La Jolla Community Planners elect trustees, grapple with project density
By Pat Sherman
Members of the La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) — a membership organization that makes land use recommendations to the San Diego City Council — elected seven board trustees during its March 6 meeting at the La Jolla Rec Center, and recommended permit approvals for two residential projects.
Elected to serve three-year terms were Bob Collins and Alex Outwater (who both serve on the LJCPA’s Development Permit Review subcommittee) and write-in candidates Jim Ragsdale, Rob Whittemore (a former LJCPA trustee) and Robert Mapes (who will serve the remainder of an open trustee term expiring in March 2015). LJCPA Second Vice-president Joe LaCava and trustee Jim Fitzgerald were each re-elected to serve another three-year term.
Though LaCava and Fitzgerald have served the maximum six consecutive years allowed on the board — and would have otherwise been termed out — LJCPA bylaws allowed them to seek another term because there were not enough candidates to fill open slots on the board. Per the association’s bylaws, each had to receive more than two-thirds of the vote to exceed term limits.
The LJCPA board is comprised of 18 trustees.
Ballots were counted and tallied by the LJCPA’s elections committee (chaired by trustee Janie Emerson). Results become final March 13, if no challenges are filed by then. Trustees will be seated at the beginning of the April 3 meeting. In other LJCPA news
Bylaws Review: At the suggestion of former LJCPA trustee Mike Costello, members voted to open a discussion about the group’s bylaws (which allow for them to be amended during the group’s annual elections meeting).
Costello cited several examples of how he believes trustees are not adhering to LJCPA bylaws — chief among his grievances was his claim that the president and trustees did not do enough to solicit new members to the board, which he said led to the candidate shortage that allowed two current trustees to run for third terms.
Costello said suggestions that the LJCPA may be straying from its bylaws often lead to friction.
“If you don’t like these bylaws, if you don’t want to abide by these bylaws, now is your chance,” he said.
Costello also said the LJCPA’s ad hoc committee on short-term rentals included four people involved in that industry. “What on Earth is that if not direct economic interest and conflict of interest?” Costello questioned, noting that the committees are appointed by the LJCPA president and ratified by board trustees. He said the short-term rental committee members were not ratified by the LJCPA’s board of trustees, as required in the bylaws.
“Does it mean that members of subcommittees are the instrument of the president, or of the board of trustees,” he said, holding up a printed copy of the LJCPA bylaws. “This says board of trustees.”
Incoming trustee Rob Whittemore, who noted his service on the LJCPA board the last time its bylaws received “fundamental” revisions, said the bylaws had been altered to make meetings more fair by adopting the Brown Act — the state’s open meeting law — though it was not required because the LJCPA is advisory and not a legislative body.
Whittemore said that by adopting these “doctrines of fairness and openness” it is “easier for the San Diego City Council to defer to the decisions made by the LJCPA.”
“There’s a number of tiers of control over this body,” Whittemore said, including state laws concerning nonprofit corporations, articles of incorporation, city council policy and Robert’s Rules of Order.
“Right near the top of that are the bylaws,” he said. “It’s very important that they’re followed.”
Vacation Rental Committee: Outgoing Board President Tony Crisafi said he received a complaint regarding the composition of the LJCPA’s ad hoc committee on short-term rentals (aka vacation rentals).
“We took that complaint and reviewed it among the (LJCPA) officers,” he said. “We decided that the committee wasn’t operating according to the motion (approved by a LJCPA vote in August 2013) to form an ad hoc committee to investigate vacation rental policies in other cities and propose recommendations to the city.”
Crisafi proposed a reconfiguration of the ad hoc committee that includes: LJCPA trustees Helen Boyden (as chair), Jim Fitzgerald and Bob Steck, and stakeholders Mike Costello (who opposes short-term rentals in the community) and Heather Weiermann, president of the San Diego Vacation Rental Managers Alliance.
