The Pacific Beach Planning Group approved three development projects at its Sept. 25 meeting at the library. They also heard updates on street and sidewalk improvements and the citywide tree planning program, and explored the idea of supporting a moratorium on electric scooters.
• 709 Law St. Approved: Coastal Development Permit to demolish existing single-dwelling unit and detached garage in the RM-1-1 zone. Construct a new two-story, two-bedroom residential single-dwelling unit and detached garage with companion unit above for a total of 2,346 square feet. The project will be designed in Mid-Century Modern style with stone and metal on a narrow, 25-foot lot and under the 30-foot height limit. Presented by Tim Golba of Golba Architects, Inc. Owner: Daniel Martin.
• 852 & 856 Beryl St. Approved: Coastal Development Permit to demolish a single-family residence in the RM-1-1 zone. Construct two, two-story single-family residences on two separate existing 25-foot lots. The residences will be designed in a Spanish style. Presented by Tim Golba of Golba Architects, Inc. Owner: Greg Esmay.
• 1562 Oliver Ave. Approved: Coastal Development Permit to convert a two-car garage (currently an unpermitted studio) into a companion unit. Work will include installing a north-facing window, sealing off a door between garages and updating the heating and electrical systems. Presented by Tim Sanders, architect. Owner: Stephanie Sanders.
Streets & Sidewalks Subcommittee
Eve Anderson, chair of the Streets & Sidewalks Subcommittee, gave an update on the status of City plans for PB improvement projects. For a complete list, see “Project Monitor” under Streets & Sidewalks Subcommittee at pbplanning.org
Anderson also suggested considering a shuttle bus route between the upcoming Balboa Trolley Station and PB. In the early 1980s, she said, San Diego Transit operated a shuttle service called the Sun Runner. Three buses made 25 loops a day between SeaWorld Drive at East Mission Bay Drive and Pacific Beach and Mission Beach. The buses ran at 20-minute intervals between June and September. Anderson said the idea for reinstating a similar service will be discussed at the next Subcommittee meeting.
After listening to presentations by board members Bill Zent and Henish Pulickal, planners weighed in on the pros and cons of electric scooters. In two separate motions, the group voted not to support City Council member Barbara Bry’s proposed moratorium and not to oppose it. Although the votes were almost even, consensus was that the language of the proposed moratorium was not clear enough. For example, should privately-owned scooters be banned? Should the ban be limited to the boardwalk?
Zent emphasized the disadvantages of the scooters, including safety, lack of policing and effects on home values. “We need to be shepherds for our community,” he said. He has launched a website (scooterban.com), which includes a petition to ban scooters in San Diego. So far, the petition has more than 1,200 signatures.
Pulickal emphasized the benefits of using e-scooters and embracing changing technology. As he pointed out, people initially resisted using bicycles when they started replacing horses and buggies in the 1860s. “There are always problems at first, but improvements happen over time,” he explained.
The board, divided for and against scooters, did agree that 1) more rule enforcement is necessary, 2) common courtesy and getting off cell phones could help and 3) scooters should be banned on the boardwalk. Board member Ed Gallagher said he thought the issue was in part generational, with younger people more in favor of using scooters.
Most agreed the City entered into agreements with the scooter companies too quickly, without proper vetting. Others pointed out that scooters were here to stay and the responsibility was now to manage them more safely.
Citywide Tree Planting Program
Senior City Planner Lesley Henegar provided an update on the status of the citywide tree planting program as it conforms to the 2015 Climate Action Plan (CAP) and the Pacific Beach Community Plan. The CAP sets goals of eliminating half of all greenhouse emissions and all energy to be sourced from renewable sources by the years 2020 and 2035.
Henegar said the City is on track to reach its goal of reducing emissions, and planting more trees in residential, public, commercial and industrial areas is the third most important strategy in reducing carbon greenhouse emissions. (The first are using clean energy and reducing reliance on automobiles.)
An “Urban Tree Benefits Guide,” created by Henegar, lists the benefits of trees, including keeping air and water clean; preventing water runoff; protecting people from sun, rain and noise; providing play and exercise areas; and helping reduce stress, traffic and crime.
The guide also lists 19 trees ranked by their carbon sequestration value. The top three are: Red flowering gum (eucalyptus), Deodar cedar, Sycamore (California).
Henegar explained that carbon sequestration is the intake and storage of the element carbon. Because trees soak up the carbon that would otherwise rise up and trap heat in the atmosphere, they can help offset global warming.
For more information, see “Urban Tree Benefits Guide” at pbplanning.org, natureconservency.com and sandiego.gov/sustainability/climate-action-plan
—Next meetings (all at the library, 4275 Cass St.) Streets & Sidewalks, 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 9; Development Review (CRMS) 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 17; PB Planning Group, 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 25. pbplanning.org