BY DAVE SCHWAB
San Diego City Council voted 5-3 last week to uphold an appeal of an earlier city Planning Commission finding that the controversial Whitney, three-story mixed-use project in La Jolla Shores had no negative environmental consequences that could not mitigated.
The majority on the council concurred with appellants Bernard Segal and ad hoc group La Jolla Shores Tomorrow, who contended findings could not be made to certify a "mitigated negative declaration for the project."
The Whitney redevelopment proposes demolishing a one-story residence and store at Avenida de la Playa and Paseo Grande in the La Jolla Shores commercial district and replacing it with 2,300 square feet of street-level retail space with parking underground and two condos above.
Kim Whitney said she and her husband Bob were disappointed by the council’s vote.
“I know we’ve done everything conceivable to comply with the (Shores) PDO (Planned District Ordinance) in every possible way,” she said. “We’ve asked for no variances or deviations. We have worked with our neighbors. I just feel we’ve been villainized. We would like to develop our property rights just like our neighbors have gotten the rights to develop their properties.”
Julie Hamilton, an attorney representing La Jolla Shores Tomorrow, said on Nov. 24 that the ouncil decision sends the mixed-use project back for further review.
“It remands it back to the Planning Commission to consider the environmental issues that were raised at the hearing — safety due to reduced visibility, bulk and scale, neighborhood and community character and geology,” she said.
La Jolla Shores Tomorrow spokesman Vaughn Woods lauded First District Councilwoman Sherri Lightner for backing the community in its opposition of the project and for requesting additional environmental studies on the consequences of the Whitney project.
Asked if there were still room for compromise on the project, Woods replied, “This building still has some issues they have to deal with but ultimately, we would love to get to the point where this community gets all the stakeholders together and builds a consensus on the project.”