Thursday, April 02, 2009

February 11, 2009 minutes


February 11, 2009


Meeting held at Balboa Park Golf Course Clubhouse – Golf Course Drive

Call to order: Chris Blatt, chair, called to order at 6:33 pm.  Agenda had been posted earlier.


Members present: Richard Baldwin, Chris Blatt, Carole Caffey, Dave Caldwell, Scott Glazebrook, Frederick Ruffell, David Skillman, Marie Skillman, Angela Vasconcellos.  Arrived later:  Laurie Burgett and Anita Margolis (at 7:00)

Treasurer’s Report: still have about $75

Community Police Officer John Graham:  There have been 20 residential burglaries between December and January.  Most were due to unlocked doors and windows.  Educational materials are being prepared. Some commercial burglaries happened in December but have stopped.  The Police Department offers a free home walk-through, where an officer will suggest security improvements.

City Council District 8 - Diana Jurado:  2 new stop signs have been requested at 22nd & Broadway.  Looking for volunteers to circulate petitions for angled parking on B Street from 2400-3000 (neighbors must suggest). Brush is being cleared in canyon at 24th & A Streets.  Fire damaged house on Edgemont:  council has signed off on having it demolished but the Mayor must make the final decision.  Contact Mayor’s office to request action.  Councilman Hueso will deliver the State of the District address on 2/26 (flyers passed out).  Caffey asked that detour routes be reviewed on 30th street (utility work); bus has been routed onto residential streets.

53rd Congressional District - Katherine Fortner:  was not present but copies of latest Davis Dispatch were passed out.

City Council District 3; Mayor; 76th Assembly District: no reports

City Planning Department. Bernie Turgeon:  The Initial Public Meeting to discuss community plan update was held on 1/28/09.  The 15 member advisory subcommittee for GGH will have 15 members, 8 from PC and 7 from community.  Community applications are due by 2/23; 6 had been received.  If there are more than 8 applications, there will be a lottery to select members.  Applications are due 2/27 for historic home survey.  Asked Blatt to be sure to put discussion of subcommittee on agenda for next month.  At the April meeting we should have subcommittee board members selected and make appointment of community members.  The process will take 2 years, more time required at the start of the process.


Approval of Minutes.  Approved January minutes (motion by D. Skillman) (Margolis abstained)

Minutes of December meeting to be approved at March meeting.



Ruchelle Alvarez and Richard Alvarez: Richard played a tape made at his home 3078 Broadway of services at the Chapel of Happiness at 3060 Broadway.  Jurado circulated a copy of the Mayor’s memo (text at end of minutes) on the subject.  Councilman Hueso had met with Ruchelle and Richard, a code compliance officer and police officer Dawn Summers, suggesting mediation or a possible Small Claims court suit.  Councilman has not been successful in contacting church representatives.  Richard reported that they had been to mediation (unsuccessfully) 3 times in the past 12 years of complaints.  17 statements from condo owners have been submitted to code compliance. Richard stated that Mr. Vacchi of Code Compliance said that they would not take any more complaints about the issue.  Juardo stated and Blatt confirmed that Code Compliance has closed the case. Any further action must come from the Mayor’s office, which issued a memo on the subject. Rochelle went to the Police Captain’s meeting in January. She wanted to know why GGHPC can do nothing about the complaints. Turgeon stated that GGHPC is an advisory committee.  Under the San Diego’s Strong Mayor type of government, the Mayor is the top executive and he has made his pronouncement.  Caldwell asked if the police was investigating.  Juardo said the church had made some improvements to doors and windows and some other neighbors found that things are quieter.  Blatt owns apartments on the other side of the church, said his tenants have not complained to him about the noise.  Ruffell stated that sound levels need to be tested with an approved meter.  Juardo asked us to contact the Mayor’s office.

WILLIAM YEE, CCDC:  Is filling in for Sheila Hardin, out on medical leave for a few months.  Free bus tours of downtown are on 1st & 3rd Saturday of month.  CCDC has “shovel ready” public works projects when funding is available.  RFP for quieting train horns will be completed in 60 days.  Affordable housing project in process at 1050 B Street, also Gateway II, Studio 15th Lofts, Park Terrace at 13th & Island.

GENE GUERRIERO, resident at 33rd & Ash:  Golden Hill Elementary is going from K-5 to K-8.  Under the Educational Code, bonds that were sold said the property would be for “school and community purposes”, and all the information about the school project said that it would be a K-5 school and there would be a park. A gym was built but no park. Now that school enrollment is low, they are changing to K-8.  Fears this change will impact foot and vehicle traffic in the area.  Juardo and Burgett noted that the park was not built due to canyon-saving environmental concerns.  Turgeon noted that schools are exempt from most planning rules, although when built the capacity is set.  Traffic calming measures could be instituted.  M. Skillman suggested that a representative of the school or school district be asked to comment at the next meeting.  Margolis agreed to make contact.



Chairs Report/Mail.  Nothing to report

Clean, Green and Safe (MAD) Oversight Committee.   D. Skillman reported that Caffey was elected chair of the Oversight Committee, with Blatt as vice-chair.  Using MAD funds for sidewalk repairs is under discussion, perhaps in a 50/50 program with residents.   Kathy Vandenhusel of CDC noted that residents may request to “ride-along” with Urban Corp to see the work they are doing.

