Opinion: Keep your friends close, enemies even closer

Joe Parker

President, Bird Rock Community Council

I sit on the Planned District Ordinance Committee (“PDO”) on behalf of Bird Rock and the community at large. Surprisingly, even after much publicized projects involving litigation, people still don’t know who we are and why the PDO is an important feature of our community.

The PDO committee reviews development applications that affect portions of the Village and Bird Rock, and therefore has direct application to merchants operating in our city. For projects requiring no other discretionary permits (for example, building signs, façade renovations) the recommendations of the PDO are forwarded to the La Jolla CPA for ratification before submitting to the City of San Diego. For projects requiring discretionary permits (coastal development permits, site development permits, etc.) the recommendations are forwarded to the Development Permit Review Committee for their consideration.

Too many merchants, landlords and contractors skip the PDO process even though they required to submit to us by the city. They do so because (1) they don’t know we exist, (2) they don’t understand what we do, (3) or they just blow us off. The other reason we hear is that so long as compliance with the PDO is achieved, no application to the committee is necessary. Not true.

We are not a design board, or even a star chamber for that matter. Believe it or not, the committee’s review is solely limited to whether or not the application conforms to the PDO. That should come as a relief to those of you who run for the hills every time you hear our name.

In Bird Rock, there are a number changes underway as our landlords and merchants struggle to survive. Many of these simple projects, such as painting, installation of awnings and increased signage, trigger compliance with the PDO. If you submit to our process, we can help you avoid problems down the road with neighbors or code compliance.

The committee meets on the second Monday of every month at 4 p.m. in Room 1 of the La Jolla Recreation Center. Meetings are always open to the public.

Friend or foe, the PDO was enacted by property owners, merchants and residents to preserve the unique character and charm of our community. Not surprisingly, the code compliance department makes its money by issuing fines to non-compliant owners and operators. Don’t become a victim. Chances are if you see us first, you won’t finish last.

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