On June 20, a land surveyor taking photos on the corner of Emerson and Evergreen streets in the Roseville neighborhood of Point Loma was interrupted by a middle-aged couple driving by who asked, "Are you building a hotel here? That's at least 40 feet high.” The surveyor replied, “I think it’s 41.” The surveyor told me she was mapping the area for the developer of the two four-story duplexes being constructed on the corner lot.
Babita Souza lives up the hill on Emerson. While her view is safe for now, she is concerned about those below. “People that are on the ground will have their views obliterated and their home values will go down,” she said.
Souza’s husband is good friends with the previous owner of the corner lot. She said that the parties who bought his home knocked on his door around January 2015 and made him a $900,000 offer he couldn’t refuse.
Souza said she isn’t opposed to change or growth — she said doesn’t even mind a mix of condos and houses in her neighborhood. What she does have a problem with are developers who don't have to abide by the same rules she has to follow when doing something to her own home.
“Trading a one-family home for four family homes is crazy,” said Souza. “Also, it needs to be in character with the neighborhood.”
Souza remembers seeing the demolition begin soon after the sale was completed in early 2015. She started seeing workers build a couple months ago.
“The garages were a telltale sign for us,” said Souza. “Those garages were put right at street level. They usually dig down so they can stay within the 30-foot limit. My husband went over there when they first put the garages up; he said they towered over him. They are so big, they could fit an RV.
“I saw the second floor go up and I thought they were going to add a roof balcony, but when I woke the next morning [June 17], it ended up being a whole other floor. It was only 8:45 a.m. and there was a third floor.
“My husband went down to talk to the guy onsite. My husband told him he was at 40 feet. The guy said that it had been approved and that if he didn’t like it, he should have bought the property himself and built on it.”
This was the moment that Souza decided she had to do something. She called everybody she could think of and is now finding out how to start a petition. She would like to have a community meeting to make up for the one she was never notified about in regards to this project.
Don Sevrens from the Peninsula Community Planning Board confirmed that the project was never subject to any public hearings or went before the board. He also mentioned that the Proposition D 30-foot height limit for coastal zones is under assault with projects such as this one.
Proposition D is mentioned as an issue with regards to this project by the city going back to 2015. The most recent notation was on June 18, 2016.
I attempted to get more information from the city’s point of contact for the project — the city’s communications department — and the mayor’s office to ask about the height. As of publication, I have not received any answers. However, a reliable source said that city staffers met on June 20 and that even the city is confused as to whether the height limit is 30 or 40 feet.