By Dave Schwab
Recent conflict-of-interest issues within the La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) have led its members to create a committee to scrutinize rules governing members representing clients on projects being reviewed.
Though architects and building professionals typically sit on community advisory groups and excuse themselves from votes which involve their clients, instances have occurred lately where trustees are representing projects in direct opposition to the planning association’s position on those projects. These “awkward” situations have led to the formation of the new committee.
In one example, Encore, a large-scale redevelopment project in La Jolla Farms, was represented by immediate past LJCPA president Joe LaCava, while current LJCPA president Tony Crisafi presented on behalf of neighbors opposed to the project. On March 1, overriding some neighbors’ objections that public ocean views would be compromised by the Encore project, the LJCPA endorsed Encore in an 8-3-3 vote.
Crisafi said the new membership rules committee is a positive development. “Most people in the community want discussion about these issues,” he said. “I think it’s a good thing to have an open forum to get these issues out on the table and talk about them and get feedback from the community.”
LJCPA treasurer Jim Fitzgerald said it’s important for the new committee to vet all issues involved with trustees representing clients on development projects to ensure that “LJCPA policy conforms with (city) council policy.” He said having architects and other building industry professionals on community advisory groups is part of having a “good balanced cross-section of the community” on those groups.
“We’re blessed to have architects reviewing these projects,” Fitzgerald said. “They have no official role to play other than to try and facilitate community involvement and input.”
Fitzgerald noted the role of community planners, no matter what their professional background, is limited and clearly prescribed. “Our role is to determine whether a project is in conformance — or out of conformance — with land-use codes, including the PDO (Planned District Ordinance determining community regulations),” Fitzgerald said.
The new ad hoc committee, which has yet to be formed, will have its first meeting sometime in May, and may be chaired by architect Phil Merten. Issues for discussion will be posted on the committee’s agenda prior to the meeting, with the time and place to be announced.
• Trustees: 18; 4 are architects
• Mission: The LJCPA has been recognized by the San Diego City Council to make 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 General Plan or a land-use plan when such relates to the La Jolla Community Plan boundaries.
• Website: lajollacpa.org