“We will all come to the group without preformed opinions and we will listen to the testimony and come forth with various recommendations based on what information is brought before the committee,” Boyden assured. “The committee has already had three meetings. A lot of these issues and concerns have already been aired and it is time to move on and get some recommendations.”
Dan Courtney, who formerly served on the ad hoc committee and owns and manages short-term rental homes in La Jolla, said he volunteered for the group because he felt his expertise would be helpful. He recused himself from the group a month ago, he said.
Weiermann, who volunteered to serve on the committee, defended her continued presence on it.
“We do manage vacation homes here in La Jolla, but we do really care about our community,” she said. “We don’t allow party houses, we don’t allow events and we have rules and restrictions.”
Trustee Phil Merten advised attendees to remember that discussions taking place at the subcommittee level are only recommendations to the LJCPA. “This being a significant issue, I’m sure there will be a full hearing in this room,” he said. “This board will be the decision maker on this issue.”
LaCava said the point of a stakeholders committee is for people like Weiermann and Costello to discuss their opposing concerns.
“If you want to get change down at city hall, come up with a solution that has the broad consensus that the whole community is buying into,” LaCava said. “It makes it real easy for city hall to adopt it.”
reconfiguration of the ac hoc stakeholders committee on short-term rentals was approved 12-2-3.
Two-on-Three: An application to demolish an existing single-family residence on three lots at 251 Rosemont St. and construct two 1,877-square-foot homes there (each with roof decks) evoked a discussion of whether the project would result in precedent-setting densities in a residential zone.
Last month, the Development Permit Review (DPR) committee voted not to approve a coastal development permit for the project, because it could result in densities exceeding that allowed by the La Jolla Community Plan.
The applicant is seeking a coastal development permit through the city’s Sustainable Building Expedite Program, which shortens the time in which a project is approved for incorporating solar panels and other eco-friendly components. DPR Chair Paul Benton said he was ultimately concerned that the applicant could sell off the property as three developable lots (increasing density).
Representing the applicant, real estate attorney Matt Peterson said the owners have “no current plans” to develop the third and middle lot — an assertion trustee Nancy Manno said “seems to be very disingenuous.”
“They’re going to put grass in the middle (of the dwellings) and make it look nice,” Peterson said. “They don’t know what they’re going to do with the middle lot in the future — if anything.”
Trustee Fitzgerald asked whether the three lots together would exceed density allowed in the community plan if and when the third lot is developed.
“That’s a good question,” Peterson said. “If a third house were to be developed, the permit would have to be amended.”
Peterson said he doesn’t believe the recommended density of the entire community should be imposed on each individual lot throughout the community.
“Even on this very street you’ve got houses that are crossing lot lines where it doesn’t meet the density requirement,” he said. “So, it’s a mix. You look at a community as a whole.”
Trustee LaCava said he was leaning toward not liking the project but noted that it would be built on legal lots.
“As much as I don’t like it, based on the fact that they are three legal lots … and based on (DPR Chair Paul) Benton’s representation that the project otherwise conforms to the code, then the findings can be made to approve the project,” LaCava said.
It was approved by a vote of 9-4-1.
Park Row a Go: LJCPA trustees also approved a coastal development permit to demolish a home at 1228 Park Row and construct a 9,425-square-foot single-family residence and detached guest quarters in its place. Though the DPR voted against the project last month, after hearing architect Patrick McInerney’s new presentation, the LJCPA approved it by a vote of 11-4-1.
The project, which also fronts Silverado Street, includes a garage, is “set down into the earth to reduce its impact,” and features a “meadow roof” on the guest quarters with wildflowers, to reduce its visual impact on the neighborhood, McInerney said.
AT&T Project Pulled: The LJCPA’s consent agenda — including several project proposals either approved or denied at the subcommittee level — was ratified, with the exception of a AT&T’s plans to construct a wireless communications facility in Cliffridge Park (pulled by La Jolla Shores Association President Tim Lucas). u
— La Jolla Community Planning Association will next meet at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 3 at the Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.
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