4343 Ocean Boulevard, Pacific Beach
A group of residents has filed a second lawsuit against the city and California Coastal Commission for giving a popular bar and restaurant in Pacific Beach the green light to build an 1895-square-foot deck outside.
San Diegans for Responsible Planning, the plaintiff, filed its first lawsuit in July 2013. Now, the group is back, claiming the coastal commission and the city supported the expansion project at the Pacific Beach Shore Club without providing proper public notification and for violating parking requirements.
According to the second complaint, dated June 30, the group says the city and coastal commission were fully aware of a deficit in parking when they approved the project last year. The commission attempted to mitigate the parking deficit by creating a “Transportation Demand Management Program” that was directed to delve into the feasibility of offering valet parking at the site.
Little good that did. Instead of ensuring adequate parking, the coastal commission has since allowed the number of parking spaces to drop from 29 to 26.
"The bar and restaurant are the primary use at the Project site. In addition, the Project as approved will add an estimated 126 patrons, raising the current bar and restaurant capacity from 186 to 312. Although it will be expanding its capacity by 68% and its square footage by 43%, the Project as approved reduces parking spaces from 29 to 26."
Making matters worse for residents, the coastal commission has allowed this in spite of a July 2013 staff report that warned of "high levels of visitor parking" in the surrounding commercial and residential areas.
"Public space and public parking are at a premium, with demand usually outstripping supply," reads the staff report. "Additionally, the Pacific Beach area in general has long experienced issues related to providing sufficient parking to both public and private uses.
“Many businesses in the Pacific Beach area are previously conforming regarding parking ratios, and some rent spaces from nearby businesses that have excess parking, though the opportunities for that are rare. The surrounding residential streets experience high levels of visitor parking as people either cannot find parking by the beach or wish to avoid paid parking, and thus park in front of the homes and walk to the beach area."
Commissioners ignored the warnings and on February 13, 2013, the commission approved the parking and at the same time ordered the owners of the Pacific Beach Shore Club to implement a part-time valet-parking program. The valet-parking requirement was included even though commissioners admitted that onsite valet parking would drive patrons to park in residential areas.
"[W]hile the Commission believes the use of valet parking can maximize parking supply, fees for valet parking can also deter patrons from utilizing the on-site parking and thus lead to off-site parking impacts."
Attorneys for the San Diegans for Responsible Planning also accuse the commission of violating open-government laws by failing to notify interested parties that commissioners would be hearing the item, despite previous requests to do so.
"By failing to give required notice and by holding the meeting in a distant location, members of the public were deprived of any opportunity to comment on the revised conditions and findings. By failing to provide any specifics of the [Transportation Demand Management] Program to the Commission or to the public in advance of approval and issuance of the [conditional use permit], the public was deprived of any opportunity to comment upon the [Transportation Demand Management] Program."
Residents are asking that a judge issue a preliminary injunction needed to put the project on hold until the case is heard.