By Dave Schwab
A battle of “historic” proportion is brewing between the new owner of one of the first Spanish-colonial homes built in La Jolla Shores and neighbors who don’t want him to redevelop the property in a more contemporary style.
Some insist the home could — and should — be declared historic and its authentic style preserved. But Jack Nooren wants to convert the existing single-family structure on a corner lot in a multi-family zone at 8001 Calle de la Plata into a two-story, single-family home over a 635-square-foot garage on the 0.10-acre site.
At the La Jolla Shores Permit Review Committee April 26, attorney Matt Peterson and architects representing Nooren laid out redevelopment plans for the property. Those plans drew numerous questions from advisory group members and an astonished response from a handful of local residents who pleaded that the structure be preserved.
“You’re building a floor higher than mine, and with the nature of the building going straight up you’re going to be taking away any light coming into my house,” said John Armstrong who lives next door. “It’s going to change the whole posture of this area down here.”
Armstrong’s son, Sam, pointed out to the review board the Nooren residence is one of four early Spanish-style homes built in the 1920s which “really defines the Shores as you go to the Beach (and Tennis) Club.."
"The sad part of this whole thing is you’re losing what the neighborhood has been about,” he added.
“The house/property was not (historically) designated and no appeal was filed: End of story,” replied Peterson, adding the Nooren remodel is unique in that there are no “see-throughs to the ocean,” so obstruction of view corridors is not an issue.
Peterson added the Nooren redevelopment will be unique in another respect.
“This house will be sustainable with LEED standards and requires a certain amount of hardscape to gather rainwater and redirect it,” he said.
At the design review hearing advisory board member architect Michael Morton warned the hardscape proposed in Nooren’s plans does not qualify as landscaping, which he noted is defined as “plantings in the ground.”
Board member Phil Merten, also an architect, noted everything is geographically oriented toward the beach in coastal communities like the Shores. He also said the community’s planned district ordinance and its accompanying design manual were passed in the 1970s to preserve ocean views, not violate them as has been done with subsequent development.
“Much of the sense of where the ocean is has been lost in La Jolla Shores because the ocean has been walled off,” he argued.
At the end of the April 26 meeting Peterson jotted down a list of concerns raised and said he would address them with his client. He, however, stressed he didn’t believe Nooren was willing to deviate from his plan to redevelop the home in a more contemporary style.
Peterson said after the meeting he hopes to return to the permit review committee at the end of May with project revisions, but was uncertain if that timetable could be met.