Residents oppose size, density of La Jolla Unocal 76 gas station redevelopment

La Jolla business owner and resident Doug Moranville stands near his Eads Avenue home, adjacent the Unocal gas station on Pearl Street. The property owner wants to remove the station and add a mix of condos, retail and restaurant space. Moranville and his wife, Karen, oppose the size and density of the project. Pat Sherman photos
La Jolla business owner and resident Doug Moranville stands near his Eads Avenue home, adjacent the Unocal gas station on Pearl Street. The property owner wants to remove the station and add a mix of condos, retail and restaurant space. Moranville and his wife, Karen, oppose the size and density of the project. Pat Sherman photos
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La Jolla business owner and resident Doug Moranville stands near his Eads Avenue home, adjacent the Unocal gas station on Pearl Street. The property owner wants to remove the station and add a mix of condos, retail and restaurant space. Moranville and his wife, Karen, oppose the size and density of the project. Pat Sherman photos

By Pat Sherman

A proposed mixed-use development project at the corner of Pearl Street and Eads Avenue that appeared to have little resistance and garnered only minor criticism during the Aug. 13 meeting of La Jolla’s Development Permit Review (DPR) committee, faced strong opposition during the DPR’s Aug. 20 meeting.

Property owner Mark Conger is seeking to replace his Unocal 76 gas station with a two-building, mixed-use project that would include a restaurant and retail space on the ground floor along Pearl Street and 12 two- to three-bedroom condos — 10 of which would be in a three-story building at the rear of the property. (See story and photos from last week’s

La Jolla Light

here

.)

About 10 opponents at the meeting agreed in theory that such a project would look better than the existing service station, though sought drastic alterations in its size and density relative to the homes on Eads Avenue.

Doug and Karen Moranville, who live immediately adjacent the project in a one-story cottage, retained the legal services of attorney Julie Hamilton to dispute the development.

The site is located within two different zones: La Jolla’s Planned District Ordinance zone (along Pearl Street) and a residential zone at the rear of the property that allows low to medium residential development (one dwelling unit per 3,000 square feet of lot area).

Though LaCava said during the Aug. 13 DPR meeting that the property would be developed as one complete parcel, associate attorney Leslie Gaunt (from Hamilton’s law firm) argued that the higher residential density permitted in the PDO zone along Pearl Street cannot be redistributed to the portion zoned for lower density at the rear of the property “without regard to zone boundaries.”

To proceed with development, the owner is seeking approval for a coastal development permit (CDP) and a tentative map (which shows the design and improvement of a proposed project and the existing conditions in and around it).

However, in order to redistribute the densities between the two zones, Gaunt said the project also requires a site development permit (SDP).

Gaunt went on to argue that, per San Diego Municipal Code, findings could not be made to approve the SDP, nor the CDP and tentative map, and that the design is “not consistent with the policies, goals and objectives of the La Jolla Community Plan and Local Coastal Program.”

“It literally doesn’t fit here,” Gaunt said, adding that, “the La Jolla Community Plan recommends avoiding abrupt transitions in scale between commercial buildings and adjacent residential areas,” in favor of gradual transitions.

LaCava said that by setting the majority of the building back from the property line by 11 to 14 feet, and setting the third story back from the rest of that building, the architect had softened the transition from new development to old.

Though the properties immediately south of the site on Eads are both one-story cottages, LaCava noted that the third house is two stories, as are other homes further along Eads.

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