La Jolla community planners to consider use, definition of ‘basements’ at Aug. 1 meeting
By Pat Sherman
At meetings of the La Jolla Development Permit Review (DPR) Committee on July 9 and July 16, members grappled with the proposed redevelopment of a home at 7106 Vista del Mar in the Barber Tract neighborhood — specifically, whether a proposed basement should be considered the home’s first floor.
During both meetings, neighbors and committee members expressed concerns with the seaside project, west of La Jolla High School. Project applicants are seeking to demolish a 3,321-square-foot, two-story residence, process a lot line adjustment, and construct a new, 2,875-square-foot home above a 2,129-square-foot basement.
Per current city municipal code, a basement can be as much as five feet above ground before it is counted in a home’s floor-area ratio (FAR).
However, neighbor Jeremy Horowitz said he feels it is “disingenuous” for the applicant to say the home is 2,875-square-feet when, if adding the basement’s square-footage, it is about 5,000 square feet. He said the project is “completely out of character with the neighborhood” and would be “the biggest house on the smallest lot (.12-acre).”
Neighbor Gordon Dunfee also opposed the project due to its bulk and scale, arguing that the basement is “functionally a first floor,” and that it would be “highly visible” along two public corridors (the basement will include an above-ground “window well”).
Matt Peterson, an attorney representing the homeowners, argued that the basement is “definitely not a third story.”
Though Peterson conceded that the home would be taller than those in the area —and about five feet taller than the current structure — he maintained that “there has been no manipulation of the (municipal) code,” as Horowitz suggested.
Tony Crisafi of Island Architects said the property was originally built with a retaining wall to accommodate a basement, and that he doesn’t feel an FAR of 2,875 square feet is out of character with the neighborhood.
DPR committee members Angeles Liera and Diane Kane also expressed reservations with the basement, with Liera stating she felt basements should be used for storage and not as living space (as with the proposed project).
DPR Chair Paul Benton said the house “walks and quacks like a house with three stories.” Benton and DPR member Phil Merten both expressed concerns with the north façade of the home during the July 9 meeting, which Crisafi revised and softened before returning July 16.
Though the project’s square-footage remained the same, Island Architects also lowered the home’s height by 8.5 inches prior to July 16.
DPR member Kane said she believes there is an “inherent conflict” between city municipal code and elements of the La Jolla Community Plan at play.
She also said part of the problem with the project is that the “community character” of the Barber Tract is not consistent, and contains as many as five areas with their own identifiable character. She said the Vista del Mar property is on the boundary of three of these differing Barber Tract areas.
In the end, Chair Benton made the motion to approve the project, stating that he felt it conformed to the overall character of the Barber Tract, and had good form and colors.
DPR members ultimately voted 3-2-1 that findings could be made to grant the project the required coastal development permit.
DPR member Liera requested that the applicant add more trees or other vegetation and less hardscape, to counterbalance the home’s bulk and scale — something to which Crisafi said the homeowner is amenable.
During its monthly meeting tonight (Aug. 1), the La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) will conduct a full hearing of the project (referred to as the Biddulph Residence), per the applicant’s request.
Other DPR items
Also on the LJCPA’s Aug. 1 consent agenda are two other items approved last month by the DPR. Any item can be pulled for further discussion by the public or a LJCPA member.
The DPR on July 16 voted to approve a coastal development permit (process 2) to demolish an existing single-family residence and garage at 1860 La Jolla Rancho Road and construct a 2,300-square-foot house with a basement, observation deck and one-story media building on a 1.07-acre lot. The basement will be completely underground, and not included in the building’s floor-area ratio.
The DPR voted unanimously July 9 that findings could be made for an extension of time for coastal development and site development permits (process 3) to demolish 19 dwelling units and construct a 24-unit, residential apartment complex at 6767 Neptune Place.
— The La Jolla Community Planning Association meets 6 p.m. first Thursdays at La Jolla Rec Center, 615 Prospect St. For more information visit lajollacpa.org
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