On Veterans Day 2015, the OBCDC held a brief memorial event in honor of the approximately 90 names of the veterans inscribed on the medallions of the original OB Veterans Plaza. The ceremony was held at the location where the new plaza will be constructed. Several City Officials including District 2 Councilmember Lori Zapf spoke in support of the redevelopment of the OB Veterans Plaza and several speakers representing the different branches of the United States armed forces spoke about the importance of honoring those that serve and, for some, have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Although the ceremony was brief, the significance and emotion of the day was strongly felt.
As a backdrop to the Veterans Day ceremony, the OBCDC had arranged for a professional "story pole" exhibit of the proposed Veterans Plaza that is currently making its way through San Diego Developmental Services for a permit to begin construction. The story poles indicated the height line of the proposed memorial wall that will have a zig-zag look to it with certain sides of the wall mimicking the look of Sunset Cliffs while the opposite sides hold the black granite panels that will be etched with veterans names. The story pole exhibit indicated clearly that the height of the wall will not obstruct beach views, a criteria that is very important to the OBCDC and the community. In fact, the top height of the wall will not exceed the existing landscaping since the height fluctuates in the same fashion as the bluff of Sunset Cliffs rises and falls. In certain areas, the view corridors will increase since low-lying landscaping will replace some of the current palm trees.
However, the final panel in the proposed design (the portion of the wall closest to the ocean), raised some concerns at this event to both OBCDC Board Members and the community. The plaza design called for this portion of the wall to extend all the way to the sidewalk along the beach. On paper, the design looked great as it flowed towards the ocean, however, once the story poles were up it was easier to see that this last portion of the design obstructed ocean view corridors facing north and alienated the section of lawn where the current lifeguard statue is located. Although slight from certain angles, there was portions of the beach and the point that were obstructed by this panel.
After lengthy discussion with design firm, Estrada Land Planning, to try and adjust the design to keep the current amount of panels for veteran names while opening up this view corridor, it became clear that there was no way to have both the same amount of panels and no view blockage unless the design was dramatically changed. The OBCDC Board decided that the best option was to keep the design aesthetic of the new redevelopment intact rather than dramatically changing it, but eliminate the final panel closest to the ocean so that the view corridors that were being blocked were opened up once again. In the photos, the portion of the design that is being eliminated is in red while the remaining portions of the wall are green. Although losing this panel will also eliminate approximately 500 veteran names for the new memorial, there will still be space for 1,500 names on the new plaza wall. And no view corridors will be infringed upon.
This update to the design now shows the three panels of the plaza wall instead of four, alternating between the Sunset Cliffs rock wall and the black granite panels. Essentially, the length of the wall will be nearly equivalent to the current planter box on the south side of the OB Lifeguard Station parking lot.
The design changes were reviewed at a meeting with City Developmental Services in December and indications were that representatives from the City felt that these changes to the design reflected a conservative effort to minimize any ocean view blockage and that approval of the permit was likely in the coming months.
The design, in its three panel state, is now being distributed to Ocean Beach community groups and will be presented at several OB public forums including the OB Town Council.