Born of Necessity: Planning trustee discusses evolution of La Jolla Shores advisory groups

By Ashley Mackin

Phil Merten, a La Jolla Community Planning Association trustee, gave a presentation to the La Jolla Shores Association (LJSA) Nov. 13 on the evolution of the advisory committees that help with decision-making at the Shores.

La Jolla Community Planning Association trustee Phil Merten presents to the la Jolla Shores Association about the history of advisory groups and documents. Ashley Mackin

Merten explained the origin and development of various groups and documents, such as the La Jolla Community Plan, La Jolla Shores Planned District Ordinance, La Jolla Shores Design Manual, La Jolla Shores Local Coastal Program, La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee and even the La Jolla Community Planning Association.

It all started with a group called La Jollans Incorporated, Merten explained. “With the expansion of UC San Diego, people started to move in and the area started to change,” he said. “Commercial development began and by the late 1960s, the citizens of La Jolla, through a group called La Jollans Inc., became concerned about the direction their community was taking.”

So La Jollans Inc. met with the City of San Diego to help create the La Jolla Community Plan (published in 1967). Within the Community Plan was the La Jolla Shores Precise Plan, “where the La Jolla Shores Association had their input to lend some direction to how the Shores should go,” Merten said.

However, a few years later, in 1972, California’s Proposition 20 established the California Coastal Act, which put the California Coastal Commission in charge of managing development in coastal zones, muddling the Precise Plan.

In 1974, the La Jolla Shores Design Manual was adopted as the official planning guide by the City of San Diego. The city also — after review by the Coastal Commission — adopted the La Jolla Shores Planned District Ordinance (PDO) as the implementing ordinance for this manual.

Merten summarized the Design Manual: “To conserve the important design characters of La Jolla Shores, some uniformity in detail, scale, proportion, texture, material, color and building form is necessary. … The La Jolla Shores PDO says before (the city) issues a permit for development in the Shores, it has to see how the project stacks up against this manual.”

In the interest of efficiency, the Coastal Commission challenged the communities along the coast to adopt a community plan. If those plans were in accordance with state coastal act policies, the state would turn over administration of the coastal act to the local communities.

In 1983, La Jollans Inc. developed the La Jolla Shores Local Coastal Program. “The City of San Diego is unique in that it recognizes that the characteristic of the communities are different and a one-size-fits-all zoning regulation is not conducive to maintaining those unique characteristics,” Merten said. Around that time, La Jollans Inc. made another important change, it became the La Jolla Community Planning Association (CPA).

Despite having unifying documents to dictate development, different community groups had different opinions they would present on proposed land development.

In the 1980s, the La Jolla Shores Association, the La Jolla Town Council and the CPA were heavily involved in land planning and each group would make recommendations on major projects. “So if somebody had a controversial project before the San Diego City Council, there would be three different groups, all representing La Jolla, all with different attitudes about the project,” he said.

So the city attorney instructed the CPA to form a permit review committee to represent a cross section of different groups within La Jolla Shores and be a representative voice. Merten was its first chair.

Though minor alterations have been made to committee makeup and the Local Coastal Plan has since been updated (which Merten said should be happening again soon) this is the system in place today.

When an applicant files a land development application with the city for the Shores, and the city files public notice, it then goes to the Shores PDO, which files its recommendations to the Permit Review Committee, which in turn files its recommendations to the CPA, which advises the city council.

LJSA member Dede Donovan requested the history lesson explaining, “I asked Phil to make the presentation to inform the community about the land-use documents that govern La Jolla construction,” she said. “So many residents, both new and old, are not aware of the rules that have made our community such a lovely place in which to live. To ensure we can keep it that way, we have to spread the information.”

13 La Jolla organizations guide community life
■ La Jolla Town Council (LJTC)
• Purpose: Having served the residents and businesses of La Jolla for more than 50 years, LJTC is the de facto Chamber of Commerce for the Village of La Jolla. The group also acts, in an unofficial capacity, as a liaison with the City of San Diego in matters concerning land use planning, beautification, traffic, parks, beaches, crime and other vital concerns.
• Meets: 2nd Thursdays, 5 p.m. at La Jolla Rec Center
• Chair/President: Cindy Greatrex
• Contact: 1150 Silverado St.,, (858) 454-1444

■ La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA)
• Purpose: The community advisory group is charged with making recommendations to the City Council, Planning Commission, city staff and other governmental agencies on land use matters, specifically concerning the preparation of, adoption of, implementation of, or amendment to, the city’s General Plan or a land use plan when it relates to the La Jolla Community Plan boundaries.
• Meets: 1st Thursdays, 6 p.m. at La Jolla Rec Center
• Chair/President: Tony Crisafi
• Contact: or

