesn’t look right as an amendment to this one,” Wilson said.
One of the incentives for developers to build affordable housing is a streamlined permitting process. If a project complies with zoning standards, it would get by-right approval, without the need for a discretionary review process by community groups (with limited exceptions, such as environmentally sensitive land).
Dezenzo expressed concern that giving by-right approval would cut the Planning Board from the permitting process.
Chalupsky motioned to add that “OBPB requests that the by-right approval ... be eliminated from the developer incentives. We strongly feel that the OBPB should continue to be consulted for projects within the OB planning area to ensure they adhere to our community plan.”
The motion passed 12-0.
The Planning Board’s feedback was sent to City Council member Jennifer Campbell.
To listen to the meeting audio once it’s posted, visit oceanbeachplanning.org.