New OB Mayor Faces Old Challenges With New Eye
By David Crohn

Joe Loeffler hit the ground running at his first board of trustees meeting as mayor last Saturday, confirming a round of new appointments—including a new trustee—and discussing efforts his administration will undertake to improve village life.

Loeffler swore in Ken Klein, a civil engineer from New York City, to be the fifth trustee and occupy the seat left open when the mayor took up his new post earlier this month.

“Ken Klein comes with a wealth of knowledge, a sense of leadership and has been a big help to me in redoing some of the ordinances in reference to zoning and building codes,” said Loeffler, a former trustee who was voted unopposed into office in June to replace Mayor Natalie Rogers, who stepped down after seven years in office. “I’m sure he’ll be as happy with us as we will with him.”

Appointing a new trustee is left up to the mayor, but Loeffler asked the board “for a consensus” in the form of a resolution “just as a show of solidarity.” The board passed this resolution unanimously.

Since Klein was a permanent member of the zoning board of appeals, his new assignment necessitated some shifts in that department. Curt Stahl, formerly an alternate member of the zoning board, will take over Klein’s permanent post on the board, and Jon Marin was appointed to be an alternate member.

Meanwhile, two terms ended this year on the planning board, a committee Loeffler said will take a “much bigger role in the future.” Loeffler nominated Nan Wollman to take over for Richard Katzenstein, who is leaving the board. Also, Lou Wanger was reappointed to the planning board. All board terms are for two years.

Trustee Steve Einig was the only board member to vote against the resolution granting the appointments.

“I didn’t want to appoint all those people without further discussion,” Einig said in an interview.

The planning board also serves as an architecture review board, which is charged with maintaining aesthetic cohesion across new building and renovation projects in the commercial district. Loeffler wants to expand that board’s role.

“I’m going to hopefully get legislation announcing that architecture review is going to take place in the residential area as well as the business district,” he said.

Regulars to the monthly board meeting noticed two significant differences in how village business is being conducted: meetings are now held in the community house—instead of in the boathouse—to accommodate a bigger audience, and the public is free to ask questions and make comments during the meeting. Before, people had to wait until the public hearing phase.

It’s part of a different approach to governance Loeffler is taking—he is soliciting as much public interaction as possible, especially since village codes and other official documents are now available online (www.villageofoceanbeach.org).

As he said in last month’s meeting, “There’s a huge range of expertise in this village. We need to tap into that.”

As the planning board begins work with the village board in coming weeks to revisit the building codes, residents can look for other adjustments to village procedure:

•With 165 permits out that allow special dispensation for bikers to ride over the weekends and on Bay Walk, the mayor said there was too much bicycle traffic in Ocean Beach. “The main street will be reserved for pedestrian traffic,” Loeffler said, and fewer medical permits will be issued in the future.

•In a similar vein, the mayor said there is too much golf cart traffic. He said the village will start “to allow each one of the plumbers and each one of the electricians to have one permit which will allow them to run a cart” for emergency use only. “We’re going to strictly enforce that that service cart be used for emergency use only.”

• Police will follow up late-night noise complaints with an 8 a.m. knock on the door at the offending house. Loeffler said this will give police a chance to enforce codes that limit the number of people allowed per bedroom in a share house and to check owners’ rental permits. Infractions of this kind often lead to the kind of rowdiness that forces neighbors to call in a noise complaint.

•The environmental commission will have a more “proactive role” in recycling around the village.