The Pacific Beach Planning Group's July 25 meeting addressed several issues, including short-term vacation rentals (STVRs), electric scooter safety, and the role and structure of the Eco District. California Assembly member Todd Gloria attended the meeting and spoke to the group.
Planning Group chair Henish Pulickal thanked all who worked, many for years, on the issue of short-term vacation rentals. The issue reached a shaky resolution on July 16 when the San Diego City Council voted to overturn Mayor Kevin Faulconer 's business-friendly proposal and adopt instead a more neighborhood-friendly version. Backed by Council members Laurie Zapf and Barbara Bry, the new proposal limits STVRs to on-site hosts, includes Mission Beach and sets other guidelines for collecting fees and enforcement. It refers to vacation rentals as Short-Term Residential Occupancy dwellings.
Pulickal urged members and residents to attend the City Council's follow-up meeting at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1, when a second reading of and vote on the proposal with amendments was scheduled.
Planning Group CRMS/Development subcommittee chairman Karl Rand shared a letter the Planning Group sent to Council members urging them to vote YES on the formal adoption of the ordinance that was introduced and approved on July 16.
Electric Scooter Safety
Eve Anderson, who chairs the Streets & Sidewalks subcommittee, expressed concern about the proliferation of people (including children) illegally and unsafely riding electric scooters. She made two proposals: 1) that the Planning Group work with the scooter companies and police to fully share data and come up with solutions, or 2) to temporarily ban scooters on the boardwalk while working with the scooter companies to gather information. So far, she said, the scooter companies, LimeBike and Bird, have not responded.
The Planning Group voted to move forward with the first proposal and continue to reach out to the scooter companies.
Current California State law requires those who use electric scooters to wear helmets and have a valid driver's license or learner's permit. It also prohibits riding on sidewalks, riding without at least one hand on the handlebar and carrying additional passengers.
An emergency proposal by Council member Lorie Zapf to ban electric scooters on the Mission Beach boardwalk was defeated in May. California Bill AB 2989, currently passing through the legislature, would, if it passes, amend the DMV code to allow riders to use sidewalks when no roadways are available and to go without helmets if they are age 18 or older. The bill was co-authored by Assembly members Todd Gloria and Phillip Chen.
Eco District Role
Matt Winter, president of beautifulPB, gave a presentation about the role of the organization, which provides governance structure for the PB Eco District. Of the 22 Eco Districts in the United States, PB's is the only non-profit. All are in formative stages and awaiting certification.
Winter suggested creating a new advisory board for the group, with two representatives from the approximately five major groups in Pacific Beach — such as the Planning Group and the Pacific Beach Woman's Club.
"It would be a framework we create together to talk about things, set standards, check in with every year, and it would provide a structure for the community to stay connected," he explained.
Anderson suggested that, related to this, Kristen Victor's position as chair of the Eco District subcommittee be changed to advisor. A discussion followed about the roles and rules of standing subcommittees versus ad hoc subcommittees and how they interact with organizations such as beautifulPB.
The group made and passed a motion to table the discussion about the advisory board and the subcommittee until the next meeting.
On break from the California Assembly, Todd Gloria (D-78th District) thanked the group for its service. He pointed out that the State budget just passed, allotting $33 million to San Diego. One of the most complex issues he and others in the Assembly face, he said, is how to deal with increasing homelessness; how to balance voluntary versus forced shelter.
Gloria said he favors the idea of finding homes first, rather than setting up tent shelters. Some cities, such as Houston and New York City, are working on such solutions.
Gloria also emphasized that he shares the Eco District's desire to achieve carbon neutrality and is committed to community choice energy. "We need to be masters and mistresses of our own energy procurement," he said, adding that Pacific Beach is ahead of the timeline according to standards set in SB 100 and should continue its pioneering work — including pushing for the elimination of plastic lids and straws. (SB 100, a "clean energy bill," calls for increasing the State's renewable energy goal to 60 percent by 2030 and requiring entirely carbon-free electricity by 2045. It failed to pass last year and is currently being reconsidered.)
Volunteers for PB Counts
Former Planning Group member Chris Olsen thanked Gloria for his support of the Eco District and bike path improvements. He then announced that volunteers are needed for the fourth annual PB Counts event, set for 3-5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, corner of Cass Avenue and Felspar Street. The count tracks all forms of traffic in designated areas throughout PB and uses the data to make safety recommendations. Volunteers can sign up by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
— The next Pacific Beach Planning Group meeting is 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018 at Oakmont Pacific Beach, 955 Grand Ave. pbplanning.org