Letters to the Editor
San Diego is in a housing crisis and Pacific Beach Planning Group is making it worse
It’s a classic NIMBY tactic: Say you support more housing but vote against any potential housing solutions. The Pacific Beach Planning Group (PBPG) said June 16 that it will neither endorse nor support Senate Bill 9 (SB9), which would allow residential lots to be split and homes converted into duplexes.
The group’s letter outlines obstructionist tactics of local planning groups used to protect the status quo that drove the state into a housing crisis.
“The PBPG opposes SB9 because it will legislate a permanent shift of power to developers by taking it away from the existing homeowners and the local community,” wrote Karl Rand, chair of the PBPG in a letter to San Diego Senator Toni Atkins, SB9’s sponsor.
The term “power” is an especially telling word choice by the group. Instead of pursuing equality and a compromise that would help increase housing, the majority of planning group members want to protect their power.
Current and past members of the PBPG and other city planning groups have been described as “unrepresentative” by the San Diego planning department. The majority white, homeowning planning group members tend to focus their ire on “developers,” “builders” and “investment groups” as a way to create a scapegoat to their NIMBY narrative, but the real crisis culprit is R1 zoning.
“R1 zoning exacerbates inequality and undermines efficiency,” wrote the authors of the 2019 article ‘It’s Time to End Single-Family Zoning’ in the Journal of the American Planning Association. “R1’s origins are unpleasant: Stained by explicitly classist and implicitly racist motivations, R1 today continues to promote exclusion.”
The PBPG letter outlines several conditions members wish to see in “any bills which are designed to radically change existing zoning.” While some of these conditions are potentially helpful (“An affordability component should be added to SB9…”) others reflect a desire to protect the status quo : “This level of density cannot be managed in our community due to its current infrastructure... and would result in an unhealthy living environment.”
There’s even fear of SB9 housing “obstructing views and air circulation.”
Perhaps the most telling arguments against SB9 by the PBPG are the notions that “Community character will disappear” and that SB9 “has no regard for access to open space and the quality of life within the communities.”
Fifty years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act, California’s zoning laws continue to encourage investment in R1 communities while discouraging middle class residents from living there. The PBPG doesn’t have the power to change laws. It can only make recommendations. But these NIMBY, power-protecting recommendations are upholding the very problems that got California into not only a housing crisis but a racial one, too.
California is in a housing crisis. Fighting new solutions and maintaining privilege will keep it so.
Regina Sinsky-Crosby, Crown Point, Pacific Beach
5-year parking meter plan?
The parking meter controversy in Pacific Beach continues. The latest development occurred at the June 16 meeting of the City’s Active Transportation and Infrastructure (ATI) Committee. I attended this virtue meeting and as a member of the PB Parking Advisory Board was quite surprised by information presented there.
Primarily, and most importantly, the proposed Pacific Beach parking meter plan was presented as a 5-year agreement with the city. There was no mention of the one-year PB Parking Advisory Board Pilot Program we have been hearing about for more than a year.
Documents provided at the ATI meeting included the 5-year operating agreement negotiated between Discover Pacific Beach and the City of San Diego. According to the budget provided with this proposal, Discover PB will receive $52,000 annually from parking meter receipts to cover their expenses, including rent $8,000 and insurance $3,000. Members of the PB Parking Advisory Board, who have been endorsing the one-year plot, were not made aware of the negotiations for the 5-year program.
While the proposal presented at the ATI meeting emphasized the importance of community input for parking meter planning, the most recent survey where 63% of community respondents did not approve of parking meters was not mentioned. Unfortunately, as a member of the PB Parking Advisory Board, I found community input to be greatly lacking in this entire process.
After expenses and the city allocation, 100% of parking meter receipts are budgeted for a community shuttle. Considering the low ridership I observe on MTA buses on PB streets, I question the success of such a venture. No ridership study has been done on our streets to justify the shuttle plan. A proposal to spend a small amount for safety improvements on Garnet Avenue approved by the PB Parking Advisory Board has been eliminated.
For years we have been told the need for parking meters in PB was to fund improvements in the Garnet business district. The plan presented at the ATI meeting included no funds for that purpose.
The 5-year Pacific Beach parking proposal is expected to go before the City Council in July — the last step in a long process. Considering the above and other unpopular information you may have heard about the proposed PB parking meter plan, it is time to express your concerns.
I urge you to call, write or email members of the City Council and let them know that parking meters are just not right for this small beach community. Contact information for all City Council members can be found at sandiego.gov.
Gordon Froehlich, Pacific Beach Parking Advisory Board member