Land Use.   Nothing to report.



Membership. Vasconcellos reported that Margolis’ membership on the committee was suspended due to 4 absences during the year.  Vasconcellos moved, Burgett seconded, to appoint Margolis to the board with term ending in 2010.  All voted in favor (Margolis abstained). Elections are to be held in March. Vasconcellos said there several candidates for vacant positions, along with current members whose terms expire running for re-election. Vasconcellos will send out the roster, asking everyone to note what year they were elected, as there is a service limit of 8 years. Turgeon will check to see if that limit can be waived in the case of less candidates than open positions.  

Parks.  No report.

Transportation.  Nothing to report.

Code Compliance.  Nothing to report.

Balboa Park Committee. Nothing to report.

Airport Noise Advisory.  Caffey was unable to attend last meeting.  Glazebrook volunteered to be alternate for the meetings, they will work together to get paperwork in place.

Historic.  Nothing to report.


Meeting adjourned at 7:48 pm.


Marie Skillman, Secretary.




Text of Mayor’s Memorandum


The City of San Diego

mayor jerry sanders


M  e  m  o  r  a  n  d  u  m



DATE:                        January 22nd, 2009


TO:                        Erik W. Caldwell, Mayor’s Office


FROM:                        Robert Vacchi, Deputy Director, Neighborhood Code Compliance


SUBJECT:                        R. Alvarez comments at PS&NS regarding NCC and the Chapel of Happiness



This case concerns a noise complaint regarding religious services at the Chapel of Happiness located at 3060 Broadway. The Neighborhood Code Compliance Division (NCC) has responded to several complaints over the years about noise emanating from this church. Each of these cases dealt with a single complainant and in every instance, the church turned down the music and the case was closed when no further complaints were received.


Noise violations are determined two different ways by NCC. Regulations for noise may be found under SDMC §59.5.0401 “Sound Level Limits” or under SDMC §59.5.0501 et. al “Public Nuisance Noise”.  In order to establish a violation of Sound Level Limits, NCC staff must measure decibel levels against regulatory limits pertaining to time of day and zone.  Noise qualifying as a violation must exceed the allowable decibel level in the zone over a one hour period. Noise thresholds vary from zone to zone with single family neighborhoods being the most restrictive followed by multi-family, commercial and industrial zones.


Public Nuisance Noise violations are determined using a reasonable person standard detailed within the Public Nuisance Noise regulations. The noise is evaluated in terms of type, time and location and measured against the ambient noise. If the disturbing noise is reasonably determined to be a public nuisance, enforcement action may be initiated. Sound Level Limit violations are typically enforced by NCC staff. Public Nuisance Noise is also enforced by NCC, however, it is also commonly enforced by the Police Department (PD) as these disturbances often occur after normal business hours. A typical example of PD response to public nuisance noise would be officers issuing an Administrative Citation for party noise in the college area.


In May of 2008, NCC opened a case at the request of Richard Alvarez. Mr. Alvarez’ complaint alleged both noise and building code violations at the church. NCC’s subsequent investigation revealed minor building code violations that were voluntarily corrected by the owners of the church. There is one remaining issue in the case. NCC is awaiting a pending electrical permit approval. No other violations remain on the property.


In response to Mr. Alvarez noise complaint, NCC conducted at least four separate inspections to check sound level limits at the church. Each test was performed at the specific request of Mr. Alvarez. Two of the tests were performed after Mr. Alvarez questioned the methodology of previous tests and requested a retest. In each case, the ambient noise levels caused by traffic and overhead aircraft already exceeded allowable noise levels for the zone. Due to these high ambient noise levels, NCC could not determine that the music from the church exceeded allowable noise levels to the extent that they constituted a violation of the Sound Level Limits. Further, during those inspections, NCC investigators determined that the noise from the church did not constitute a violation under the Public Nuisance Noise requirements.  Mr. Alvarez was encouraged to mediate his dispute with the church. The City Attorney’s Office facilitated the mediation, but the parties did not reach an agreement. 


Mr. Alvarez and his daughter continue to complain about the noise and continue to demand enforcement action by NCC. NCC has refused to do so as the case has been thoroughly investigated and no noise violations have been found. Under California law, a city is not required to continue to investigate a complaint when it becomes evident that a violation does not exist or that repeated investigation will waste limited resources. Cities must be able to use resources equitably and have the right to determine a reasonable allocation of resources per case. In this case, it became obvious that NCC was dealing with a single complainant who had more at issue with the church than a simple noise complaint. No other independent complaints were received regarding either the noise or the building code issues. The complainant provided NCC with signed letters from adjacent neighbors, but when NCC contacted those neighbors, they stated that the church had quieted down. We have received no further complaints from anyone other than Mr. Alvarez and his daughter.


After several meetings and discussions with both Mr. Alvarez and Police Department staff, we issued a letter to Mr. Alvarez on September 10, 2008 stating that we could no longer expend resources in continuing an investigation of noise level limits. However, within in the same letter, we stated that Mr. Alvarez could continue to file public nuisance noise complaints with the Police Department. This decision allows NCC to reasonably control its own resources while allowing Mr. Alvarez the ability to contact the City for help if and when a public nuisance actually occurs.