All posts by Steve Wallet

Licensed San Diego Architect design, planning, 3D models and cartoons Please use my contact form on this site for any questions, thoughts or comments

El Cerrito, a Brief Introduction to Neighborhood Plans

I am a member of the El Cerrito Community Council, Planning Advisory Group. Many residents are unfamiliar with the planning documents that shape development in our neighborhood.  One of my projects is to prepare a guide to these documents.

Map of the El Cerrito Community, located in east San Diego, near San Diego State College (1)

 Planning Documents
There are 3 related City documents that affect the form and development of a neighborhood:
General Plan
Community Plan

General Plan
The General Plan is the basic planning document for the City. The General Plan is the comprehensive long-term plan for the physical development of the City.
It includes 7 sections or elements:
.Natural resources
.Open Space
.Land Use
.Public Facilities
It must also include an action or implementation plan.

Zoning and land use approvals are legally required to be consistent with the General Plan.(2)
San Diego’s General Plan was last updated in 2008.
The General Plan can be accessed at:

Community Plans
The community plans are a part of the Land Use Element of the General Plan. Community plans provide more detailed land use designations and site-specific policy recommendations than the General Plan. Community plans typically address community issues such as:
.local street and transit network
.distinctive environmental characteristics
.community landmarks
.location, prioritization and provision of public facilities
.community urban design guidelines
.identification of gateways.
The Community Plan must be consistent with the goals and policies of the General Plan. (3)

El Cerrito is divided into two planning areas by El Cajon Boulevard, and is within two Community Plans:
.College Area
.Eastern Areas

Zoning divides the City into different areas, with different regulations governing use and building form.
Zoning must be consistent with the General Plan.
Zoning maps can be accessed at:
The San Diego Zoning Ordinance, generally Chapters 10-15, can be accessed at:

1.Map copied from ECCC website
Photo from City website, Eastern Areas Community Profile
2. Curtin’s California Land Use and Planning Law, 23rd edition, Solano Press Books
3. from City of San Diego Planning Department website

RM Schindler’s Erlik House, 1950-51

I made this model when I saw photos of the recently restored home, photos that made me want to understand the design. 

This is a late, and relatively unknown, gem designed by architect R.M. Schindler, Los Angeles, 1950-1951.

A small house, a small budget and a difficult site. Schindler managed to use these limitations to make a wonderful “space box”.

I made the model using the information I could find: small floor plans, old and new photos, Schindler’s writings on his systems of construction and dimensions. I haven’t had the opportunity to visit the house.

Images from top to bottom are: front, rear, interior cross section (looking into the Master and Living rooms) and a space volume study

The space volume study shows how the different volumes (formed by different ceiling heights) slide over and do not match the functional spaces below. Ceiling heights step from lowest in blue to highest in purple. Glass is carefully placed so you can see the volumes continuing from room to room. Intricate cabinets/space dividers separate Living from Master, allowing the space to flow between rooms while maintaining privacy.

Artist’s Studio

Preliminary sketches for an artist’s studio.

The painter/sculpture’s studio was to stand next to the artist’s home. He wanted a modern building, she wanted a building that would look like their Spanish style house. I proposed a modern studio wrapped in a thick Spanish wall. The Spanish wall contained the entry, stair, second floor sitting area and deck. The modern studio contained the first floor garage and second floor studio.