On February 4, more than 50 people gathered to voice opposition to a proposed condo development on Kellogg Beach in La Playa, a bayside neighborhood in Point Loma.
After the meeting, Howard Haimsohn started the Save Kellogg Beach Facebook page. “So many people in the immediate area didn’t know it was even happening," he said. "I started the page as a way to help people communicate and be aware.”
According to a city permit application and documentation posted at the project site (both from November 2016), the plan is to build nine units, two to three stories tall, at 405 San Antonio Avenue (between McCall and Lawrence). Documentation also states the project will include roof-top solar panels, which will qualify the developer for expedited permitting.
The permit application notes that the project will also need approval from the state’s coastal commission. With recent concerns about how tall developers want to build in the area, it’s relevant to note that “appealable” is in parentheses beside mention of the “Peninsula coastal overlay zone” in the site development permit application.
“I’m not an activist by nature — this is not what I want to do,” said Haimsohn. “I live in the area and am concerned about the developer’s plan to replace one of three homes currently on this little stretch of beach with condos. This will be the first condo development on this beach. This might set the tone for one day having condos all the way down the beach.”
Haimsohn and other residents told me their biggest concerns about the project at this point are: public access to the beach being blocked at Lawrence Street, the accelerated erosion the proposed seawall could cause, and public corridor views being made private.
Haimsohn said that the developer told him they have a lengthy study that shows their seawall won’t cause any erosion. Haimsohn said he has read countless studies and articles that refer to accelerated erosion from seawalls. “Kellogg Beach used to be larger; it’s mostly between McCall and Lawrence now. We would like to slow down the erosion, not accelerate it.”
One nearby lifelong resident walking her dog on Kellogg Beach pointed to the area next door to the project site. “After they put a wall up, it ended up causing that part of the beach to go away.”
The resident said that about a year ago he saw a fence half-built that eventually came down. A few weeks later, he saw the developer sandbagging the property. “They also brought in tons of dirt to build in the lot last year,” Haimsohn said. Another resident across the street said, “They were told to remove the dirt because they aren’t allowed to bring something onto the beach that can wash out into the ocean.”
I could find no permits for any of the above-mentioned work, just a permit to drop off work materials. I did find a code violation for unpermitted grading from January 2016. I also found lobbying disclosure forms from 2016 regarding the code violation. The form shows that Jessie J. Knight, Jr, paid the Sheppard Mullin law firm $6000 to lobby on his behalf. (No confirmation if this is the same former SDG&E chairman that was also reported to be part of Trump’s transition team.)
The forms indicate wanting the dirt removed. There is also a client disclosure from 2017 listing Bartell & Associates lobbying on behalf of Point Loma GC 1, LLC, for the approval of the condo project.
Robert Tripp Jackson is a boardmember of the Point Loma Association and remembers going to Kellogg Beach as a kid. Jackson is curious if the port district will be weighing in on this project since they have control over the beach. Jackson said he was told by someone in councilmember Lorie Zapf’s office that the developer will not build taller than 30 feet.
Another issue of concern to several residents is the planned subterranean parking. The architect designing the Kellogg Beach project (Marengo Morton Architects) seems to be the same one that was involved with the design of the million-dollar beachfront condos on Saratoga and Abbott in Ocean Beach. The Ocean Beach project has a subterranean garage that flooded in 2015 (and again in 2016), destroying a Lamborghini along with other cars. A permit search showed that Marengo Morton was indeed involved in the Ocean Beach project.
How many parking spaces will that garage have? Haimsohn said, “They were at the cusp of not meeting the 21-space requirement. So they took a two-bedroom unit and removed a closet and called the bedroom a den to not have to add one more parking space....
“By code, they have to provide some guest parking and since those spaces are going to be underground, I asked the developer how the visitors will get to the underground parking. He said, ‘I’m sure the neighbor will open it up.’”
According to an email that someone forwarded to me from William Zounes, the city’s project contact, he says guest parking is not required. (I also asked questions of the city but was awaiting responses before publication.) Zounes states that guest parking is only required in planned urban communities. He also confirms 21 parking spaces are required. As far as a traffic study, the city is not requiring one, since it estimates adding only 54 trips a day (1000 daily trips are needed to require a traffic study). The parking study will be from April to September.
In regard to the subterranean garage and the possibility of it flooding, the city wrote in this same email that they weren’t aware of the Ocean Beach project flooding but promised to review the Kellogg Beach garage for “possible situations.”
A lifelong resident who walks to Kellogg Beach most mornings said, “I think this project is going to change the character of the neighborhood. I have a friend at the yacht club, half a mile north of Kellogg Beach, which has concerns about the sand coming down their way. The rip-rap that was put up decades ago changed the sand distribution; it messes up their piers and things. Because of that, they’re worried about the developer’s seawall.”
An online county property search (APN #: 532-456-03-00) revealed that the property owner has an option agreement with Icon Properties, LLC (March 2015). The permit application lists only the present owner of the property along with the project architect.
One thing I was hoping to get clarification on before publication was if Pacific Enterprise Builders is connected to this project. They had a permit issued for this address in January 2016 to drop off work materials; neighbors saw dirt being in-filled during the same timeframe.
Pacific Enterprise is the same builder that caused such a brouhaha last summer with the four-story condos on the corner of Emerson and Evergreen streets. Neither the project architect or anyone from Pacific Enterprise got back to me. I checked with a few other people who are usually in the know and no one knew who the builder was or could remember a builder being present or mentioned at any project meeting.
I wasn’t able to get a rendering of the condos, but I did see one attached to the project site and the design is very similar to the condos on Abbott and Saratoga.
According to the most recent city’s assessment of the project dated February 7, major outstanding issues include addressing ways to preserve public views and that city staff is still unable to verify the maximum height of the development. The letter also stated that the developer was not responsive on the last go-around of outstanding issues. The city also commented on the controversy of the project.