■ Bird Rock Community Council (BRCC)
• Purpose: To engage in all activities that enhance the growth and improvement of Bird Rock as a vibrant and diverse neighborhood including: administering the Bird Rock Maintenance Assessment District (MAD), maintaining roundabouts, improving cultural, charitable and community service activities, improving the quality of life and economic well being of local residents, promoting business improvement, promoting a safe village atmosphere and honoring and preserving Bird Rock’s history.
• Meets: 1st Tuesdays, 6 p.m. at a local restaurant, the Masonic Lodge or Bird Rock Elementary School
• Chair/President: Jacqueline Bell
• Contact: or

■ La Jolla Shores Association (LJSA)
• Purpose: With a 41-year history, its primary purpose is to address community issues as they relate to the protection and the unique characteristics of the La Jolla Shores area. It strives to represent the interests of the community to other organizations, including local and state government agencies.
• Meets: 2nd Wednesdays, 6:30 p.m. at Building T-29, Scripps Institute of Oceanography
• Chair/President: Tim Lucas
• Contact: or

■ Development Permit Review Committee (DPR)
• Purpose: Subcommittee of LJCPA which reviews all discretionary permits in La Jolla outside of the La Jolla Shores Planned District, reviewing projects for conformance to the La Jolla Community Plan, makes findings relative to the city of San Diego Land Development Code and submits its recommendations to the LJCPA.
• Meets: 2nd and 3rd Tuesdays, 4 p.m. at La Jolla Rec Center, Room 1
• Chair/President: Paul Benton
• Contact: (858) 459-0805 or

■ La Jolla Planned District Ordinance Committee (PDO)
• Purpose: Subcommittee of LJCPA which reviews development applications relating to the La Jolla Planned District Ordinance, ensuring standards are adhered to for colors, building materials, signs, facades, renovations, etc.
• Meets: 2nd Mondays, 4 p.m. at La Jolla Rec Center, Room 1
• Chair/President: Ione Stiegler
• Contact: (858) 456-8555 or

■ La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee (PRC)
• Purpose: Subcommittee of LJCPA which reviews projects within the La Jolla Shores Planned District forwarding recommendations on to the LJCPA for ratification or denial before being sent to the city for final approval.
• Meets: 4th Tuesdays, 4 p.m. at La Jolla Rec Center
• Chair/President: Phil Merten
• Contact:

■ La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board (T&T)
• Purpose: A joint committee with members from LJCPA, LJTC, LJSA, LJVMA and BRCC that considers all proposals affecting La Jolla’s streets including striping, stop signs, traffic calming and parking curb colors, valet service, time limits, etc. Also hears special events requiring traffic control, or that affect on-street parking.
• Meets: 4th Thursdays, 4 p.m. at La Jolla Rec Center
• Chair/President: Todd Lesser
• Contact:

■ La Jolla Parks and Beaches, Inc. (LJP&B)
• Purpose: Detached from La Jolla Town Council in July 2011 to become a non- profit in order to continue to advise the city on coastal parks and beaches issues.
• Meets: 4th Mondays, 4 p.m. at La Jolla Rec Center, Room 1
• Chair/President: Dan Allen
• Contact:

■ La Jolla Shores Planned District Advisory Board (LJSPDAB)
• Meets: 3rd Tuesday, 9 a.m. at the La Jolla Rec Center
• Chair/President: Paul Benton will term out at the December meeting, when a new chair will be appointed
• Contact:

■ La Jolla Village Merchants Association (LJVMA)
• Purpose: Group represents the interests of all licensed businesses in a 30-block area of the Village of La Jolla. Through a board and committees, the group works to enhance the business community and raise funds through special events.
• Meets: 2nd Wednesdays, 8:30-10:30 a.m. at The Cuvier Club, 7776 Eads Ave.
• Chair/President: Claude-Anthony Marengo
• Contact:, 1162 Prospect St. (858) 454-5718

■ La Jolla Parks and Recreation, Inc. (LJPRI)
• Purpose: Volunteer board overseas La Jolla Rec Center and its varied programs and activities for all ages.
• Meets: 4th Wednesdays, 5 p.m. at La Jolla Rec Center, Room 2
• Chair/President: Doug Fitzgerald
• Contact: (858) 552-1658

■ La Jolla Shores Merchants Association (LJSMA)
• Purpose: To represent the business interests of merchants along Avenida De La Playa commercial strip.
• Meets: 1st Mondays, except December and January, 4 p.m. at Papalulu’s Restaurant, 2168 Avenida De La Playa.
• Chair/President: David Teafatiller
• Contact:

Related posts:

  1. Planning Association denies amendment on stalled La Jolla Shores home project
  2. State commission to consider appeal of Romneys’ home rebuild and beach ownership issue
  3. La Jolla community planners laud revised residential projects
  4. La Jollans voice opposition to remodeling projects at planning association meeting
  5. Planning association asks Scripps to halt construction of project obscuring coastal views

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Posted by Ashley Mackin on Dec 7, 2013. Filed under La Jolla, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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