Proposed lot split on La Jolla's Muirlands Drive riles up neighbors

Plans for the Coffman property call for demolishing the existing home and garage/guest house and building two houses. Photo: Kathy Day
Plans for the Coffman property call for demolishing the existing home and garage/guest house and building two houses. Photo: Kathy Day

BY KATHY DAY

Staff Writer

Last week more than two dozen people turned out to let the La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee know they aren’t happy with the plans.

The committee voted 6-0 that the variance should not be granted, but that’s not the end of the process. On Oct. 7 the owner’s team and the opponents will be back at the Recreation Center when the matter comes before the Community Planning Association at 6 p.m.

Muirlands area residents aren’t buying architect Tim Golba’s plans for the property, which he described as an “odd shaped parcel” with two existing driveways that exit into the narrow roadway just before the curve.

He said they have worked to position the new houses — the one to the south would be nearly 4,500 square feet and the one to the north about 5,500 — to “break the mass.” He also said the design would improve the “view corridor” and actually expand the setback from the road to 20 feet instead of the 10 that now exists.

No matter what he said, Golba was up against a proverbial brick wall.

Amy Chesire, who lives on Via Verde across the street from the proposed homes, said the concerns primarily are focused on safety on the curve, which drops off on the east side and is already showing some signs of deterioration. The posted speed limit is 15 mph.

“We need to preserve (the setback) in case the road has to be changed,” she said.

Elizabeth Taft, who delivered seven letters to the committee and spoke for the homeowners group, said after the meeting that it was unlikely further changes could convince them to support the plans. She called it “totally untenable on that corner” to consider a lot split.

The Muirlands Improvement Association formed in the 1960s when the lot — one of the largest in the neighborhood — was split by a previous owner, and now a lot split has united them again, she said.

Another person opposing the project is land use consultant Mike Pallamary who opened his remarks by telling those at the committee meeting that he had been rear-ended at the very spot where the homes are proposed.

He too argued safety issues — concerns that the site line for drivers exiting the driveway did not meet required standards, that the homeowner can’t use a variance to increase density and that the city should be requiring the owners to widen the road.

He’s also raised other issues in a detailed letter to the city in order to preserve his right to appeal as an “interested party,” he said in an interview after the meeting.

Golba, in an interview after the meeting, said, “Unfortunately I couldn’t get across that the house, the project and the variance have nothing to do with whatever occurs with the road.”

He said they would explore options that might alleviate some of the concerns, adding that the owners “charged us with seeing if we can remove the variance.”

The CPA could reiterate the review committee’s stance or reverse it; then it goes to a city hearing officer, who can go either way. Even then, it could be appealed to the Planning Commission.

The project also requires an environmental report, so the process is three months from reaching the hearing officer — at best, said Diane Murbach, the city’s development project manager.

   
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