San Diego City Council approves Ocean Beach Community Plan Update

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego City Council Tuesday approved a long-awaited update to the Ocean Beach Community Plan, which addresses issues like zoning and neighborhood character for the offbeat beach town.

The plan, a dozen years in the making, was given a unanimous go-ahead after city staff resolved most of 43 modifications recommended by the California Coastal Commission last month.

"The guiding principle here is essentially to preserve Ocean Beach as a very particular kind of village that is representative of the beach communities here in San Diego," said Planning Director Bill Fulton. He said staff also wanted to maintain the small-scale character, encourage alternative forms of transportation, enhance parks and public facilities, and improve coastal and historic resources.

Provisions on coastal resources looked at how to address rising sea levels and erosion of bluffs, among other things.

The one sticking point in the update was over floor area ratios -- the amount of floor space in a structure compared to the size of the lot.

The update contains strong language against variances that would be given to homeowners who want to enlarge their houses. The city's Planning Commission has issued five variances in recent years and called for gentler wording in the plan update.

However, many in the audience at City Hall harshly criticized the Planning Commission for allowing the variances. Residents who spoke approved of OB's smaller scale and railed against the kind of development seen along the boardwalk at Mission Beach and Pacific Beach.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer has expressed support for the plan update, which is one of many for San Diego neighborhoods that have been bogged down over the years and are just now heading toward adoption.

Updates for Barrio Logan and Otay Mesa have been approved by the City Council over the past year. The Barrio Logan plan was overturned in June's election in the face of strong opposition from the area's shipyards and maritime businesses.

The Ocean Beach Community Plan was last updated in 1975.

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