Opinion

Coastal Height Limit Protects Public’s Interest

Coastal Height Limit Protects Public’s Interest

Your article relative to the 30-foot height limit reminds me of the Vietnam military official who famously said we are going to have to bomb that city to save it. Bombing San Diego’s coastal zone with 60-foot high-rise condos ruins our city — as bombing tends to do.

You imply that the coastal zone is from “Point Loma to La Jolla” when actually it is from Del Mar to the end of Imperial Beach. To say “it withstood a battery of legal challenges” is an understatement. The 30-foot limit was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court and when the decision was handed down a justice said “communities can zone themselves as they see fit.” This initiative means the people of San Diego don’t have to be intimidated by political and rich developer interests.

The initiative was passed by the residents of the entire city — Clairemont, University City, Tierrasanta and City Heights. Imagine the impertinence of the voters in those areas thinking they had a right to unrestricted access to their public beaches.

Your article misstates the goal of the initiative as “maintaining ocean views” — explicitly. The real goal was to prevent San Diego from becoming a Miami Beach or a Rio de Janeiro. I should know; unlike Mr. Keatts, I voted for it.

Matthew Yglesias, who would readily lower our standard of living, should pedal his snake oil in Carmel and Santa Barbara where the rents are really high. When he has convinced those communities to reduce their zoning restrictions, then San Diego should consider it.

Why was this limit done with a voter’s initiative? Precisely so that politicians like Mr. LaCava cannot tweak the limit to 34 feet or some other arbitrary number. Variances to the people’s initiative do not exist, and that is why the grassroots community went to all the trouble to get a height limit through the Supreme Court. They could not and do not trust their local authorities, who clearly have diverse interests. The “rigidity” of the law is what keeps big money developers from being able to change the height law for the benefit of their own bank accounts.

David Little lives in La Jolla.


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21 comments
Janet Shelton
Janet Shelton subscriber

We can discuss all we want, but changing the law would require approval by voters. Is this the agenda of some? No doubt, it always has been, but I don't see that it is likely to happen. Having seen the walling off of the bay, I am not trusting that changes would not lead to more walling off of the beach so views are more difficult to find and access would be more limited. People may say that it won't happen, but then I bet they would have said that about the bay and it has happened. The more interesting question I would like to see the Voice pursue is whether the law is being changed administratively by changing the definition of how 30 feet is measured.

myearth
myearth

We can discuss all we want, but changing the law would require approval by voters. Is this the agenda of some? No doubt, it always has been, but I don't see that it is likely to happen. Having seen the walling off of the bay, I am not trusting that changes would not lead to more walling off of the beach so views are more difficult to find and access would be more limited. People may say that it won't happen, but then I bet they would have said that about the bay and it has happened. The more interesting question I would like to see the Voice pursue is whether the law is being changed administratively by changing the definition of how 30 feet is measured.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

After 40 years, it deserves a look, if it can bring in more revenue to build higher, it's probably a good thing.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones

After 40 years, it deserves a look, if it can bring in more revenue to build higher, it's probably a good thing.

Omar Passons
Omar Passons subscribermember

te? I get it. It's politically sensitive. But we shouldn't shy away from something just because it's difficult. I guess we'll see.

omarpassons
omarpassons

te? I get it. It's politically sensitive. But we shouldn't shy away from something just because it's difficult. I guess we'll see.

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

Frances, why would it be hard for an inland family to get to the water's edge if the properties near it include high-rise condos? That doesn't make any sense. Are you assuming the beach would be gated? Why would it be gated with high-rise condos but not with low-rise condos?

Derek
Derek

Frances, why would it be hard for an inland family to get to the water's edge if the properties near it include high-rise condos? That doesn't make any sense. Are you assuming the beach would be gated? Why would it be gated with high-rise condos but not with low-rise condos?

David Kissling
David Kissling subscriber

Turning the debate over the Coastal Height Limit into a question over whether we should allow beachfront condo towers is a red herring. The real debate should be whether San Diegans are going to allow a minority of beach community NIMBYs to prevent the necessary growth in urban housing that will allow future San Diegans a chance to have access to more affordable housing in the city instead of being pushed further out towards East County and Temecula.

xtdave
xtdave

Turning the debate over the Coastal Height Limit into a question over whether we should allow beachfront condo towers is a red herring. The real debate should be whether San Diegans are going to allow a minority of beach community NIMBYs to prevent the necessary growth in urban housing that will allow future San Diegans a chance to have access to more affordable housing in the city instead of being pushed further out towards East County and Temecula.

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

Otherwise we would have inlanders voting strategically and spitefully to devalue the properties of coastal dwellers. "Tyranny of the masses."

Derek
Derek

Otherwise we would have inlanders voting strategically and spitefully to devalue the properties of coastal dwellers. "Tyranny of the masses."

tarfu7
tarfu7 subscribermember

While I generally support localized decisionmaking, I also think that a fair argument can be made that all San Diegans should be allowed to decide issues that are fundamental to how their beaches look. The beaches are a public asset that all San Diegans pay to maintain, and have a right to enjoy.

tarfu7
tarfu7

While I generally support localized decisionmaking, I also think that a fair argument can be made that all San Diegans should be allowed to decide issues that are fundamental to how their beaches look. The beaches are a public asset that all San Diegans pay to maintain, and have a right to enjoy.

Frances O'Neill Zimmerman
Frances O'Neill Zimmerman

Fortunately, the 30-foot building height limit along the coast preserves both public access and the natural ambience of a precious public resource, Derek. Measuring the public good should be generous and expansive -- not limited to one landholder's "view" or sliver of sunlight.

Eric Spoerner
Eric Spoerner subscriber

Times have changed. I wonder what residents of the entire city would have to say about it now.

espoerner
espoerner

Times have changed. I wonder what residents of the entire city would have to say about it now.

Chris Brewster
Chris Brewster subscribermember

The 30’ height limit has no doubt limited the number of people who can live in this area; but there will always be limits of some sort. This limit though, combined with the California Coastal Act has helped ensure that while not all may be able to live at the coast, its basic character, accessibility, and the views that in large part make it what it is, are available for all to enjoy. Unless, of course, you stand behind one of the high rises built before the limit was put in place.

B Chris Brewster
B Chris Brewster

The 30’ height limit has no doubt limited the number of people who can live in this area; but there will always be limits of some sort. This limit though, combined with the California Coastal Act has helped ensure that while not all may be able to live at the coast, its basic character, accessibility, and the views that in large part make it what it is, are available for all to enjoy. Unless, of course, you stand behind one of the high rises built before the limit was put in place.

Derek Hofmann
Derek Hofmann subscribermember

If you live where you can't see the ocean anyway, why would you care if the height limit is raised? Only the people affected should be allowed to vote on a zoning law (in this case those whose views or sunlight would be affected), because government should be as small and local as possible.

Derek
Derek

If you live where you can't see the ocean anyway, why would you care if the height limit is raised? Only the people affected should be allowed to vote on a zoning law (in this case those whose views or sunlight would be affected), because government should be as small and local as possible.