Q&A with Michael Pallamary, executive director, San Diegans For Sensible Land Use

By DAVE SCHWAB. La Jolla Light. La Jolla, Calif.: October 16, 2003.

Michael Pallamary is president and owner of land-use consulting firm Pallamary & Associates in La Jolla.

A licensed land surveyor, he is the executive director of San Diegans for Sensible Land Use, a group of property owners, design and legal professionals fighting La Jolla's Community Plan Update as amended by the Coastal Commission, which attached 64 amendments to the document. It is slated to be voted on by the City Council on Nov. 4.

Light: Why was San Diegans For Sensible Land Use formed?

Pallamary: It was a grass-roots organization formed out of response to the efforts to usurp the adopted community plan of La Jolla. After 11 years of community work developing the plan, everyone was outraged that it had been changed without community input. Homeowners and design professionals saw the thing was completely defective.

It was not only illegal, but clearly thwarted the whole effort of extensive community involvement in the community plan. To abuse this process by a select group (Coastal Commission) in the middle of the night is just an outrage.

Light: Who are San Diegans For Sensible Land Use? How many members?

Pallamary: We have approximately 130 people. It's a broad, cross-section of angry homeowners, consultants, architects, attorneys and contractors. Our opponents are characterizing us as developers, but I don't think we have any in our membership. We're the guys and gals who make a living off someone who wants to remodel a home. They call us to help them.

Light: What is wrong with the La Jolla Community Plan Update, as amended by the Coastal Commission?

Pallamary: First off, the process was completely violated. That, in and of itself, is grounds for its being rejected. The second issue involves the bureaucracy in Sacramento dictating land-use policy, telling homeowners they can't put a deck up, or remodel their family home.

The problem we have is this overwhelming morass of bureaucracy. I have clients that have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and 12 to 16 months time to remodel their homes, and at the very last minute, the Coastal Commission and the state come in and throw all the approvals and processes out. It's a turf battle.

Light: What's the significance of the Coastal Commission's modifications to the La Jolla Community Plan?

Pallamary: These 64 onerous and complex amendments clearly prohibit simple remodels. We're not talking developments. We're talking moms and dads wanting to put another bedroom in or expand their homes. We're talking about things as absurd as removing ice plant or changing a window.

It would prohibit these simple acts from occurring, and add layers and layers of bureaucracy and cost.

If the amendments are so good, why won't they withstand the test of public debate? If anyone suggests that getting a coastal development permit through the city of San Diego is easy, they are either an idiot or they live on Mars.

Light: What are your group's goals?

Pallamary: To have the original community-approved plan adopted. That plan represents the wishes of the community, not this end-run of amendments which is a frontal assault on the community. The biggest weapon we have is the Constitution of the United States, which clearly states we have privileges and rights as property owners. The Coastal Commission is attempting to take those rights away.

Light: What would you like to see happen with the Plan Update?

Pallamary: We would like to see the community-approved plan, not the proposed amended plan, adopted.

Light: Is there any chance of a compromise on these issues, could you accept some amendments but not others?

Pallamary: No. The whole process does not allow for a compromise. The City Council has to approve the whole plan with all of the amendments. That's why this plan has to be rejected.

Light: What is the group's next step?

Pallamary: We're not going away. We're going to continue to defend the Constitution of the United States. Whatever that requires, we'll do.

Copyright 2004 La Jolla Light, October 16, 2003

Original link: http://www.lajollalight.com/2003/10/16/b031016qna.html
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